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, February 28, 2014

The Anger Seed

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” - Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross

Do to be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the  one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. - Galatians 6:7-9

Angry: “painfully inflamed” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Have you ever noticed, most of the things we get angry at are the things we don’t understand? Not just that, but things we don’t understand but care about the most in the moment. I get the most frustrated at traffic when I can’t see the girl crying in a broken car up ahead. What in the world! I exclaim, as if someone is purposefully trying to make me late to work. Not too long ago I got upset at my wife for a small thing. Something I should have done anyway. Or at least asked her. Somehow I expected her to just do it out of her power of telepathy. I didn’t understand. So a rushed out of the house, headed to town to take care of that stupid little errand. I got a text when I got there. She said, “I feel so defeated today. I feel like I can’t make anyone happy.” We’ve all felt defeated. We’ve all felt like we can’t please anyone. But how often do we understand that others feel that way too? Speaking for myself, not very often. Be careful with your anger. Most of the time it’s not warranted. Most of the time it will do far more damage than good. Most of the time we don’t understand. So try and understand. What’s going on in the life of the person we’re bothered by? What’s happening up ahead we haven’t found out about? What’s in our hearts that needs to be removed? Give patience a shot. Give someone the benefit of the doubt. Just give what grace we can. Our actions can destroy or they can build. Our moods can break or heal. Our reactions make all the difference. To a defeated person, a defeated day, they can turn failure into the greatest of victories. To a frustrating situation, an annoyance, they can convert a negative into a model of positivity. Let’s seek to understand before we pull the trigger on our reactions. Let’s try to see, to open our eyes to what we’re blinded to, before we react in a damaging way. Let’s use our reactions to make a difference for good, not for the worst. Our reactions, our tempers, our moods, our actions; always plant a seed. And you will always reap what you sow.

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, February 27, 2014

The Christian Power Problem

“It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.” Aung San Suu Kyi

And he (Paul) entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way (Christians) before the congregation, he withdrew form them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. - Acts 19:8-10

Legislate: “to control, create, or cause (something) by making laws” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Christians have a problem in the west right now. Especially in America. The problem is with our power. Nowhere in the New Testament does anyone talk about how to rule the world. But here we are. A nation founded, in large part, on the principles of Christianity. A nation whose never had a president that wasn’t Christian. A nation who’s motto is “In God we trust.” The most powerful nation in the world… Where are the instructions? I say all this as Christianity is under attack. Biblical principles are being thrown back at us as oppressive and discriminatory. And in all honesty they are. The Bible discriminates against every person who’s ever been born except for Jesus. It discriminates because it holds to the standard of perfection, and no one except the Son of God has ever achieved that. In the lists of don’ts in the Bible we can all find a struggle. And so what do we do with those principles. We do our best to live by them of course. We do that by first loving God, then loving others. But what do we do with laws? We’ve all heard the phrase “You can’t legislate morality.” I’ve even used it myself. But sure you can. That’s the entire point of legislation. Stealing is wrong, so we legislate against it. We write laws every day to stop wrongful acts. But where do we stop? If as Christians we’re writing the laws, where do we stop expecting others to live by our standards? Just recently I read from a Christian source that we as Christians should basically stop whining about the war on our culture because we suffer the least amount of discrimination of any group. The problem is, it’s not true. Profess your faith as a Christian and see what happens. Maybe not much here in America, but throughout most of the world, you could be punished. Go to most any Arab country and profess Christ as God. Even in the most liberal you will be jailed when caught. Then go to China, North Korea, India, Pakistan… Christianity may be the most populous religion in the world, but it is also the most oppressed religion in the world. Christianity is popular for one reason; Christ! The apostle Paul knew that. That’s why when he came under attack in today’s Bible passage he just straight left. And guess what? That’s how the Way, what we call Christianity today, became so popular. The attack forced it to spread. But here we are as Christians, bearing the responsibility of making rules. As we come under attack. As we follow Jesus. Remember where the power lies. It’s not in the righteousness of our rules. It’s not in political office. It’s in Christ. We may be right. We do have a responsibility to form a just and good society. But give Christ first. People aren’t going to be saved by telling them the Bible says their wrong. People can only be saved by Christ. To most, the Bible is just words. But to those who follow Jesus, He is the power behind those words. Because God is the only one who can act on them. Where do we stop with the rules? I don’t know. But give Christ first. Then maybe move. Maybe there’s somewhere else that needs Jesus too.

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, February 26, 2014

The Greatest Idea

“Idea’s are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas.” - Joseph Stalin

Three things will last forever - faith, hope and love - and the greatest of these is love. - 1 Corinthians 13:13

Idea: “a transcendent entity that is a real pattern of which existing things are imperfect representations” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

I read a statement recently that said, “People are more important than ideas.” There’s a greater context to the statement for sure. It came in overall thought that we should, in general, respect each other’s beliefs and ideas. And while I agree with the sentiment. People are not more important than ideas. If that were the case, Jesus would have just been another innocent man put to death. Joining Himself to the millions of others who’ve shared the same fate throughout history. If that were true, having an idea would be meaningless because it wouldn’t have an affect on humanity. If it were true that people are more important than ideas, people would quickly become objects of worship and adoration. In a sense I agree that people are more important, simply because life is ultimately important. But it’s an idea that gives life. And ideas can take life too. Ideas have the ability to outlive these short lives we live on earth. Joseph Stalin had an idea, if anyone disagreed with it they died. Some thirty million of them died under the control of his ideas. Chairman Mao had an idea, all un-condoned religion would be abolished in China. Millions were persecuted and thousands died because of his idea. Despite all these ideas, and we all have some pretty bad ones; God has an idea too. He has an idea that is unlike any other, either in scope or in action. The idea that we could have everlasting life. That in and of itself is not too original. Most religions have a similar theory. However, God’s idea is greater than any other in that He sent His own Son to die for us as a sacrifice to atone for our sins; because He is the only worthy candidate. God’s ultimate idea is the greatest of loves. Love is the greatest idea, and it is God’s. He created it to be a part of our being. He created us surrounded by it. And He created it to save us. Because only God's love can save. Ideas are worth something. They are the instigator of everything, including life. Love, could there be a better idea? Jesus didn’t think so. That’s why He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” - Matthew 22:37b-40

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

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Why

“The devil can cite scripture for his purpose.” - William Shakespeare 

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. - Romans 5:3-6

Why: “for what reason or purpose” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Want to succeed? What’s the line, “If at first you fail, try, try again?” Perseverance is the key to success in anything. It gives us energy to try when we want to give in. It provides the motivation to try when we’ve already failed a thousand times. It is the magic elixir that created the light bulb in the hands of Thomas Edison. However, perseverance also killed six million Jews. It enslaved millions of Africans in America’s southern plantations and yankee mansions. And it’s alive and well in every negative emotion, every thought of doubt, and every tool the devil uses to stop the love of God. Perseverance alone is not what’s needed to change the world for the better. Perseverance needs its “Why.” Why give our money in the offering plate? Why not honk at the person driving too slow ahead? Why do what’s right, no one is looking? Why sponsor a child in need? Why leave everything behind to work for a country who’s not sure it even wants you within its borders? Why, why, why? I’ll tell you why. Because it makes all the difference. That’s why. Integrity, love, compassion, patience, peace; they’re all reasons why that turns mere perseverance into miracles. Not miracles performed by us, but by our Creator through us. To a child born to a slums poor gutter, a home with loving parents is a miracle. Adoption is a miracle. To the deformed, a kiss on the face from a Pope is a miracle. Love felt is a miracle. To a poor mother without food, a basket of hope is a miracle. Charity sees miracles performed every day. It’s those why’s that make all the difference. The miracle is in the why. Thousands of people died on Roman crosses. Jesus died there for a reason and that makes all the difference. People are often kind when they know they can get something in return. But when nothing can be returned… That’s when it really matters. All this takes perseverance. It’s not easy being kind when we’re in a hurry, we have to think about it. It’s not easy following Jesus in a crowd who thinks He’s simply a teacher, or a myth. It takes courage in the face of embarrassment. Charity is a life’s work, not just a nights good deed. It takes perseverance. But the why makes all the difference. The why is found on a smiling face who’s tears a drying. The why is in the lump of the throat at the thought of another innocent baby lost. The why is found in the feeling of helplessness in a world full of need. The why needs a partner. That partner is good old perseverance. But this time perseverance has a purpose that can change everything.

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, February 24, 2014

Raised To Life

Raised to life
With Christ the Savior
In His name
A new Creation
Now our song with rise
Adoring Christ the Lord
Sin was strong
But Jesus is stronger!
Our shame was great
But Jesus you’re greater!
Excerpt from the song Raised To Life by Elevation Worship

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” And they began to celebrate. - Luke 15:20-24 (from Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son)

Accusation: “a charge or claim that someone has done something illegal or wrong” - New Oxford American Dictionary

A little personal experience. Yesterday, (Sunday Feb. 23, 2014), I witnessed a couple profound things. I saw the devil at work and I saw Jesus do His thing too. I saw death and I saw new life. I saw accusations and I saw affirmation. 
Yesterday I saw a church (Elevation Church) from Charlotte, NC accused of success through manipulation. Isn’t it it funny that when a church is not successful for some reason the devil accuses God of being powerless to change a life. Then when a He shows His power, the devil then tries to attribute it to himself by suggesting manipulation, presentation, or entertainment were responsible. Presentation does help a church. Good music draws an audience. A pastor can influence a heart. But that doesn’t mean God isn't involved. You think God doesn’t like His music to be good? You think God is happy with a passionless leader? You think God doesn’t get involved in inspiration? God created beautiful, you don’t think He ordains it for His work too? 
Yesterday I saw a grandmother pass away. You know, the devil’s first move was to accuse God of lying. He convinced Adam and Eve to disobey God by convincing them that God wasn’t quite open with the whole story. He told them they could be like God if they disobeyed Him and ate of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And he did a good job. Adam and Eve succumbed to the temptation and thus we die. Our death is satan’s goal. It always has been, always will be. That’s why he tempted Adam and Eve. That’s why he tries to shut down God’s ministries today. That’s why we are cursed with mourning. But death, although a reality, was never the goal of God. Rather a choice was His goal. Quite the opposite of what satan would have us believe. God didn’t want drones, He wanted free allegiance, He wanted love. And His reward is new life because He first loved us. 
I also saw in response to the recent accusations, Elevation Church held a spontaneous baptism last night where hundreds were raised to new life in Jesus. And it’s that new life in Jesus that gives us the ability to transcend this life and be raised to a life with God after we die. And I saw that too. Don’t ever let the devil convince you that God doesn’t have the power to work in your life. That song that means so much, sure the tune is good and that helps, but God is working through it too. That church service that was so moving. It helps that the pastor is eloquent, but don’t forget, God has to be there too. That feeling of peace after a loved one’s death. It’s not just because the suffering is over, the hope of salvation through the Cross has something to do with it too. The devil has more tricks up his proverbial sleeve than you or I could ever think of. He’s an accusation specialist. Don’t believe a word he says. The Bible says of him, “He is a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” - John 8:44b Thank God for His Son Jesus, who died on the Cross and rose again from the tomb, so that we could also find new life in 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, February 21, 2014

An Abundant Savior

“It’s not about how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” - Mother Teresa

Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for Him there. Martha serve, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with Him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples (he who was about to betray Him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” - John 12:1-8

Abundance: “plentifulness of the good things of life; prosperity” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Yesterday I wrote about the value of our lives. The value of the moments we experience, live, and create. But how? What makes a moment valuable? Is what we’re doing right now worth anything? Depression sets in. Guilt starts to overcome. What can you do? Is what we’re doing enough? Could I do more? You can almost hear the voices telling you that you’re worthless. That you’ll never change anything. That you’re not working hard enough. And even if you were, you’re not smart enough. Change the formula! Here’s what I mean. Most of us believe that if we’re doing something good we will be rewarded, told so, or at least feel like it. We’d like to believe that the money we give should come with a product we can see. We want the work we do to show, to be visible, to come with a thank you. In other words, we want to be able to add up the value of our costs and our worth to what we do. We want to be able to say that we gave a thousand dollars and a thousand dollars of food went into the bellies of hungry orphans. We want to be able to say that we spent 20 hours at the homeless shelter and 20 people moved into new homes. We’d like to… But we can’t. The value of our lives doesn’t really work that way. Change the formula! Is what we’re doing worth remembering 50 years from now? Is what you’re doing worth telling your kids about? Is what I’m doing worth someone else’s time? That might not always look like toiling in the mission field. It might not look like all the money’s gone from your bank account. It might not look like every second is spent on someone else. It might look like a night spent with the family. A good book to learn and enjoy. A movie. Perhaps even the olympics, cheering for your countries athletes. There are many things worth doing and remembering that can be enjoyed. We should have joy and happiness in our lives. Jesus didn’t perform miracles every second of His life. He didn’t preach throughout His entire ministry. He didn’t even come onto the ministry scene until He was 30 years old. Jesus had a family He spent time with. He had friends He loved. He helped keep at least one party going. Jesus simply loved. The perfume Mary used to wash Jesus’ feet would have cost the average person a years salary. Imagine burning up $30,000 just to praise Jesus. Couldn’t that money be used to dig a bunch of wells or stock the shelves of a food bank? Of course it could, but that wasn’t the point. The point is loving; and loving Jesus. How we do that will sometimes look like a waste. Or at least the devil would have us think so. However, Jesus isn’t a God of scarcity. He is a Savior of abundance. Following Him isn’t about giving up all we have, but gaining all He is. That may look like getting rid of our stuff sometimes, and sometimes it may not. Our stuff is not the point. Our heart is what matters. Our heart is where value is formed. And it’s our heart that Jesus wants. Satan is about our stuff, our desire for it and our guilt from it. Jesus is about our heart. He wants it, not to make us worth less, but to make us priceless. Change the formula! Give your heart to Jesus and let Him decide what you’re worth. 

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, February 20, 2014

Setting The Price

“A man who dares to wast one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” - Charles Darwin

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds the promise for the present life and also for the life to come. - 1 Timothy 4:7-8

Price: “the cost at which something is obtained” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Can you measure what it will take to win? Can you calculate what success will cost? Can you add up what you will go through in this life? Life is a series of priceless moments. Some in a good way, some not good at all. There’s no way to put a price on a life. There’s no method for valuing the meaning of a moment. However, the way we treat our moments can affect their value. What we do with our time can greatly impact the significance of our lives. Whether we will be defeated or stand up again. Whether we use our time to make a difference or expect things to go on without us. It’s up to us. If you have kids, you have an influence on the future. If you have parents, you can put a value on history by learning from them. If you have a husband, a wife, a brother or a sister, a friend, neighbor, or otherwise; you can make a difference. We can’t put a price on life, but a difference is always valued. There are people and animals, flora and fauna, across the world that can value what you do. Not monetarily, not measurably, but instead, beyond measure. It may take changing our lives. It may not. It may just mean changing the way we do what we do. Working to the fullest at our current job. Doing our best when it doesn’t really matter too much. Giving someone a smile when none would ever be expected. It’s possible to be valuable right where you’re at. And it’s what’s in us that determines the value we can bring. Do we have a spirit for others? Do we feel the hurts and the needs of this world? Is our heart sensitive? Has Jesus changed our focus? He gave His life at a price of 30 pieces of silver, the price of a servant. But He was worth more than any price could pay. The words of the Hymn are true, “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.” Want your life to be valuable? Want to make a difference? Realize the price paid for you. That price was simply ALL. How much is All worth. What can we say except thank you? 

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, February 19, 2014

More Than Healing

“Only when we cease to rely on our own strength can we discover that God’s strength is always there for us.” - Scott Hahn

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. - Psalm 27:14

Reliance: “dependence on or trust in someone or something” - New Oxford American Dictionary

The baby is finally calm. I’m comfortable laying on the couch taking a nap. Warm breath fills my air supply. A gentle but persistent pant slowly wakes me.  And as soon as my eyes open I’m greeted with a wet tongue across my face. It’s somewhere around seven. I don’t have to look at a clock, I know because it’s time for my dogs to eat and they’re not shy about reminding me. There’s no ignoring it. The hot breath might leave for a couple minutes, but it will be back. The only escape is to get up and feed those dogs. It’s a good thing God is better than me. Otherwise we’d all go lonely for a long time. Thirsty for longer than we need. Asking without an answer. However, God let’s us wait sometimes too. He wants us to ask. He wants us to know the hand the feeds us. That’s why Jesus was glad that He wasn’t available to heal Lazarus before He died. That’s also why when He came to Lazarus’ tomb, “Jesus wept.” - John 11:35 Jesus was glad because He had more than just healing in His hands. There was a greater blessing to come, and the only way to receive it was through death. Jesus didn’t want to simply heal Lazarus, after all, healing often comes by way of a placebo, Jesus wanted to raise Lazarus from the dead.  And so He waited four days.  He waited until Lazarus’ body was decomposing and nothing but a miracle from God could do anything about it. Because that’s what it takes for us to believe. Ignoring the miracles of creation all around us. Forgetting the blessings we’ve received. Chocking everything we know up to time, nothing, and chance. We don’t believe. We forget. We doubt. My dogs never have a problem knowing how to get a meal at dinner time. They know how to go outside when they need to. They know where to go when they're thirsty. And so does my baby. They come to their guardian. Even though I’m not and you aren’t and we will never be able to care like our God. So why don’t we? Why don’t we simply know where to go in our need? Why don’t we go back to that well when thirsty? There is more than healing in His hands. There is resurrection and life. Maybe you’re feeling like you need a resurrection right now? Maybe you feel as dead inside as the bodies beneath the tombstones you drove past yesterday? Maybe you’re hungry for more or thirsty for life? Maybe you’ve forgotten like we all have? Maybe you don’t know how to change? Jesus is the answer. He is the source of life and birth. He wants to raise us all from right where we’re at to a new life in Him. Never be afraid to ask Him for more.  For life and health. For comfort and peace. He’s waiting for us to learn to wait on Him. He’s the Savior of the world, treat Him like 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

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Our Perfect Defense

“He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.” - Confucius

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. - 1 Peter 5:8

Surreptitious: “kept secret, esp. because it would not be approved of” - New Oxford American Dictionary

One of the most popular songs on the radio right now is a love song that warns of dark magic if things go wrong. The chorus goes like this.

"So you wanna play with magic
Boy, you should know what you're falling for
Baby do you dare to do this?
Cause I’m coming at you like a dark horse
Are you ready for, ready for
A perfect storm, perfect storm
Cause once you’re mine, once you’re mine
There’s no going back"

To be honest, I'm not sure what to make of the song. I wish I could like it, cause it has a tune that I enjoy. But I'm afraid of its dark side too. I'm afraid of where magic can take us. Should I be ok with listening to a song about dark magic? Am I taking it way too seriously? I don't know. But there’s a larger issue than the song anyway. What I do know is this. The devil doesn't show you his whole plan for you. He doesn’t reveal his hand up front and then ask if you wanna put your chips down. Instead he whittles at you bit by bit. Entices you and even pressures you. Remember the scene in Finding Nemo * when Dory finds a cute little jellyfish. She says "I shall call him squishy and he shall be mine." Of course the cute little squishy is a harbinger of more to come. The cute little jelly happens upon them because of the mass of big dangerous ones up ahead. That's what we're dealing with too. It's the little things that suck us in. The little piece of candy taken at no harm. The movie snuck into at no expense. The devil doesn't want us to see the harm or the expense. Not at first at least. He wants us to be desensitized to the damage he does. He wants us to follow down a path he's chosen, and he prefers we never even realize it. He doesn't want us to know where he's leading. That's why we must be careful with every little thing we put into our hearts. Every little thing has the potential to make room for a bigger thing. With everything we should ask ourselves, "What is this leading towards?" If it's not towards the Father..? Satan and this world are surreptitious with their temptations. They want us to sink into alcoholism, drug abuse, crime; without ever knowing the difference. Because once we're there, it's extremely difficult to escape. Often times the great damage of the deadly axe is done by the simple cord tied to bind. In all this there is good news. We can’t free ourselves from evil, but Jesus allowed Himself to be bound and crucified by it so that He could defeat it for us. There’s only one way to escape, it’s through Jesus. There’s only one way to Jesus. It’s not good works, it’s not resisting temptation, it’s not calling out the devil and rejecting the world. It’s simply accepting Him into our hearts. It’s simple, it’s not elaborate. However, it will change you completely. Of course for the better. If you haven't, accept Jesus today, He is our perfect defense.

Finding Nemo is a 2003 Disney Pixar animated movie about a father clown fish who finds adventure searching for his son Nemo through the Great Barrier Reef. 

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?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Have Mercy!

“I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.” - Abraham Lincoln

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of  your Father who is in heaven.  For He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” - Jesus - Matthew 5:43-45

Mercy: “an event to be grateful for, esp. because its occurrence prevents something unpleasant or provides relief from suffering” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Yesterday I wrote about some of the things that can break our hearts.  I wrote about making a difference to those things.  About the fact that we should care, we should open our eyes, that we should let those things stir our consciousness.  But how?  How do we approach those things without making victims of our own?  Medical doctors make a promise called the Hippocratic Oath.  In it, it states, “First do no harm.”  Sadly we too often inflict harm when we mean to heal.  We inflict harm with our judgement, ridicule, and self-righteousness.  Those abortions that break our hearts.  They’re often agreed to by mothers who’ve been fooled by society and culture.  What if you learned that you lost a grandson because your daughter was afraid to tell you about a “shameful” pregnancy?  What if you found out someone’s daughter died of AIDS because you refused to do anything for a “gay” disease?  I can’t and don’t need to conjure up every possible scenario, but…  What if?  As Christians, as people trying to help; we should approach every person with the same mercy we approach every wound of this world.  Because every person should be considered a child of God.  Love is the medicine that heals the hurts science can’t touch.  Love is the balm that salves the wounds humanity can’t sooth.  And it’s that love that should be applied to every hurt and every person without hesitation.  Whoever you’re thinking of right now, friend or otherwise, love them first.  Anything else is up to God.

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, February 13, 2014

Open Your Eyes And See

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.  We must always take sides.  Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” - Elie Wiesel

“But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.  For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear and did not hear it.” - Jesus - Matthew 13:16-17

Vision: “the faculty or state of being able to see: the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Too often we blind ourselves to the faults of this world, then look around and see nothing wrong.  We read about the Israelites in the Bible and wonder how they could be so wrong, so cruel, and so disobedient.  Wasn’t it obvious to them?  We ask.  But how in the world are we different?  They were wrong to worship idols, but how often do we leave what we enjoy to do something for God?  Or for another person?  We go to church, but don’t allow it to affect our lives outside the Christian community.  We stand by, ok with baby after baby having its limbs torn off because a mother is afraid to become a mom.  Why?  Not because we don’t care about those things.  I can’t imagine the person ok with a viable baby being torn apart while still alive.  But it happens all the time.  It’s not because we don’t care about people dying from AIDS around the world.  That happens every day too.  It’s not because we enjoy cruelty, or death, or injustice; we hate all of that.  It’s because too often we refuse to see it.  If it’s not on the news then it doesn’t happen.  Genocide happens every day.  Infants are torn apart every day during abortions.  Every day a poor man on the streets succumbs to their exposure.  Are we brave enough to see it?  Do we have the courage to look?  To open our eyes and feel the pain?  It takes courage to expose our feelings to hurt, because once exposed, it becomes harder to turn away.  It’s hard to keep silent when evil overcomes love.  It’s hard to live with the rejection of others in our own heart.  It’s hard to forget the face of pain.  Let’s refuse to mask it any longer.  No one would be happy to ignore their disease with a painkiller.  Everyone wants the source of pain to be removed, because it’s the source, not the pain that kills.  So why do we allow disease to run rampant in our world?  Why are we willing to deaden the pain with ignorance?  Let’s do something.  Let’s pray for courage for one another.  It’s not an easy proposition for me to think about either.  But I’m tired of hearts being broken with no-one to care.  We can’t stop every ill.  Satan is too powerful.  But we can mend a wound here and there, and for those wounds we’ve healed, that’s all that matters.

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, February 12, 2014

The Jesus Lifestyle

“Many people mistake our work for our vocation.  Our vocation is the love of Jesus.” - Mother Teresa

Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. - 1 Corinthians 13:6-7

Evangelize: “to preach the gospel” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Jesus isn’t a spiritual diet to be started an given up on like something you’d see on TV.  Jesus is a lifestyle that encompasses all of you.  He’s not a fad, He’s everlasting.  We may come and go, but He remains.  However, Jesus isn’t easy to follow all of the time.  Sometimes it is simply hard.  Like the times when you want the guys to think you’re cool.  Or the times when the girls think you’re weak.  Just stop and let your brain talk to you and see what thoughts appear.  If you’re anything like me, thoughts of doubt, thoughts of inadequacy, thoughts of naivety start showing up.  Who and what you surround yourself with makes a difference.  The things we think about have an impact.  When our thoughts are on this world, Jesus becomes almost impossible.  But when our thoughts are on Jesus, this world loses it’s influence and importance.  Who cares what a guy on TV says about what we believe?  Who cares?  Satan has filled this world with distractions and ridicule.  It’s hard to maintain a lifestyle among them.  But think on these things the Bible says.  “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” - Philippians 4:8  What we think about is key.  What we think about often becomes irresistible.  Whether it’s sex, or drugs, or music.  Or whether it’s Jesus.  What we think about has the power to control our desires.  Think about Jesus.  Did people make fun of Him?  Ya they did.  But He rose from the grave.  Did people beat Him up?  They actually tortured and killed Him.  But He rose from the grave.  Will we face resistance in our lifestyle of Christ.  Yes we will.  But Jesus rose from the grave.  And when your Lord and Savior has the power to do miracles, to heal leprosy, to restore sight, to calm seas, to lead like Jesus and then rise from the dead; who cares what other people think about you.  Care instead about what Jesus thinks of them.  That He loves them and He said we should too.  Always keep Jesus in your thoughts, keep Him in your life, and keep His love in your heart.  He rose from the grave, and it’s that resurrection that empowers Him in our lives.  And that empowerment is our ability to love.  Look at mother Teresa, she simply loved because of Jesus.  Who makes fun of her for that?  Maybe it’s not our beliefs that people disrespect so much as our actions in spite of our beliefs.

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

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Where Jesus Leads

“Just because nobody complains doesn’t mean all parachutes are perfect.” - Benny Hill

Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world - the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life - is not from the Father but is from the world.  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. - 1 John 2:15-17

Viral: “quickly and widely spread or popularized especially by person-to-person electronic communication” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

“Cold night.”
Beau said, warming by the fire and examining the embers closely as if they would reveal something eventually.
 “Good thing we have this fire to help keep us warm.  The only problem is that my shins feel like the skin is melting off them and I still can’t seem to get my back warm.”
Beau’s friend Tom responded, looking off into the forest as if it had something to reveal too.
“It’s a funny thing about fire,” Beau continued.  “It affects everything around it.  I mean we would freeze to death without this fire.  It seems like a funny thing to say, but I’m so thankful for fire.”
“Not to mention the forest,”  Tom replied
“What do you mean?”
“The forest!  This little fire could set the whole thing ablaze.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be careful, like Smokey Bear says, ‘Only you can prevent forest fires.’”
“That’s not what I mean Beau, I’m just amazed at how fire works.  Have you ever noticed how hard it is to get just one stick to burn.  You need two or three.  And then once you get a mess of em going, you can barely stop it.”
“Hey do you remember that song we learned when we were kids?”  Tom asked excitedly
“What song?”  
“The one about a spark.  Remember, the one that goes, 
‘It only takes a spark to get a fire going, 
And soon all those around can warm up by the glowing.
That’s how it is with God’s love,
Once you’ve experienced it
You’ll spread His love
To everyone
You want to pass it on.’”
“Ya, I remember that song, it was one of the only Christian songs a liked back then.”
“Tom, do you think that all fires are like God?  I mean do you think the forest fires that destroy homes are a God thing too?  Do you think God is really in control and that He’s the only one that causes stuff to happen down here?”
“Not at all Beau, there are a lot of fires going on down here.  Some of them good, some bad.  But fire kinda works the same, no matter the source.  You get too close to a fire and you will be burned.  It’s the same with depression and drugs and STDs I guess.  You get too close and they will get you.  That’s why I think it’s so important to stay close to the right fire.  You don’t want to roast your marshmallow next to a forest fire and you’ll regret going too far with the wrong crowd.”
“I don’t know Tom, I’ve asked Jesus into my heart before and to be honest it didn’t make any difference.  I just know there’s a lot more fun to be had without getting all judgmental.  I think it’s important to know a girl sexually.  I think getting to know about the world does a person good.  It rounds them out so they know how to get along…”
“Beau, I’ve been watching you for a little while now.  You can’t stop looking into that fire.  There’s nothing in there.  It may be beautiful, but once you stare into it you can’t see anything else.  It may be warm, but I know you wouldn’t put your hand into it.  You see what I mean.  This world may seem beautiful at times, but it blinds you to what is around.  Drugs make you feel good, but they also remove any sort of coherency.  I know you know that these things can hurt you.  Eventually they will burn you.  And what will the lesson be worth, your life?”
“But religion burns too.  Look at all the things people have done in the name of Christianity and all the other religions out there.  I kinda think they’re the most dangerous thing people have ever created.”
“I’m not talking about religion, I’m talking about Jesus, Beau.  I’m talking about His fire that doesn’t burn, that ignites a heart and warms thoroughly.  That hole in our hearts, the one that leaves us wanting to blame religion and God for the troubles we see.  Jesus can fill it.  Sure people have done some horrible things in the name of religion, but do you believe they were following Jesus.  Beau you know about Jesus and you know about people.  Where do you think Jesus would lead them?”
With that Tom put another log on the fire to watch it burn.

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, February 7, 2014

Beautiful In Its Own Way

"People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within." - Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. - Isaiah 1:18

Harbinger: “a person or thing that announces or signals the approach of another” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Looking out across the white world around our home, I can't help but think about how much snow is NOT like Jesus. Now I love snow, so don't think this is one of those anti-snow, I hate the cold rants. Rather, I can't help but be amazed at its beauty. At the way it covers ugliness with a blanket of perfection. The way it changes our perspective. How it nourishes the ground for spring. However, the snow will also produce its own ugliness. When it's here it makes everything a little more difficult. When it melts it leaves a muddy mess behind. And it never changes any of the blemishes it covers. All it can do is hide them in beauty for a little while. That's not like Jesus; the Savior who cleanses from the inside, the Son of God who is more interested in what's below the surface than an appearance, the God who creates permanent change. He's not a cover up, He's not into shallow beauty, He's into the things of the heart. The snow often reminds us of Jesus. It's ability to make all things beautiful. The way it brightens the landscape. It's perfectly white appearance. But it also is a harbinger of humanity. It doesn't last. It can only cover and can never fix. It comes with it's own built in problems. And when we think of it in that sort of metaphor, we realize how foolish it is to put our hopes in anything but God. When we hope in humanity we're always left disappointed with what it leaves behind. When we rely on cover ups, reality will always prevail. And although something may be beautiful, we know that human beauty won't last and that it brings with it problems of its own. No, there's nothing like Jesus. He doesn't whitewash or cover. He repairs and replaces. He doesn't disappear and disappoint, He remains. His presence is never a problem. Rather He's the solution to all the problems. No, snow is not like Jesus, but it sure can remind us to be thankful for Him. And that's beautiful in its own way. 

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,

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Escaping Justice

“I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.” - Thomas Jefferson

Be sure your sin will find you out. - Numbers 32:23b

Deference: “humble submission and respect” - New Oxford American Dictionary

On my way home from work one night, I heard a blues song on the radio.  It went something like this, “Do me a favor, keep my business to yourself.  I don’t want you to tell nobody, lord don’t tell nobody else.”  Of course the lyrics are speaking of an affair to keep secret, but how often do we wish the same?  How often do we want our secrets kept?  How often do we act like nobody will find out?  Or that no one sees?  We forget, the One that really matter sees everything we do.  He sees us when we’re in public and He sees us when nobody else can.  He even sees our thoughts and our tendencies.  What’s more, He’ll make a judgement on them.  To be honest, it sucks.  But you already knew that.  People inherently believe in justice.  Some call it just due.  Some call it karma.  Some call it simply getting what we deserve.  We all want justice, just not for us.  We all want mercy, just not for those who've done us wrong.  Without Jesus it’s all a giant big mess.  Fortunately, thankfully, we have Jesus.  He solves the problem of justice and injustice.  He’s able to save us all from our secrets.  He’s even able to help us accept and live with those we’ve wronged and those we’ve been wronged by.  He’s Jesus.  What more is there to say.  Everything is just a little depressing without Him.  Karma wants to get us all back.  But Jesus can change a heart and forgive all sins.  However, it takes a focus on and a deference to Him.  People want to punish, He wants to heal.  People want revenge, He wants recovery.  People don’t know anything but incrimination, He wants us all to understand justification.  Jesus flips the tables on us.  Remember the tables He flipped at the temple?  He’s flipping ours too.  Our neat little justice system; flipped.  Our picket lines of protest; upside down.  Our measurements of goodness and evil; scattered in the wind.  In Jesus there is more than a solution, there is an eraser.  The problem that can’t be solved?  It’s simply destroyed and wiped away.  The ill effects we live with?  Their causes no longer exist.  The struggle to balance good and evil?  Who needs to tilt a scale when it’s all good?  Jesus!  Do you have Him?  He’s the only way to escape the kind of justice we’re all trying to avoid.  He's the only source of mercy.

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, February 5, 2014

Indifference Kills

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.  The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference.  The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference.  And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” - Elie Wiesel

“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot.  Would that you were either cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.  For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.  I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.  Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me.  The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on My throne, as I also conquered and sat down with My Father on His throne.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” - Jesus - Revelation 3:15-22

Indifference: “lack of interest, concern, or sympathy” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Most of my life I’ve ended my prayers with, “In Jesus name, amen.”  You may be asking, “Why in the world do I care?”  And you’re right, who cares about how I close a prayer?  However, sometime ago, I’m not sure when, I added the phrase, “I love you.”  Still, who cares, right?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to suggest anything about prayer.  Rather, I want to talk about a relationship.  I love God.  I always have.  But over that past few years I’ve felt that love grow and flourish and prosper.  And over the past few years I’ve also been mad at God, and thankful to God, and passionate about God more than ever before.  It’s not because I added the words, “I love you” to my prayers.  Rather they both come in the same package.  A package of love.  With that love comes those other emotions we often feel guilty about.  Is it ok to be mad at God?  Shouldn’t we see how good God has been to us and the blessings He’s bestowed on us?  Shouldn’t we fear God, and shouldn’t that fear squelch negative emotions?  Here’s what human a relationships of love always eliminate.  Indifference.  Indifference means there’s no emotion.  No anger, no jealousy, no sadness, no joy, no love.  We should never be indifferent to God.  An indifference to God means that the love is gone.  And it’s in that love that relationship really exists.  Be mad at God.  Be frustrated with Him.  Wonder where He is.  Ask Him why.  And really, really, love Him!  All these things make a relationship.  And a relationship with God is what we need more than anything else.  So get with God.  Yell at Him if you need.  Realize the crap you’re going through.  Get into a relationship free of indifference.  In time you’ll see the good things too.  But don’t forget to look for them now.  They’re there.  Maybe they’re hidden under a pile of tears.  But they’re their.  Even Jesus asked God on the Cross, “Father, why have you forsaken Me.”  If Jesus can ask a question like that, you can too.  But to get to that point, the indifference has to go.  It kills.

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