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

Follow DSGJ By Email Here

Friday, November 29, 2013

Our True Hunger

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.” - Mother Teresa

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.  He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” - Matthew 21:12-13

Propitiate: “to make (someone) pleased or less angry by giving or saying something desired” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

One of the first things I did after waking up early this morning was to look at my phone to see what time it was.  As I did, the lock screen also showed me a couple notifications.  One notification told me that one of my good friends sent me a message last night wishing me a happy Thanksgiving.  Above that, Facebook sent me a message to one of my pages reminding me that today is black friday and that I should write a post about it.  To be fair, Facebook sent that message to a vendor page that I have, so it wasn’t out of context and I’m not mad at Facebook for the message.  However, it shot right to the heart of what I’m feeling about this holiday season.  Especially this Thanksgiving.  Traditionally the friday after Thanksgiving is a day where a lot of people go out to buy a lot of gifts for their family friends and loved ones.  As a result, for a lot of companies and stores, the friday after Thanksgiving has also been the first day of the year when the business finally goes into the black and begins to make money for the year.  Hence, the name, black friday.  Again, I’m not upset about it.  Let’s be thankful we live with the blessings afford us that opportunity.  However, this year, I feel like we skipped Thanksgiving.  More stores than I can ever remember celebrated Thanksgiving by opening their doors to holiday shoppers by luring them in with sales galore.  Are we forgetting to give thanks?  Do we want something more so badly that we forget to appreciate what we have?  Have we forgotten what it means to be in need?  No doubt, there are those to whom Thanksgiving is a reminder that they don’t have a lot to be thankful for.  No doubt, there are those that spend Thanksgiving in need.  No doubt, we all need something.  But do we respond to that need by buying things we probably don’t need?  Do we respond by ignoring the real needs?  How do you respond?  Again, I’m not mad at black friday.  I’m not mad at buying things for Christmas.  I’m not mad at shopping.  But let’s not forget to be thankful.  Even as this years Thanksgiving has past, let’s search for the things we can be thankful for.  And at the same time be cognizant of our real needs.  We really need Jesus.  We really need Jesus.  We really need Jesus.  Thank God for His Son who died for us.  Through that act our real need has already been met.  So today, before we go shopping, before we get our tree, before we do whatever it is we have planned.  Let’s realize our real need and let’s accept and be thankful for the propitiation of our sins to God by Jesus on the Cross.  Nothing else matters nearly as much.  And nothing else has ever been needed more.  It’s what we all hunger for, more than anything else.  When food makes us sick.  When possessions swallow us whole.  When pleasure no longer satisfies.  We need love.  And no greater love has ever been released than when Jesus died on the Cross for you and me.  That is something we all need.  That is something we all want.  That is something we should all be thankful for every day of our lives.  Thank God for His love.

Daily Journaling Questions:
How did I help someone in kindness today?
What did I learn today?
What am I thankful for?
Who did I love today?
What am I dreaming of?
What about today do I want to remember forever?
What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,

Jake

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Big, Small, and Important Things!


“Oh, the places you'll go:" “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So... get on your way!” Theodor Geisel

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12

Aspiration: “a hope or ambition of achieving something” New Oxford American Dictionary

Throughout history, successful people and influential events have been driven by a motivational forces rooted in hope and aspiration. There are very few people or nations in history who have had greatness or achievements forced on them. At some point they decided to jump at an opportunity, or take on a burden. In doing so, they achieved greatness. After WWII Theodor Geisel visited Japan, still harboring animosity towards the nation for their actions leading up to and during the war. However, the personal relationships he was able to foster in Japan helped him move past his entrenched animosity. Those new relationships enabled him to write an important allegorical book about the American post war occupation of Japan. It made clear the importance of people, even though you may not be able to see them, and the importance of rebuilding a strong country with goodwill. Today, Japan is one of the United States strongest and most important allies, and the book “Horton Hears a Who” by Theodor Seuss Geisel, (Dr. Seuss) the allegory of Japanese and US relations, still teaches children that people are important no matter how small; and anything is achievable not matter how big.

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, November 25, 2013

Thin Ice

“The whole of life you’re on very thin ice.” - Sam Posey

The LORD is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.  Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the LORD does valiantly, the right hand of the LORD exalts, the right hand of the LORD does valiantly!”  I shall not died, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD.  The LORD has disciplined me severely, but He has not given me over to death.  Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD.  This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it.  I thank You that You have answered me and have become my salvation.  The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. - Psalm 118:14-22

Execrate: “feel or express great loathing for: they were exerted as dangerous and corrupt.” - New Oxford American Dictionary

"Like sinners in the hands of an angry God.”  Isn’t that how America’s most famous sermon goes?  The great awakening preacher pulled no punches in his quintessential address that became the hallmark of early American religion as we think of it today.  Our history classes read it as a hellfire speech containing the audacity to describe people as wicked and point out the punishment.  Are we so good that we’re above having our sins pointed out?  Or is it our pride that keeps us from allowing anything but perfection to be considered of us?  This morning I listened to Bill Cosby talk about how his son Ennis was shot and killed while changing a tire on his car along side a California highway.  He began talking about how his wife helped him and his family through the ordeal and I couldn’t help but imagine the scenario playing out between Whitney and I and how crushing it would be.  Thin ice…  Nothing is promised.  Anything can be taken.  Everything is promised.  It can’t be taken.  Life as we know it is very fragile.  None of us can predict our future.  The only thing that saves is our Maker.  He’s our only guarantee.  I won’t speak to hell or the punishment we deserve.  However we know that the wages of sin is death.*  That we all sin.  But that the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.*  I don’t know if I would paint the picture of an angry God like John Edwards.  But I would speak of the same love and grace too often forgotten but also  found in the same famous sermon I described at first.  That while there is so little separating us from tragedy.  God reaches down with His strong arm waiting and willing to save.  Will we let Him?  That decision carries with it the power from God Himself.  

*  Romans 6:23

Daily Journaling Questions:
How did I help someone in kindness today?
What did I learn today?
What am I thankful for?
Who did I love today?
What am I dreaming of?
What about today do I want to remember forever?
What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,

Jake

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Responsibility... For What

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” - Abraham Lincoln

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for the members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. - 1 Timothy 5:8

Trumpery: “worthless nonsense” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Responsibility…  It’s found everywhere.  It follows us as we grow and age.  It’s often what keeps us off the streets and in a home.  Its burden becomes greater and greater as we get older.  And it’s hard.  When we were little, our responsibility was pretty much not to kill ourselves, or anyone else.  Then we began to have to do our laundry or clean our room.  Then go to school and learn.  Then get a job to pay for the things we want.  Then keep a job to pay for the things we need.  Eventually one day possibly taking over the responsibility of running a government or a country.  It’s never easy.  It wasn’t easy to abstain from eating the poison berries that look so delicious to our toddler eyes and it won’t be easy to handle the responsibility of others livelihoods in the future.  However, if we’re to accomplish anything, if we’re to do anything, if we’re to simply exist, it is a requirement.  Resisting it only makes succumbing to it harder.  If all the responsibility we take in our lives is to make sure we don’t die, then we will probably barely survive on the streets.  If we don’t want to take on the responsibility of leading at work, we probably will never be promoted to a well paying level.  Responsibility is a requirement, but we also have to accept it for our lives.  And its power lives in its acceptance.  Abraham Lincoln could have survived splitting logs and building fences.  However, I’m not sure our nation would have if he hadn’t sought the responsibility of being our 16th president.  George Washington could have been very prosperous as a surveyor of the colonies.  However, its probable the United States wouldn’t exist if he hadn’t taken on the responsibility of leading the American armies and militias.  And of course, where would we be if Jesus hadn’t left His place as God and taken on the responsibilities of our salvation on the Cross?  Responsibility is what keeps us alive, but just barely.  The power is in the acceptance of more.  And so too with the Cross.  God will give us a life on earth.  But it’s through accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior that we are empowered to live an eternity.  Throughout our lives we will be forced to do things to survive.  It’s one of the truths of life.  It takes acceptance to thrive.  Responsibility is not, has not ever been, and will not ever be trumpery.  It is the vehicle by which we thrive.

Daily Journaling Questions:
How did I help someone in kindness today?
What did I learn today?
What am I thankful for?
Who did I love today?
What am I dreaming of?
What about today do I want to remember forever?
What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,

Jake

Friday, November 15, 2013

To Him...

“Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.” - Martin Luther

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. - 2 Corinthians 12:9

A Priori: “relating to or denoting reasoning or knowledge that proceeds from theoretical deduction rather than from observation or experience” - New Oxford American Dictionary

We all need the Lord.  Putting into context today’s verse, this is what Paul said.  “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you…’” 2 Corinthians 12:7-9a  Is there a single one of us who can’t feel a thorn?  And have we ever though that it may have a purpose?  We have no way of knowing what Paul’s thorn was.  Whether it was a a health issue, or even a sin issue, we can’t tell.  However, we do know that we are all saved by grace.  Even the apostles.  So if pain is ailing you.  If guilt is nagging your mind.  God’s grace is sufficient.  If there is something you just can’t be free from.  God’s grace is sufficient.  If anxiety is overwhelming.  God’s grace is sufficient.  Whatever it may be.  His grace is sufficient.  “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.  Amen.” Jude 1:24-25

Daily Journaling Questions:
How did I help someone in kindness today?
What did I learn today?
What am I thankful for?
Who did I love today?
What am I dreaming of?
What about today do I want to remember forever?
What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,

Jake

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Speak Life

“Some days, life feels perfect.
Other days it just aint workin.
The good, the bad, the right, the wrong
And everything in between.

Though it’s crazy, amazing
We can turn a heart with the words we say.
Mountains crumble with every syllable.
Hope can live or die

So Speak life, speak life.
To the deadest darkest night.
Speak life, speak life.
When the sun won’t shine and you don’t know why.
Look into the eyes of the brokenhearted;
Watch them come alive as soon as you speak hope, 
You speak love, you speak…
You speak life, You speak life.”

Excerpt from the song Speak Life by Toby Mac

And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said,”Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”  Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.”  And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”  Matthew 8:2-3

Life:  “the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death”  New Oxford American Dictionary

Listening to the Christian radio station.  Reading the Bible.  Praying.  Those are the easy things about being a Christian.  They’re not always the things we want to do.  In fact they’re not always the things we need to do.  But they’re the boxes easiest to check off in a typical checklist Christian life.  “Act like you’re good.”  Check.  “Don’t swear.”  Check.  “Don’t hang out with the wrong crowd.”  Check!  Fake, fake, fake fake fake.  “Speak life.”  But..?  This is where following Jesus gets real.  Too often we want to follow the Jesus that turned over the merchants tables in the temple.  We want to follow the Jesus that rebukes.  And those things were part of His ministry.  However, they were a small part.  And He was Jesus.  The biggest part of His ministry was the life He spoke.  And we’re not Jesus.  We don’t, have the authority to constantly judge people.  That’s God’s job.  But we do have the call to follow Jesus.  Which He said involved taking up our cross.  Why?  Because it’s not about us, it’s about the Cross.  There’s life in the Cross.  Jesus said, “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”  Matthew 16:25  But how often do we think of salvation as an exclusive club.  And how often do we want to keep the riffraff out.  I can only speak for myself, but I find that my mind naturally wants to separate, “ME” from “humanity.”  But I am humanity too.  I’m not perfect.  I have no right.  Think of the worst person you’ve ever known or heard about.  Jesus died for them too.  Think of the best person.  They required Jesus’ death to be saved too.  We’re all in the same sinking boat.  But instead of bailing the water out and trying to plug the hole, we’re busy trying to throw people overboard.  On the sea of Galilee, when the storm threatened the disciples lives.  Jesus slept.  In frustration they called out.  “Lord save us!”  He simply said, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?”  “Then,” the Bible says, “He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.” *  Is work your sinking boat?  Is the club?  Maybe even home?  Certainly there are places, things, and people we need to be separate from, for our own temptations sake.  However, we should never separate ourselves from someone because we condemn them lost.  The world is a storm, but Jesus is able to subdue it.  His words, in every situation speak life.  Let’s pray that He extends that ability to our words.  We’ll never have the power He has, but we can bring His power into any place, through His words and His presence.  Let Him speak life into your life.

*Story from Matthew 8:25-26

Daily Journaling Questions:
How did I help someone in kindness today?
What did I learn today?
What am I thankful for?
Who did I love today?
What am I dreaming of?
What about today do I want to remember forever?
What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,

Jake

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Only Hope

“At the Cross God wrapped His heart in flesh and blood and let it be nailed to the Cross for our redemption.”  E Stanley Jones

For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink.  For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.  1 Corinthians 10:1-4

Meted:  “dispense or allot justice, a punishment, or harsh treatment”  New Oxford American Dictionary

Life is filled with moments of irony.  Sometimes we call them fortuitous.  Sometimes tragic.  Sometimes destiny.  As I watched a field mouse take its last breaths this morning.  Suffering from injuries meted out by my, mostly loving dogs.  I literally heard the words of Billy Graham from his new book, The Reason for My Hope I was listening to say, “This is an eternal exchange, sin and death, for hope and eternal life.”  He was responding to 1 Peter 3:18 which states, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.”  It was just a mouse.  But life to that mouse was important too.  How many of us are tired of death?  It’s a reality we know.  But when fully comprehended, an awful one.  As humans part of our role in creation is to control rodent populations.  To feed ourselves.  And to care for organisms damaged by other life.  That requires death.  In our world, life requires death.  However, our world isn’t eternal.  Eternity doesn’t require death, or suffering, or sin.  That’s because God is in control, and He has destined a perfect future for us.  One where sin and death is forever exchanged for hope and eternal life.  That exchange took place on the Cross where Jesus died.  He became sin for us.  He took our sin and took our eternal punishment for us, so that death is no more eternal for us, but rather a temporary sleep, where the morning is perfection; from Adam and Eve, to you and me, and to every person that will one day be.  And so we have hope for a better place.  We have hope for a future beyond our sorrows.  We have hope…  Because of Jesus.  Do you have hope?  If hope seems foolish to you.  If eternal life seems like a fairytale.  If Jesus is fictional.  Ask Him into your life and your heart.  Give Him your soul and your life.  He’s the only source of hope in this hopeless world.  Hope isn’t found in numbing ourselves to the casts of this world.  How does that help those suffering in innocence?  Hope isn’t found in trying to be perfect.  Who’s ever been able to achieve that?  Hope isn’t found in humanity.  Humanity is too busy dying.  Hope is only found in Jesus.  Try Him.

Daily Journaling Questions:
How did I help someone in kindness today?
What did I learn today?
What am I thankful for?
Who did I love today?
What am I dreaming of?
What about today do I want to remember forever?
What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,

Jake

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Good Dad

“Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step.”  Oswald Chambers

“The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:  ‘Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.’  So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel.  And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.  Then the word of the LORD came to me:  ‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD.  Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.’”  Jeremiah 18:1-6

Mitigate:  “to cause to become less harsh or hostile”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

This morning the car seat and stroller for our baby Cora was delivered to our house.  I have never been very interested in baby equipment.  It’s never been very relevant to my life.  But something changed this morning.  Somehow, nothing on earth could be more important now.  I can’t wait to strap our baby girl into that little harness and carry her around.  In fact, we practiced buckling in a stuffed owl, just to learn how.  And the thought comes to mind.  Am I capable of being a good dad.  The mistakes I’ve made.  The selfishness.  The bad attitudes.  Can those things stay in my past?  The answer has to be a resounding…  No.  Of course I’ll still make more mistakes.  Things will make me mad.  I’ll be selfish once more.  But through it all, can I be a good dad?  And the answer is definitely…  Yes!  But WILL I be a good dad?  With the grace of God, I hope and pray so.  Because there is going to be a future in that car seat.  A future that can’t afford to be ruined by my mistakes.  That’s a scary thing to comprehend.  That our mistakes have the power to ruin.  But the mistakes we’ve made can’t be allowed to paralyze the future we can influence.  When I strap baby Cora into her car seat for the first time, she will be a clean slate of innocence.  Her past won’t be holding her up.  There won’t be guilt weighing her down.  She’ll be a new birth containing a lifetime of potential.  She’ll grow and that will all change.  But in that moment, she’ll be a fresh new creation.  She’ll be clay in the Potter’s hands.  And so it can be for all of us.  Each day can meet a new person in us.  Whether that day begins in a warm bed, or on a cold slab of jail concrete.  Each moment offers rebirth.  The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in Jeremiah 18 was not a good word for Israel in the moment.  In fact, it promised destruction.  Israel had become a spoiled piece of clay.  However, God was in control of their destiny.  He knew how to turn their imperfection into something useful.  It’s no different for you and I.  Our imperfection is what it takes to create a change for the better.  Because God is in control, we don’t have to be destroyed by our mistakes.  We’re all spoiled vessels.  However, we’re all spoiled in the Potter’s hand.  The Bible says, “But now, O LORD, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You are our Potter; we are all the work of your hand.”  Isaiah 64:8  But the choice is ours.  Make no mistake, God is in control whether we choose Him or not.  But we have the choice to be a useful vessel for Him.  No one else can make that decision for us.  He is what it takes to turn our messed up, torn up, beat up life; into a life worth living.  He can make any life a valuable life, because He values life.  God wants to mold us and use us as a tool for Him, for the betterment of this world.  Let’s accept His offering.  Let’s deny the past part of our lives that are holding us back.  Let’s choose to succumb to the Potters hand and let His wheel we call life form us into the new creation He always intended us to be.  We all have a future, some shorter than others for sure.  But for all of us, that future’s potential is best realized through His work in our lives.  Let Him work.

Daily Journaling Questions:
How did I help someone in kindness today?
What did I learn today?
What am I thankful for?
Who did I love today?
What am I dreaming of?
What about today do I want to remember forever?
What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,

Jake

Thursday, November 7, 2013

We Know... Jesus

“Where is the wisdom we’ve lost in knowledge.”  T.S. Elliot

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  James 1:5

Veracity:  “conformity to facts; accuracy”  New Oxford American Dictionary

During a 1982 crusade at what is now PGE park in Portland, Oregon, Billy Graham recalled that when he was younger in the 40s and 50s the common question was, “What is truth?”  Then in 1982 he noted that the question had changed to, “Why does it matter?”  And now, I think the questions have largely transformed into the statement, “We know.”  Turn on a scientific documentary.  Google the history of humanity.  Try to find out what is known about the earth and universe.  What you will find is that in almost every instance, the words, “We know,” will be prevalent.  Even though the history of humanity from a purely scientific perspective is known only through theories based on many assumptions.  Even though the formation of the universe is only comprehended through hypothesis with very little observation.  Somehow you will see over and over how we know that 3 million years ago, or 6 trillion years ago…  Something specific happened.  I’m not trying to disparage science.  I love and respect science.  It is the the attempt and often the ability to understand our physical world.  However, one of the first things I learned in college chemistry is that the words, “We know,” have no place in science.  We formulate questions, we hypothesize, and we theorize about what we observe.  But we do not know.  Because once, “We know,” science becomes static and its function is useless.  “We know” led to people being excommunicated and put to death because they thought the earth was round.  As much as we have learned, as much as we have observed, as much as we understand the properties of our existence; the one thing we can be sure of, is that, “We do not know.”  But we have lost the ability to humbly observe.  We long for knowledge and shove aside wisdom to look like we have it.  We don’t want there to be questions.  Because questions allow us to be wrong.  Through it all there is Jesus.  Through all the uncertainty of life.  There is Jesus.  “How do you know?”  One could easily ask.  And the answer wouldn’t be just scientific.  It would also be spiritual.  We believe in Jesus because of what He’s done in our hearts.  Because of how He’s changed the world.  Because of the predictions He made and the truth we’ve found in them.  We all need Jesus.  That’s why boys and girls, young and old around the globe give their lives to Him after one hour of learning about Him.  That’s why when we think of the Cross and what He did for us, it is moving to our core.  Humanity can’t do that.  Empirical evidence alone can’t change a heart.  It’s the Holy Spirit in us that draws us to God.  You demand, “Prove it!”  I say, the proof is in your heart.  We all feel it.  However, for many.  The faith is too hard.  The sacrifice is too great.  Even though the Bible has been tested more than any other document.  Even though its been empirically verified over and over.  Even though it makes predictions that have come true.  Even though, through it all, it has never been meaningfully changed, except in dialect.  Even though we are learning more and more about its origin.  Even though it is by far the most scientifically verifiable ancient document, as far as archeology, origin and consistency are concerned.  Even though…  It’s not the Bible that proves God.  The proof is in our hearts.  Jesus’ love has changed our world and our lives, if only through our surroundings.  “Today if you hear His voice,” the Bible says, “Do not harden your hearts.” *  Let Jesus in.  It’s not an abandonment of science.  With Him science becomes more interesting than ever.  Because it’s not just a study of what is, but it becomes a study of the gifts He’s given and the wonderment of the system He created.  Let Jesus into your heart.  It’s not ignorant or stupid.  It’s the most verifiable believe system there is.  It’s been tried and tested and left without fault.  But more importantly.  Let Jesus in.  Because He can change a heart.  He can give meaning to life and heal brokenness.  If you want, if you need, a change, let Him in.

*Hebrews 3:15

Daily Journaling Questions:
How did I help someone in kindness today?
What did I learn today?
What am I thankful for?
Who did I love today?
What am I dreaming of?
What about today do I want to remember forever?
What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,

Jake

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Be You Now

“You were put on this earth to achieve your greatest self, to live out your purpose, and to do it fearlessly.”  Steve Mariboli

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  Genesis 1:27

Eminent:  “standing out so as to be readily perceived or noted”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

As I was wiring up the stereo in our living room, my wife asked me, “Why do you know how to do everything?”  The truth is, I don’t know how to do everything.  I don’t know how to do most things.  But I do know how to work with my hands and build things, and wire stereo systems up.  And I guess there’s a big part of me that rejects the idea that I can’t do certain things.  I reject the idea that people are limited.  From the time I can remember I watched my dad do everything around the house.  He fixed the cars, the windows and the carpet.  And he went to work and machined and welded and built and managed and ran heavy equipment.  To me he knew how to do everything.  And maybe a little of that rubbed off on me.  I didn’t know how to build a cabinet, until I tried.  I didn’t know how to work on cars until I just did it.  There are certain things however, I can’t do, and that I’ve come to the conclusion I probably won’t do.  Playing the piano.  Ice Hockey.  Rock climbing.  I don’t know how people read two lines of music and work the pedal on a piano.  It boggles me.  I’ve played floor hockey and was not good.  I’ve also tried to ice skate.  Putting the two together is beyond me.  Hanging on to a cliff thousands of feet off the ground by my fingertips?  Probably not going to try it.  But that doesn’t mean my life is a failure.  There aren’t too many people that are better at basketball than Lebron James.  However, there isn’t anyone that isn’t better at something than he is.  Maybe it’s sewing.  Or singing!  Maybe it’s simply the ability to make someone smile.  We all are gifted.  But too often we ignore our gifts chasing after impossible dreams.  I know, I’m not supposed to acknowledge the word impossible.  Especially in a message designed to encourage.  But there are impossibilities, and too often they limit our possibilities.  There is no limit to what we can do when we focus on our gifts.  There’s no limit to what God can do through us when we use His gifts He’s given.  Lebron James…  Praise the Lord, he’s using his gifts.  Google…  That’s a company full of gifts being used.  Your home…  I know there are gifts ready to change the world in it.  We may not end up being what we dreamed about as kids.  However, we can be so much more.  God has given us the ability to change the world.  He’s blessed us with something no one else has quite like us.  Each one of us is special, excellent, and outstanding in ways no one else is.  Be you now.  Be what you were made to be now.  Be great!  Because greatness is in you.  And greatness is waiting for you through Christ Jesus our Lord.  Remember He made you in His image.

Daily Journaling Questions:
How did I help someone in kindness today?
What did I learn today?
What am I thankful for?
Who did I love today?
What am I dreaming of?
What about today do I want to remember forever?
What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,

Jake

Monday, November 4, 2013

Know The News

“The Bible is one of the greatest blessings bestowed by God on the children of men.  It has God for its author; salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture for its matter.  It is all pure.”  John Locke

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39

Tense:  “a distinction of form in a verb to express distinctions of time or duration of the action or state it denotes”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Third and three with just 15 yards needed to score a touchdown.  Less than two minutes left in regulation.  Down by seven points.  Without a first down on this play, the game is probably over.  Without a score in the next minute an a half, the game is definitely over.  This is my team, we need to score.  If you’re a football fan you probably think you know how I’m feeling.  You probably think my heart is beating fast, that I’m stressed, that adrenaline is kicking in.  And normally you would be right.  But not today.  Today I’m as calm as could be.  I’m enjoying every play.  Impressed with the skill of the players.  Relaxed.  It’s because I know the outcome.  I know they’re gonna score and go on to win the game in overtime.  I’m watching for the enjoyment, not for the news.  What if we could live like that?  Every moment we live is news.  We have no way of knowing for sure, what’s going to happen three minutes from now let alone three years.  Our lives can change in an instant.  Success can turn to defeat; failure into significance.  Life is a surprise.  I didn’t know the results of every play of the game I was watching.  I didn’t know if a run play would end in a loss or a twenty yard gain.  I didn’t know if a pass would be caught or intercepted.  Still, I wasn’t worried, because I knew the outcome.  And we can know the outcome as well.  Time and time again God’s word promises an outcome for us.  An outcome that we can all look forward to, no matter what day to day events affect our lives.  When Isaiah prophesied Jesus’ crucifixion in Isaiah 52 and 53, he didn’t talk about it like it was going to happen.  He talked about it like it had already happened, using past tense in his language.  And so when we freely accept the grace of God through Jesus Christ, we too can use the past tense to refer to our life’s outcome.  I am justified, I have been redeemed, I have been saved.  And so we look forward to seeing Jesus face to face.  We’re not living life for the news story at the end.  We’re living for the experience and the opportunity.  Somehow through that perspective, we can enjoy the good things a little more, and endure the bad things a little better.  Because we know the outcome.  That it’s good.  That it’s even perfect.  That it will bring unity and peace.  That as far as God is concerned…  It’s already happened.  Because He’s promised it.

Daily Journaling Questions:
How did I help someone in kindness today?
What did I learn today?
What am I thankful for?
Who did I love today?
What am I dreaming of?
What about today do I want to remember forever?
What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,

Jake

Friday, November 1, 2013

He's Still Here

“There’s a reason they call God a presence - because God is right here right now.”  Elizabeth Gilbert from Eat Pray Love

God is our refuge and strength, 
a very present help in trouble.  
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, 
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
Psalms 46:1

Animalcule:  “a minute or microscopic animal, nearly or quite invisible to the naked eye, as an infusorian or rotifer”  dictionary.com

Where is God when time runs out?  Where is He when the deadline is looming and there’s no possible way to meet it?  Where is He when the human factors of life are overwhelming?  And when tempers rage?  He’s still here.  He’s still here even though life is difficult.  He’s still here even when life is ending.  He’s still here.  It’s not always easy to see.  Sometimes He has to be sought.  Throw a stone into a pond and the surface becomes a jumbled mess of ripples and waves.  When we look at it, it is difficult to see anything but the tumultuous effects of the stone.  But look at that pond undisturbed, it’s surface like glass.  When we look at it what do we see?  We see our reflection.  We see the world around us and what’s happening in it.  In many ways life is like that pond.  When it is disrupted and messy all we can see is the mess.  It’s hard to see anything else but the effects of the stones thrown at our lives.  However, when life is good, it’s hard to see past ourselves.  We focus on what we are, the things happening in our lives.  Our thoughts become mirrors of life that we can’t see past.  But Jesus is in that pond too.  And He’s not always walking on the water.  Often He’s below the surface.  Seeing Him requires concentration and purposeful effort.  We have to try to see past the waves.  We have to try to see past ourselves.  And just below the surface, there He is.  When the 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed by white supremacists in Selma, Alabama at 10:22 AM on the Sunday morning of September 15, 1963, the results of the blast quickly became the easiest thing to see.  It’s wake left four little girls dead.  And America was forever changed.  September 11, 2001 sent a shockwave that is still clearly evident.  Two of the world’s largest buildings fell.  Thousands of people died.  War began.  Jesus was still there.  He was still in Selma and He was still in New York and Washington and a Pennsylvania field.  Through all of life’s tragedies He’s still here.  Of all the broken glass in the Selma church that morning, it was noticed that in the stained glass window depicting, “The Good Shepherd,” only one pane was broken, it was the pane that bore Jesus’ face.  And out of the twisted metal carcass of the fallen World Trade Center in New York City many saw something that gives us hope.  From the rubble rose a cross formed from the frame of the destroyed building.  You can see that cross at the museum at Ground Zero.  He’s still here…  It’s not always easy to see Him.  But He’s still here.

Daily Journaling Questions:
How did I help someone in kindness today?
What did I learn today?
What am I thankful for?
Who did I love today?
What am I dreaming of?
What about today do I want to remember forever?
What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,

Jake