The Intent of This Blog

This blog is intended to be a tool for the growth of whoever wants to use it. It is a daily journal intended to help us be more introspective. Every day I will do my best to supply a motivational quote, a Bible verse, a vocabulary word, and a personal message from myself. Use these if you like as motivation to improve yourself. Then, simply answer the daily questions provided honestly and see if it has an impact on your life. Zig Ziglar said, "If you don't have daily objectives, you qualify as a dreamer." Lets not be just dreamers but doers. Remember Martin Luther King Jr not only had a dream, he also had an objective. Thanks for reading, Jake

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Friday, August 23, 2013

The Greatest Gifts


“Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers, remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs, that just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care, some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”  Garth Brooks from the song Unanswered Prayers
And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that Thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that Thine hand might be with me, and that Thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.  1 Chronicles 4:10
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.  James 4:3
Grant:  “agree to give or allow”  New Oxford American Dictionary
You'll notice I included two Bible verses in today's message.  Often one verse of the Bible is taken out of context and used for the will of the claimer.  I didn’t want that to happen in today’s message.  God doesn’t just give us anything we want simply because we ask and believe He will give it to us.  Likewise, God can grant us more than we can possibly imagine if we have faith in Him and live for His purpose.  There are a couple things we need to consider to explain.  First, God wants what is best for us.  Second, God grants us things, he doesn't just give us things.  When God grants us a blessing, by definition, He is “agreeing” to give it to us, or “allowing” us to have it.  I’m sure the NBA player, Jeremy Lin was disappointed in December 2011 when he was cut by the Houston Rockets with a contract worth some (correct me if I’m wrong) $800,000.  Flash forward to 2012 however, and we can see the opportunities being cut from the Rockets provided him with the Knicks in New York.  “Lin-sanity” most likely, would have never happened if he wasn’t cut.  What’s more, The Houston Rockets just signed Jeremy Lin back from the Knicks for a three year contract worth $25,000,000.  I’m not saying that getting a $25,000,000,000 contract is what God “really” wanted for Jeremy Lin, but it’s better than the $800,000 I’m sure he was disappointed to lose in 2011.  Furthermore, it sure seems like God really does have his guiding hands on this player who’s boyhood goal was to be a pastor, and who publicly praises God for his success.  At the very least, it’s a reminder that with disappointments, often there are greater blessings in store.  So when we ask for something, let's have an open mind that God knows what is best for us and trust that if we don't get exactly what we want, God has something far better for us right around the corner.
Daily Journaling Questions:
  1. How did I help someone in kindness today?
  2. What did I learn today?
  3. What am I thankful for?
  4. Who did I love today?
  5. What am I dreaming for?
  6. What about today do I want to remember forever?
  7. What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thank you for reading.
Jake

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Good from the Bad

The truth is; people will give there lives for what they believe to be true, they will never give their lives for something they know to be false.” Charles Colson

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

Veracity: “habitual truthfulness” New Oxford American Dictionary

If God is all powerful and is all good, why do bad things happen?” I hear this question all the time and it's always difficult to answer, and I'm not sure I'll ever fully understand until I meet God. But here's an example. I just googled Charles Colson, three out of four of the the first results had to do with Christian outreach. When I opened them I found out he is the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, he has written at least 20 books on Christianity, he has received 15 honorary doctorate degrees, and in 1993 he received the Templeton Award, the largest religious annual award in the world. And when Mike Wallace asked him about the Watergate scandal during the Nixon presidency he replied, “I thank God for Watergate.” You see, before he became an active Christian, Chuck Colson was president Nixon's Special Counsel. Known as a brutal hatchet man, he was active in covering up the Watergate scandal. He eventually served seven months in prison for obstructing justice. But he thanks God for it, because without those events happening, he would have never found God the way he did. So in that way I think we can all thank God for the Watergate scandal, even though it was an event that divided and left a mark on our country. Why? Because in the very least, it gave the world a person like Chuck Colson to change so many lives and in the end make it a better place. So I think what the real question should be is, “What good has come from the bad things that have happened in our lives?”

Daily Journaling Questions:
      1. How did I help someone in kindness today?
      2. What did I learn today?
      3. What am I thankful for?
      4. Who did I love today?
      5. What am I dreaming for?
      6. What about today do I want to remember forever?
      7. What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thank you for reading, it means a lot to me.
Jake

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Keep Going


“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”  Will Rogers
If you stop learning, you will forget what you already know.  Proverbs 19:27 (Contemporary English Version)
Volition:  “the power of choosing or determining”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary
God told Abraham, “Go to the land I will show you,” and at the age of seventy-five Abraham obeyed God and left.  He didn’t know where he was going, how he was going to get there, or what was going to happen to him along the way.  But God laid a path for him to follow, so Abraham started on his journey.  It wasn’t always easy, Abraham had to fight battles, and risk his life at times, but he didn’t stop.  Neither should we.  We all know when we’re on the right track.  We may not necessarily know the path and the stops along our life’s track, but we all know the right track is a life following God in faith and purpose.  Who doesn’t really know right from wrong deep inside?  At times the challenges presented along our path will make us want to stop, or even jump track to an easier path.  But we all know what happens when a train jumps its track, it becomes a train wreck.  Despite the obstacles and hills we’ll no doubt face, let’s do our best to be like Abraham.  Let’s be like “The Little Train that Could,” constantly encouraging ourselves with the cadence, “I think I can, I think I can.”  Except that, with God’s grace and love, we can all move beyond that earthly encouragement to be able to tell ourselves that with God, “I know We can, I know We can.”  Let’s use our volition to continue forward on the track that God has laid for us.  He wants more for us than we can ever imagine and He’s even shown us the way to it.  If you like roller coasters you probably know, the fun doesn’t start till that first hill's been climbed and crested.  Let’s follow the path God’s laid out for us to the best of our abilities and see where it leads.  Somehow, I know God will not disappoint.  
Daily Journaling Questions:
  1. How did I help someone in kindness today?
  2. What did I learn today?
  3. What am I thankful for?
  4. Who did I love today?
  5. What am I dreaming for?
  6. What about today do I want to remember forever?
  7. What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thank you for reading.
Jake

Monday, August 19, 2013

Strength Lessons


"Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world right in the eye."
Helen Keller

The LORD is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father's God, and I will exalt Him. Exodus 15:2

Tough: “capable of enduring strain, hardship, or severe labor” Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Sometimes our problems seem like the end of the World. They don't even have to be big problems. Just little ones, at the right place, at the right time. I'm reminded of the Carrie Underwood song
So Small,” in it is the phrase, “Sometimes, that mountain you've been climbing, is just a grain of sand.” Don't make fun of me, but I remember in basic training my situation seemed so miserable, all I wanted to do was to go home. At the time, all the troubles at home seemed to be blessings more than hardships. But now, looking back, it was a great experience. It gave me the courage to do more than I ever thought I could. Besides that, I have great memories from it and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything (maybe that's an exaggeration). My point is, we often get caught up in the hard little moments during our lives and focus on them until days seem like months and months seem like lifetimes and nothing seems temporary. How much better would it be if we were not so shortsighted? If we could see that this moment in our lives has the potential to be just as meaningful as the next? If we could value the experience we're having right now, whether it be good or bad, and realize it has the power to make the good times that much better, and the bad times that much more bearable? Moments and situations have the power to teach, the power to influence, and the power to be remembered. Let's let go of the misery that can come from the stresses of our lives and hang on to the lessons they can bring. In that way, we can transform them from being negative influences to positive. If that seems too difficult... God is always here to help, always here to teach, always here to strengthen.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

Daily Journaling Questions:
  1. How did I help someone in kindness today?
  2. What did I learn today?
  3. What am I thankful for?
  4. Who did I love today?
  5. What am I dreaming for?
  6. What about today do I want to remember forever?
  7. What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading.
Jake

Monday, August 12, 2013

Where's The Point


“To change what you get you must change who you are.”  Vernon Howard

For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12

Soul:  “the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Spirit:  “an animating or vital principle held to give life to physical organisms”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Who knows where the soul stops and the spirit starts?  Who even knows how to define exactly what our spirit and soul is?  I know the Merriam-Webster Dictionary can’t.  Otherwise there wouldn’t be so many different definitions trying to capture what it could possibly mean to every person who looks for their definition.  But God knows the difference.  And He gave us His word and told us it can separate the two.  He created us and knows or greatest potential and deepest stumbling.  He is able to save despite our shortcomings.  He knows our abilities and uses them according to His purpose.  He meets us where we’re at and guides us to where He wants us to be.  He is utterly capable of transforming us into what He wants us to be.  Too often we don’t trust Him however.  As Christians we often put a label on ourselves as if to name the ingredients that have to be in a Christian.  We say, “Come as you are,” then fail to reach out to the people we don’t know how to justify in our own minds.  We can understand a person who lies.  We get that people fail in their marriages.  We can even understand theft.  Why?  Because we identify with those types of temptations and we understand how they can be beaten.  That God can take those desires away.  Too often however, we reject people with different types of temptation and assume for some reason God can’t work those things out.  We essentially refuse to do God’s work in their lives.  It’s like the sign at the County Fair that says, “Must be this tall to ride.”  We put up signs in our lives and in front of our churches that say, “Must be this good to participate.”  God has no such sign.  When we force Christianity’s rules on everyone before they can become Christians, what is the point?  God is able to save.  Like an axe separates the fibers of wood and splits apart piece by piece.  God’s love is able to change, separating a person from their weaknesses.  Imagine trying to split a round of firewood with a sledge-hammer.  It would never happen.  But that’s what we often do in the church.  As if the church is the hammer of God, every dogma, belief, and value is stored up on the face of the sledge.  Then we swing away.  Where’s the love?  Gone...  But love is the ingredient that penetrates; love is what turns a hammer into an axe, a rod into a spear.  Love must be the sharp point of our encounters with others.  God’s love is able to drive a wedge into the hearts of sinners.  It is able to tear away the faults from life.  And it’s the only thing that makes sense of the values of God.  Without love, evangelism is as useless as a sledgehammer trying to do an axe’s job.  Without love, our efforts for others will be mangled.  Without love, there’s no point.

Daily Journaling Questions:
  1. How did I help someone in kindness today?
  2. What did I learn today?
  3. What am I thankful for?
  4. Who did I love today?
  5. What am I dreaming of?
  6. What about today do I want to remember forever?
  7. What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,
Jake

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Today


Seems like all I could see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “son
Stop fighting a fight it’s already been won”

I am redeemed, you set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I’m not who I used to be
I am redeemed

Excerpt from the song I Am Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave

He (Jesus) entered Jericho and was passing through.  And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus.  He was a chief tax collector and was rich.  And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature.  So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was about to pass that way.  And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”  So he hurried and came down and received Him joyfully.  And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”  And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor.  And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”  And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”  Luke 19:1-10

Orgulous:  “proud, haughty”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

How much time do we spend fighting for our salvation?  And how much of that fight comes with repentance in our hearts?  Every time we mess up, do we start our process of salvation all over again?  Zacchaeus didn’t do anything to be saved except seek out Jesus.  Then Jesus came to his house for dinner and took care of business.  Are we letting Jesus take care of business in our lives?  Or are we trying to take care of our own business then invite Jesus over to brag about what we’ve done.  Jesus isn’t interested in what we’ve done.  Whether it’s good or bad.  Jesus knows that we’ve all done some messed up stuff.  Jesus is interested in our hearts.  Could you imagine going to a doctor simply to explain to them that you have no negative symptoms and you’re perfectly healthy?  That sounds like a big waste of time.  But we often do that with Jesus.  Instead of seeking out His healing, we seek out His approval.  Forgetting that with His healing we already have it.  There is one difference between Zacchaeus and ourselves however.  Jesus is continually coming down our street.  We don’t have to fight a crowd to get to Him.  He’s at our door asking to come in.  It doesn’t matter that we’ve been hoarding a bunch of junk for the past twenty or thirty years.  He’s wants to come in and make it all disappear.  All we have to do is open the door.  For many of you, you’ve heard all this before.  Many I’m sure have already received Him.  But maybe you haven’t.  Maybe you don’t care.  Maybe you’ve never cared in the past but now there’s something drawing you.  The Bible says, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”  Hebrews 4:7b  
Daily Journaling Questions:
  1. How did I help someone in kindness today?
  2. What did I learn today?
  3. What am I thankful for?
  4. Who did I love today?
  5. What am I dreaming of?
  6. What about today do I want to remember forever?
  7. What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,
Jake

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Guard Your Heart


Even when it hurts
Even when it’s hard
Even when it all just falls apart
I will run to You
Cause I know that You are
Lover of my soul
Healer of my scars
You steady my heart
Excerpt from the song Steady My Heart by Kari Jobe

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6:19-21

Masquerade:  “an action or appearance that is mere disguise or show”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Whitney and I recently went to see the new movie, The Wolverine about the Marvel comic book character Wolverine.  Without giving anything away, or boring you too much (depending on your taste), Wolverine develops an issue with his heart.  And it’s from that issue that many more problems develop.  And that’s kind of a picture of us right?  Survivors of major heart attacks often describe their experience as an attack on the entire body, not just the heart.  And so it is with every heart issue.  The heart is central to our being.  Of course I’m speaking somewhat metaphorically.  The Bible says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  Proverbs 4:23  It’s often through our heart that Satan tries to destroy our lives.  Pornography, gossip (AKA backstabbing), jealousy; these are all things than can lodge themselves in our hearts and affect our entire lives.  When I was in basic military training, one of the jobs we had to do was to be a door guard.  As a door guard we had to visually verify with ID every person who came into our dorm.  People trying to get in would often scream and yell, and bang on the door, but our job was to verify the persons ID then verify that they had permission to enter the dorm.  We would read the entrants ID aloud so that everyone could hear, then we would look for their name on a roster of approved entrants and if it was there we would read it aloud again.  Only then could we open the door.  It was a tedious method of teaching us to be diligent and to remove complacency, but it was always clear who was entering the dorm.  My question is this.  Are we diligent at what we let into our hearts and minds?  Or are we complacent?  Being door guard was a hard job.  Not because it was hard to read a name and verify it, but because there was so much pressure to let the person outside the door in.  We could easily see who it was and we already knew who was allowed in, but we still had to follow the procedure.  In His word God has laid out things that are healthy and things that will destroy us.  Many of us already know those things.  However, too often we forget to follow procedures, or even pay attention to what’s trying to get in.  We simply open the door at any knock, or worse yet, prop open the door to our hearts, leaving us wide open for attack.  The things that will destroy our lives don’t attack like a vicious enemy cavalry.  They don’t ambush us like a band of guerrilla fighters.  Not at first.  The things that can destroy us often walk right into our lives and masquerade as an invited guest joining a party.  Once in, it’s hard to get them to leave.  Often we can’t.  There’s a reason most bars have bouncers.  We all have unwelcome guests in our hearts.  We’re all being attacked from the inside.  We need a door guard.  We need a bouncer.  Guess who that could be.  If Jesus came to mind...  You and I agree.  A heart full of Jesus doesn’t have room for unwanted guests.  He’s the antidote for all kinds of poisons that could kill us.  And He wants to come in and provide healing.  He says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone should hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with Me.”  Revelation 3:20  Guard your heart.  Let Jesus in.  Our hearts are treasures, let’s be sure and lay them up in Heaven.
Daily Journaling Questions:
  1. How did I help someone in kindness today?
  2. What did I learn today?
  3. What am I thankful for?
  4. Who did I love today?
  5. What am I dreaming of?
  6. What about today do I want to remember forever?
  7. What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,
Jake

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

In Above Your Head


“I believe God is managing affairs and that He doesn’t need any advice from me.  With God in charge, I believe everything will work out for the best in the end.  So what is there to worry about?”  Henry Ford

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth.  Job 19:25

Tortuous:  “marked by repeated twists, bends, or turns”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Sometimes riding a motorcycle has its advantages.  The helmet hides your face.  And so Job was thankful for the plastic and paint that came between his anguish and the world.  When you’re riding down a city street, no one can tell the difference between a man laughing and a man crying, he reminded himself.  So he let it out.
“Where are you God?”
“What happened to your peace that passes all understanding?”
“I can’t do this without you...  But you seem like you’re gone?”
A twist of the wrist brings the front tire a couple inches off the pavement.  In anger he wants to let everything go.  His motorcycle has the power of most of the cars around him and it would easily take him past 175 miles per hour.  But Job isn’t crazy, he’s just mad.  So in anger he twists the throttle in short bursts but is careful not to overdo it.  On top of all that’s happened, he doesn’t need to go to jail.  Not today.  
“I don’t know what to do God?”
“Where are you?”
“If you gave me this responsibility, why aren’t you here to help me with it?”
If they were listening, his office co-workers could probably hear the exhaust from his BMW echoing between the buildings through the downtown streets.  But it could never sound as angry as he feels.  In his desire to be somebody Job became what you would call an entrepreneur.   And a successful one at that.  He enjoyed sports cars, toys, and all the things that people say will make you happy.  But Job isn’t happy.  Not today.
“I have everything God.  And I’ve thanked you for all of it.”
“So why am I so confused and scared?”
“I don’t know what to do.”
Job had discovered the secret to being whatever you wanted to be.  He had discovered what a burning desire could get you.  Now he didn’t want any of it.  He was finding out that a burning desire doesn’t always get you what you want.  Fame, fortune, power.  They’re not everything in life and Job was finding that out.  But Job knew something many of his friends didn’t know.  He knew God.  He hadn't talked to Him much lately, but He knew where to find Him.  And so underneath his helmet that crisp morning he let the tears flow as he poured out his heart to God.  And in the rush of acceleration.  In the sound of high performance engines and city noise he heard God say.
“I am in over your heard.”
“I’ve been by your side this entire time.”
“I know what you’re feeling, because I can see you on the inside.”
“I know you better than you know yourself.”
“I know that in spite of all you have you feel like a failure.”
“I built you and I know that you need me.”
“I’ve been waiting for this moment and I won’t let you go.”
And so Job heard what Jesus is longing to say to all of us if we would just listen.  Job, like so many of us know God.  But for too many He’s a friend of last resort.  Job felt like we all feel sometimes.  In over our heads.  But it’s over our heads that we find our Savior.  After all, who needs a Savior when we’ve got it handled.  However, we don’t have it handled.  No one does.  We may be going through the motions and looking good while doing it.  But we all break eventually.  And while there’s nothing on earth to put us back together properly.  There is one who can.  Job found Him that day on his motorcycle.  Where will we find Him?

Daily Journaling Questions:
  1. How did I help someone in kindness today?
  2. What did I learn today?
  3. What am I thankful for?
  4. Who did I love today?
  5. What am I dreaming of?
  6. What about today do I want to remember forever?
  7. What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,
Jake

Monday, August 5, 2013

Peace In Life With God


“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God.  Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be.”  Anne Frank

“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Jesus - Matthew 28:20b

Unkempt:  “deficient in order or neatness”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

We all want God to be with us.  I don’t think anybody likes to be in a bad mood or angry.  There’s nothing better than to feel like God is with us.  People have smiled at the presence of God while being martyred in their work for Him.  So why can’t we always feel that joy, that peace that He promises?  Why do we go through depression and mood swings when all we want is to feel His closeness?  I can’t answer that.  No one but God can.  We see Job in the Bible, as good a person as is ever described in scripture, struggle with God.  He lost everything.  He was broken in body and spirit.  And he struggled to find meaning in it all.  There will be times when we are simply meant to struggle.  Those times have a purpose for our lives and our relationship with God.  However, there are also times when we have a part in our unhappiness.  To feel happy with God in our lives, there will be times when we need to make our lives a place we can be happy with Him.  I’m not saying that we need to fix our problems before we can be with God.  God wants us to come to Him with our problems.  However, God also doesn’t just leave us with our problems.  A relationship with God should change us, from the inside out.  Too often we seek God, want a relationship with Him, want to feel close to Him, but refuse to be changed, refuse to do our part in the relationship.  And it’s the simple stuff that can set us off track.  Chores, bills, work.  They make a difference in our lives and our attitudes.  And God isn’t going to take care of them all.  More often than not, God isn’t going to clean our room for us, He isn’t going to brush our teeth, or wash the car, He isn’t going to pay our bills for us.  And just as we wouldn’t expect to have a nice dinner at home with friends while our house is completely filthy, it’s going to be harder to feel comfortable with God while we haven’t taken care of our business.  Sure, God is there to help, He’s there to change our hearts and minds.  But He’s not always there to do.  There’s a reason He gave us the abilities we have.  He expects us to use them from time to time.  It’s not that God can’t come into a dirty house, it’s often that we can’t welcome Him into our unkempt life.  There are things that only He can clean.  However, there are a ton of stuff we can clean as well.  Like the dishes for example.

Daily Journaling Questions:
  1. How did I help someone in kindness today?
  2. What did I learn today?
  3. What am I thankful for?
  4. Who did I love today?
  5. What am I dreaming of?
  6. What about today do I want to remember forever?
  7. What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,
Jake