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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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Rich In Love

“It’s unfortunate when the only thing you’re rich in is money.” Kenny (The Jet) Smith

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul. - Jesus - Mark 8:36

Rich: “producing a large quantity of something” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Remember when you were a kid? When money was somehow priceless? When we couldn’t fully understand it’s power? At one point in our lives it didn’t make sense. Why couldn’t we afford that toy we wanted? There were, after all, checks in the checkbook. “Other people have this stuff. Why not us?” We thought. Or maybe you wondered, “Why can’t those other kids enjoy the same things as me?” It didn’t make a ton of sense. Fortunately we didn’t spend much time on the problem. There were more important things to worry about. Like enjoying life for life itself. Like dreaming of future motorcycles or houses to make homes; like the love of family and Jesus. The truth is, we could still be back there. We like to think that we understand money more than back then. However, I’m not sure that we’re not a little more perverted. Can we really answer why we have more than another, in human terms? Not really. The reasons are there. We worked harder. We had a better attitude. But then again. Maybe we were blessed to find ourselves doing something we love. Maybe we were just fortunate enough to have the influence of someone who could make a difference. Are some human beings inherently worth more than others? Yes, is a very dangerous answer to that question. No, we won't find equality in this world. It’s just one of the ways sin works. But if we could just put a little equality in our hearts. The way we see people based on the amount they have shows our ignorance of what worth is. Money can be a blessing and a tool, but it isn’t everything. If we could only see ourselves and those around us as God sees. Put yourself in the place of a parent. Which child would you love more. The wealthy or the poor one. Money is not a factor when it comes to the love. The simple fact of existence is the most valuable factor. As I come to a close, I’m not exactly sure of the point I’m trying to make. The wealth of love in our hearts is a little like a rainbow. Witnessed but untouched. Experienced but not entirely felt. Controlled by perspective and kept at a distance. And so we must ask ourselves, “What are we richest in?” Money, love, friends, family, relationship? And what does it mean to be rich? Will we ever get it? Not until Jesus, the source of true riches, comes again. Until then, let’s do our best to be rich in love first.

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, April 28, 2014

It Doesn't Matter What You Meant

“So it’s not just words that I proclaim
For my words point to the The Word
And The Word has a name
Hope has a name
Joy has a name
Peace has a name
Love has a name
And that name is Jesus Christ
Praise His name forever”
- Unknown 

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. - Genesis 50:20

Accept: “consent to receive (a thing offered)” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Remember the way Joseph’s brothers treated him? They were jealous of him. They hated him. They wanted to kill him. The only thing that kept them from doing so was guilt. The fact that a caravan of slave traders was passing by on their way to Egypt gave them an opportunity. They sold him to be a slave. Joseph’s brothers meant to do him harm. They meant evil against him. But God had a plan. A plan to save many lives through their actions. Remember Judas Iscariot? Maybe the most hated person in the whole of scripture, and rightfully so. He sold Jesus to the Jewish leaders for 30 pieces of silver. He was a traitor to our Savior. How bad can it get? Not until Jesus was condemned did he realize what he’d done. And the Bible says that he ran and hung himself from a tree. He meant evil towards Jesus and he couldn’t bear to live with that guilt. But what if instead of taking his own life, he looked to the Cross where Jesus was? What if he had repented? Could Jesus have said to him, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good?” The grace of Christ is unlimited. It’s a message we hear often. That we can be forgiven. But what will it take for us to believe? What will it take to fully trust that Christ died for the sins that we have committed. That no matter what we’ve done, we can be forgiven, if we desire His forgiveness. We’ve all acted like Joseph’s brothers. We’ve all betrayed Jesus like Judas. We’ve all made terrible mistakes; whether we know and admit them or not. But if we could go back some 2000 years and we could look up and see Jesus on the Cross, hanging, not just because Judas sold Him, but also because we, like all others, require a perfect sacrifice. It could only be the Son of God. It could only be Jesus. The only One who means only good. Jesus wasn’t forced into His crucifixion. Judas had no power over Him. Not Judas, or the Jews, or even the Romans could have put Jesus on a cross without His permission. He died voluntarily for all who accept His forgiveness and love. I pray we can fully appreciate His love, His peace, His Joy, His hope… His Cross.

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, April 25, 2014

For Christ's Sake

“God’s plan for enlarging His kingdom is so simple - one person telling another about the Savior. Yet we’re busy and full of excuses. Just remember, someone’s eternal destiny is at stake. The joy you’ll have when you meet that person in heaven will far exceed any discomfort you felt in sharing the Gospel.” - Charles Stanley

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. - Ecclesiastes 1:2 ESV

Gospel: “the teaching or revelation of Christ” - New Oxford American Dictionary

I’ve noticed in media lately, one of the big questions the scientific community is asking is, “Why don’t people believe us?” Why don’t people buy global warming whole heartedly? Why don’t people believe everything said about evolution? Why do people still believe in a higher power? Even though 90 percent of what you hear about science comes from an atheist perspective, still 90 percent of people around the world are not atheists. Admittedly, my numbers are gross estimates, but they bear truth. The question is, “Why?” I think the answer lies a little bit in what’s around us. Man has imagined, invented, and created many amazing things. But since when has a person developed anything remotely as significant as a seed? So where did they all come from? There are only two options, something greater, or something less than us. What do you think? Sure, we’ve modified many living things. We’ve adjusted animal DNA and genetically altered plants. We’ve crossbred and grafted. We’ve learned new ways to develop crops, then gone back to old ways and call it organic. And at every step we stand back and say, “I am powerful, who is this God and why should I need Him?” It’s like painting your car a new color and then telling the car industry they’re no longer needed because “We’ve got cars under control now.” And so the biggest question of all arises. “What’s this all about?” I’m reminded of today’s scripture. The NIV Bible says it this way, “‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’” Ecclesiastes 1:2 Everything we make… What’s the point? What’s the point of our computers, our phones, our cars? What’s the point of a wheel, or even fire? We’re born, we live for a little while, then we die. Nothing we do can change that. But Jesus. He’s the reason for everything you have. The reason for everything we own. Not just because He is the originator, but because He is also the Savior; able to provide eternal life. What did Jesus say? “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation.” - Mark 16:15b The Gospel is the reason. It’s for you and me, your sons and daughters, your grandmothers and fathers. And it’s for Jesus too. Everything is for the gospel. That’s why I can use my computer to write this. That’s why I can use my phone everyday to talk about Jesus. That’s why we have cars and airplanes and helicopters and boats and all forms of transportation that can move us into all creation with the Gospel in tow. Without the Gospel there’s no point. With it, everything is priceless. Take a look at what you have. The car in your driveway. The roof over your head. Your inspiration. It’s not for you alone. It’s for the Gospel, the good news, it’s for the sake of Christ. 

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, April 24, 2014

Check Yourself

“Your silence will not protect you.” - Audre Lorde
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. - Ephesians 6:11

Armor: “a person's emotional, social, or other defenses” - New Oxford American Dictionary

This morning I had the opportunity to remove 10 tics from my two dogs. Nine from the face of Clyde and one from behind Boone’s right ear. Sorry for the gross story, but I think there’s something to be learned. First, watch where you go, and second, remove the things that aren’t supposed to be there. Our bodies are filled with a fluid that nourishes our life, it’s called blood. Our spirits are nourished too. Their source of life is God. Just as there are things out there that want to suck out, or otherwise contaminate our blood, there are things that would do the same to our spirits. Maybe it’s an activity, a device, or even a person. Sometimes we just have to stay away from and protect ourselves from those things that would take our lives or contaminate them. Sometimes those places are attractive. Many dangerous things live in God’s beautiful creation. And it’s tempting to explore those dangers. But they can bite. They want to suck the life from us if they can. Pornography doesn’t just apply to men and their attraction to the female body. It can be found all over the place. It’s the misuse of beauty. It’s in that misuse that we find danger. Let’s guard ourselves from it. Sometimes we can stay away, however, there are times when we have to go to those dangerous places. That’s what the full armor of God is all about. Don’t want to get a tic out in the woods? Wear clothing that covers and protects your skin. Don’t want to be infected with the poisons of this world? Put on the armor. But we’re human. We’ll do the wrong things. We’ll get infected with things we don’t want. Spiritual tics will attach themselves when and where they can. Check yourself. Often they go unnoticed until it’s too late. Then they’re almost impossible to remove without doing some damage. They must be removed. Don’t be ok with sin hanging onto you. Pornography might not seem like such a problem now, but it will cause some large problems eventually. Check yourself. Like I said, pornography isn’t just about sex. Maybe you don’t have a problem with sex, still, look closely, we all have problems. You may or may not know about them. Check yourself. Think of those problems as spiritual tics. Maybe then they won’t seem quite so ok. Many of those things are completely normal to the world. The world wants you to have tics. It wants something sucking the life right out of you. And it doesn’t want you to notice or complain. But they’re gross. They change you in ways you don’t want to be changed. And sometimes they’re hard to see. That’s why I say, we must constantly check ourselves. When we find that tic, that thing that must be removed, take it straight to God. You can try removing it yourself, but it’s not so easy. However, God is able. He’s able to remove the most tightly attached infection. He’s able to heal and destroy. Able to destroy those things that once contaminated us. Able to heal the wounds they leave. Be careful. Be careful where you go. Be careful of what’s attached to you. They make a difference. Check yourself! 

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

Jake

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Shut It Off

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” - John Lennon

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

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

Some things are just more important. Who’s ever tried to chew as much bubble gum at one time as they could? We who’ve chewed bubble gum probably all have. There’s something that’s attractive about putting a giant mass of chewy gum into your mouth. Kinda like spraying whipped cream straight from the can into your mouth. It’s just irresistible somehow. But notice that you can’t do much with all that gum in there. You can hardly think, let alone chew or talk effectively. It’s sorta like that in our lives as well. When we occupy our time and our lives with things that really don’t matter, we block out all of the room for what really does. Your kids, your wife or husband, your co-workers, Jesus. Are they blocked out by entertainment. Can we even think clearly half the time. The things of this world will try to own you. The Thursday night sitcom wants you to make it your highest priority. The Sunday night drama wants to be the most important thing to you. However, what should be the most important? I don’t think any of us think that football, or any other sport should be the most important thing in our lives. But too often we accidentally live that way. Too often I’ve found myself impatient with my own daughter because the attention she wants distracts me from a 60” television. Shut it off! My daughter is far more important, and far more rewarding than anything on TV. We were built to live and to love. Love God first, then people. Jesus said it Himself. You can read all about it in Matthew 22:37. But do we? Or do we love our entertainment? Shut it off! Life is far better lived in love than entertained, because love provides the greatest joy. Remember the first time you felt in love. You didn’t need a TV to occupy your time. All you wanted was an empty space and the thoughts of that other person. What if we had a relationship like that with Jesus? That’s exactly the relationship He wants. One where we could just sit and think and be with Him. No doubt there are some people in your life that feel the same way. No doubt there are things in all of our lives that are keeping us from relationship like that. No doubt we could all use shutting off our distractions for a while. Replacing them with relationships of love. No doubt we could live much fuller and more satisfied in a real life than a synthetic one. If you’re like me. If you’re easily distracted by the shiny things in life. If entertainment has a way of overwhelming everything else. For your sake, shut if off! And let’s live in the real world again. And let’s remember where Jesus is. Right where we are.

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, April 22, 2014

Understanding

“We live in cities you’ll never see on screen
Not very pretty, but we shire know how to run things
Living in ruins of a palace within my dreams
And you know, we’re on each other’s team”
- Excerpt from the song Team by Lorde

Then Job answered the LORD and said:
“I know that You can do all things,
  and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
    things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
Hear, and I will speak;
  I will question You, and You make it know to me.
I had heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
  but now my eye sees You;
therefore I despise myself,
  and repent in dust and ashes.”
- Job 42:1-6

Misunderstand: “fail to interpret or understand the words or actions of (someone) correctly” - New Oxford American Dictionary

“When you’re right, you’re right; I’m not gonna argue with you.”
A quick backhanded wave was the response, and without turning around, John simply said he’d see him in the morning and continued his walk up the sidewalk to his house. Jim just sat there. John had been right, but why did he feel so strange about it.

What is it about right and wrong that has us all up in arms. Literally, countries and people take up arms and go to war over right and wrong. The perception of what’s right and the actualities of what is wrong.

Slowly and with a bit of brake squeal, Jim’s truck came to a stop in front of John’s house. The old Ford V8 rumbling smoothly but with a tone only 150 thousand miles could give. 
“How’s everything going this morning?” 
John asked, as he shut the old pickup door with a firm swing.
“Good, and yourself?”
It was the typical first conversation of the day. A forced formality that we all know is a little uncomfortable.
“You know I’ve been thinking about what you said last night. Maybe you’re not right. I know I said I wasn’t going to argue with you, however, some things are worth talking over.”
John rolled his eyes, somehow he knew what was coming.
“John,” Jim continued, “You’re not right about what you and Angela are about to do. That baby is a person too. You might well be correct that having a baby right now isn’t what’s best for the relationship with your girlfriend, and you guys probably aren’t ready to raise a child. But it’s hard to argue that taking that babies life is what’s best for it.”

Right and wrong… We have to live with it everyday. Is something right if it brings hardship? Can something so easy be wrong? Doesn’t it seem like the right thing should be followed up by good. We all know that’s not true. We all know that often, usually, the right thing is the hard thing to do. And often it comes with the greatest consequences. Was it right for Jesus to be our Savior? Yes, and it led to His crucifixion. And so it will go in our lives. Hopefully we won’t be met with something like a murder, but we will be confronted with hardships because of doing the right thing. Getting bullied at school, having less money and possessions, a baby when we don’t know how to raise it. 

“I know, I know,” John replied, “In fact, Angie and I talked about it last night. We’re going to continue the pregnancy. But I’m not sure what we’re gonna do. Do you think you can help us with that?”

It’s easy to determine right from wrong when we’re talking about someone else. But when it comes to us, to our hardship, to what we should do… Not so easy. It’s easy to tell a little girl to keep the baby growing inside her. It’s not so easy to be faced with a life forever changed. It’s not so easy to tell a judgmental mom or dad about a pregnancy when she doesn’t have to. There is a right and wrong. Not only for others, but for us too. 

Jim was a little surprised by the question. But the answer was easy, “John I will help you in any and every way I can. You know Mary and I love you guys. Anything you need, we’ll be here to help.”

Right now we have an opportunity to go out into this world and do the right thing. What will we do? Maybe we could start by first trying to understand. Then getting on the right team.

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, April 21, 2014

It's Our Turn

“When I wake up in the land of glory
And with the saints I will tell my story
There will be one Name that I proclaim
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, just that Name”
- Excerpt from the song Name (Yours Will Be)  by Big Daddy Weave

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen - Jude 1:24-25

Tool: “a person used or exploited by another” - New Oxford American Dictionary

It’s Monday, it’s our turn now. For three days Jesus was gone. In those three days He achieved something no one else could. For three days no one knew what would happen. But on the third day He rose. His work of Salvation, His work of forgiveness, His work of Savior done. He is still doing a work in our hearts, but the heavy lifting is done. He died so that we can live. He was crucified so that we could be with Him. He felt the pain of humanity so that He could save us from it. Now it’s our turn. To leave our solitary confinement with Him and to go into the world to tell of Him. Now it’s our turn. To do what it takes to let others know of His sacrifice for us. Now it’s our turn. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.”* He says. Are you willing to be His knocker? Are we willing to live in a way that tells of Him? Could we live in a way that reminds of Jesus? The reason I write this blog is because at one point in my life I had a burning desire to be successful. I refused to live a normal life, a life that controlled me. I wanted to be in charge. And that was exciting. It was exciting to think that the world was at my fingertips, all I had to do was try harder than anyone else. Success would not be denied, because I would not be denied. But then I heard that success was not about me, it was about others. Zig Ziglar reminded me that it’s not important to be successful, rather, to be significant. That significance is about making a difference and the only way to make a difference is to impact others. To serve others. Zig Ziglar brought me back to Christ. He was for me, the knocker for Jesus on my heart. A motivational speaker reminded me of Jesus. Can you hear the knock of Jesus? Whether you believe in Him or not, He’s the only reason we exist, because He’s our only Creator. Whether you care or not, He’s our only opportunity to escape suffering, because He’s our only Savior. You’ve heard it a thousand times. Jesus is risen! It’s our turn now.

*  Revelation 3:20

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, April 18, 2014

Take A Break

“There is always the danger that we may just do the work for the sake of the work. This is where the respect and the love and the devotion come in - that we do it to God, to Christ, and that’s why we try to do it as beautifully as possible.” - Mother Teresa

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. - Genesis 2:1-2

Break: “an opportunity or chance, esp. one leading to professional success” - New Oxford American Dictionary

We need breaks in our lives and in our work. God made us with a built in stop function. We call it sleep. Even during creation God set for us an example of how to work. He created and then He rested. And so should we. When we do nothing but work, we leave little time for family, friends, and maybe even God Himself. When we do nothing but work, we may gain the ability to buy, but we lose the ability to enjoy. Life is pointless if it’s all about work. Don’t misunderstand, work is a requirement. We have to work. But we have to balance it as well. When we don’t, work can turn from a blessing to a curse, from a source to a suck on our lives. So take a break. Sleep at night. Be with those you love. Make time specifically for a relationship with the Lord. It will make a difference. Let’s let God give us perspective on work. What it’s for. What it does and cannot do. Let’s work for Him no matter our job or position. Because when we work for Him truly, we truly work for love. And when we work for love our work will become more powerful than we could ever empower it ourselves. But we are made to get tired. We have to stop at some point. Make that point appropriate. Go home. Enjoy what you’ve earned. Be happy with what God’s blessed you with. If for nothing else, stop and love someone. Maybe even love yourself a little. Take a break.

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, April 17, 2014

Without Him

“You will be our guide to the end, to the end
The Lord is with me, He will not forsake me.”
- Excerpt from the song In Your Presence by Elevation Worship

Walk about Zion, go around her,
number her towers,
consider well her ramparts,
go through her citadels,
that you may tell the next generation
that this is God,
our God forever and ever.
He will guide us forever.
- Psalm 48:12-14

Empty: “having no value or purpose” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Life is distracting. Dangers come and go, sadness comes and goes, as well as gladness too. Through it all we can lose our vision. We can forget our guide. We can forget on what to rely.  But through it all, God is there. Through it all He wants to be our guide. Through it all He wants us. But we forget Him so often. Days go by without thinking about Him. Days pass without ever comprehending His presence. Days go by… But then He’s needed. He’s wanted. He’s the only thing we really want. Where is He? Why doesn’t He come to us when we’re in need? Why? Why does He seem so distant when we want to be so close? Why? Is God our servant? Is God a tool we use to feel better? Is God really our God? Or is He what we want Him to be? God isn’t always what we want from Him. He isn’t always what we imagine of Him. He isn’t always what we’ve created Him to be. But we’re always His creation. And we should thank Him for that blessing. We should give Him gratitude that while we’ve lived a life ignoring who He really is, He is still there. His is still here. He is… We should be thankful, because we don’t want a God that is a piece of our imagination. We don’t want our God to be something we’ve created. He’s no idol to be worshiped. No piece of manipulation that we can rejoice in. He’s who He said He is. He is. We don’t control Him. We don’t dominate Him. We don’t get to make Him into something we want. He is a God of relationship. He is a God of dignity. He is a God of power. And His power is not granted to Him, it is inherent in Him. And so it is not for us to call Him closer, it is for us to move closer to Him. Move closer to Him. Live in His will for your life. See His power work in you and for you in a relationship of love. He is amazing. He is everything. He is. What are you without Him? Empty…

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

Jake

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Healer

“I put all my hope on the truth of Your promise
And I steady my heart on the ground of Your goodness
And when I’m bowed down with sorrow I will lift up Your name
And the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy
Because You are good to me, good to me
You are good to me, good to me
You are good to me
I lift my eyes to the hills where my help is found
And Your voice fills the night - I raise my head up to hear the sound
Though fires burn all around me I will praise You my God
And the foxes in the vineyard will not still my joy
Because You are good to me good to me
You are good to me, good to me
You are good to me
Your goodness and mercy shall follow me
All my life
I will trust in Your promise
Ya your goodness and your mercy shall follow me
All my life
I will trust in Your promise
Oh your goodness and your mercy shall follow me
All my life
I will trust in Your promise
Because You are good to me good to me
You are good to me, good to me
You are good to me”
- From the song Good To Me by Audrey Assad

When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized Him [Jesus] and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard He was. And wherever He came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored Him that they might touch even the fringe of His garment. And as many as touched it were made well. - Mark 6:53-56

Heal: “alleviate (a person's distress or anguish)” - New Oxford American Dictionary

This is one of those days when I feel a need to say something important. I had a message ready to publish this morning. But I feel like there is something else that needs to be said. It’s simply that Jesus is so good. Today is April 16. Yesterday the countries taxes were due. And I feel like the process of our tax system is so hard on us. I wonder how many marriages this year were lost because of a tax return. I wonder how many people yelled at someone because of a lost piece of paper. I wonder if Jesus could heal. If He could be good to us in these moments of stress. I know, it’s such a small thing. Why should something like taxes be so stressful. After all, the reason they’re probably so stressful for many is because of the large amounts of money we Americans make on average. And I feel somewhat reluctant, because there are billions of people around the world who would love to have our tax problems. But still, for many a real damage has been done. Maybe it’s not taxes for you. Maybe it’s something far more important. Everyday damage gets done. And that’s why I’m so thankful for Jesus. Because in all the hurt, through all the damage, with all our sickness… He heals. Because He is good to us in lives that don’t always seem so good. Because He holds a promise towards us throughout lives of struggle. Because He died for us so that His promise could hold power. Life isn’t always good to us, but He is always here, always near, waiting for us to simply reach out to touch a fringe of His garment. Feel the power and the joy that He can bring to any situation. He heals when nothing else can. He loves when no one else will. He is strange that way. Strange in the absolute best way possible. He’s more than unusual, He’s the only Savior of this world. He’s the only Savior for you and me. Let’s reach to Him for healing today.

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, April 15, 2014

Relevancy

I am the thorn in Your crown
But You love me anyway
I am the sweat from Your brow
But You love me anyway
I am the nail in Your wrist
But You love me anyway
I am Judas’ kiss
But You love me anyway
- Excerpt from the song You Love Me Anyway by the band Sidewalk Prophets

Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. - 1 John 3:13

Relevant: “closely connected or appropriate to the matter at hand” - New Oxford American Dictionary

What will we do to be liked? What would we do to be respected? What could we do to be loved? What have we done!? Relevant: it’s what the church wants to be. It’s what any system of beliefs wants to be. But it’s not up to us to make our beliefs relevant. It’s up to us to know that what we believe is relevant. Too often we want to shape our beliefs to fit the world. We want to be cool once again. We want people to like us because we’re not judgmental and we’re accepting and we’re part of the crowd. But does that make us loving? We were called to love. But does true love set aside judgment in order to accept? Of course the answer is yes and it’s no at the same time. We are not to judge people, that’s Jesus’ job. Rather, we are to accept people like Christ. However, should we throw away all the rules just so that we can be nonjudgmental and accepting? Of course not. While it’s not our job to judge a person, we should have judgement. We should know what is right and wrong, and we should stand for what is right. Even if it means we don’t fit in. Christ stood for what was right, and He died for what we do wrong. If there is one thing our life is for, it is so that more people would get to know Christ. It’s not our job to make sure society is perfect, but that society knows what perfection looks like. It’s our job to show Jesus to the world. And so we don’t say it’s ok to do whatever we want because who is anyone to judge. Rather we say that Jesus is able to forgive. We have to be able to tell right from wrong so that we can tell that Jesus forgives wrongs and makes right. If, as Christians, we simply accept all behavior, then why would anyone need Jesus? Likewise, if we reject people because of their behavior, they will likely reject Jesus as well. And so we try to be relevant; not in a way that adjusts what is acceptable, there is no sin that is acceptable to God, but in a way that relates Jesus to humanity. Because while sin is unacceptable, we are all acceptable through Christ. He died to become relevant to all of us. Indeed, He is the definition of relevant., because ultimately, we all need 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

Friday, April 11, 2014

You Can't Handle The Love

“I pray that you will understand the words of Jesus, ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ Ask yourself ‘How has He loved me? Do I really love others in the same way?’ Unless this love is among us, we can kill ourselves with work and it will only be work, not love. Work without love is slavery.” - Mother Teresa

Because Your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise You. - Psalm 63:3

Agape: “from Greek agapÄ“ ‘selfless love’” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Agape… Unconditional, selfless love. We all wish we had more of it. It could, it would change the world. But who’s ever thought of what it really feels like to experience agape? Can we even comprehend it fully? “You Can’t handle the truth.” So goes a famous movie line by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. And I think that’s a little how we relate to agape. I’ll never forget the way I felt the first time I held my daughter Cora. She’d just been beat up, bruised, and poked with needles. Just a few minutes old and wrapped in that familiar hospital receiving blanket she just was. And I wonder how much agape I felt at that moment. I’m not sure what percentage of the love I felt was agape then, but all I can remember is being completely broken. There was nothing I’d ever loved more. That little baby, still swollen and red, unable to do anything by herself, had complete control over me. It was the most beautiful moment I’ve ever experienced. To parents, I don’t need to spend a lot of time explaining it. It was agape. It was something we don’t know how to handle. Imagine feeling that way about everything. Imagine living a life in which a son or daughter died every moment. It’s not something we can handle. Now you know a little of what separates us from God. God has agape for everyone. “He is agape,” the Bible says in 1 John 4:8. Agape is what Jesus felt for His crucifiers. He died on the Cross because of His agape for us. Can you imagine? No. We can’t handle love. Not fully, not completely, not in its purest form. But someday. Someday when this world’s evils are abolished. When perfection is normal. When love is unlimited. When agape is in every heart. But until then… Until then, let’s at least let it inspire. 

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, April 10, 2014

This Is For You

“I have a simple philosophy: Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. Scratch where it itches.” - Alice Roosevelt Longworth

As He [Jesus] was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged Him that he might be with Him. And He did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.” - Mark 5:18-19

Touch: “archaic a thing or an action that tries out the worth or character of something; a test” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Studies have shown that the more people have the less empathetic they are to the plight of others. Studies have shown that the more money someone has the lower percentage of it they generally give. And studies have also shown that the best way to spend money in a way that makes us happy is to spend it on someone else, or to give it away. The problem is, we don’t trust these studies very much. We don’t apply them to our lives, because we say, “We’re different than everyone else.” 
If you’re reading this, look around you. Look at all the things you’ve been blessed with. Now think about someone who has less than you. A lot less. Think about a little girl who has nothing, with no prospect of ever having anything, a little girl with no hope. There are millions of little girls like this. Now think about a a grown man who’s having trouble providing for his family. It has nothing to do with motivation or laziness, he simply has no opportunity. Millions of men are in this situation. But we earn and we enjoy or things and we forget about others because we think we got all this stuff on our own. And if we can do it, well then anyone can. But it’s not true. We’re believing a lie. Hard work and determination go a long way. But blessings have to come along side as well. 
However, we forget. We forget where we came from, what it was like to have little. Or maybe we’ve never experienced having a little. Still, we forget what it is that provides so much for us. That we are not just hard workers, we are not just smart, we are not just enterprising. We are blessed as well. Blessed to live somewhere where our efforts can pay. Blessed to be surrounded by opportunities. Blessed by God Himself. So we ignore the studies, we ignore the needs, we ignore God. We need to stop. We need to look around and see the needs. We need to stop ignoring our blessings and start sharing them. Don’t worry, they won’t go away. We won’t be disappointed in a life of giving. God has an endless supply of blessings He wants to share with and through our lives. Don’t fit into the study’s statistics. Break the trends. Show the world what you’ve been blessed with and use it to bless the world. In the words of Jesus, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.” Mark 5:19b 
You might be reading this trying to feel your blessings. And none come to mind. None can be felt. Then reach out for Him. He’s there to bless anyone who will come to Him. On His way to heal a sick little girl, a woman who’d tried everything to be healed of her sickness, a woman at the end of everything, with nothing more to lose, decided she’d give Jesus a try. She was unclean in her society. The rules said she couldn’t even touch someone. But she decided to give Jesus a try. So as He walked, she simply touched His clothes in faith. “For she said, ‘If I touch even His garments, I will be made well.’” Mark 5:28 Then the Bible says, “And Jesus, perceiving in Himself that power had gone out from Him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my garments?’ And His disciples said to Him, ‘You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’’ And He looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happen to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’” - Mark 5:30-34    
This is for you. This is for all of us. This is Jesus. Simply reach out to touch Him and He will touch 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, April 9, 2014

Persist In Service

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.” - Charles Dickens

And He [Jesus] said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him;’ and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.” - Luke 11:5-8

Persistence: “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition” - New Oxford American Dictionary

It’s not always fun to do the right thing. It’s not always easy to give. It’s not always a joyful moment when we get to be kind to an offensive person. Sometimes it is. Sometimes helping, giving, and doing the right thing bring more joy than anything else. However, it won’t always work that way. Don’t be fooled by those heart warming moments when an act of kindness pays off. It won’t always pay. Don’t be lured into believing that being good to others will mean they’ll be good to you. They won’t always be good in return. Don’t let the reward of our acts be what determines our decisions. The time to decide to do the right thing is before the moment to act ever comes. It will take persistence to do the right thing sometimes. It will take knowing and having faith in the idea of being good to others is not for you, but for them. It’s not about you or me. It’s about the people in need. It’s about the children and the mothers. The women and men. The fathers and the sons. Brothers and sisters. And it’s about Jesus too. Persistence; it does what is needed when our energy and desire is gone. Persistence keeps going when we would stop. It’s what forces us to follow through on the decision we made long before, to do the right thing. Let’s learn to be persistent in our charity. Let’s learn to be insistent that it’s not about us. Let’s make this about Jesus and about serving. Let’s make this world a little better. We can when we decide to do the right thing, even when it’s hard. Even when it doesn’t pay. Let’s decide right now to serve… Persistently. 

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, April 8, 2014

Consider Your Blessings

“I conceive that the great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by the false estimates they have made of the value of things.” - Benjamin Franklin

And He sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And He called His disciples to Him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” - Mark 12: 41-44

Value: “the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something” - New Oxford American Dictionary

I’m about to ask you an important question that I can’t answer. When you first hear it, you’ll probably want to give a reply right away. You may even think it’s simple. But think about it. Apply it to everything you can. Wonder at what the answer might be. Ready? Here it is… What makes something valuable? What gives it the quality that makes us appreciate it? What makes something valuable? Certainly not it’s dollar value. Who’s ever been given something that didn’t require a sacrifice? At that point it’s lost most of its value. If you didn’t have to work for your money, how valuable would it be? And how much would we value the things we bought with it? Nobody cares about Monopoly Money. Why? Because it’s not hard to get. It’s just paper. And you may say that the US Dollar is just paper as well. But it’s paper that most of us have to earn. Think about the things you have. Which one of those things is most valuable? Maybe it’s a family heirloom. Or maybe it’s something you saved up for since you were a kid. Or maybe it’s just something you love. The answers to the original question seem to come easily, but when we explore them, we realize they don’t all apply to everything of value. We could say that monetary worth makes something valuable. But then why do people with a lot of monetary worth seem to have little regard for the monetary value of their things? We could say that value comes from love. But then why do we love things in the first place? Is it because of their value to us? We could make the claim that value comes from the amount of work we put into something. But then how would we attribute that to the value we place on things that are free. Things like the beauty of nature, or a moment spent with a person we love. What makes something valuable? Maybe someday we’ll be able to answer that question. But for now I’m just going to try to value the things God has blessed me with. And maybe there in lies the answer. Maybe a things value is best seen in its blessing.

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