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

Follow DSGJ By Email Here

Friday, August 29, 2014

Better Hands Now

It’s like the sun is shining
When the rain is pourin’ down
It’s like my soul is flying
Though my feet are on the ground
So take this heart of mine
There’s no doubt
I’m in better hands now
Excerpt from the song In Better Hands Now
by Natalie Grant

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are the children born in one’s youth.  Proverbs 127:4

Hoard:  “a supply or fund stored up and often hidden away”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

“Sir look, a chimp.”
“A what?”  The captain asked looking out at the plain of tall grass through his binoculars.
“A chimp, you know, a chimpanzee, a great ape.”
“Ya, I know what a chimp is Scott, but what is a chimp doing here?”
“I don’t know sir.  Shall we try and find out?”
“Go ahead...”
“Oh, and Scott, be careful.  You never know what one of these things is up to.”
“Yes sir.”

It’s crazy what life can bring.  Things unexpected and exciting.  Things to be explored and wondered at.  New things to learn and understand.

“Can I get some cereal?”
“What do you want cereal for, it’s not breakfast time?”  Replied their cook.
“There’s a chimpanzee outside camp, it looks like he needs something.”
“You’re crazy, you know that Scott.”
“Ya, I know that.  Just give me some cereal.”
“Here you go.  But be careful.  You never know what one of these things can do.”

Life can be scary.  Not everything to be learned is enjoyable.  There are dangers in life.  Dangers we are powerless to overcome.  Dangers we must face to make a difference.

“It ran off sir.”
“What ran off?  Where?
“The chimp.  I gave him some cereal and he took it and ran off.  In fact he’s done it everyday for the past week since that first day we noticed him.  Poor thing, he looks so bedraggled and hungry.”
“Sir, this is weird I know, but can me and some of the boys check out what this thing is up to?”
“Are you caught up on all your duties.”
“Sir...  Have I ever been known for slacking?”
“Ok then, just be careful.  You never...”
“Know what these things are up to.”  Scott mumbled the end of the captains phrase before he could finish.
“I’ll be careful...”

Sometimes things are different than what they seem.  “It is what it is.”  Isn’t that the phrase we use when life isn’t exactly satisfactory?  “It is what it is.”  Is it?  

“Sir, you remember that chimp?”
“Ya, why?”
“Well, it seems the food I’ve been giving it.  Well, it’s not been for him.  He’s been taking it back to his group and sharing it.  It looks like another clan of chimps has been keeping them from hunting and foraging.  They’ve been starving.  I think the little food I’ve been giving them is all they’ve had.”
“It is what it is.”  We’re all starving.  Scratch that.  God has a plan.  He gave us His word.  We don’t have to starve.  But too often we see people starving and do nothing about it.  We take the food, we take His Word and keep it to ourselves.  As if there isn’t enough to go around.  As if we don’t know how to hand it out.  As if we don’t have the means to do His work.  That sort of thinking always starts and ends with us.  “I can’t.”  I don’t know how I...”  Recently Whitney (my wife) and I announced that we are going to have a baby.  If you know much about us, you know that we have been in the process of adopting for a while now.  Nothing about that is going to change.  However, along the way God decided to give us a biological child as well.  I don’t know what our children will be like yet.  However, one thing I do know.  God said children are like arrows in the hands of a warrior.  What does that mean?  For me that means that my children aren’t just for me.  Arrows are useless to a warrior until they’re nocked, drawn, and released.  And so it is with everything God’s given us.  This world is our clan.  Many are starving for God’s Word.  Are we sharing what’s been given us?  I don’t know if a chimp would ever share food with its starving clan.  But I do know that too often we’re in the same position and we hoard.  We worry about our kids being good.  We worry about our retirement savings and our house.  We worry about everything as if everything is for us.  Imagine the worry we would have if we lived like everything was to be shared.  Like everything was for the purpose of Christ.  God wants us to share Him through our children, through our homes and our money.  There’s nothing He’s given that can’t be used to share Him.  And there’s nothing that He’s given that can run out.  Like that chimp, we only have two hands.  We can only carry so much.  That’s why God blesses us with tools.  His blessings expand our ability to care, like arrows expand the reach of a warrior.  And so I’m not going to worry about what our children will be like.  Because I know God has blessed us with them to do His work.  Whatever that may be, and however that may look.  Why worry?  Why worry about how our kids will turn out?  Why worry about our home and our savings?  Why worry if it’s all for the Lord anyway?  Of course that doesn’t mean we neglect our children, home, or bank account.  However, it does mean that when we put our lives in God’s grasp we will truly see.  We’re all in better hands now.

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, August 28, 2014

Motivation To Serve

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, but I do know what I can do.” - James T. Kirk - From the movie, Star Trek, Into Darkness

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. - 1 Peter 4:10

Onerous: “involving, imposing, or constituting a burden: troublesome” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Life is full of things we have to do. Things we can’t wait to accomplish. Things we dread. And sometimes things we spend some time refusing to do. Life is also full of distractions. Distractions from reality. Distractions from God. And distractions from the things we have to do. Most of us have to go to work at some point during the day. Most of us have to pay some bills. And we all have a purpose for God. All of these things have their distractions. Sometimes sleep is a distraction from getting up and getting to work. Sometimes shopping is a distraction from paying a bill. And Satan is always trying to distract us from our purpose for the Lord. Those distractions come in many forms. They’re different for everybody, but we all deal with them. So how do we overcome them? How do we accomplish what we have to do? I think the answer lies in our motivations. What is your motivation? Are we motivated by our own desires? Does entertainment motivate us? Are we motivated by making life better for someone else? Distractions will never fulfill our desires. Sure, they may be enjoyable for a little while, but the requirements of life will always catch up to us. The plan God has for our lives will always affect us. Remember Jonah? God had a plan for him to preach to Nineveh. So what did Jonah do? He boarded a vessel for someplace in the opposite direction. How often do we do that? That phone call we know we should make. That visit to the person we know needs a friend. That mission needing a volunteer. Knowing what to do isn’t as hard as we think. After all, we know what everyone else should do. Want to know what to do? It’s easy, just pretend you’re someone else. But somehow, when the onerous is on us, we vacillate and struggle over what we should do, when in reality there’s no question. Sometimes it’s just plain hard. Sometimes we have to struggle with God Himself for motivation. Sometimes we have to fight distractions and fears with all we’ve got. And the reward is worth it. The satisfaction of making someone’s life better is always worth it. A clean kitchen is always worth doing the dishes for. And a child is always worth the raising… God’s plan for our lives is no different. It will take struggle and perseverance. But it’s always worth it. We won’t always know exactly what we’re supposed to do. But more often than not, what we can do is just what we need to do. Especially when our motivation is to serve.

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, August 27, 2014

Unfailing Power

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

- Excerpt from the song Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” - Matthew 19:26

Deprave: “to make bad” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

“Time flies when you’re having fun.” Ever heard that phrase? Probably, most of us have. Is it true? And if so, why? Ever heard this one? “Misery loves company.” If I had to guess you’ve heard that phrase too. Why? It seems to me these little observances are, for the most part, true. But why should fun last only a little while according to our perception? Why should we try to bring others down with us? Is humanity that focused on negativity that it seems to slow down time? Are we so proud of our unhappiness that we want others to join us in it? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” - Luke 6:31 “Perception is reality.” Are you seeing a pattern in today’s message? So many of us live by simple little phrases that influence our life greatly. But I’m not sure if we ever spend much time trying to determine if they’re worth living by. Here’s what I once thought was a Bible verse, “God helps those who help themselves.” That’s actually a quote by Benjamin Franklin and you’ll never find God saying anything close to it in His word. The closest you’ll get to that quote in the Bible goes something like this. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” - 1 Peter 5:6-7 It’s no wonder societies around the globe have trouble functioning. We make up these little sayings and then either live by them, or worse, measure ourselves to them, knowing full well there’s no excuse for bad behavior. Love him or hate him, Bill O’Reilly is right when he says, “You can’t excuse bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior.” But as humans we like to live by averages. We say to ourselves things like, “Compared to the average person, I’m doing pretty well.” That may work for our salaries, but it doesn’t work for our moralities. “Nobody’s perfect.” That’s another line we like to use, especially when we’ve been called out. It’s true though, no one is perfect. So how do we reconcile ourselves to a God who requires perfection for salvation? We don’t, we can’t. “I’m too far gone.” That’s one of the saddest lines I’ve heard. “Jesus could never love me.” Could anything be more false? Satan loves to inject these little phrases into our minds and call them wisdom. Jesus injected Himself into this world to bring truth. Like a coward, Satan wants to bring us all down with him. Jesus came down under His own accord to die for us so that we could be lifted on high with Him. What a contrast. Satan is constantly accusing, constantly injecting false negativity into our hearts. Jesus wants to lift us from our depravity and sorrow. It’s true, God requires perfection. However, He knows we would never achieve it. That’s why He sent His Son to erase our imperfection with His perfect sacrifice on the Cross. Jesus died a perfect man so that we could be perfected, not through our own efforts, but through His. Let the truth shine in your heart today. Reject the negativity of the world. Who cares if someone else has more things than we do. Who cares if someone else has the day off. With Jesus in our hearts, who could be more joyful? Answer, no one. And here’s why I say all this. We have too much to do. There’s too much at stake to let negativity and the devil drag us down into depression. There’s too much at stake for us to believe in failure. There’s too much at stake for us to succumb to depravity. There is no failure with Jesus. He has a plan for our lives that can overcome and circumvent any obstacle. He loves us too much to leave us to fail when we’ve called upon His name to save us. Reach out to Him. Let Him pull you to new heights, let Him give you hope and courage. Then follow Him in reaching out to our fellow man. We may not have the strength in ourselves, but we have the Savior. In Him lies the strength to pull a soul from the depths. It is for us to guide a helpless hand into His saving grasp. But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” - Matthew 19:26
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, August 26, 2014

The Action Of Words

“Honor lies in honest toil.” - Grover Cleveland

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face to shine upon us, Selah. - Psalm 67:1

Selah: “a term of uncertain meaning found in the Hebrew text of Psalms and Habakkuk carried over untranslated into some English versions” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

What did he mean when Grover Cleveland said, “Honor lies in honest toil?” I think we all know what it means. But when we think about it from all aspects, could that phrase mean a lot of things? Could one honestly toil at making the world worse? Could you or I honestly work at being evil? The word “Selah,” is a word in the Bible that cannot, as of yet, be translated into English. It’s technical meaning is unknown. But taken in context, it has meaning. It’s a word of affirmation and recognition. It’s an “amen,” a “please,” a “yes,” and many more words rolled into one. It’s like the phrase by Grover Cleveland. We can interpret it into confusion, or we could take it for what it means, in reality. Honor does lie in honest toil. And no, we can’t honestly work at ruining lives. We all know what it means to labor honestly. That it means to work hard for what is good and right. And we all know that when we work for what is good and right it brings satisfaction. Satisfaction that comes from knowing that we did something honorable. God is a God of action. There’s nothing wrong with talk. There’s thinking and ideas in talk. But at some point, for words to make a difference there must be action. That’s why God gave words power. Notice how God’s words throughout the Bible led to happenings. “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” - Genesis 1:3 Sure, there are times in the Bible when we get a glimpse into the thoughts of God through His conversations. However, none of God’s words are left without action. How much do we talk and expect honor to come from our words alone? Can honor come from words alone? What difference does it make when we talk without putting our words into motion? More than we think. There is potential in words. They are a spring that stores up energy in order for something to happen. They do things even when we don’t intend them to. All words have an impactful meaning. When we use them, disregarding their potential, we risk doing harm. So while we understand that honor can be gained through an honest days work, let’s understand that words can do work too. And honor can come through words as well as anything else. We were given words and mouths for a reason, and we should use them for a good reason. The same as we would use our bodies. “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” - 1 Corinthians 10:31.

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, August 25, 2014

Galvanic Life

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” - Douglas Adams

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.  Do not forsake the work of Your hands. - Psalm 138:8

Galvanic:  “having an electric effect: intensely exciting” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

I wish I had finished... I should have gone to... I was stupid to have... Ever found yourself saying sentences that start out this way? We all have. It’s easy to wonder if life would be better if we finished college. There are things we all know we shouldn’t have done. Now we’re trying to add up the cost to our lives. They’re lessons lived. They’re experiences that can be used to teach others. There’s nothing wrong with admitting the mistakes we’ve made. However, we can’t go back. And to lament how our life could be if we would have only... Well, that’s to reject what God is doing in our lives. We’d all like to know what life would be like if we would have gone down better paths. However, I don’t think many of us would sacrifice our families for a degree, a job, or a mistake erased. I’d love to know what it would be like to be an engineer. But not without Whitney (my wife). And in many ways, not without the job I have now. I’d love to say that I’ve never been divorced. But not at the sake of the baby girl born January 9, 2014. I’d love to be able to say all kinds of things about my life, but I know God had a purpose through it all. And I won’t reject that purpose. I know there may be someone reading this who can’t see that purpose right now. Some who are asking, “Why?”  Some who are in the midst of one of those, “Learning experiences.” Keep going. Keep trusting. Commit to the Lord. I’ve been in those times. I’ve let my life float aimlessly. I’ve seen what the world can do. And I’m sure there are more of those times to come. However, looking at what I have; who I love, and who loves me; seeing what God has done in my life... I wouldn’t change anything. I love this galvanic life that I’ve been given. That’s what God can do.  

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, August 22, 2014

Optimism Through Purpose


“A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.” - Harry Truman

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!  And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.  For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping.  But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. - Genesis 45:4-7

Factotum:  “an employee who does all kinds of work” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Isn't it amazing how Joseph was able to see God working in his life through all the challenges and hardships he endured? I am continually amazed at the way Joseph, through all his hardships, knew and understood that he was a factotum of God. And that he was able to realize the purpose God had for him through it all. What if, in all our life challenges, we were able to see what Joseph saw? What if, like Joseph, we were able to realize, that God has a purpose for our lives? It is my sincere belief, that working for God and realizing His purpose is the best way possible to become that “continual optimist.” What if we all strove to have the faith Joseph had? Using the events, good and bad, as stepping stones for God's work in our lives, instead of stumbling blocks towards our own success. After all, what is success in life anyway?  By all accounts Joseph could have deemed himself a failure when he was sold into slavery by his brothers. But without that awful event in his life he would have never ascended to be the prime minister of Egypt. With that in mind; would you rather be successful in your own mind, as compared to your neighbors, having everything go your way, encountering little to no hardship, and have history forget you as a middle to upper class average citizen? Or would you rather be at times disappointed in life's turns, but have history look back on you as a noted person with a purpose? I remember hearing a woman, after going through something difficult say, “I like it when things are difficult, because I know that blessings come from difficulty.” We live in a world full of difficulties, that's what the choice of sin did. But we have a God who can turn those difficulties into blessings. That doesn't happen anywhere else. Let's be thankful for that, for what He does for us, that He can make “All things work together for good.” Romans 8:28 But only if we let Him. Let's let Him.

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

Jake

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Passion

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer.  Always remember, you have with you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” - Harriet Tubman

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ. - Colossians 3:23-24

Passion:  “the sufferings of Christ between the night of the Last Supper and His death” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

You’ve probably heard of the Midas touch. That it’s a term named after a legendary and mythological king Midas who could tern anything into gold simply through a touch. You’ve probably known people who seemingly had this ability. A name may be popping into your mind right now as you read this. Perhaps it’s you. It’s hard to know what exactly it is. This ability to make anything succeed simply by being involved in it. However, I think it has a lot to do with passion. What’s the difference between a good piece of art and a lackluster one? What gives a photo or painting that “spark” which makes all the difference? For me, art needs to stir my imagination. I need to be able to wonder whether a certain brush stroke could be any better, or if the artist meant to imply on object or feeling into an abstract shape. A good work of art can be studied and stared at and never quite understood. Where does that come from? I’m not sure, but I don’t think an artist can really deliver the art they’re capable of without passion. They may be able to deliver good work, technically sound work, but not great work. There’s something about passion that gives a curve better proportion, a space better imagery, a composition better quality.  It’s not the brush, the technique, or the medium, but the stroke of passion that makes all the difference. The same equipment has been used. The same time of day and year. The same light and location. But no one has ever been able to replicate an Ansel Adams photograph. Why? It’s what he was made for. And I can’t help but believe he had a passion for it. There may be things we have a passion for but that we’re simply not made for. You may have a passion for painting, but can’t paint to save your life. You may have a passion for driving fast, but could never control a car the way Michael Schumacher can. But, you were made for something. There is something you’re better at than anybody you know. I don’t think most of us don’t know what that is. However, most of us know of something we’re confident in. It’s those things, that when passion is applied, become brilliant works of art. I don’t care if it’s in a sale, an everyday job, a painting; they all can be brilliant works of art, when passion and skill is applied. You have a work of art in you. It was given to you by the Creator. The Creator who gave His Son a passion. A passion for you and me. It was the greatest passion that day a little of 2000 years ago that lead to our salvation on the Cross. So that no matter what we’ve done, no matter where we’ve failed, a Midas touch could be applied to our lives. And not a mythological Midas, but a true and real and everlasting value that can’t be compared or bought with gold. It took a passion to accomplish that task. A passion we can all appreciate. A passion no one can emulate, but that we can all be inspired by. What is you passion?

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, August 20, 2014

Beyond Compare

“When you finally go back to your old home, you find it wasn’t the old home you missed, but your childhood.” - Sam Ewing

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” - Jesus - John 14:1-3

Home: “a place where something flourishes, is most typically found, or from which it originates” - New Oxford American Dictionary

If you look up into the sky at the right time from where I live, you can sometimes see airplanes turning on their landing lights for their approach into Portland International Airport. I can hear, in my imagination, the landing gear coming down. The flaps lowering. The wind buffeting around the aircraft as it slows, preparing to carry precious cargo in to land. I love approaching home. There’s no feeling like coming in to land when you’ve been gone for longer than you want. I love my home and have yet to be anywhere that I wanted to stay, other than home. I know home. It’s comfortable. It’s where I have friends, and dogs, a house, and a cat. Family is at home. However, I love visiting too. I love seeing different parts of the world. Enjoying the entirety of what God made for us on this planet. It’s exciting to see how other people and cultures live. What they value in life and what they like. Without a world with people spread out all over it, we wouldn’t have the variety of foods we love today. We would’t be able to enjoy the sounds of different languages. Some romantic, some not. We wouldn’t be able to enjoy the vast stretches of grassland that dot the world. Nor would distant mountain ranges excite our exploring imaginations. But despite all the beauty found in the variety of this world, home is still where I want to be. It’s where I want to end up, every time I’m away. Sadly, we don’t all have homes. For some, coming “home” means a cardboard box when it’s hot, and a dumpster when it’s cold. For some, home means struggle and misery every day. Home is just a place they’re from, instead of a place they love. It’s a place they know, but where few know them. The good news is that there is a greater hope, a greater home than what we know today. Whether the place we call home is an alley behind a strip mall, or a mansion on a hill, there’s a home greater still. A place where everyone knows our name. Where our heavenly Father loves us more than any other. A place where sadness… Every where we go in this life, hurt can find us. Home may be where the heart is for some of us. But what about when that heart is broken? Wherever we may be, that heavenly home offers hope through Jesus Christ. It offers rest in the Saviors arms. It offers comfort beyond compare. And love we’ve yet to know. Is your heart there? Can you say it’s where you look forward to being? I pray we all get to know that place, that home, that is better than anything we’ve ever known; that place beyond compare. 

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, August 19, 2014

Vice's Christ

“What is worthy of dispraise but vice?” - St. Augustine

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

Vice: “a weakness of character or behavior; a bad habit” - New Oxford American Dictionary

How different can two things be; the view of humanity and the perspective of God? Why do we give into temptations so easily? Why do we even praise our temptation’s conquests? Somehow our human perspective causes us to boast over our misdeeds and sins. Talk to a thief and they may be proud of what they’ve been able to steal. Talk to a young man and he may boast over his conquests. It’s all a matter of perspective. While some may say that a little vice is good. God would say, “That’s why I sent my only begotten Son.” “That whosoever should believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.” - John 3:16 Vice has its cost. It not only wears at our physical bodies, but our spirits as well. It moves us further and further from our Savior, whether we’re aware of it or not. But vice is not the end. It’s temptations don’t have to rule. It can be conquered. Not by us, but by Christ. I’m reminded and will end with the words of the Hymn— 

In Christ Alone. 

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This give of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For every sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Brought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r in hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.

Words and music by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

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, August 15, 2014

Distracted

“I am
Holding on to you
I am
Holding on to you
In the middle of the storm
I am holding on
I am”
- Excerpt from the song I Am by Crowder

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me. - Revelation 3:20

Distraction: “extreme agitation of the mind or emotions” - New Oxford American Dictionary

The man stood at the open door and knocked on the frame. “Ma-am” he said. Again, “ma-am.” But no answer came. He could clearly see the woman sitting in the room in front of him. What was wrong with her, he wondered. But while he could see what was happening in front of him, this visitor could not see what was going on. “Ma-am,” again, and with a knock this time. “I was wondering if I could distract you for a little bit of time.” Then he saw the story. At once he could see the grandmother in her living room reading a story to her baby granddaughter. Unwilling to be distracted from her most important role at that moment. At once he could see uninterrupted love for a baby girl. At once he understood. And then she laid the baby down, asleep in her cradle, and came to the door. “May I help you,” she said…

How often are we distracted from the most important? Distracted from loving our families? From helping those in need? Maybe even from doing our jobs? What is it that’s distracting us? Is it a show we can’t possibly miss on the television? Is it the company of someone we shouldn’t see? Is it the man at the door? Is there anything that’s keeping us from the most important thing in life? Anything that’s keeping us from Jesus? 

“I’m sorry to disturb you ma-am, I hope I didn’t distract you. But it’s not too often you see love like that. Maybe you can help me.” Forgetting what he came for, the man felt something he couldn’t resist. A sort of knocking. Was it the love? “I think I know what you need, come in, can I get you something to eat?”

We’ll never know how Christ will enter a heart. Only that He will knock. Don’t be distracted from Him. He won’t be distracted from you. Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” - John 10:11

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of My Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” - Jesus Christ (Matthew 18:10-14)

Are you distracted?

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, August 14, 2014

Follow The Light

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” - Jesus Christ (John 8:12b)

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening that there was morning, the first day. - Genesis 1:3-5

Light: “the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible” - New Oxford American Dictionary

No one in this world has ever spoken like Jesus. Sure, there have been people who’ve used similar words, but none with the words and the actions to back them up. And there’s a simple reason. No one in this world, besides Christ, has ever been God. No one else could ever claim to be the light of the world and be the light of life. No one else could ever create the day. No one could guarantee that following them would bring the light of life. Only Jesus could say those things, because only God could do those things, and He was God. Almost every time I look at the news I see darkness. People dying, killing each other, and suffering. Innocent children paying the price for evil. It’s darkness. It’s sad. However, it’s not the end. It doesn’t have to define us and our lives. With Christ it can be a period lived through instead of a moment of death. With Him there can be joy in the midst of suffering and life in the midst of death; light in the midst of darkness. Don’t ask me how, just follow Him. It’s not for me or you to know the intricacies of life and its events. It’s for us to follow the Guide. Because we’re lost without Him. Without Him, millions of dollars can come with great depression. With Him, the greatest suffering can be met with, of all things, peace! Here’s what the Bible suggests. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:4-7 Want peace? Follow the Light.

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, August 13, 2014

Doing And Finishing

“It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish.” - J.R.R. Tolkien

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. - Acts 20:24

Tiananmen: “Gate of heavenly peace” - Wikipedia

You’ve probably seen the picture. A Chinese civilian man stands in front of a column of People’s Liberation Army tanks trying to demonstrate their power in Tiananmen square. For a few moments one man stood in the way of oppression. He was ready to sacrifice himself for a cause. In that moment the unknown man was prepared to finish. How many of us are prepared to finish? We live lives of doing, but do we live life for finishing? When Jesus hung on the cross He cried out, “It is finished.” Christ lived not only to do, but to finish. Shortly before he was executed in Rome, Paul wrote to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” - 2 Timothy 4:7 What will we be able to say of our lives? What could we say of them now? Are we living a life with a finish in mind, or a life simply of perpetual doing with little point? In whatever we do, there should be a point. And yet, we are left with simply doing, because the greatest point of our lives, our finish, will one day be dictated and out of our control. But what if that were today? Could we say that we finished anything? That we were true to our calling? Do we even have a calling? The young student in Tiananmen square knew his calling that day. He knew the irony of the massacre of protesters the day before by the “People’s Liberation Army” at Tiananmen Square. A place which translated into english means “Gate of heavenly peace.” In a way he was prepared to finish the meaning in those names. He was prepared to finish his purpose that day. Today as we go about our lives, let’s keep in mind our purpose. Are we working towards a good finish? Are we living lives towards a finish? May our lives be worthy of the statement. “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.” - Matthew 25:23b

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

- The image the Tiananmen Square protestor used was published by the Associated Press and taken by Jeff Widener June 5, 1989.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

His Grace Is Sufficient

“What gives me the most hope every day is God’s grace; knowing that His grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.” - Rick Warren

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. - 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Strength: “the capacity of an object or substance to withstand great force or pressure” - New Oxford American Dictionary

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” - God. Let God’s power be perfected in you. 

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, August 11, 2014

Tasting Miracles

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
     Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
- King David from Psalm 34:8

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” - John 2:6-10

Taste: “the ability to discern what is of good quality or of a high aesthetic standard” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Jesus’ first miracle would have never been experienced without a taste. Without trying it, the master of the feast would have never known the flavor of Jesus’ wine. How many times have we let a miracle pass by without giving it a try? How many times have we missed out on something God made for us because we refused to taste? Whether it be a prayer, a walk in the forest, or the giving of our hearts. Every day comes with an opportunity to taste and see what is good, that the Lord is good! (see Psalm 34:8) Will we say yes to it? to Him? Perhaps we’ve had some good wine in our lives. Perhaps we’re happy with all that’s happened in the past. Don’t let that keep you from what Jesus has for you. When Jesus made that water into wine the bridegroom would have already served the best wine. Jesus could have made mediocre wine and no one would have known the difference. But that’s not how Christ works. His works are better than any of our achievements. His wine is better than any we’ve ever tasted. His miracles, His blessings, are better than what we can provide. No matter where we’re at in life, Jesus is better. No matter what we have, Jesus has something better for us. He wants to share it with us. All we have to do is taste. What’s keeping 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