The Intent of This Blog

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

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Jesus-Reliance

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

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. - 1 John 4:15

Motivate: “stimulate (someone's) interest in or enthusiasm for doing something" - New Oxford American Dictionary

Never be afraid of encouragement. Too often we view encouragement like it’s a cheat for life. As if it’s somehow more honorable to get and strive through life all on our own. We have this attitude, especially in the United States, that self-reliance is the ultimate good. There’s nothing wrong with being personally responsible. For not relying on others to fix every problem we have. But no one is self-reliant. We were made to rely. First on God. And on love. What kind of world would this be if we didn’t have love to rely on? If everything we did was a result of a formula for personal success? Success is nothing with out significance. And significance is evil without love. And so what are we left with? Reliance. Reliance on a Savior. Reliance on family. Reliance on friends, loved ones, and everything else around us. There’s nothing better. We were created to be part of a system. We were never meant to be a fully sustainable eco-system of ourselves. We need sustenance from the farmer down the road. We need the skills of a carpenter to build our homes. We need the love of people to give us reasons to smile. Most of all we need the Creator who sustains everything we do. We are reliant. And that means we need to rely. That means we need many things. Among them, encouragement. It’s ok to be encouraged by someone telling you that you can achieve your dreams. It’s ok to let someone make you laugh and become excited for life again. It’s ok for you to seek comfort from someone who’s been on your path and know how you feel. God put those things in this world for us to use and enjoy and rely on. He’s given us the ability to comfort, encourage, and love one another for a reason. The forest floor could not survive without the tall trees. And the tall trees could not survive without the sun. The forests work together to survive. So do we. It’s just a matter of admitting it. However, sometimes pride interferes. Sometimes jealousy prevents. Sometimes anger gets in the way of clear thinking. We have to be able to look past those hinderances and see to the heart of what we need. Most of all we need Jesus. Because life itself will not last without Him. But with Him it will last forever. Forget self-reliance, we need Jesus-reliance. He’s the only way to be fully alive. And that’s what life is all about isn’t it? To be fully alive.

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, May 29, 2014

Through The Struggle... Keep Going!

“It is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war.” - John F. Kennedy

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Struggle: “engage in conflict” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Sometimes we need to do what we don't want to do. Not everything we do will be fun or enjoyable. Some things will be dreaded. There are times when commitment is more important than comfort. Comfort brings less enjoyment than you think. A comfortable day often leads to a restless night. On the other hand, a day full of struggle often leads to a night of peace. Could it be the same with the entirety of our lives? That a life lived in comfort will leave us restless in the end? Or that a life of struggled perseverance will lead to a peace in heaven? Not everything in life will be beautiful. Not everything will be desired. But everything has a purpose. Every event is a stepping stone on a path towards what will be. What will be? What will be the purpose of all this? What will be the reason for our lives? What will be in the end? Peace with God I hope. However, there’s only one way to have peace with God. That is through His Son, Jesus Christ. That peace comes through struggle. Sometimes our struggle. Always Jesus’. The 40 days of fast in the wilderness was a struggle. God living a life of manhood… Struggle. The cross took a struggle. And so at times our lives will be a struggle too. Sometimes getting up in the morning won’t seem worth the time. Sometimes going to bed won’t seem worth the energy. There will be times when peace just won’t be. It will take a struggle. It’s the lot of humanity. To struggle. Every period of peace has had to be fought for. How ironic, that peace doesn’t come through peace, but most often through war. If we could only know love we would know no war. But we don’t know love. Not yet. Not in its entirety. Can you love someone like Hitler? Someone like a man who shoots up an elementary school? Someone like your own father perhaps? Love does. But we struggle because at the same time, the love in us wants to push away the evil that happens to us. Evil and love cannot coexist. And so our love is taken by the evil forced into our lives. Still we struggle to love. We struggle to hold onto the faith that one day we will love perfectly. We will see clearly. We will have peace. Right and wrong, good and evil, whatever the two opposites may be, the two cannot coexist. Not peacefully. And so we’re left with hopeful sayings, and optimistic stickers on our bumpers. All of which indicate our struggle. It’s discouraging we all know. But keep going. Keep pressing towards the Truth. Keep pushing to God. This life of struggle, like those days of hard work, will lead to a peace greater than we can summon. A love deeper than we can fathom. A Truth more real than we can imagine. It’s coming… Keep going!

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, May 28, 2014

The Perfect Plan Of Faults

“An escalator can never break: it can only become stairs. You should never see an Escalator Temporarily Out of Order sign, just Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience.” - Mitch Hedberg

For I know the plans I have for you, declares thee LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. - Jeremiah 29:11

Plan: “a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something” - New Oxford American Dictionary

What did you do today, or yesterday, that you felt was part of God’s plan for you? I may not know you. I may not know your relationship with God. I don’t even know if you have a relationship with Him. But I know the answer to the question. The answer is EVERYTHING! That’s a scary answer I know. “What if yesterday I killed someone,” you might be wondering. “How could murder be part of God’s plan for my life?” Because your still living. This very moment you could accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Whatever you’ve done. Whatever you’ve thought or wished. Whatever evil things any of us have contrived… Jesus can still be our Lord and Savior. He said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but the sinners.” - Mark 2:17 Here’s the catch. We’re all sick. We’re all sinners. We all need Jesus. Sure, some of us deserve prison too, but all of us deserve the consequences of sin. We all deserve death. Because we’ve all sinned. However, God is able to reach into our lives and use us despite our faults. Despite our shortcomings. Despite whatever we’ve done. In fact, He needs you because of what you’ve done. Maybe you’re the only one who can bring His love into the jails. Perhaps you can minister to the addicted. Perhaps your role is to comfort those in need. Our pasts can all be part of God’s future for us when we choose to be used by Him. You may be ridden with guilt. He can make it purposeful. You may be sorrowful. He can use it to comfort. You may be feeling perfect. He can humble. Let’s reject the feeling that our faults have limited our use. Let’s realize the use we have for the Lord. Our lives are in His hands. Rest comfortably in His embrace. Give your past, your thoughts, your feelings to Him. Let Him use you and your life, whatever it is or has been, can become a plan of God. God has a plan for all of us. How good does that feel? How awesome is that to know? How could that change the world if we could only realize it fully? Let’s do what we can to realize it fully.

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, May 27, 2014

The Other gods

“And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear
Whom then shall I fear

Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me”

Excerpt from the song You Never Let Go by Matt Redman

And God spoke these words, saying, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” - Exodus 20:1-3

god: “a thing accorded the supreme importance appropriate to a god” - New Oxford American Dictionary

What does it mean to put God first? To make Him our God and to have no other gods before us? In Matthew 14 we can read about Jesus walking on water. Naturally when Peter saw Jesus out there on the water he wondered if it was really Him. So he asked, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to you on the water.” So that’s what Jesus did. And then Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water too. “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’” Answer me this, who was holding Peter up the entire time? Peter got out of the boat on the faith that if it was really Jesus and if Jesus was really who He said He was, that if He was really God, He ought to be able to help him walk on water too. But out on the water it seems that Peter’s faith wavered a bit. I don’t know what got into his mind, but he must have remembered his own abilities and forgot Jesus’, because he began to sink and had to cry out again for Jesus’ rescue. And the Bible says, “Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” What do we put our trust in that fails us? What is it that has us sinking? Is our faith in some other god first? Do we leave God as a last resort? Only God can save us. Only God can set us up to walk on water and do things we never thought possible. Only He can comfort us with a peace that passes understanding. (see Philippians 4:7) However, too often we rely on ourselves and other things first. “If I can’t do it I’ll ask God to help.” We say to ourselves. Then we sink and forget that the moment Peter stepped out of the boat, he walked on water through the power of Christ. And in the same way our entire lives are held up through the power of God. Diet can’t save us. Jesus saves. Good works can’t save us. Jesus saves. Being a good person can’t save us. Only Jesus saves. If the words, “You can’t be saved unless…” aren’t followed by “Jesus!” That’s a god put before God. Because nothing, no one, not anything, but Jesus, saves. He comes first. May we always remember to put Him 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

Friday, May 23, 2014

Christian Living

“In baptism, new Christians become part of a body of fellow believers who are called to spiritually encourage one another and hold one another responsible for consistent Christian living.” - Tony Campolo

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. - Galatians 5:22-23

Spirit: “those qualities regarded as forming the definitive or typical elements in the character of a person, nation, or group or in the thought and attitudes of a particular period” - New Oxford American Dictionary

What does it mean to be a Christian? Does it mean going to church a certain percentage of the weekends? Does it mean putting a sticker on your bumper or back window? Does it mean telling everyone who can possibly hear, about your beliefs? Maybe. Sometimes. Possibly. How often have we heard how much this country and world is declining, because faith isn’t expressed the way it was 50 or 60 years ago. And if we went back 60 years we’d hear the same thing I’m sure. And the same again 50 years before that. When did Christianity peek in our world? Was it during the inquisition? Slavery? Maybe it was 60 years ago, when segregation was normal in the most “Christian” part of the United States. “By their fruits you will recognize them.” (see Matthew 7:15-20) Jesus said that talking about false prophets. You think we have any false Christians around? Of course we do. We have to be careful not to mix up labels and morals. For many, sadly, Christian is just another team to be on and root for. Like the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, or Democrats and Republicans. Many of us were born, raised, and bleed Christian, and that’s that. Never mind the living out and acting like Christ and the Gospel part. Jesus also said this, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” - John 3:5 No one is, or has ever been born a Christian. At some point all Christians must accept the Holy Spirit into their lives. At some point we must all be changed, from the inside out. That change will be noticed. It will change the way we live, view the world, and think about others. That change comes with fruit. That fruit can be recognized. It’s the fruit of the spirit and it manifests itself in what we do. Maybe we could be more Christian as a world and nation. Maybe we have declined in our faith and our knowledge of God and Jesus. But let’s not look back as if at some point in history Christianity had been perfected or that the world was better. Maybe it was. I don’t know. However, the point is moot. Because we live in a world that is always ripe for ministry. We live with people who need the Gospel. We are neighbors with people who could use Jesus. They’re not on a different team to compete with. They’re our neighbors and Jesus said to “Love [our] neighbors as ourselves.” (see Mark 12:31) It’s not about how often we go to church, or how forcefully we proclaim our so called faith. It’s about how much we love. How much we actually love Jesus. How much we share love with others. How much love we have for those in need. I would never accuse someone who claims to be Christian of not being one in actuality. But we could all use a good look in the mirror, asking ourselves if we are living like a follower of Christ. Because… Are we?

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, May 22, 2014

A Higher Perspective

“No one is more influential in your life than you are, because no one else talks to you more.” - Paul Tripp

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. - Mathew 6:33

Interpose: “to place in an intervening position” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

What do we tell ourselves on a regular basis?  Is it that we’re not good enough to be considered for the next promotion?  Is it that we’re somehow not lovable?  Perhaps it’s that we’re pretty good and deserve everything we have and much more?  Whatever it is, I bet it’s often untrue.  The truth is that God loves us enough to kill His Son for us.  The truth is that Jesus loves us enough to be tortured and die for us.  I love the line in the old hymn Come Thou Fount  where it says, “Jesus sought me when a stranger, wondering from the fold of God; He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.”  I don’t know about you, but that picture of Jesus rescuing me from MYSELF with His own life makes me feel absolutely and completely alive and loved inside.  So what are we telling ourselves?  I hope that, in our day of personal communication, we remember what we deserve of our own merits, and how different that is from what we have coming because of Christ.  It’s easy to get caught up in thoughts of our physical needs.  We do need sustenance.  We do need physical attention.  And we do need to feel good about ourselves.  However, all of those things are much more satisfying after we’ve been satisfied with the love our Maker.  Jesus is seeking us like the Good Shepherd He is.  He says in John 10:27-28, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”  Perhaps we should stop speaking to ourselves out of our own wisdom and start quoting to ourselves what God has to say.  Perhaps we should listen a little more to what Jesus thinks of us.  Perhaps we should pay attention when He says, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”  Mathew 6:28b-30  Somehow that puts everything into a little better perspective.

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, May 21, 2014

RM - Soul Style

“Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” - Warren Buffet

He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good. - Ecclesiastes 11:4-6
Nefarious: “(typically of an action or activity) wicked or criminal” - New Oxford American Dictionary
If success is a reward, it always comes with a risk. Everything we do as humans involves risk. We risk our lives when we drive our cars. We risk our retirement when we invest it in accounts managed by people we’ve never heard of. We risk everything more than we could imagine. In humanity it’s a requirement for sure. Fortunately, with the risks come rewards too. We wouldn’t have a place to live without a job. And many of us probably wouldn’t have a job if we refused to take the risk riding in a car. We call it Risk Management. It’s the process of measuring the risk and the reward side by side. If the risk is too high for the reward we decline the activity. However, if the reward is high enough to take the risk we accept. It’s a natural process of human behavior and business uses it extensively in their investments and ventures. Sometimes you’ll see risk management even used to excuse dishonest behavior. How much can a company steal before the risk of being caught outweighs the reward of the ill gotten gains? RM is a pre-requisite for any activity where success is a goal. And if done properly, can put a lot of money in a persons bank account. However, no amount of money, fame, or success, can help a person sleep at night. Risk Management takes a hike when it comes to our conscious. In fact, it often works inversely. The more gained from nefarious risks, the more conscious will hound. The Holy Spirit doesn’t care how much money is in our bank account, or what kind of cars we have the privilege of operating, He cares about what’s right and wrong. He cares about your soul. No reward is worth a wrong. However big or small. Because rewards are not just paid out monetarily, or in success, rewards are also paid out in the clearness of our conscious and the salvation of our souls. Risk management is not wrong. It’s ok to measure the risk and reward on the investments in our lives. But let’s never put our conscious at stake. Let’s never put our salvation on the line. No reward can ever balance the scale or tip the favor to our side when the greatest part of our being is at stake. Instead, let’s strive to invest our spirits in the Lord. Let’s give our greatest assets to Him. He’s the only way to eliminate risk, because His love carries only reward. It may be difficult to see now, but in the reality of eternity we’ll be able to see that, our investment in Him had no risk at all, but came with the greatest reward we could ever hope for.
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, May 20, 2014

Hope's Anchor

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of His purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, He confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. - Hebrews 6:16-20

Hope: “grounds for believing that something good may happen” - New Oxford American Dictionary

You’re not wanted. What you have for this world is not wanted. What you could do for your family is not wanted. Ever wonder why your best intentions leave you bitter at times? Ever wonder why the most important relationship you have goes through rough patches? Ever wonder why, no matter what you do, nothing you do seems to help? Because you’re not wanted. There is a force in this world trying to tear it apart. Satan would love for you to get a divorce and break apart your God fearing family. Satan would love for you to lose your job and your ability to send your kids to a good school. Satan does not want your good will. And he will try to stop you. And he will use you. And he will use the people you love. Satan does not want your good, or anyone else’s. He wants to banish good from this world. But you’re not working for satan. He’s not the only influence and power in your life. God has a will too. And His will is far more powerful than the devil’s. God will prevail. Christ prevailed on the Cross. And He can prevail in your life too. Don’t let doubt and discouragement and anger stop you. Because God has your back, your front, and all the rest of you. No, you can’t do it on your own. You can’t hold your family together on your own. You can’t make everyone smile all by yourself. Who can even make themselves smile all the time? But you’re not alone. You have a purpose and a partner. You are wanted. You are needed. You are a child of God. A warrior for the Gospel. A member of the winning team. Because “If God be for us, who can be against us?” - Romans 8:31b God is for you and the good you want to do. In fact He gave you the heart to do good. He is the source of all good. Everyone goes through struggle. Everyone goes through conflict. Everyone meets resistance. We cannot stop. We must continue. We need to realize the presence of God in our lives. Because it’s only through Him that we can continue. It’s only because of Him that “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” - Hebrews 6:19a Let us have the strength to tie off to that anchor.

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, May 19, 2014

Our Humanity

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” - John C. Maxwell

Love never fails. - 1 Corinthians 13:8a

Muse: “be absorbed in thought” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Like birds on a wire
We line up note by note
Like keys on the board
We sing a heavenly song

But from what does our music come?
For whom does this muse sing?

Poems and lyrics and music we write
Some for ourselves maybe
Some for something more heavenly

Where do we go when we die?
Jesus said it’s a place He went to prepare
But what if I haven’t been good enough?
Good enough to have peace when there?

Love conquers all it’s been said
So we sing like our lives aren’t made of lead
We feel like our hearts aren’t made of steel

How can this be true…
Our humanity? 

All seemed lost
We couldn’t pay the cost
Death had us trapped
But Jesus has us saved

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, May 16, 2014

What Do You Say?

“Good words are worth much, and cost little.” - George Herbert

From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied;
he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.
- Proverbs 18:20-21

Appellation: “a name or title” - New Oxford American Dictionary

You never know what your words will do. You’ll never know the forgiveness they can emit, the life they can input, or the appellation they can give. When the Bible speaks about creation it describes it as being a result of words. God spoke everything we know into existence. “In the beginning,” it says, “was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” - John 1:1 That Word was Jesus. (see John 1:14) And what did God say about creation..? “It was very good.” - Genesis 1:31 Just as we were made in the image of God, our words impart power too.  A single sentence can change a day, even a life. A single word can define, conquer, or build up. You can’t know what some of the people you will speak to today have been going through. Even your own spouse. So let’s be careful with our words. With our words, let’s be builders of character, destroyers of evil, and creators of joy. Our greatest power lies just on the other side of our tongue. Let’s use it wisely. You could change the world today with a word. What do you say?

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, May 14, 2014

The Gratitude Attitude


“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” - Melody Beattie 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Obdurate:  “resistant to persuasion or softening of influences” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

What happens when we don’t feel gratitude?  What happens when everything we have is earned?  Is deserved?  Is expected?  Gratitude gives us the ability to appreciate the blessings we enjoy.  Gratitude is often the source of happiness we experience during life’s good moments.  And it’s the source of joy at being grateful to a loving God.  Without gratitude we lose everything there is to be grateful for.  Without gratitude we forfeit our blessings.  No, we may not physically lose our house, our car, or our family.  But what’s the difference?  If we aren’t grateful for something, is there a point in having it?  The answer to that question is, yes.  When’s the last time you were grateful for socks.  Maybe it was recently for you, I don’t know.  My point is, there are lots of things that we take for granted.  That we forget to be grateful for.  That we forget even exist.  Things that are important to our lives and would be missed and desired if gone.  Maybe we have forgotten to be thankful for the home our wife has created.  Or the income our husband works for.  Maybe we’ve forgotten that everything we have is a blessing.  That there is so much to be grateful for.  And maybe we’ve forgotten to be thankful for a loving God.  A God who sent His Son, Jesus, to die for us so that we can be with Him.  If we’ve forgotten our gratitude, I pray that we find it again.  If we haven’t been able to count our blessings in a while, I pray that they would become known once again.  And if it’s been too long since we’ve allowed the love of Christ in our hearts, I pray that we find the strength to put aside our pride and obdurateness and ask Him in.  His love is unmerited, unearned, and unbelievable.  If there is one thing we can all agree is worth our gratitude, it’s the 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

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Suit and Tie

“Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.”  Eric Fromm

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”  John 6:35

Joie De Vivre:  “keen or buoyant enjoyment of life”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

You've probably heard the Justin Timberlake song, Suit and Tie?  You could hardly turn on the radio without hearing it for a while.  And for good reason I guess.  It has the type of hook that gets stuck in your head for days.  It starts out like this, “And as long as I’ve got my suit and tie, I’m gonna leave it on the floor tonight.”  But contrast that with a man named Abraham from Sudan.  He was one of “The Lost Boys” chased out of his country by terrorists to Ethiopia.  Only to be chased at gunpoint back out of Ethiopia, through a river teaming with crocodiles and death into Kenya, where they still were not wanted.  Eventually this group of “Lost Boys” would be rescued by the United States, where they became citizens with all the problems, blessings, and responsibilities of being Americans.  Years later, after having been threatened by death so many times, from so many sources, Abraham could be found with one prized possession he had kept with him all along.  A red Bible.  You see, Abraham had been a pastor in Sudan before terrorism forced him to flee.  And it took decades to make it back home.  But this time as a bishop for his church, dividing his time between the United States and Sudan.  Constantly guided by that prized possession.  The Word of the Lord.  Listen, I’m not disparaging Justin Timberlake’s song.  It’s not very kid friendly in my opinion, however I do have it on my iPhone.  But there’s so much more to life than a “Suit and Tie.”  And by “Suit and Tie” I mean any possession we rely on for satisfaction.  Probably one of the most indulgent groups of people in recent history, “The Rolling Stones,” are famous for a song entitled I Can’t Get No SatisfactionThe source of satisfaction is found in the Lord.  There’s a hole in every heart waiting for Him to fill it.  Thousands of those “Lost Boys” died on their journey from terror to freedom.  Abraham lived through it.  Why?  Because as he says, “God wanted him to be able to tell about it.”  When God fills that place in our heart there is something we feel compelled to do.  Tell about it.  Life is a deadly journey.  There’s only one way to freedom.  That’s through Jesus.  He said, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Me.”  John 14:6  We’re all on the same path.  Will we make it through?  Do we have the Way in our hearts?  Do we have the Word in our possession?  Do we have life?  The “Suit and Tie” life may look more attractive, but there’s no lasting satisfaction on a dance floor.  Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  John 10:10b  Who’s they?  His followers.  Want an abundant life?  Follow Jesus.  Don’t just be a Christian.  Be a disciple.  Follow Jesus.  After all He did say, “Why are you worried about clothing?  Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like of of these.”  Matthew 6:28-29  God is abundantly able to bless your life.  For some with possessions, for others greatness.  For all, satisfaction.  How’s that for a “Suit and Tie?”

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, May 9, 2014

Something To Be Thankful For

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.” - Henri Nouwen

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. - Psalm 147:3

Victim: “a person who is tricked or duped” - New Oxford American Dictionary

When I was a kid I was terrified of getting hurt. At the top of the list of those things was getting cut to the bone. What could be worse than being cut to the bone? I was fascinated with the idea. Even though I was always afraid of getting hurt, somehow there was something I could be proud of when it came to injuries. And being cut to the bone was one of those things you could really hang your tough guy hat on. Whenever somebody would show me a cut or a scar I would ask if they could see the bone when it happened. If they said yes, I was in awe. What is it with boys and injuries? What is it about being tough that makes you more of a man? In a way, I guess, it proves that we can go through something hard and come out the other side fully functional, or at least alive; that we are able to use and or sacrifice our bodies to protect somebody, or something. Of course, after all the cuts and bruises and broken bones, we all know that girls are lot tougher than boys. It’s just that boys are fragile enough that we have to prove it. But we’re all sort of fragile in ways. It’s ironic that our fragility is often expressed through proving our toughness. Whether it’s mental, physical, social, or spiritual, we all want to be tough in some sort of way. We all want to hide the parts of us that we feel are vulnerable. We call it surviving I guess. What do you think would happen if we revealed our vulnerabilities? If we exposed our soft bellies to the predators in our lives? Do you think it would make any difference? The fact is, we’re all victims. We all have the scars to prove it. We’ve all been cut to the bone a time or two. However, when it comes to our emotions, we hide the evidence. There’s a difference between getting cut in battle and being a victim. Being abused isn’t just a cut somehow, it affects on a deeper level. Losing a loved one isn’t just a cut that will heal. It changes who we are in ways we don’t quite understand. We are all victims. But we don’t have to live forever victimized. Christ is able to heal and wipe clean our wounds. He’s able to turn our abuses into tools for Him and others. He’s able to get us through our wounds functional and alive. He’s able to place life into our spirits, even though it doesn’t seem possible. Our wounds aren’t necessarily something to be proud of, but they can be marks of perseverance with Him. We don’t have to prove ourselves with Jesus. He does all the proving. He didn’t have to prove Himself to the doubters while He was on the cross, He had to persevere through His own sacrifice. He would prove Himself later. It was for us, for our hurts, that He died and rose again. So that we could be healed. So that one day even our scars could be removed. I’m still terrified of being hurt, just like anyone else. But I know He can get us through whatever may come. Even death has no hold on us with Jesus. Because He promised to come again so that we can be with Him. One day there will be no more cuts, no more bruises, no more victims. One day we will be conquerers through Christ Jesus our Lord. That’s something to be thankful for.

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, May 8, 2014

A Relationship With Love

“The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.” Tennessee Williams

Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
Your judgments are like the great deep;
man and best you save, O LORD
- Psalm 36:5-6

Recognition: “acknowledgment of something's existence, validity, or legality"

Why does it sometimes seem cliche’d to talk about God’s love? Shouldn’t His love be the most important thing in our lives? Shouldn’t we constantly remember His love? Still, the subject easily becomes a, “been there done that, heard that all before,” type of thing. Something in me wants to say, “If that’s the way we feel about His love, I’m not sure we’ve experienced His love.” But there’s a difference between experiencing and knowing. We’ve all experienced His love. All around us are experiences of His love. The beauty of nature. The relationships we share and cherish. The love we have for one another. They’re all experiences of His love for us. Because He created it all and gave it all to us for us to experience. It’s possible however, to experience a lifetime of His love and never know it. Because knowing His love takes recognizing His love. And recognizing His love takes knowing Him. It’s in a relationship that His love is manifested in our lives. His love cannot be destroyed or tampered with. It exists whether we believe or not, but just as in any relationship, it’s full power isn’t realized without recognition. Because a relationship of love cannot be forced. You can’t make anyone love you, and no one can make you love them. It’s the way humanity in a world for free will works. Still, love is the most persuasive force that’s ever been. God created it that way on purpose. We exist, for love, in love, and of love. For, in, and of, His love. Maybe someday we’ll understand. But for know we can only grasp at wind. His love is like that. We can’t capture it to study it. But we can study its effects. We can feel it on our skin. We can see that it exists… Invisible but ever present. Let’s stop guarding against His love. Let’s realize it for what it is. The most powerful force ever. The creative force for the entire universe. God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He’s everything. And He chooses to say, “I am Love.” His love creates the possibility of a relationship with Him. Let’s build a relationship with Love.

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, May 7, 2014

Breathing Miracles

“This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence, living in me

This is my daily bread
Your very word, spoken to me

And I… I’m desperate for You
And I… I’m lost without You"
- Excerpts from the song Breathe by Michael W. Smith

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” - Matthew 4:4

Breathe: “be or seem to be alive because of this” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Don’t forget about God. It seems like a simple phrase. But so much could be helped if we remembered it. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when challenges arise? Probably something that has to do with you, right? Ultimately, you will probably be the one to solve many of your problems. Still, don’t forget about God. Why? Because He endowed us with our abilities and He is able to multiply them still. Just like He multiplied the bread and the fish to feed five thousand, He is able to multiply the resources you have. Miracles don’t always seem obvious. But take a second and breathe in. Feel the air fill your lungs. The oxygen in that breath is now supplying the muscles throughout your body. It’s life and no one has ever been able to replicate or create it. Only God has ever created life from its absence. That includes you. Every second of our lives we’re experiencing a miracle. With every breath we’re experiencing God at work in our lives. But how often we forget and take for granted His workings. How often we think of ourselves as little islands of life and power; responsible for everything we can affect and effect. How often He goes unnoticed in our lives. He is able to empower our thoughts and our actions just like He empowers the very life in our breaths. He is able to effect change and affect hearts through us and in us. He is able and ready to do a miracle for you. Indeed He is at this very moment. And it’s when we realize those miracles in our lives that we see life’s beauty all the more. That we have a purpose greater than our jobs alone. That we have a purpose to live for. That our purpose is found greatest in Him. And so we can contemplate the worst with peace in light of Him. We can see that there is more. We can whiff at the effervescence of what’s to come and feel the hope build in our hearts. The hope of glory in heaven with our Creator and ultimate love. So breathe in, can you feel His life coursing through you? Suddenly the sun seems a little more golden, the air a little more mystical, life a little more precious. It’s His love. The cross, though thousands of years old, can still be felt. Not the nails, or the agony, but the joy of victory over death, the joy of love defeating hate, the joy of Christ Himself. It’s in the very air we breathe, when we choose to realize the miracle. May we always realize we’re breathing miracles.

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, May 6, 2014

An Aftermarket God

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because He has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” - Jesus - John 3:16-21

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. - Isaiah 40:28

deify: “worship, regard, or treat (someone or something) as a god” - New Oxford American Dictionary

When I was younger, I couldn’t stand a stock car. Unless it was a really nice car of course. I didn’t understand why anyone would want to keep the “old” factory stereo in their car, for example. I loved aftermarket stuff. I wanted to put spoilers and all sorts of things on my car to make it (in my opinion) “nicer.” As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate the way cars are brand new, un-tainted by modifications. But part of me still likes to make my cars personal to me. And I’m sure you do as well. Certainly we’re not all like 18 year old boys with 15 year old cars. However, most of us like to put a nice set of wheels on our cars. So don’t judge me too harshly. Of course I don’t want to wast your time talking about cars. My question is, do we treat God like our cars sometimes? Perhaps like our homes? Or our clothes? God isn’t alterable by us. He is who He is. However, that doesn’t stop us from trying to make Him our own. Certainly, He is a personal God. Jesus is a personal Savior. But He’s not available for personalization. Still, how often do we try to modify God to suit our needs or desires. We act like God likes certain things based on what we like, He hates certain things based on what we hate, and perhaps He wants for us to have the things we want. It’s a dangerous path towards self deification. We aren't God and we know it. But we can project ourselves onto God. And in that way we basically build God out of what we imagine to be the perfect version of ourselves. That’s not God. We’re not God. We’ve never met anyone like God. So how do we know the real God? How do we know where He starts and our ideas end? How do we see Him for who He is? It starts in our human relationships. How do you know who your husband or wife really is? How do you know your real mom or dad? You listen to them. You trust that what they say about themselves is true. You have an honest relationship with them based on love and not desire. It’s the same with God. He gave us His Word, but how often do we doubt it and read our own thoughts into it? He asks us to pray, but how often do we tell Him what’s really going on in our lives and minds? He asks for a relationship of love, but how often do we forget to give Him our hearts? Our inability to foster a relationship with the true God results in a god that is not real. A vending machine god. One that is relegated to vending the miracles we want. That’s not God. Our gods will always disappoint us. The vending machine will always get the chips stuck in that stupid wire screw thing. However, a relationship with God is something different. Sure, we’ll be disappointed, just like we’re disappointed with our human relationships. We don’t always get everything we want. But God doesn’t exist just to give us everything we want. Not right now. The fact is, we don’t even know what’s best for us. Thankfully God does. Thankfully He loves us enough to give us what we need. Thankfully He is able to comfort us when times are hard. That’s the real God. A God of relationship. A God of love. A God we should get to know. He’s not hiding. His Word can literally be found almost everywhere. Do we trust Him enough to believe 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