The Intent of This Blog

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

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Being King

“It’s good to be king and have your own way
Get a feeling of peace at the end of the day”
- Excerpt from the song It’s Good To Be King by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. [We are] troubled on every side, yet not distressed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. - 2 Corinthians 4:6-10

Refuge: “a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble” - New Oxford American Dictionary

There’s a funny thing about being a king. You rarely get your own way. Every problem of the world comes with being king. The truth is, even the pauper often has more freedom than a king. With responsibility comes, well, responsibility. “Be careful what you wish for.” So many have said. Kingship isn’t always so good. What we don’t always realize is that we all have opportunities to be kings and queens. We all have the ability to set up our own little empires in life where we control the comings and goings and happenings within. Be it Sunday morning breakfast, or nighttime feedings, there are always little opportunities to be in charge. Are we gracious with our charges? Do we protect our realms with justice? Do we even realize our kingship? If so, where is our castle, and of what is it made? Is there a place you can go where you are protected? Because you will be attacked. We all come under attack when we try to do good. We need a fortress and an army to help us fight through. Often resistance is greatest on the right road. Don’t let the attacks stop you from doing what’s right. You’ll be asked to sit down and close your mouth whenever you stand up to help and encourage. You be beaten back and bruised whenever you press forward to heal a wound. You’ll be bent with sorrow every time you reach out to cheer another heart. So often I’ve found refuge in the room of a church. So often I’ve felt comfort in the words of praise in song. So often I’ve felt safe in the presence of a worshiping congregation. Somehow resistance couldn’t find me there. Somehow the devil couldn’t touch. Somehow I’ve found safety in the arms of the Savior in His church. If you’re feeling discouraged. If you don’t know what to do with all these responsibilities and weights. If you are about to sit down and give up. Step into His presence. We don’t really have the ability to be kings and queens by ourselves anyway. We’re better off casting our crowns at His feet. The responsibilities will stay, but King Jesus will be Lord. And what better Lord to have than one who’s willing to die to be our Savior as well? Tom Petty was wrong. It’s not so good being king. But nothing could be better than having Christ as Lord and Savior.

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, June 27, 2014

God In Us

“God put a million, million doors in the world
For His love to walk through
One of those doors is you…

We bring the Kingdom come
With every act of love”

- Excerpts from the song  With Every Act of Love By Jason Gray

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so also are we in this world.” - 1 John 4:16-17

Neuter: “render ineffective; deprive of vigor or force” - New Oxford American Dictionary

How much is our life lacking because we don’t realize God can abide in us? What does that even mean? For one thing, it means we have love in us, because God is love. How often do we neuter our lives because we don’t have love in our hearts? The truth is that most of us view life opposite of this. We view power as something we grasp hold of. Usually by denying love. We gain power by denying ourselves to other people. But that’s not how God would have us live. It’s not how Jesus lived. For the most part we don’t believe in miracles anymore. Miracles are for the Bible and maybe for somewhere else, like Africa or something. Just not for us. Because if we’re honest, the thought of a miracle happening in front of us is kinda scary. But that doesn’t stop us from asking for a miracle when we need one. However, when we realize that God can abide in us, we start to see a glimpse of how the apostles healed and performed the miracles described in the Bible. They realized first hand that God was in them and they in Him. They also knew that God’s presence was manifested through love. That God’s power is supplied through the delivery of love. God doesn’t want us to be weak. He wants us to realize the power in Him through love. Next time you venture into the forest, stop, take a moment and look up. Let the forest’s canopy give you a glimpse of what the Garden of Eden must have been like. Let nature display God’s power of love through His creation made for us. All life is intertwined through the thread of His love. It’s His love that gives all life, that generates love in us, that produces all power. Withholding love does not give us a great power to wield. It gives us a little control to abuse with. So much more is available through God living in us. Do we believe that? It won’t make us president of anything necessarily. But what is the President of the United States to a resident of heaven? The apostle and disciple Peter did not rule anything, but through God’s love he healed a crippled man. Jesus Himself did not set up an earthly kingdom, but He gave the blind sight, He cleansed lepers, He raised the dead. Tell me, who’s power do you respect more, Caesar’s or Jesus’? Who would you rather see when cancer is about to take your life, the President or Jesus? All the human power in the world can’t perform a miracle. But the power of God can do anything. That power is manifested through love. Do we have 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

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Grudge Match

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

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. - Ephesians 4:31-32

Grudge: “a persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Think back to time you were offended. I know you can. We all can. What do you think of that person who offended or hurt you? Are you angry? Perhaps you still hold hate for that person. Now think of a time you offended someone. What if they hated you because of it? “But I’m different now.” Is the thought that comes to mind. How would they know that? Perhaps that person we’re struggling to like and to love is different too. Perhaps they’ve laid awake at night wishing they hadn’t done some of the things they’ve done. Just like we have. “I’m waiting for an apology.” Is another thought that’s crossed my mind. Maybe they are too. “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” When asked how to pray, that’s what Jesus taught. A central part of prayer according to Christ is to speak of forgiveness. We know the “forgive me” part, but do we know the “I forgive you,” part? How many grudges could be avoided and healed if we chose to forgive? How many more people could be friends if we gave them a benefit of the doubt that we’d like to receive too? Too often we let something that happened years ago control our emotions. Too often we freeze people’s character in our minds, disallowing them to develop. We don’t expect for years passed to not age someone physically, so why do we expect the years to leave their characters untouched? Perhaps they are the same person they were 10 years ago, maybe even worse. Are we any different? The fact is, everyone changes. People feel remorse. People feel guilty for their carelessness. Other people have the same feelings we have. Even the one’s we’re angry at. Why don’t we let them change? Why don’t we let them develop? Why don’t we allow them the benefits we demand and expect for ourselves. Pray for them. Forgive them. We’re all children of God. He’s working on us all. Let the grudges go and let love in. He’s not 15 anymore and she’s much older now. We’ve all developed through the years and the days. There have been times when we’ve changed moment to moment. Let’s have grace for one another. Christ died for us all. Not because we were worthy, but because we weren’t and He was. As followers of Christ, shouldn’t we try to emulate that same grace towards others? I wonder of God approves of our grudges. I wonder if He’d really rather we forgive each other. We don’t have to be naive. We can still protect ourselves from being hurt. But we have to forgive in order to be happy. But we need help. Let’s give our hurts to God and let Him win our grudge matches. We won’t be able to do it without 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

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Light Lost

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

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world, Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” - John 8:12

Redeem: “compensate for the faults or bad aspects of (something)” - New Oxford American Dictionary 

“Jake, did you drop your flashlight?”
Feeling down to the pocket where the light should be, he realized it wasn’t there anymore. 
“Thanks man, you’re a light saver.” Jake replied, with a pun definitely intended.
Losing a tool was not acceptable. He’d seen a whole fleet of aircraft grounded because of one lost object. The light he took for granted while in his possession had the power to stop everything if lost.

There is nothing quite as important in humanity as help. We can’t do everything by ourselves. We’re not anywhere close to being perfect. We all mess up and lose things a lot. We need the help of our comrades to compensate for our shortcomings. This story of Jake’s flashlight, while fictional, shows how important it can be to help each other out. More than that however, it’s an example of a light we need more than anything. We need Jesus, the Light of the world. Most of the time we could walk around without ever knowing It’s gone. Too often we take for granted the time we have with Jesus. Then, when He’s gone, there’s nothing, no one, we could need more. That’s why it’s our job to share Jesus. To do our part in telling of Him and offering Him to those around us. Sometimes it takes too long to figure out what we’ve lost. We need those around us to let us know what we’re missing out on. Who knows what disaster could be averted with a little help. Everything and everyone is redeemable through Jesus. Our redemption was earned by Christ on the cross. Let’s never lose sight of that.

“No problem, I can’t count how many times you’ve saved me from my mistakes.” 
Ryan replied to Jake.
“It just goes to show how much we need each other around here I guess.”

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, June 24, 2014

The Ground Zero Of Love

“When you put the Word in you, God’s word will come out of you.” - Victoria Osteen

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

Construe: “interpret (a word or action) in a particular way” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Have you ever been angry at someone for something you know they didn’t do? I think we’ve all held people accountable for things they did in a dream. At least for a little bit. It’s funny that we would blame someone for something they did in OUR dream. But it happens. Thank goodness the feeling goes away after a little while. Our brains are funny that way. We can experience events and emotions in them that never actually happen. Sometimes those events affect our real lives. I wonder how often we treat people in a certain way because of a dreamed up idea? How often do we think of politicians or celebrities as evil or awesome based on a certain perception that, if we’re honest, we know isn’t true? The Kardashians for example. Millions of us hold certain beliefs about them even though we don’t know anything about them. Except for maybe what we see on TV; which we all know is edited to show us what we want to see. Recently I heard it said on NPR that a large part of the Russian public enjoys the news it gets about Ukrainians, even though they know the news they’re watching is edited by their government and probably isn’t accurate. How often do we edit our news? How often do we limit the stuff we hear to what we want to hear? Editing out the stuff we don’t want to be exposed to. How often do we hold an opinion simply because we want to hold that opinion? Disregarding anything that disparages it. Too often we treat people the way we think of them, not the way they are. Someone could be the nicest person we could ever meet, but if we think of them as greedy, we easily construe their kindness as manipulation. Our brains can be kinda funny like that. They really can be affected by fantasies. How we treat people can be influenced by false assumptions. Our ability to love can be destroyed by untrue beliefs. Let’s be cognizant of what we believe and hold as valuable. Some of it is just plain garbage. Let’s be careful of what we allow to influence our thoughts and actions. The world is full of lies. The devil would love for us to all hate each other. However, Christ is love. When we focus on Him, when we let Him be our greatest influence; that part of our heart that wants to think the worst goes away. He has a way of erasing our assumptions and helping us start at the ground zero of love. And that’s really where we need to be, isn’t it? At the ground zero of love. Where perspective is true and love overcomes assumption.

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, June 23, 2014

The End Of Idleness

“If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs.” Tony Gaskins

Idle hands are the devils workshop; idle lips are his mouthpiece. An evil man sows strife; gossip separates the best of friends. Wickedness loves company — and leads others into sin. - Proverbs 16:27-29

Idle: “without purpose or effect; pointless” - New Oxford American Dictionary

You’ve probably heard the proverb from your mom a hundred times, “Idle hands are the devils workshop.” But did you know the rest of the verse? “Idle lips are his mouthpiece.” Perhaps we never knew it was a saying from the Bible even. (Proverbs 16:27) Most of the time we probably think of idleness as laziness. To avoid being idle we need to be busy. However, we can easily be idle and busy at the same time. How can idle lips be the devils mouthpiece if their shut? That doesn’t seem to agree with the other saying we’ve all heard from our mothers, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Idleness is much more about direction and purpose than action and activity; because it’s the purpose behind our activities that determine the idleness in them. A good nap in the middle of the day can, at times, be our most fruitful action; because there a times when rest is required. At the same time, working past midnight is often our most pointless task; because doing a job while we can’t function often results in a job that won’t function. We have to have a purpose behind what we do. If we don’t decide the reason for our actions someone else will. Is there a reason behind the words we say? Is it good? Is there a motivation for our work? Is it good? Are we serving others in our actions, or is our activity meant to serve only us? The answer to those questions, more than anything, identifies the idleness in what we do. When what we say, what we do, what we desire, doesn’t do good… than what we’re doing is guaranteed to be idle. That doesn’t mean we don’t take care of ourselves. Getting a good night’s sleep is sometimes the best way to serve others. Again, its the purpose behind everything we do that makes the difference. What is the goal of our lives? Do we have a dream for our lives? Those sound like really simple questions, but they can be the hardest to answer. In fact, I would bet that most people can’t answer them honestly; because the honest answer to those questions doesn’t come without a lot of thought. And I’m not sure we’ve put a lot of thought into questions like them. But when we put our lives under the crucible of questions like those we ensure the idleness is driven from our lives; because honest dreams and goals have a way of leading us towards them. They change our perspective of our own lives. They give us purpose. They point us in a direction. My hope and prayer is that our lives have direction. That they are filled with purpose and desire. That they be forever changed by a dream. A good dream. Let’s not be idle. Instead, let’s be usable. Let’s not let the devil use our works. Instead, let’s give our works to the Lord.

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, June 20, 2014

Christ Was Not Predicted

“This is amazing grace
This is unfailing love
That You would take my place
That You would bear my cross
You lay down Your life
That I would be set free
Oh, Jesus, I sing for
All that You’ve done for me”
- Excerpt from the song This Is Amazing Grace by Phil Wickham

Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me. - Isaiah 49:15-16

Renege: “go back on a promise, undertaking, or contract” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Sometimes there is nothing to do but to praise God for what He’s done for us. There is nothing like Him. There is nothing like the Bible. There are many books that claim to be authorities on the spiritual. But there are none that claim to be the word of God, from God Himself; written over thousands of years, consistent throughout; persistent and accurate through time and trial; relevant, verified, and true; for every generation. Christ was not predicted, we can all make predictions. Rather, He was promised. Spoken of in past tense hundreds of years before His birth. Why the Cross? Why Christ? I don’t know, except that it’s unforgettable. Yes, thousands have been crucified and forgotten. But only one crucified, entombed a dead man, and come back physically to be with His followers. There is nothing like Jesus. Able to break down barriers. Able to rule the hardest in absolute grace and total humility. Because He loves us. He will never forget us. Yet we forget Him continually. He gave us His Word. And Yet we renege on ours constantly. “Your walls are constantly before Me.” He says. Our problems are always on His mind. But we keep them to ourselves. How much of us do we keep for ourselves? How much could we let go of if we gave ourselves to Him completely? He gave everything He had for us. Can we do the same for Him? We wear His Cross. But do we respect it? No other symbol comes close in meaning. Do we know its true worth? Sometimes there is nothing to do but to praise God for what He’s done for us.

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, June 19, 2014

String Theory

“The laws of physics are a death warrant to all intelligent life.” - Michio Kaku

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. - Proverbs 16:9

Fundamental: “affecting or relating to the essential nature of something or the crucial point about an issue” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Sting theory is a physical theory that attempts to explain all of physics at a fundamental level. Universes, time travel, worm holes, all the possibilities. Many scientists believe that the universe is going to expand to the point of burnout. All the stars will eventually stop shining, all the planets will freeze, and all intelligent life must die. String theory is a tool some are using to try to explain this and find a way to escape it. String theory proposes that fundamentally the universe is made up of tiny strings that vibrate like the strings of an instrument. And so they act differently when vibrating at different frequencies. My question is this; with no outside forces, how do the strings gain the tension required to develop a vibrating frequency? This is not an argument against string theory. Rather it draws a comparison. Our lives are made of tension. We often call it balance. We balance expected results of our behavior, measuring the good against the bad, and then act. An example would be jumping out of airplanes. Without a parachute the tension between negative and positive is easily overcome by the negative and we stay inside. With a parachute however, the tension equalizes. We could still die, but the chances are low. We are however, guaranteed excitement, which when viewed as a good thing, gives us the courage to jump. Where is God in all this? Is He pulling the strings? Are we? There has been an ongoing debate between Arminians and Calvinists as to whether God controls everything we do, or whether we decide. Whether we are puppets with strings or whether no strings are attached. I’m not an expert in the theories, but it occurs to me that both Arminians and Calvinists are putting God in a man made box. And it seems to me, that if God created everything, He is the box. The question is then; are we in that box? There’s no question that God controls many aspects of life and this world. Theres no question that He could control everything. However, it seems, God has also given us the power to choose. Chiefly, the power to choose Him. And so there exists these theoretical strings. God on one end, us on the other. As humans we often want control. We want to pull the strings with impunity and power. But there’s something on the other side. Something with consequences. We aren’t in control of everything. We don’t have impunity to consequence. God is in control. He will pull the strings too. He doesn’t relinquish them all to us. Our desire for autonomous power and freedom fundamentally puts us at odds with God. The irony is that the greatest freedom is found when we relinquish our strings to Him. It is our place to decide a course. The greatest of those courses is to follow God. However, it is His job to decide our steps. Today if you are grasping for your strings. If you are desperately trying to gain or regain control in your life… Give them to their Maker. Give them to God. Jesus said, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life.” Do you believe that? If so, don’t you think He should be determining our ways, our truths, and our lives? The laws of physics may predict our deaths, but with God in control, with Jesus, new life awaits at the end of the line. Let’s choose to give Him control in our lives and see what music He can play on our strings.

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, June 18, 2014

Unrecognized Protection

“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.” - Sigmund Freud

He will not let your foot be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. - Psalm 121:3

Safety: “the condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury: - New Oxford American Dictionary

My five month old little girl doesn’t realize the work it takes to take care of her. I doubt she even cares. She knows she wants food and toys and well… something else. Isn’t that how it is with all babies? It’s impossible to keep the happy and content forever. But isn’t that how it is with us as well. Do we realize what our lives take? Do we even care? Everyday we take for granted the essentials of life. It takes months for a baby to learn that going over the edge of a drop will result in a fall and an injury. How long does it take us to realize the things that can hurt us? I’m not sure we’ll ever know in this lifetime. But that doesn’t stop us from judging the drug user. It doesn’t hinder us from pointing out the faults of our neighbors. It doesn’t keep us from seeing all the pitfalls in the lives of those around us. All the while we are encountering and being saved from dangers ourselves. Do we appreciate it? I doubt it. What would happen if we stopped being saved? How long would we last? I’m not sure, but my guess is, not long at all. Today let’s live with an appreciation for the many times we have a will be saved. Most of all, let’s appreciate the saving grace of Christ. He paid the ultimate price so that we could live without fear.

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, June 17, 2014

How Will You Affect A Heart Today

“While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obliged to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s creation.” - Maya Angelou

For I consider that the suffering of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. - Romans 8:18-19

Ability: “possession of the means or skill to do something” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Some things we just do not have the power to do on our own. It’s in those things that we feel the most hopeless and weak. However, there are things we do have power over. And it’s in those things that we find purpose and fulfillment. The funny thing is, those things change. The things we have power over are continually changing. What was once in our control may be out of our reach tomorrow. The ability to walk, to speak, to understand. Then again, the things we once were powerless over can enter our domain. My daughter Cora is five months old. There is very little she has the ability to control. Her power is limited to the ability to make unintelligible noise and to eat. However, she will gain more and more ability as she grows and matures as a person. One day she will be able to do so much more. But there are unknown abilities too. Powers we don’t even realize. At least not fully. I’m not sure if Cora knows it, but her greatest ability is to affect a heart. Her smiles, her tears, her struggles to gain strength. They affect the hearts of all who love her. What ability do we have that we don’t even realize? What are we affecting in our lives that we don’t see or understand? Throughout the Bible we see God taking on the name and role of Father. It’s intentional. God does not do anything without intention. He wants us to comprehend His role in our lives. If just a little bit. And so He refers to Himself as a Father, because we understand the role of a Father. A father is in control. A father protects. A father punishes. A father loves. A father’s heart is moved. I wonder if we have an ability that we don’t even realize. The ability to affect God’s heart. Our cries, hurts, and struggles. Our Father sees them and cares. That’s why, when man failed, God didn’t give up on us. He had a plan for our failure because He loves us. So moved was His heart for us, that He gave His only begotten Son to die for us. But just as God was unwilling to lose His Son forever, and raised Him from the dead; so He is unwilling to lose us forever and offers us the ability to be raised from the dead as well. Realizing that, somehow changes our perspective. The realization that God really and truly cares for us in a way we will never fully understand, somehow changes us too. We may build towering buildings. We may damn the greatest rivers. We may run companies with the ability to control countries. We may even control the greatest countries ourselves. But our greatest power is not physical. Our greatest power is our ability to affect a heart. The question that can change your day is this. How are you affecting a heart 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

Monday, June 16, 2014

Want To Make A Difference?

“Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.” - Soren Kierkegaard

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

Revile: “criticize in an abusive or angrily insulting manner” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Want to know a sure way to make a difference? Want to have an influence for good? Want to feel like life is worth living? PRAY! It all starts with prayer. And I’m not just talking about praying for God to help you make a difference. I’m talking about praying for a difference to be made. Something is changed through prayer. I don’t know how it works, but it does. Have someone you really can’t stand? Pray for them and see how it changes your feelings. I don’t care how vile that person might be, pray for them. I’m not saying criminals shouldn’t be punished, or that evil should be rewarded; I’m saying that everyone needs prayer. If not for them, for us. Think of the person in this world you revile in your heart the most. Now earnestly and honestly pray for them, and see how it makes you feel. Prayer puts this life into a little bit of perspective. We don’t have to hate each other. We don’t have to form up teams of humanity to fight one another. We don’t have to keep living this way; you on one team and I on the other, laying down our gauntlets and truths, ready to fight to see who wins. No, we can love one another as God loves us. Not with the same honesty and intensity, but in the same spirit. We can love without conditions, like Him. But I’ve found that, that love can only come through prayer. Prayer gives us proper perspective. When we pray, we realize we’re all in this same boat together. When we pray, we realize that, as bad as some people are, we can simply hope to see a change them; and that maybe our prayer made a little difference. Prayer is our way of entering the struggle of life and death. It’s our way of joining in the team of life, fighting death itself. Every sort of death. Want to make a difference? Get down on your knees and pray.  

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, June 13, 2014

Aspirational Discouragement

“I don't really have aspirations to be Tom Hanks.” - Will Ferrell

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

Aspire: “direct one's hopes or ambitions toward achieving something” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Be careful with your aspirations. I know it sounds completely backwards for a motivational message to say something like that, but it’s true. There’s a famous line only Dirty Harry can give affectively, “A man’s gotta know his limitations.” That’s true for all of us. Girls too. I’m not trying to be discouraging, rather, I’m trying to save you from discouragement. For some odd reason, I’ve grown to love running. Especially the 5k distance. It takes strategy to use all your energy wisely at that distance. Too fast in some areas will slow you down overall. But if you’re trying to meet a goal, you can’t just reserve your energy for the last quarter mile. You have to be intentional. Of course, if you know me, you know I have to know the world record time. Because I want to aspire to be the best. It happens to be 13 minutes and 47 seconds. I am not built to run 3.11 miles at a four and a half minute per mile pace. I still aspire to achieve goals, but I don’t let the world record discourage me when I don't beat it. At least I shouldn’t. We have to set aspirations in our lives. And we all probably have something we should aspire to be the best at. However, we need to know that sweet spot between aspiration and reality. We all have our limits. And none of us are perfect. But because of Jesus, while we understand our physical limits, we can aspire to perfection; because He is willing and able to perfect us. Not because of anything we’ve accomplished, but because of what He conquered at Calvary. A man has to know his limitations. However, everybody needs to know that with Christ in us, all limitations are crushed through His promise of salvation by His perfection. Kinda funny isn’t it? While we can’t aspire to be the best at everything through our own strength, through Christ we can aspire to perfection.

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, June 12, 2014

Fun's Perspective

“When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.” - Albert Einstein

What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him! - Luke 11:11-13

Perspective: “the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

It’s good to play. We were made to enjoy life. To find joy. To be able to smile. We all know there are times in life that don’t deserve a smile. It’s a result of being alive in an imperfect world. For those times God promises a peace that passes all understanding. (see Philippians 4:7) But it’s not just for those times. It’s for all the time. God created us with legs so that we could run. And if we can’t do that, He gave us arms with hands, so we can feel the world around us. And if we can’t do that, He gave us the ability to imagine, so that we can have a joyful perception of our lives. What’s the difference between Legos and masonry? Both essentially are stacking blocks. But one is a job and one is play. Why? Because of our perception. One we perceive to be a game to be enjoyed and the other a job to be labored at. What if we could change our perception? What if we could see the things we have to do everyday as if they were things we were supposed to enjoy? As if they provided a way to play. For some of us that’s a reality. Some of us love our jobs and wouldn’t do anything else. Some of us would rather do anything else but be at work. But if you absolutely love your job, do you enjoy your family? Some of us are having a hard time at home right now. What changed about your wife? At one time you couldn’t imagine loving anyone more. What changed about you? Perception. What may have been once a relationship we couldn’t stop enjoying if we tried has become something that takes hard work. The sunday afternoon hike that we wouldn’t miss for the world five years ago has become something forcing us to miss the game today. At one point, many the things we now call the “hard work of a relationship” were the very things we used to call fun. We were meant to have fun. But so much of that fun is right in front of us, to be had right now. Vacations are nice. Breaks are needed. Sports are healthy. But fun requires perspective. What is our perspective right now. Are we gonna have a day at play, or are we gonna have a day at work. When I was a kid I loved to go to work with my dad. What’s different about today? Today I’m gonna love going to work, and I’m gonna get paid for it. I hope we can all gain a greater perspective of joy. Where it comes from and what it can do. It’s a gift of God. Can we trust Him to give it? Let’s ask Him for it at the very least. And let’s change our 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, June 11, 2014

The Pain Of Brokenness

And only You, the Son of man
Can take a leper and let him stand
So lift your hands, they can be held
By someone greeter, the great I Am

Healing rain, it comes with fire
So let it fall and take us higher
Healing rain, I’m not afraid
To be washed in Heaven’s rain

Excerpt from the song Healing Rain by Michael W. Smith

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. - Revelation 21:4

Dichotomy: “a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Brokenness isn’t easy to see. We weren’t meant to deal with injury. Not easily. It takes a special kind of person to be a first responder to our emergencies. Empathy and compassion call us to respond and at the same time transfer some of the pain to us. There is a tension between the resulting dichotomies of empathy that we can’t sustain on our own. How do we care for the broken people we love without being broken ourselves? How do we work to heal the wounds that are also injurious to us? We can do our best to remove the sympathetic part of our hearts and see our actions as merely a job. But that’s a mask that won’t always be effective. We can ignore the hurts and pain. But soon they will effect us too. It’s only through God that we can find true healing. Healing through and in us. We are called to be servants. Not only of God, but of our world too. We cannot and should not ignore the brokenness around us. We should work to heal it. But we know too, that we cannot eliminate it. It will persist no matter what we do. And it will wound no matter how many we heal. We will be affected. But we can also find healing. The ultimate healing can only be found in His Son Jesus Christ. Who was wounded for us. Who is sorrowful for us. Who died on a cross for us. It’s only through His love that we can look forward to a future where all will be healed and well. It’s only through Him that we have a hope without accidents, tragedy, and loss. It’s only through Jesus that we can say that one day, “There will be no pain.”
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, June 10, 2014

The Gospel - Declassified

“God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in flowers and clouds and stars.” - Martin Luther

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. - Galatians 6:9

Wrought: “deeply stirred” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

In the U.S. Government, there are three official non-public document and information classifications: Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret. Each limiting information to a smaller and smaller audience. Within these classifications are also need to know limits. For example, just because a person may have a Secret security clearance does not mean they have access to all the Secret information in the United States Government. They also need to know the information. I wonder what classification the Gospel has. Jesus told His disciples to, “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation.” - Mark 16:15b Still, I wonder if we stamp a “Need to Know” classification on the Gospel in our hearts. Do we proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation? Are we willing to do something like that? And if so, how? I would guess that most of us take that verse to mean we need to tell everyone we can about how Jesus died for us. And that may be true. However, there is a whole lot more to creation than people; and Jesus said to proclaim the Gospel to, “The whole creation.” That would mean to me that all the plants, animals, and people need the Gospel. But how do you proclaim the Gospel to a bush? The answer is in how we live. So much of the Gospel can be proclaimed through our lives. The Gospel is all about love; and we all know that love is not always best communicated through words, but through actions. We proclaim the Gospel through the totality of our lives and being, in that everything we do is wrought with love. That means we take care of the creation we’ve been given. We sustain it through our actions. We preserve it in our motivations. We love it with our hearts, not just our words. Let’s forget about politics and agendas. There are some it seems, who would destroy all of creation just to fight a liberal. And there are others it seems, who would kill every oil worker just to fight a conservative. Certainly God gave us resources to use on this earth. But with everything God gives, there is a test. The question is how we respond to the conundrum. No, we can’t stop all pollution, but we can reduce it. I don’t believe we should stop using all oil, but we should use it wisely. In all these decisions, the Gospel is available. What if we used the Gospel in everything we did? What if we sought to spread the Gospel in all our actions? What if the good news of Jesus affected everything? How different could this world be?

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, June 9, 2014

Commitment

“Commitment is a big part of what I am and what I believe.  How committed are you to winning?  How committed are you to being a good friend?  To being trustworthy?  To being successful?  How committed are you to being a good father, a good teammate, a good role model?  There’s that moment every morning when you look in the mirror:  Are you committed, or are you not?”  LeBron James

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.  Psalm 37:5

Piety:  “fidelity to natural obligations (as to parents)”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

I’ve heard it said that three months of a certain action can engrain it into who we are.  I suppose that’s probably true.  It may not even be something we like or enjoy, but it becomes a habit, or a value.  The problem is that too often we commit to things without ever thinking about it.  Often times those things are the least important things to be committed to.  We commit to TV shows, to sports, to recreation, to fun.  Non of those things are bad by themselves, but are they a higher priority than family, God, service, love?  Most often not.  However, those things that are most important are often the things that get left behind.  Quality time with family rarely reaches the level of habitual practice.  Service almost never does.  And does God get a place above our favorite Sitcom?  It’s easy to make a commitment to entertainment.  It’s usually not even our decision.  How many times has someone thought to themselves, “I really need to commit to having some drinks?”  Can you even imagine?  But those types of commitments are the most popular ones.  We all have 24 hours a day to live.  Every one of those 24 hours is committed to something.  Be they sleeping, eating, working, or whatever.  Do you know what those things are?    We would all do better to understand our commitments.  It’s in understand our commitments we will begin to see our values.  We all want good values.  In fact most of us believe our values are good.  But do most of us even know our true values?  Like everyone else, the most valuable things in my life have come from commitments I had to actively and consciously make.  Enlisting in the Air Force and was a scary commitment, but it’s a job that has paid for much of what we have.  Getting married was exciting, but without commitment it could never work.  Buying a house is fulfilling, but it won’t last without a commitment to make the payments.  Serving the Lord is a commitment that doesn’t always come easy, but the reward is greater than anything else.  Like everyone else, I’ve let other people make commitments for me as well.  I’ve let TV shows become required activities.  I’ve let sports influence my happiness.  I’ve let entertainment of all sorts waste the majority of my time.  But it’s the commitments I consciously made that really changed my life in a meaningful way.  And I’m thankful that the majority of those conscious commitments influenced my life for the better.  What commitments are we making today?  Will they make a difference in our lives ten years from now?  Will we be happy we made them?  Above all, let’s commit to letting the Lord lead in our lives.  His way is the way towards life.  Without Him we are lost.  The Bible says, “There is a way that seems to be right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”  Proverbs 14:12  How many times have we though we were on the right track only to find that the pay raise wasn’t worth the money.  That time with family was really more important.  That God really knew what He was talking about in the Bible.  “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.”  Psalm 37:5

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