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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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Just Thoughts

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” - Martin Luther King Jr.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. - Philippians 4:8

Just: “based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Think about the words of Martin Luther King Jr. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” I wonder why we have so much injustice in our society? Why people commit it, allow it, and condone it? Maybe it’s because we have injustice in our minds. Maybe it’s because of the injustice in our minds that we destroy justice in our world. The mere presence of injustice means that a punitive system of law has to exist in order to protect what is good and just. Being just, God gave us will. In His perfect creation He created choice as well. In the beginning of mankind there was one rule. Choose God, or choose otherwise. God created in the garden of Eden the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but there was a rule attached to it. The first rule recorded. The Bible says God commanded man, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” - Genesis 2:16-17 Of course you know what happened… We’ve been dying ever since. The world is no longer perfect. We have the knowledge of good and evil and we have to live with it. But justice is a guard for what is good. Justice means punishment for what is wrong and joy in what is good. Justice means that while we have to pay the price for our shortcomings and mistakes we can can also reap the reward of what Christ did for us on the cross in His ultimate act of goodness. Because of Christ Paul could write in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” As much as we want to, we can’t undo the first sin. We can’t even eradicate injustice from our minds. So there will always be a cost to our lives because of it. Thank God Martin Luther King Jr.’s words ring a little hollow because of His system of justice. A system where Christ paid the price and we enjoy His reward through simple faith. But faith in Him does not lead us to take advantage. Rather, it causes us to enjoy, emulate, and love. It, more than anything else, chases the injustice from our minds and gives us a desire to think on what is just and good. There is a pattern to Philippians 4:8 building. Can you see it? The zenith of all our thoughts should be Christ. The founder of truth, of honor, of justness, of purity, of love, of everything that is commendable and excellent. He’s not just another person, He’s justice divine.

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, July 30, 2014

Honorable Thoughts

“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, HONOR, duty, mercy, hope.” - Winston Churchill

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is HONORABLE, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. - Philippians 4:8

Honor: “regard with great respect” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Honor is always something given. It can never be taken. Take for example, the story of Hannah, found in first Samuel chapters one and two in the Bible. She longed for a baby more than anything. Her heart broke because of their struggles to reproduce. At one point her husband asked her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?” - 1 Samuel 1:8 There is something about not being able to have a child that can tear at a woman. Unless you’ve experienced it, it’s a feeling that can’t be quite understood. And so Hannah prayed and promised God saying, “O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.” - 1 Samuel 1:11 As she prayed the high priest Eli watched her. The Bible says she was in distress and wept bitterly. This wasn’t one of those prayers prayed with a little hope, like a wish with penny tossed in a fountain. This was one of those prayers cried in pleading to God. She was in such a mess that Eli thought she was drunk and asked her to leave. But after hearing her story, Eli said to her, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to Him.” - 1 Samuel 1:17 After that, the Bible says Hannah and her family went home, “And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, ‘I have asked for him from the LORD.’” - 1 Samuel 1:20 But that’s just the beginning of the story. Hannah didn’t forget about her promise to God. She honored it and gave Samuel to back to the Lord. Later in his life, Samuel would become a great prophet for God to Israel. He would anoint King Saul and King David. He would become a catalyst for the coming of Christ. So what does all this have to do with thinking about honor? Out of this the Bible records Hannah’s prayer of gratitude back to God. Want to think about something honorable. Think about her words.

“My heart exults in the LORD;  
my horn is exalted in the LORD.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.

There is none holy like the LORD:
for there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the LORD is a God of knowledge,
and by Him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble bind in strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
The LORD kills and brings to life;
He brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The LORD makes poor and makes rich;
He brings low and He exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
He lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of HONOR.
For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s,
and on them He has set the world.

He will guard the feet of His faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
for not by might shall a man prevail.
The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces;
against them He will thunder in heaven.
The LORD will judge the ends of the earth;
He will give strength to His king
and exalt the horn of His anointed.”
- 1 Samuel 2:1-10

We all go through times when honor seems a long way off. When it seems like we’re missing the spark of life. Sometimes it’s hard to see anything honorable in this world. We turn on the news and all we see is children dying. “For God so loved the world, that He age His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” - John 3:16 And then there’s that spark again.There’s that spark because with Jesus there is hope. Want to feel honored? Want to see something honorable? Focus on Him who is of greatest honor. Live for Him! Think on Him. “But we see Him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.” - Hebrews 2:9

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, July 29, 2014

True Thoughts

“I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” - Jesus Christ - John 14:6

Finally, brothers, whatever is TRUE, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. - Philippians 4:8

True: “in accordance with fact or reality” - New Oxford American Dictionary

What is truth? What does it mean to be true? In human terms, we might as well answer the question with the adverb regarding a vague character trait, like… “He was a true believer.” Humanly speaking, can anything be proven true? One of the first things my teacher taught in General Chemistry was that scientifically speaking, there’s no such thing as a fact. I know we hear scientists on the news talk about “facts” all the time, but generally speaking, they’re trying to push a position by using strong language. Science likes to use a scientific model. Hypothesis are proposed and tests are done to try to disprove them. After so many tests a model is developed and sometimes we call a model truth. Like the model of gravity that predicts an apple will fall from a tree when it’s stem breaks. But even still, we know very little about gravity, scientifically. We’re not even sure what causes it to exist, or if it can be manipulated. Truth is a funny thing. It’s almost impossible to know. So how do we think on it? How can our lives be benefited by concentrating on the truth? The answer lies in what we view truth as being. This world’s truths will always disappoint. However, there is a Truth that can bring life. There is a Truth that created all other truth. John 1:17b says, “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Psalm 18:30 says, “This God—His way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.” John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Later in the same chapter, in verse 14 John says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” As with everything, we have but a glimpse of truth in this life. We have representations of it in our scientific models and our claims. But our perspective is skewed so that it is at best a vagary. When we look to our Savior Jesus Christ, we see what Truth really is. What it really can be. We can have a hope through our faith in Him. A hope for salvation from every suffering. A hope for a future. When we look to the smiling face of our Savior, we are looking at Truth. We can’t understand it fully, but something about it makes a difference when we think on Him. Think about Jesus and see what a difference He can make.

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, July 28, 2014

Thought-Fullness

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” - Norman Vincent Peale

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. - Philippians 4:8

Thought: “careful consideration or attention” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Most of us, all of us, have a problem with our thoughts. Our thoughts have the power to bring life. They also have the power to destroy happiness. How often have we treated a person wrongly, simply because of our thoughts about them? How often have we even hated people because of a thought? And how often are we wrong in what we think? Our moms told us not to speak unless we have something nice to say. What if we extended that notion to our thoughts as well? “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” - Philippians 4:8 Perhaps it’s the hardest thing we’ll ever do, but how much could we change about our demeanor if we restricted our thoughts to good? Over the next couple of weeks I want to investigate Philippians 4:8. What it means to think about truth, honor, justice, purity, loveliness, commendableness, excellence, and praise. How those things can chase out the things that are driving us crazy. A negative thought can empty our lives of everything that’s good, but a positive attitude can bring the fullness of life. Trust me, I don’t have this figured out. I struggle with my thoughts at least as much as you. And I’m looking forward to learning this all with you. Until tomorrow, let’s try to think good thoughts 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, July 25, 2014

Stop Trying To Be Like God

“We are 100 percent responsible for the pursuit of holiness, but at the same time we are 100 percent dependent upon the Holy Spirit to enable us in that pursuit. The pursuit of holiness is not a pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps approach to the Christian life.” - Jerry Bridges

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” - 1 Peter 1:13-16

Holy: “(of a person) devoted to the service of God” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Christianity has a problem. All of us Christians have a problem. The problem of what we should be like. Of course we are taught to be like Christ. And rightly so, that’s what the Bible teaches as well. However, too often we forget that Christ was fully human as well as fully God. In trying to be like Christ we naturally gravitate towards the God part. It’s in our nature to want to be like God. We’re still being fooled by Satan’s first lie in the Garden of Eden. Part of us believes that we can be like God, knowing good and evil. The lie is so powerful because it’s partly correct. Truth is, after all, the best way to empower a lie. We do know a little about good and evil. At least we recognize and suffer the effects of evil. The problem is that we often think we know all about good and evil. The problem is that we think we know what it means to be good. And thus, we know how to be like God. There’s a reason God keeps judgement to Himself. There’s a reason why Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” - Matthew 7:1 He knew, because He was God, that we aren’t capable of perfection; that we aren’t even capable of recognizing it. Still, we want to set up borders and rules and boundaries. We want to play on teams where one is good and the other bad. Then we see an atrocity in the name of Christianity. We can only make excuses for so long. But one day, when our perfect team can no longer be defended, we have no where to go but out. I wonder how many have lost faith in God, in Christ, because of Christianity’s failures? The problem with Christianity however, is not with Christ, it’s not with His divinity or humanity, it’s with us; our humanity and our desire to be like God. There isn’t anything we can’t corrupt with a little power. Christians will fail throughout the world. Horrible acts have, are, and will continue to be done in the name of Christ. But Christ will not fail. His will, will not be hi-jacked. And His love will not be defeated. He gave us the best example of how to be, through His life with us as a human. He was perfect because He was God, and His perfection was manifested through service. In our quest to be the best people we can be, is it in service and love that we manifest our goodness? Or is it in a profession of being like God? We are to be godly for sure, but our godliness should always look like the life of Christ. It is not for us to strive for the divinity of God, for it is a wholly unattainable goal. It is for us to strive towards, in emulation, the service of Christ, in which lies the power of God Himself.

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, July 24, 2014

Will Jesus Take My Stuff?

“Leaders can let you fail, and yet not let you be a failure.” - General Stanley McCrystal

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! - Psalm 27:14 (A Psalm of David)

Stubborn: “having or showing dogged determination not to change one's attitude or position on something, esp. in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so” - New Oxford American Dictionary

“And when those who were around Him saw what would follow, they said, ‘Lord, shall we strike with the sword?’ And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, ‘No more of this!’ And He touched his ear and healed him.” - Luke 22:49-51 How must that servant of the high priest felt? Put yourself in his position. You come out with a mob, led by Judas one of twelve disciples, to finally arrest this Jesus whom you think is a false prophet and a traitor, you get your ear chopped off, then Jesus heals it on the spot. Who’s side are you gonna be on? How intrenched is this mob that they ignore a miracle in order to kill someone they think is going to take their power and or authority? It’s easy to look back on this event, and many other events in the Bible, and see the actors as pure foolish. But if we’re honest with ourselves, how often do we do the same things? We want miracles without the allegiance. We want to be saved but hold all the power. We want God’s power to act in our lives and we want to keep Him invisible at the same time. Make no mistake, Jesus will take your power. God will demand allegiance. Jesus came to save us all, but so often we deny His presence. What are you willing to give up to be one of His followers? An ear? A clean conscious? Control? And what will it take for Him to win us over? How many miracles will we deny or forget about? Having trouble remembering a miracle? Take a breath. There’s your miracle for the second. “That’s just air,” you might be saying. “I chose to breath it in,” you might be thinking. And you’re right, but who made the air, who made the lungs you’re breathing with, who created and sustains all life? And when’s the last time we thanked God for His miracles in our lives? The last time you prayed for something and got it, did you say thank you? I know I’ve forgotten, I’ve let miracles slip by unnoticed, I’ve left God hanging without a simple thanks. We’re all a little like that mob come to arrest our Savior. He heals us and it’s back to the cross for you Jesus. Thank you very much. There’s a greater life to be had. A life where Jesus takes all our stuff and makes it priceless. A life of appreciation for Him. With Him the birds chirp just for our enjoyment. With Him the rain puts out the forest fires. With Him life is a blessing to be shared. Jesus’ followers mourned His crucifixion, but how they enjoyed that Sunday morning when the tomb was empty! What side are we on? The side of miracles, or a life of coincidences, luck, and misfortune? Not everything will go our way. But we can take the advice of King David and “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage, wait for the LORD!” - Psalm 27:14b Like I said, Jesus will take our stuff, but He has a reward that is more valuable than anything we could ever imagine. We may fail, but with Him we will never be a failure. We may lose, but we will never be a loser. Wait for the LORD! And see the miracles for our benefit. Wait for 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

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Entrepreneur For Christ

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain

Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and He saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And He said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their  abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” - Luke 21:1-4

Entrepreneur: “a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so” - New Oxford American Dictionary

“A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over the cities.’ And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’” Christ intends us to be entrepreneurs for Him. He expects us to risk everything for His cause. That’s the point of this parable He told that I just recounted from Luke 19:11-27. He’s given us all some of His minas. What will we do with them? Will we drop them into His service like the poor widow her last two coins? Notice that the servant who ended up with ten minas did not start out with more than any of the others. He started out with one, just like the servant who ended up with his one taken away. The difference is that he chose to risk his minas for a greater return. He chose to be an entrepreneur for his master. It’s easy to hold onto our blessings. To keep them safe and sound. Wrapped up and buried away where we think nothing can get to them. That’s not God’s intention for His blessings on us. He intends us to put them to risk. To leverage them for His account. To invest them for His gain. What do we have that could be used for a greater gain? How could our home become a tool for the Kingdom of God? How could our car bring a soul to Christ? I don’t ask flippantly, like they can’t. Everything we have can be used for good. We don't have to get rid of what we have, rather we are to invest it. Maybe that does mean we should sell some things in order to give more. Maybe that means we should open our house up to a Bible study. Maybe that means we use our car to transport some kids to a youth group. The possibilities for the Lord are endless when we choose to see our things as investments, rather than treasures. What did Jesus say? “Store up your treasures in Heaven.” Right. So why do we store them for ourselves here. They’re only going to rot away. Then what will we be left with? Nothing. Invest, invest, invest. Invest in the Kingdom of God. Use what you have, everything you have, for Him, and see what reward can come.

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, July 22, 2014

The Fog And The Goal

“I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.” - Florence Chadwick 

But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. - 2 Thessalonians 3:3

Fog: “something that obscures and confuses a situation or someone's thought processes” - New Oxford American Dictionary

How often do we feel like we’re in the fog of life? Sometimes it feels more like a war than a life. Perhaps you’ve heard of something called the fog of war. Wikipedia talks about it like this, “The fog of war is the uncertainty in situational awareness experienced by participants in military operations. The term seeks to capture the uncertainty regarding one’s own capability, adversary capability, and adversary intent during an engagement, operation, or campaign.” Are you ever uncertain of what’s out in front of you? Do you ever wonder if you can win anything? Or if everything is out to conquer you? If you’re like the rest of us, of course you have. Because you’re a person and people don’t have all the answers. Think of a subject, any subject; is everything known about it? No, of course not. We are continually discovering and learning and adjusting what we think to be true. The same can be said of all aspects of our lives. Spiritual, physically, mentally, and socially; we are all in a state of fog at times, if not all the time. That fog causes our minds to fill in the unknowns. We try to guess at what’s ahead. We make assumptions and draw conclusions from the gaps in our knowledge. Sometimes we are tempted to just give up and allow the currents of life to drift us along; unaware of the victory just a short distance off. In 1952 Florence Chadwick found herself in the cold Pacific waters between the California coastline and Catalina Island. She was attempting to swim the 26 mile Catalina Channel. After she felt like she could go no further, she swam for one more hour. With no land in sight she gave up. Soon after getting into a boat the fog lifted and she saw the distance between herself and the goal; one mile. In the wake of that failing boat ride she said in a press conference, “I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.” Two months later she did make it. In fact she swam the Catalina Channel faster than any other person had done before. What made the difference? The same fog set in. The gap between shores did not diminish. Physically she was in the similar condition. What helped her make it was her mental image. According to Wikipedia, “She said she kept a mental image of the shoreline in her mind while she swam.” What image do you need? What could make the difference in your life? How far could you go if you realized the goal? God gave us His Word for a reason. Christ died for a reason. They have the power to save despite the fog. If heaven is our goal, Christ must be our Savior. If Christ is our Savior, His Word is the image we must keep in mind. With God we are stronger than we think. He is able to beat any foe, conquer any giant, protect any soul. With Him we don’t have to worry about the fog, because He is the all knowing guide. We don’t have to be confused, because He is the author of knowledge. We don’t have to worry, because He can see us through. The shore is closer than you think. Picture that.

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

Jake

Monday, July 21, 2014

To Serve or Not to Serve

“God has given you one face, and you make yourself another.” - William Shakespeare

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. - Philippians 1:21

Vouchsafe: “to grant or furnish often in a gracious or condescending manner” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

“To be or not to be, that is the question.” To be honest I’m not a Shakespeare buff. And to be more honest I’m kinda ripping this message off from one of pastor Rick Warren’s recent podcasts. Not in words, but in subject. This question posed by Hamlet tells of the struggles of life. Is it worth it to live when life can be so hard? Is it worth living to see a loved one die? Is life worth dying for? Contrast that to what Paul had to say about life. Paul was one of the most persecuted people to ever live. Eventually he was martyred for his faith. But he understood that living and dying for him, was of God. Yes, life brought struggles, and death could assuage them. Yes, life brought joy, but as Hamlet would say, “What dreams may come?” Yes, life is vouchsafed us graciously, but it’s also grace that can take it. It’s grace that can make it into something new. It’s grace that gives us a hope and a future. A hope and a future of better things to come. A hope and a future of promises yet unfulfilled. A hope and a future of perfection never-ending. Grace makes all the difference. It’s that grace that leads us into servanthood. And it’s in that servanthood that we understand that life is not about us. It’s about what we do for God and what we do for others. In his statement, Hamlet was contemplating suicide. And in his statement Paul accepted whatever God’s grace would grant. “To be or not to be” is not the question. To serve or not to serve destroys the argument. Because it’s in service that we find our purpose. It’s in service that we find contentment. It’s in service that we see what we were really meant to be. We were meant to be children of God. That is what He calls us, and that is what we are. The problem is that many of us live in a dichotomy between serving something greater and serving ourselves. In that dichotomy we usually decide to serve ourselves first and others if there’s time. But it’s in the service of others that we serve ourselves best. Because it’s in the service of others that we find that God will fulfill all our needs. “To be or not to be” is the question of someone who has lost the perspective of purpose. They’ve lost the value of service. And in so doing have lost the value of life itself. We are not valuable to ourselves only. We are most valuable in the service of God and His will for our lives. Join me in deciding to serve. Join me in propagating God’s grace. We will struggle and fail. But we can persevere. The beauty of it is that we can serve wherever we are. Be it at work or at home. In the mission field or in the park. It’s a life worth living when it’s in service.

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, July 18, 2014

The Bridge

“The two hardest test on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter.” - Paulo Coelho

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him. - James 1:12

Gauntlet: “go through an intimidating or dangerous crowd, place, or experience in order to reach a goal” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Sometimes it’s not for us to know path, or even the destination, but to just take the next step. There will be times when we don’t know what to say, don’t know what to do. Times when we simply need Jesus to be with us. Times when only God can understand. But what about the times when you just can’t seem to feel His presence? It seems like maybe He’s abandoned you altogether. What about those times? It almost seems unspiritual to think about those times. What must our relationship with Him be like if sometimes it feels like He’s not even there? I don’t know the answer for you. I’m not sure I even know the answer for me. But that is why it’s important to build our faith in the times when He seems close. Faith is what bridges the gaps in our spiritual lives. It can suspend us over the valleys between the peaks. Build on it at the mountain tops and it will carry you through the plains of life. Because that’s what life feels like sometimes. A vast desolate plain. We’re just hoping for the next “World’s largest ball of twine,” or “Cadillac Ranch,” to keep us somewhat satisfied. Sometimes if feels like we’re out in the middle of nowhere and the gas needle is starting to touch the E. Heck, sometimes if feels like it’s buried in the red with no fill-up in sight. Hold onto Him. Keep trusting. Take the next step in faith, even if it’s all we have. Because sometimes that’s all He’s given. Just one more step. And then He’s there. So what’s this gauntlet of life for anyway? Why can’t we just hang out in peace by the river with no worries? Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” - John 10:10 We’re the “they” He was talking about. It’s not God’s gauntlet, but the thief trying to steal and kill and destroy. He’s the inventor of these vast dry lands we go through. He’d love for us to stop moving in the desert. He doesn’t want us to find peace. He wants us to struggle. Ultimately he wants us to die without a savior. But we have a savior. We have Jesus, the Savior. Willing to search for us in the desert and to even die for us in the heat, so that we may be saved, if only from ourselves. Trust in Him, put one foot in front of the other and let Him lead you to the other side.

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, July 17, 2014

Grasping At Perfection

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” - Vince Lombardi

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. - Romans 7:18

Zenith: “the time at which something is most powerful or successful” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Don’t settle for what you think is perfect. Henry Ford built 19 mostly unsuccessful cars before he built the Model T. But he almost destroyed his company because he believed the Model T was the perfect car. He was a pioneer in wages. People called him crazy for trying to pay his workers five dollars a day. But later in his life he was seen as an abusive employer because he refused for so long to admit that five dollars was not enough. Henry Ford did some great things, and he was called a great man for doing them. But then he refused to move forward. Perhaps he believed that he was great too, and that he didn’t need improvement. Perhaps he felt towards his utopian world, towards his company, the way he felt towards his Model T; that it was perfect just the way it was. The Model T shows us a glimpse of what we believe is perfect. From our human perspective it was the perfect car in 1910. However it’s far from adequate in 2010. What in our lives do we view as perfect? Is there anything we believe can’t be improved upon? If so, we are in danger of becoming stagnate. Sure, there’s plenty of perfection out there. But we don’t have the ability to know it. God’s Word is perfect because it comes from a perfect God. Other than that, everything in this world could use some improvement. When we look at nature we can see something greater than humans have ever made. But it’s been tarnished by us. When we look at what we make we can see ever improving products. But they’re often used to damage what God has given. The digital and the analogue ages have given us many things that have improved our lives. We can know what’s happening all over the world in an evening now. We have the opportunity to spread the gospel to millions without ever leaving a bedroom. There is good that can come from human invention. But let’s never assume we’ve reached the zenith of achievement. A flower may not be connected to the internet, but its technology is many times greater than the greatest invention made by man or woman. We make roofs, but God made the sky. We build airplanes, but God made the birds. Nothing we do will ever amount to what God did and can still do. Let’s remember that when we’re tempted to believe anything we make is perfect and worth holding onto. 

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, July 16, 2014

Number 20

“Don’t find fault, find a remedy.” - Henry Ford

Then Peter cam up and said to Him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As man as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” - Matthew 18:21-22

Fail: “be unsuccessful in achieving one's goal” - New Oxford American Dictionary

How many of us want a little more for our lives? I’m not talking about money or things, but rather, difference. How many of us want to make a little more of a difference? I think most of us do. We want to raise our kids to become great people. We want to make life better for others. We have a burden to ease suffering. But it’s hard. It’s sad how hard it is to make a good impact on this world. Want to make this world a little worse? No problem, just live entirely for yourself. But a positive impact, that will take the most work you’ve ever done in your life. Over and over you’ll fail. Over and over people will tell you to stop trying. Over and over you’ll want to stop too. A good life is hard work. Don’t let the work stop you. Embrace it in fact. Find joy in it. Growing up on a farm Henry learned the value of hard work. But it wasn’t farming that he wanted to work hardest at. He had a desire to make a difference. Eventually he found himself working for the Edison Illuminating Company. Maybe it was there that he became inspired by the stories of Edison’s perseverance. Maybe he had heard what Thomas Edison said about creating a production light bulb. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Maybe we will too. There will be times and days when everything we do seems to fail. It’s only failure if we give up. That’s the thing about success, it never gives up. Start with A and move through the alphabet. If plan A doesn’t work, move to plan B. If it fails move on. Keep going. That’s what Henry Ford did. He moved through the alphabet all the way to T. Number twenty became the most significant car in history. Ford had to try and fail and try again over and over to finally find a way to make a difference. And not just in automobiles, in lives as well. People thought he was crazy when he introduced the five dollar work day. But he wanted more than to just make a car. He wanted to make people. He wanted his workers to be able to afford and enjoy the products they were making. That was revolutionary at the time. And it wouldn’t have happened if he had given up at plan S. He had to make it all the way to number twenty, plan T. Who knows how many times we’ll have to move on to the next step, the next plan. Maybe that forgiveness we need to grant just won’t stick. Maybe that project we’ve been working on for years now needs just one more try. Maybe we’ll have to suck up our pride and go against advice one more time. Whatever it is, make it about doing good. Not just success, or breakthrough, but significance for what is right. Let’s be revolutionary in our desires. Let’s let God lead us to His ultimate goal for our lives. Don’t be afraid to dream. Even after the last dream was smashed. Do it again and again. God can and will make a difference through you. It’s hard work, but what a world we could have if we all tried just one more time. 

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, July 15, 2014

How To Delete Time

“We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.” Nelson Mandela

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. - Ephesians 5:15-17

Procrastination: “the action of delaying or postponing something” - New Oxford American Dictionary

“Just four more minutes!” How many times have you heard that? Four more minutes of watching TV before bed. Four more minutes of sleep before getting out of that same bed. Four more minutes of relaxation, then I’ll do the chores. I feel like the word procrastination was made just for me. You can’t spell it without pro, and I’m definitely a pro at it. But there are times when it absolutely kills. Whatever it is we have to do isn’t going to be easier in another four minutes. In fact it will probably be more difficult if anything. Maybe we need a new perspective. Maybe we need to focus on the future just a little bit more. I know, the common wisdom these days bombards us with the idea of “living in the moment.” And that’s fine if we’re just trying to find the most joy in every moment no matter what our activity. But too often I think we take living for the moment to mean simply, have fun all the time. But that’s not possible. Sometimes we need to set up the moments. We need to take advantage of those four minutes and instead of wasting them, add them up so that they become significant amounts of time to enjoy later. Don’t feel like mowing the lawn? Doing the dishes? Are you dreading cleaning out the car? Instead of wasting time avoiding the activities we don’t want to do, what if we did them right away and banked that 15 or 20 minutes? Then in the end those minutes will have a much greater potential to bring enjoyment, because they’ll be filled with relaxation instead of tension. If this whole thing sounds like a speech your mom gave you in sixth grade I’m sorry. However, it holds truth. I know, many of us find joy in those few minutes on “snooze” in the morning, and that’s ok. However, sometimes we just need a little reminder in order to get back on track. We need a different perspective from someone else to encourage us to adjust what we’re doing. Time is one thing we can’t earn more of. It’s one thing we all have the same amount of. Are we managing our time wisely? There will come a day when time will be infinite with Jesus, but today is a finite day, how will we live it? Will we waste it, or will we use every bit of it on purpose? Remember the parable of the talents Jesus told? His point was that we should use everything God gives us to its full potential. We don’t have to be busy in every moment, but we can do our best to ensure every moment counts. In doing so, we can add quality time to our lives, instead of deleting the time we see as having no potential. Every minute has potential, it’s up to us to find it. Every second was given to us by God, it’s our responsibility to use His gifts wisely. How will we use our time 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, July 14, 2014

The Lifter

“The green eyes, you’re the one that I wanted to find
And anyone who tried to deny you, must be out of their mind
Because I came here with a load
And it feels so much lighter since I met you
Honey you should know
That I could never go on without you…

Honey you are a rock 
Upon which I stand”

- Excerpt from the song Green Eyes by Cold Play

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” - Jesus - Matthew 11:29

Gentle: “mild in temperament or behavior; kind or tender” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Are we gentle with souls? Could we say that we are like Christ in our hearts? Lowly and gentle, giving rest. For many of us probably not, unfortunately.  For me, definitely not. Gentleness, lowliness, they’re hard for our humanity to hold onto. We love the idea, but the practice is out of reach. What about the person who cuts in line, the one honking to get by in traffic, the people you see who care less about anyone else as long as they get their way? Can we be gentle with them? The irony is that many of those people who seem to deserve the harshest of treatment need the gentlest of touches. What did Christ say? “Turn the other cheek.” But how hard that is. Kindness is one of the hardest things we’ll ever try to accomplish. Especially to those who we don’t think deserve it. It has to be fought and struggled for. Isn’t it funny that we have to fight for gentleness. For some of us it’s the hardest fight we’ll ever wage. It’s an internal struggle we all have to deal with. However, let’s all remember that there is help in the fight. Christ promised the Holy Spirit to be with us, to intercede in prayer for us. Ask for it, it will make a difference. In fact, I believe it’s the only way to effectively follow Jesus. It’s a burden, but it is lifted by His grace. It’s a load, but it’s made so much lighter with Him. We can go on when we make Him the Rock upon which we stand.

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, July 11, 2014

Where Were You

“I do the cutting, God does the healing.” - Unknown surgeon

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” - God - Job 38:4-7

Knowledge: “awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Have you ever noticed the greenery of the trees? How the sky is blue in their background? How the stones are hard and blood is red? Probably you have. “So what’s the big deal?” You might be asking. The big deal is that we don’t know why. Sure we know what makes a leaf appear green, the sky blue, blood red, and a stone hard. But why? No one knows. They could have just as easily been pink, turquoise, and hot pink. And maybe it doesn’t make any difference. If everything were different we could still be asking the same question; “why?” We live in a world made by God. He chose the look of the leaves. He meant to make the stones hard. And he was purposeful that blood be red. I don’t know why, no one does. But in His creation we see a beauty we can’t begin to recreate. All our paints and dyes are merely mimics; made from things He made as well. We can understand the nature of many things, we might even be able to manipulate, but we cannot make. And that gives us a small feeling of helplessness if we’re honest. Knowing we cannot make a tree, a single blade of grass, or a baby. We can do what it takes to arrange the molecules, but we’re just playing with blocks, and we certainly cannot breath life. It’s not time to panic. It’s time to be at peace. It’s been the same since all was new. Creation has a reason and we’re in it. Who knows how this will all turn out? Only God. However, we can know a little. We can know that this world isn’t perfect like it once was. That sin gave us gruesome events alongside beautiful landscapes. That sin will one day be obliterated through the red blood of Christ; shed on the brown wood of a dead tree, shaped into a cross. One day all will be as it was, as it is supposed to be. The gold will be pure. The green greater. The blue more radiant than any of our known hues. And life, life will be everlasting. It will truly be life that contains no death in it. For now all that we see is good. But it all contains the pain of death. But then, all will have life glorious. All will be as it should. And that’s something we can never do. Let’s find joy in that.

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

Jake