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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Monday, March 31, 2014

Always Choose Hope

“Always choose hope.” - John Williams

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” - 1 Corinthians 15:50-55

Hope: “archaic a feeling of trust” - New Oxford American Dictionary

No doubt some things have gone down in your life. Some unfortunate things. Some great things. All the things that life can bring. As we grow older we’ll experience more and more of those things. We’ll see new life come into this world and we’ll see life taken away from us. Hopefully we’ll see good fortune in our lives, but we know that some crap will hit us too. Through it all there is hope. Through it all there is blessing. And through it all there God is. The source of life. Our source of hope. Our Savior who died on the Cross. I don’t know what you’re going through today. The joy you may be feeling. The sadness you’re just trying to get through. Or the peace you can’t quite explain. Whatever it is, we have a choice we can make. A choice that goes beyond being an optimist or a pessimist. A choice that is more than the way we see our proverbial glass. A choice that changes everything. We can choose hope. In the depths of despair we can choose hope. At the heights of accomplishment we can choose hope. At the place we are now… We can choose hope. Hope is no pipe dream or illusion. It’s no fairy tale or lie. Hope is what keeps us going when nothing else can. It’s what motivates us when all energy is gone. It is real. It is real like the tree swayed by the wind. It is real like the shore eroded by the current. It is real. Have you chosen hope this past week? Have you ever tried it? Is it something you hold on to? Without Jesus I would reject hope as a placebo. Without Jesus I could mock the hopeful. Without Jesus all hope would end in death. But because of Jesus we can hold onto hope. Because of Christ death has no sway. Because of Jesus hope transcends everything we know. Hope… Always choose hope.

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

A Work In Us

“Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential.” - Winston Churchill

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. - Ephesians 3:20-21

Potential: “latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness” - New Oxford American Dictionary

It’s hard starting something new. To try to learn new things and become proficient at new skills. If you’re at all like me, you want to be an expert the moment you start. I hate not being good at what I’m doing. As a result, I often give up too soon. I’m unwilling to go through the learning and skill building process. And that’s unfortunate because there are a lot of things we could do if we simply had the patience to learn how. I remember learning the guitar. It took a long time to learn enough cords to be able to play a song. But I didn’t give up. I remember learning how to read. It was hard learning all the sounds letters can make when they’re combined. But I didn’t give up. I can remember learning to ride a bicycle. I fell a lot at first. But I didn’t give up. So why do I give up learning so easily now? Maybe you’ve been feeling this too. Why do we learn how to give up so easily as we grow up? I don’t know. I’m sure it has something to do with our brain’s wiring or something like that. But I also think it has to do with pride as well. Speaking for myself alone. I’m often too proud to try something I’m not good at. If I’m not good at whatever it is I’m trying, I simply stop. When we were kids, pride didn’t come into the equation so easily. I didn’t expect to be able to read right away, I didn’t expect to be able to ride a bike out of the blue, I expected to be a horrible guitar player for a while. So pride didn’t come into the process. But there was something more. That something was expectation. At the same time that I didn’t expect to be good in the moment, I expected to become better, to someday be proficient, to someday even become an expert. That expectation kept me going. Perhaps it did for you too. What if we focused on what could be, now? What if, instead of being disappointed at our current abilities, we look forward to what they could become? What if we were motivated by potential instead of current ability? From now on, let’s try to focus on what could be. Let’s try to see the possibilities to our lives. Let’s reject the discouragement that prevails so much in us. Because we are more than our failures. We are better than our shortcomings. We have more to offer. Because God gave us the ability to grow, to learn, and to become something greater. He wants to work in us, and what could be more effective than God working in us?

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, March 28, 2014

Be Influenced

“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.” - Alan Keightley

Finally, brethren, whosoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever thins are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. - Philippians 4:8

Guard: “protect against damage or harm” - New Oxford American Dictionary

What do we all, or most, of us do before going to bed? We lock all the doors right. Why? For a couple obvious reasons. For some reason more crime happens during the night, at least that’s what we believe. And we’re not awake to guard our home. We feel more vulnerable during the night. Do we have locks for our hearts, our minds, even our souls? Do we ever think of them as needing to be guarded? Are they ever vulnerable? Of course they are. We all know, what we choose to be around, listen to, or believe, will have a deep influence on us. I’ve noticed that if I listen to a lot of music that contains profanity, I struggle with using profanity myself. So too, what I watch drives a lot of my desires. So would you say we need to guard ourselves from those types of things? Of course we do. But do we? What are we viewing most of the time? What are we listening to, reading, or just thinking about. Are they worthy of entering our body. Remember what the Bible says about our bodies, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, who you have from God? You are not your own.” * Do we treat ourselves as a temple? Do we lock its doors to keep out the things that could damage it? Do we care if it’s a place where the Holy Spirit could be? I’m telling you, it makes a difference. You cannot be the person you want to be without watching what influences you. You cannot store valuable things in a place where thieves hang out. And you cannot change until you invite goodness into your life and lock the door to anything that could do harm. Let’s watch what we allow to into our lives. Let’s be cognizant of our surroundings and our influences. Let’s think on the things the Bible recommends; things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report. Let’s look for things of virtue and praise and concentrate on those things. Even now, just repeating the recommendation of Philippians 4:8 somehow helps us feel better. Let’s continue that trend of doing what it takes to feel better. To lock the door of our lives to the darkness and open the windows of our heart the His light. May we pray the prayer of the Psalmist, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” - Psalm 19:14

* 1 Corinthians 6:19

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, March 27, 2014

Guilty!

“Guilt is perhaps the most painful companion of death.” - Coco Chanel

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. - Psalm 51:10

Clemency: “kind or merciful treatment of someone who could be given harsh punishment” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

“Sir, let me be blunt. You have no chance. The mandatory minimum if we find you guilty in the court of law is life. But I’m offering you a chance to plead guilty right now and we’re prepared to lower the sentence substantially.”
Chris listened to the prosecutor carefully. “This is such crap.” He thought to himself. “Who have I hurt? Oh that’s right… No one!” Of course the words stayed in his mind because while one part of him denied the possibility of any victims, he knew he was guilty as well. He knew that without a plea deal he would never experience a life of freedom again.

This story of Chris is really a story about all of us. Let’s take a look around. Where are our victims? At first glance they’re hard to see, maybe even invisible. And so we pat ourselves on the back and claim that we’re good people. We haven’t done any real harm. Perhaps we’ve even done some good. But then again, we know we’re guilty too. Guilty of all kinds of things; selfishness, pride, jealousy, lying, cheating, stealing maybe. And at some point in our lives we’re going to have to face the fact that death awaits. And what are we going to do?

“Ok, I’m gonna take your deal. How does this go? I guess I want to plead guilty. Is there some sort of formality to this sort of statement?”
This time Chris’s words didn’t just stay in his head. They came out for all who were important to hear. He had admitted his guilt and assuaged his penalty.
“Ok Chris, let me get the paperwork ready. You’ll need to sign it and we’ll get the process going. You made the right decision.”

There’s no way to escape the penalty for our guilt. Sin has its reward. Death. We’re all gonna die some day. It’s a scary reality to face. But there’s a promise too. A promise of mercy. A promise of life again. But first we must make our plea. Guilty is our only option. Without an admittance to our guilt how can forgiveness be granted? The request for forgiveness in itself is an admittance to guilt isn’t it? This seems a little strange to say, but let’s plead guilty. We know it’s true. We all claim the phrase, “No one is perfect.” And in the absence of perfection is always guilt. But by asking forgiveness, by claiming our guilt, by admitting our mistakes and shortcomings we can make a claim on clemency. Because of Jesus we are offered a bargain. He will take our punishment so that we can be set free. That’s what Jesus did on the Cross. He died for you and what you did yesterday, and what you’ll do tomorrow. But it takes one thing, making Him your Lord and Savior. In that act we’re saying that we are guilty, that we need help, that we can’t do this all on our own. We’ve tried and failed, we’ve made victims and we’ve committed sin. And in that act we empower Him to go to work in our lives. To forgive us from our sins and to set within us a new heart that is sensitive to the wrongs of this world. He can give us a new life today and He promises us an eternal life after death.  Claim 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

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mentors and Pedagogues


Innovation has a tendency to slow down, so I’m constantly learning and listening to others.” Dan Cathy

But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding. It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right. Job 32:8-9

Pedagogue: “a teacher, [especially] a strict or pedantic one” New Oxford American Dictionary

He told me how he always opened his meetings by listing all of the mistakes he’d made that week. I thought that was genius. It says to people that if it’s okay for a CEO to mess up, then it’s okay for them to mess up. And that allows for creativity.” These words of wisdom were given by Bernie Marcus while giving Dan Cathy the COO of Chick-fil-A a private tour through the company he helped create, Home Depot. I think there are a couple things we can all learn from this story. One, it's always helpful to seek the advice of others no matter who you are or who they are; and two, leadership is always aided by humility. Mistakes are the pedagogue of everybody, but if we seek wisdom and knowledge through the mentorship of others and the word of God, we can avoid many of the pains that come with life. Learning is a fact of life, so let's try to learn from the gentle teachings of mentors and tutors.

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

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Acquitted!

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”  C.S. Lewis

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9

Hallmark:  “a mark put on the article to indicate origin, purity, or genuineness”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Saul’s business was to kill people.  He was passionate about it.  He even did it for the Lord.  However, he was wrong.  When Christ met him on the road to Damascus he was given a new identity and a new purpose.  No longer was he Saul, the guy who hunted Christians.  He was Paul, the man of God for Christ.  A planter of Christianity throughout the Mediterranean and the most prolific writer of the New Testament.  In many ways we owe our Christianity to to Paul.  One of the most affective missionaries and evangelists who ever lived.  Not only did it take a change for that to happen, it took forgiveness.  How often has God worked through forgiveness?  He called David a “Man after His own heart.”  Even after David committed adultery and murder.  He named Peter, “The rock on which He would build His church.”  Know that he would deny Him and fail.  And He wants to use you and I too.  Knowing that we’re not even close to being perfect.  This morning I saw that Amanda Knox, an American who was first convicted and sent to prison in Italy for murder, then acquitted and set free, has had her acquittal overturned.  She’s been found guilty, then innocent, then guilty again.  I don’t know if she’s guilty or not.  Maybe she is.  Maybe she should spend the rest of her life in prison.  I simply don’t know.  Here’s what I do know.  I’m guilty.  Everyone is guilty.  We all need to be pardoned.  If we went to heavenly court today we would not stand a chance of being found innocent.  There’s another thing I know.  Through the blood of Jesus we’ve all be acquitted.  His grace sets us free.  And we’ll never have to worry about our acquittals being overturned.  We can have peace knowing that we are guilty, but that we have been forgiven.  David was, Paul was, Peter was, I am, and you are.  He’s put His hallmark on us giving us a value beyond imagination.  That’s good news that we should never take for granted.  We’ve been given a second chance.  Let’s make the most of it.

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, March 24, 2014

Be Still


It is one of the great ironies of my life that only when it became virtually impossible for me to keep my body from moving would I find the peace, security and spiritual strength to stand in one place, I couldn’t be still until I could—literally—no longer keep still.” Michael J. Fox

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts His voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see what the LORD has done, the desolations He has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; He burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46

Refuge: “anything to which one has recourse for aid, relief, or escape” Dictionary.com

There is a great piece of wisdom I learned recently. In every contemplation, every question, every decision, we should seek to finish the phrase, “But God...” We live in a world torn apart by war, politics, and disaster, but God... Every day there is a new emergency somewhere, and it seems our environment may be crumbling, but God... We cannot turn on the news without seeing death, but God... Our hearts are hurting, but God... We will never understand, but God... I cannot speak with wisdom as to all that is happening in our world, but we have a God who can and did in Psalm 46. He says that He is our refuge in a world such as ours. But God...

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

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sharing The Wealth

“There is a gigantic difference between earning a great deal of money and being rich.” - Marlene Dietrich

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. - Romans 12:2

Abundant: “existing in or yielding great quantities” - New Oxford American Dictionary

We never had a lot of money when I was growing up. I can remember this monthly ritual called, “balancing the checkbook,” that always seemed to be a stressful time for our family. There were times when food-stamps were used. Sometimes bills were hard to pay. We never had a big fancy house. But WE WERE NEVER POOR! I don’t know how much money my parents had. I don’t think it was a lot. But the bills somehow got paid. I somehow had food in my stomach. And our home was always treated like a home anyone would want to live. So now, when I look back at the different moments of my life. I haven’t escaped anything. I appreciate everything. And I hope to provide as happy a life for my children as I had. However, if you could have seen the balances on my families bank statements, you might wonder how we could be happy. How I could view my childhood as blessed. How I wish I could return to some of those times. It’s because WE WERE NEVER POOR! You’ll notice that if you look out across the landscape, God didn’t create any houses. He didn’t make anything better for some people and not so nice for others. Everyone, no matter how much they make can enjoy the same nature. Creation does not have classes of people. Only beauty for everyone. Yes for some, that beauty is restricted. I realize that growing up without a lot in America is akin to being rich in other places. However, I still hold to the idea that with God, no one is destitute. That sad thing is, there are those who don’t know the Lord. Those who are truly destitute. Those who don’t appreciate life when they look at their surroundings.  And why should they? It seems no one cares about them, not even a Creator. Because with man, no matter how wealthy our situation, life can seem very poor. For those of us who’ve been raised without knowing destitution, those of us who know our Savior, us who see the beauty of creation; it may be our cross to bear. It’s for us to bring riches to the needy. To bring beauty to those who only see ugliness. To bring that spring morning called the Resurrection to those who know only parched dry land. We may not have the cash to spare. We may not be wealthy according to society. But when we have Jesus we have something priceless to share. Because with Jesus our minds are changed. We can be renewed. We can have eternal life. And who could be richer than a happy person with an eternal life? Give Jesus.

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, March 20, 2014

Being A Plenum

“It’s not what you do, but how much love you put into it that matters.”  Mother Teresa

So Jacob worked seven years to pay for Rachel.  But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days.  Genesis 29:20  (New Living Translation)

Plenum:  “an enclosed chamber where a treated substance collects for distribution, as heated or conditioned air through a ventilation system.”  New Oxford American Dictionary

Why did Steve Jobs provide Apple to the world?  Why did Henry Ford use the production line to manufacture automobiles?  I’m sure a lot of things will run through your mind while trying to answer those questions.  Possibly it was to gain wealth, and maybe that’s true.  Possibly it was for notoriety, and that may be true as well.  Or maybe it was the desire to love or be loved.  The truth is I don’t know, and I’m not sure they even knew.  Sometimes we all just do what we do because that’s who we are and what we want to do.  There is one thing I do know however.  If what we’re doing isn’t full of love, than what we’re doing is missing something.  Without love, we won’t perform at our best.  Without love, we will lack motivation.  And without love, we run the risk of being hated.  Many of the great men and women of history were and are hated because the great things they did were done without love.  Without love, capitalism becomes a dirty word and success is despised.  Without love, we’re just jerks trying to take advantage of someone else right?  God has a plan and a purpose for us and for this world.  We can choose to work for or against Him, but no matter what, His will, will be done.  I’m not sure if there was a lot of love in what Steve Jobs or Henry Ford did, certainly they didn’t announce love as the motivator for their achievements.  On the other hand, Mother Teresa publicly built her life’s work around love.  No matter what the personal motivations, I’m convinced God’s love was at work in all three’s achievements.  I’m convinced all three were plenums for God’s love to be distributed in this world.  I can see God’s love in the Apple products used by many every day.  I can see God’s love through the use of automobiles.  And I’m sure we can all see God’s love in the life of one of the greatest philanthropists to ever live.  Can God’s love be seen in what we're doing?  

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?

Thank you for reading.  You mean a lot to me.
Jake

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Walk With Purpose

“There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” - Nelson Mandela

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” - Jesus - Luke 15:4-7

Recover: “return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength” - New Oxford American Dictionary

What could I say, that everything will always go well in a life lived for Jesus? The fact is we all will die one day. Bad things are going to happen to us. Sometimes the song rings true and The Good Die Young. But with God there is a purpose. With Him nothing is wasted. Because God doesn’t waste the things He’s made or the things that belong to Him. Even His own son, Jesus Christ, died a young man on a horrible cross. It didn’t seem like something that should happen. The people looking for The Savior didn’t expect The Son of God to die. They expected Him to glorify Himself through them. That wasn’t God’s plan however. His plan was something more. It wasn’t just for Israel, but for all of creation. It wasn’t for a single generation, but for all of them. What seemed like a bad idea as Jesus bled and died with criminals, became the best plan the world has ever known the morning He rose from the grave. You see, not everything is as it seems. Appearances don’t foretell reality quite like the way we expect. Right now life may be off track for some of us. We’ve been doing our best to stay on the rails, but somehow we’ve lost them altogether. That’s right where Jesus wants to find us. Because it’s not for us to determine our destiny. Not when we’re living for the Lord. When the path we’ve forged for ourselves becomes tangled in briers, when the track we’ve been following seems to melt into nothing, when all is lost; that’s when we’re found. That’s when we’re picked up and set on a new course. That’s when Jesus and all of heaven rejoices because of one lost sheep. Still, it won’t all be good. But it will be solid ground. It will be a life of faith. A life with a future unknown, but somehow sure. That’s the life He want’s for all of us. A life full of purpose. Not just for ourselves, but for this world. It brings with it a passion that lasts generations. Passion leaves legacies and legends. It’s a result of purpose. And what purpose could be higher than the purpose of the Lord? His purpose has made the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the lame to walk. What can it do for 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

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Living With Reliance


We are never defeated unless we give up on God.” Ronald Reagan

But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil. Proverbs 1:33

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

Lincoln once remarked that, “[He] would be the greatest fool on this footstool called earth, if [he] ever thought that for one moment [he] could perform the duties of [his] office without help from one that is stronger than all.” Many believe Lincoln to be the greatest president in United States history, yet there are so many who believe faith in an unseen God to be reckless if not down right foolish. In times of difficulty, let's all try to remember Lincoln. While leading this country through some of the most difficult times it has ever known, he was not afraid to rely on the Almighty. It gave him the courage to carry on with tasks never asked of anyone before him or since. In that light, why should we hesitate to trust in God in whatever we do? I don't think there are many who would call Lincoln a foolish man, so let's not take it seriously when anyone tries to label us as foolish for following his example. We can all be great, God promises that.

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, March 17, 2014

The Walk

“The glory of God is man fully alive.”  St. Irenaeus 

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  1 Thessalonians 5:9

Posterity:  “all future generations”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

What do you see when you close your eyes and think about the future?  Who’s in it, where are you at, what do you have, what’s on your face?  Is there a smile, a husband or wife, a beautiful home, a dream car?  What are you doing?  Are you hiking, riding a bike, raising a family, perhaps working?  We all have a future.  Everyone’s is different.  We all want it to be filled with happiness and joy.  Some of us plan our futures, confident  and determined to make sure they include all the things we want, need, and desire.  Some of us never think about our future, doubting our abilities and trusting fate to control our destiny.  The thing is, there’s no guarantee either of these methods will provide the things that make life worth living.  In his book Think and Grow Rich Napoleon Hill talks about having a “burning desire” that can bring fame, fortune, and happiness.  But can it?  We’ve all heard the phrase, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”  Certainly desiring something, or willing something, increases our chances of achieving that thing.  But it doesn’t guarantee it.  That fact is, there’s no guarantee we’ll live past tomorrow, let alone that the day after will be filled with fortune.  There is a way to guarantee fulfillment however.  There is a way to guarantee joy.  And a way to guarantee satisfaction.  It’s in our leadership.  No, not our leadership abilities, rather what’s leading us.  We’re all being led by something.  Maybe it’s our dream house we’ll have someday.  Maybe it’s that proverbial “corner office.”  Or perhaps it’s just the desire to not think about our future.  None of the things I just listed and none of the possessions you desire can ever guarantee fulfillment, joy, or satisfaction.  In fact, they’re guaranteed to fail you.  The dream house will disappoint, the corner office will bring burden, and living for the moment will bring misery.  So what am I getting at?  What can bring those things?  What should we see when we close our eyes and dream about the future?  A walk.  What?  That’s right, a walk.  A walk with our Savior leading the way.  A walk in humility and servitude towards our Maker.  We’re all gonna serve something.  Whether it’s the house, the car, the job.  Nothing comes without strings attached.  Might as well serve the One who can bring joy, fulfillment, and  satisfaction.  Might as well serve God.  It’s the only thing that brings joy to God, joy to our hearts, and joy to those around us.  Nothing is quite as joyous as the presence of God in our lives.  Nothing fulfills like making a difference in someone else’s life.  And nothing satisfies like the love poured out on the Cross for us.  So what do you see when you close your eyes?  Hopefully for all of us it’s a walk with Him.

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

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Reflections

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” - Napoleon Hill

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise but the companion of fools will suffer harm. - Proverbs 13:20

Influence: “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself” - New Oxford American Dictionary

“Music is a reflection of our society.” It’s a line I hear almost every time someone defends a controversial song. For that matter, the sentiment goes into all art forms, and into life as well. “It’s a reflection of our society.” If so, then we ought to see some of the ills in our society a little better. But nothing is getting better. Not through music, or art, or poetry alone. Just because something is a reflection of something else, doesn’t make it beautiful, or right, or honorable. When we look in the mirror, we see ourselves. If we’re smiling we see a smiling person. If we’re angry we see anger. If we’ve been crying it shows. But the mirror has influence as well. A study done by the Institute of Psychiatry in London found that healthy people who gazed into a mirror for ten minutes became more distressed and anxious.* Why? Furthermore, here’s the thing about an actual mirror; it has no choice but to reflect the light that shines on it. It can’t, like Snow White’s magic mirror, reflect a desired image. But our art is largely by choice. Sure, the inner city kid who hasn’t found hope is going to make, or otherwise be drawn to art that tells of his or her plight. But often, controversial art that is supposed to reflect society doesn’t even do that. Rather it simply shows off immorality. Sex and drugs are often glorified. Demeaning other people is often made to look satisfying. When of course we know the opposite to be true. That’s why it’s so important what we see as our reflections. The medium of music and art is very powerful. God made it to be that way. It can hold sway over our emotions and even our thoughts at times. We need to be careful what we look at, because we are not society, we are individuals with choices. Our reflections aren’t bound by society’s, our reflection is full of potential. We know there is ugliness in the world. Some art reflects it, some just shows it off. There’s a difference. Let’s be careful what we put into our minds. What we see and hear has a way of making it to our heart. “Above all else,” the Bible says, “Guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” - Proverbs 4:23 So we ask ourselves, “Is this a reflection of society, or is society flowing from it?” Is this a reflection of me, or am I more than a mere reflection?

* From a report in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy

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, March 12, 2014

Ready To Serve

“One secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.” - Benjamin Disraeli

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. - Titus 3:1-2

Ready: “in a suitable state for an activity, action, or situation; fully prepared” - New Oxford American Dictionary

“The clothes yu wear’n aint gonna do no good where we’a go’n son.”
John looked down at his sweat pants and t-shirt. He would be warm enough for sure. The sun was blazing hot in this part of the world. But he had to agree. Sweat pants weren’t going to last long on this mission.
“Ya I know, I’ve got some extra clothes in my bag. I brought these for comfort. My work cloths are all loaded up.”
John replied to his new companions.

How often are we ready to do what’s needed? We’d give something, but we’ve got nothing on us to give. We’d pull over, but we’re in a hurry to get the groceries. We’d help, but then everyone else would expect help too, and that would be impossible. We’re comfortable.

“List’n here son. From now on, yu gotta be ready at all times. Comfr’t aint what yu came fer. Yu came to help.”
John looked down again somewhat ashamed. “They’re just clothes,” he thought to himself. “I’ll change when I need to change.” That voice broke in again.
“Round here there’s no time to change. Things come up all the time and yu gotta be ready to get up and get er done.”

How often could we take a lesson from work? At work we have to be ready to do our job. But when it comes to living? Are we ready to go to work? I’m not saying we should never sit down and take a break. However, we should be ready at any moments notice to do what we can. God put us on this earth to help, to do something that’s not for ourselves. Yes, our lives should be enjoyed, but the greatest joy doesn’t come from selfishness, or laziness, or even fun. The greatest joy comes from doing something for others. Too often that doesn’t happen in our lives. Not because we don’t want to. Rather because when the moment arises, we’re just not ready. Let’s be ready to help. Let’s be ready to get our hands dirty. Let’s get ready to serve. Who knows what that service may lead to in the end. I guarantee it’s something great though.

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, March 11, 2014

The Harmony Of God's Response

“A gift consists not in why is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.” - Seneca

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! - Matthew 7:7-11

Harmony: “a pleasing or congruent arrangement of parts” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Does it ever seem like Gods just left you hanging? Like His promises aren’t for you, or maybe just not for your situation? And didn’t Jesus say, “Whatever you ask of in My name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son?” - John 14:13 It is also said in the Bible that if elders anoint a sick person with oil and pray over them they will be healed.* But I’ve seen anointed people get sicker and die. I’ve known of things asked in Jesus’ name that never came to fruition. I’ve been left feeling like God isn’t supplying what I’m asking for. At least not to me. Even this very message. I’m wondering how it’s gonna end, because I don’t have the answers to these questions right now. To be honest, I’m not even sure why we have to ask for things when God knows what we need far better than we do. But maybe the answer is in the asking. And by that I mean, God has a purpose for our requests. He does know exactly what this world needs. He knows who needs a new heart and who needs a renewed soul. He knew this world needed a Savior and that some will ask to be saved. He knows what exactly we need and when we’ll need it. And He will provide for those things. Indeed He has provided so many things we need already. But so many of those things needed a request first. Maybe it’s the relationship in the request that makes all the difference? We know God can do anything, but will He do what’s needed? Of course He will. It’s just a matter of when and how. Even Jesus, sweating drops of blood, asked if there was another way besides the Cross in the Garden of Gethsemane.** The problem comes when our desires overarch our needs. Maybe we don’t need a bigger home. Maybe that sports car will end in tragedy. Maybe the greatest healing is beyond this world. Remember that the last line of Jesus’ promise is just as important as the first, “That the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Do our requests glorify God? Are we living to glorify God with what we have now? Perhaps so, but perhaps not though. We aren’t the most important thing in this world. In fact, nothing is. Not even the entirety of creation. Because the entirety of creation, you and me, and everything surrounding us; was made for God through His Son. No, God doesn’t answer every prayer with the response we desire. We will be disappointed at times. It’s an indication of our human nature’s lack of alignment with God and with what is perfect. Parents know something of what their children need. They know something of what they want. And there’s a harmony that must be struck between the two. God isn’t so different with us. Sometimes the answer is understood in the relationship best. God didn’t take the crucifixion away from Jesus, but He did send an angel to strengthen His Son.** Not all of our prayers and requests will be answered in the way we want or expect. But in a relationship with God, I guarantee it’s better that way. Even when we can’t see how.

*   James 5:14
**  Luke 22:42-43

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, March 7, 2014

Following The Cross

At the Cross You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees, and I am
Lost for words, so lost in love,
I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered
From the song Sweetly Broken by Jeremy Riddle

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women. Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. - Matthew 28:1-6

Follow: “to keep the mind on” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

At the bar too drunk to stand. At the gentlemen’s club having just paid for a person. At a table holding your families last bit of money left up to chance. At the cold wooden end of a revolver aimed at another. At the lowest points and indeed the pinnacles of life, stands the Cross. The Cross stands before, whether we want to see it or not. It leaves a decision in its wake. To follow its Savior or leave Him behind. To follow our humanity or take the lead of God. It’s a moment many will never forget. I can’t remember deciding that Jesus was my Savior. Rather my belief trails back to before I can remember. However, I can remember moments that I’ve decided to stand with Him. The decision to stand with, to follow, to love Christ, leaves an imprint on our souls. It leaves waypoints in our lives. Markers of hope in despair. Beacons of light in darkness. Glimpses of salvation. So many prayers have been answered on that path. So many hurts healed. But how often do we thank God for His actions in our lives. We pray for rain. The rain comes. We thank our luck with the clouds. Over and over we’ve denied. But the Cross remains. Over and over we must choose to follow. The path that Jesus walked is called the Via Dolorosa or The Way Of Suffering. Why? Why did Jesus follow a path of suffering towards a cross of cruelty, death and despair? That Cross that beckons you. That’s why. That Cross that meats us at places we’d rather no one know about. That’s why. That Cross that promises a better life than this. That’s why. To someone in need, the Cross is everything. I’m in need and so are you. So is everyone who’s ever lived. We’re in need. And so the Cross is everything to you. And to me. The Cross is everything to a history full of people in need. Can you see it? Can you feel its pull? Are you thankful of what its done in your life? We may be able to chalk every other blessing up to chance and nature. But no one can argue that the Cross and the resurrection just happened. They were deliberate and decided. Jesus decided to die for our sins. And He decided to live for us too. Can we thank Him? Can we appreciate what He’s done? Can we live for Him 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

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hoist The Colors!

“I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.’” - From the Christmas Day broadcast, given by King George VI in 1939 at the beginning of WWII.

A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands. - Proverbs 14:1

Ensign: “a flag or standard, esp. a military or naval one indicating nationality.” - New Oxford American Dictionary

“Captain, shall we hoist the colors?”
“Seeing as we’re out of dangerous waters, I shall say so. Hoist the colors Leftenant.”
“Aye Cap. the colors shall be on full display.”

How often in our lives do we take down our colors? Maritime law historically states that an ensign or flag denoting the vessels origin must be flown. For example, a ship operated out of the United States must fly a US maritime ensign while sailing. However, in the past, ships have sometimes lowered their flag while in dangerous waters, or otherwise changed their colors to avoid pirate or naval attack. Wishing to avoid attention and trouble they hide their origins. Last night I had a grandmother pass away. She lived a long life for the Lord. And I’m proud to say, she never lowered her colors. She followed Christ with her life and was never ashamed. I thank God she was a part of my life because it’s meant so much. She raised her children to love the Lord. She taught them what it meant to be a loving family. She was a matriarch to a family with love at its core. That love, that family value, trickled down, or I should say, flowed down through the generations and I’m glad I was able to benefit from it. It makes a difference where your from and what you represent. Our origins can be used against us. Our colors will be attacked. Christians are often targeted for what they believe. Let’s not hide. Let’s proudly fly our ensign, the Cross, for all to see. Because while some may attack because of it. Far more will find refuge under it. The Psalmist said of God, “He is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” * But that refuge can’t come when we deny Him and take down His colors. It makes a difference. Stand for what is right. Stand against what is wrong. Stand for Jesus and let His banner over us fly free. He is a beacon in the night, a refuge in the storm, a light to guide the way.

“Say Leftenant, come here for a moment.”
“What is it Captain?”
“My boy, I’ve made a mistake, I’ve been in err. Never again shall we be afraid of our standard. Never again shall we lower our flag. Never again shall we let cowardice cause us to fail in representing our origins. Whether it cost us our property, livelihood, or lives, we shall say for all who care to see, where we are from and what we represent. Do you understand?”

*  Psalms 46:1

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