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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Right Buttons


“Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.” - Martin Luther

“But at the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” - Jesus - Mark 10:6-9

Appertain: “to belong or be connected as a rightful part or attribute” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

The divorce rate in the United States has been for a while now, somewhere around 50 percent. That means statistically, half the weddings you went to this past summer will end in screaming and tears. This after two people decided consciously that they could never love anyone more than the person they decided to walk the isle with. Why? How can love turn so quickly into hatred? We say that we learn more about the other person when we move in with them. We say that our husband or wife changed. We say all kinds of things. And there can be truth to those sayings. However, why do our spouses change? Why is it that the more we learn about them the less we like them? Could it be that we have something to do with them? For full disclosure, I have been divorced. I know how the progression of a relationship can build and crumble. I am also happily married now, I know how a healthy relationship can grow in beauty in love. There’s a saying that’s sometimes gets bandied about that goes something like this, “Other people aren’t thinking about you that much.” It’s usually used to imply that what we do doesn’t have as much affect on other people as we think, so worrying about how we make other people feel is in itself a little self indulgent. You and I have both had our feelings hurt and possibly shed tears over what someone said at times. So we know that’s not really true. However, we often treat the closest people in our lives a little like its true, if we’re honest at least. Maybe our wives are actually upset by their hard work being continually ruined by our piggishness. Maybe some husbands are angry because they’re continually treated like animals. Maybe we need to be more considerate of the cause and effect we have on our closest companions. There is no one we know who won’t crack when the right button is pushed at the right time with the proper amount of force. We know that. And how many times have we at least tried to find that button. Then we’re surprised by the result. I wonder how many relationships could be saved if we decided we would treat the other person with dignity? If we looked for the buttons that produce love and kindness, instead of the ones that produce a temper? We have the power to influence. We have the power to change another person’s life. Let’s use that power for good and not for ill. For many of us it will take a conscious and difficult effort. However, I pray that God gives us the strength to carry through with our love for one another. I pray that God leads us to the buttons that encourage and inspire. I pray that our loved ones will react in a way that reciprocates that change in our lives as well. Love doesn’t have to end. Relationships don’t have to fall. We can reject the statistics with a new perspective on relationship. “Till death do us part,” doesn’t have to be a dream. Let’s make it a reality.

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, September 29, 2014

Place In This World

Place In This World by Michael W. Smith

“The wind is moving
But I am standing still
A life of pages
Waiting to be filled
A heart that’s hopeful 
A head that full of dreams
But this becoming
Is harder than it seems
Feels like, I’m

Looking for a reason
Roaming through the night to find
My place in this world
My place in this world
Not a lot to lean on
I need Your light to help me find 
My place in this world
My place in this world

If there are millions 
Down on their knees 
Among the many
Can you still hear me
Hear me asking
Where do I belong
Is there a vision
That I can call my own
Show me, I’m

Looking for a reason
Roaming through the night to find
My place in this world
My place in this world
Not a lot to lean on
I need Your light to help me find 
My place in this world
My place in this world”

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the world of God and prayer. - 1 Timothy 4:4-5

Locus: “a center of activity, attention, or concentration” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

There's no question. We all need a place. A place to call home. A place to call work. A place to call heaven. For right now our place is this world. We spend our time wearing blisters into the palms and fingers of our hands. We spend our time loving our families, our friends, and heroes. We drive in the morning. We drive home at night. We laugh, we cry and we say goodbye sometimes. Our places bring joy and sorrow, smiles and tears. We love our places, but we long for better. We search for purpose. We live for others and sacrifice for life. We want to make differences. We want to be remembered. And if we accomplish enough they'll call it a legacy. That's it; the best places leave legacies. Good memories is what they are. Lake houses with family. Mountains bigger than our imaginations. Jobs well done. Add 'em all up and they equal our place. Our fingerprint. Our impact on a world waiting for God. Why wait? He's here now. He wants to join us in our places, in our lives. He wants to go with us and build a legacy with us. He wants to be the Potter to the clay that is our lives. He loves us. He sees us searching and calls us. He shines a light on our paths to show us the way. The way to His heart. The way to His place and our ultimate home. Without Him life is dark and confusing. Even though we may not be in realization of it. Without Him death makes no sense. Without Him what's this life for? But with Him there's a song in our heart. With Him dying is a way home. With Him life's purposes are endless. He gives us a place greater. He gives us a place worth being. He gives us a glorious place in this world. My greatest prayer is that we find that place with Him. Our place in this world. 

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, September 26, 2014

No Big Deal

“God doesn’t need what we have, we desperately need what He has.” - Steven Furtick 

The LORD knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath. - Psalm 94:11

Exalt:  “to raise in rank, power, or character” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Exult:  “to be extremely joyful” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

When you read this, I know that you know I’m not perfect. But if you’ve never met me, you may not be able to imagine me doing anything wrong. Losing my temper, swearing, whatever... If you’ve never met me, you may have an elevated view of me, simply because what I write is all you see of me. And like anybody else in my position, I try my best not to be a jerk in what I write. So you don’t see the struggles it sometimes takes to communicate the things I do. That sometimes I feel extremely unworthy and unqualified to write about God. His goodness, salvation, love... And I know that you’re not perfect either. I know that, because no one is. We all know that. So I know that sometimes you don’t feel like you’re worthy to work for the Lord. I know that sometimes you don’t even feel worthy to worship Him. That singing praise songs in the car feels phony and contrived. And so I know that it’s good to see God for what we are. That God is perfect and all powerful, and that we’re useless and desperate without Him. That God knows our every thought and predicted our every action, and that we’re still trying to figure out what life is all about. And so when we fail, when our thoughts are not pure, when we feel like giving up for the last time... God’s not giving up on us. God doesn’t need us to be perfect. He wants for us to experience the joy of being perfected. He isn’t hurt by our failure, He wants us to know what it is to succeed with Him. No matter what we do, we can’t destroy His plan of salvation. No matter what we do, we can’t cause Him to be discouraged. The shortest verse in the Bible says, “Jesus wept.” - John 11:35 It comes in the wake of His friend Lazarus dying. But I’m not sure Jesus was weeping because Lazarus had died. Not completely anyway. Jesus knew that in a couple minutes He was going to raise Lazarus from the grave. Jesus knew His power to save. Rather, I believe Jesus was weeping because He was being accused of not saving Lazarus before he died. He was being doubted, despite all that He had already done. In the midst of death, Jesus’ friends forgot His ability to save… Even from death. But Jesus didn’t leave Lazarus in the grave because all His followers doubted His ability. He raised him in spite of their failure to believe. Can you see yourself in that story? I can. How often do we doubt that God can work through us because of what we are? How often do we reject something God has for us because we don’t believe we deserve it? God’s ability is not dulled by our futility. His gifts aren’t a result of our deservedness. No matter where we’re at, He wants to exalt us, if for no other reason than for us to be exulted. We don’t deserve it. We never have. But it’s not about that. It’s all about Him. God is God, by definition He can’t be exalted any more... Except in our hearts. And it’s when we exalt Him for what He is in our hearts that we are exulted with Him. We will go through seasons of doubt, discouragement, and despair.  God is not doubtful, discouraged, or despaired. He knows the futility of our thoughts and the failure of our actions. He knows. He’s still here.

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 you want to remember forever?
  7. What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,
Jake

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Climb


“Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.” - St. Augustine

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” - John 11:25-26

Vista: “an extensive mental view (as over a stretch of time or series of events)” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

May 19, “The Mountain Comes Into View” 5:03 AM
Today is the day I’m going to do it. It’s here, it’s now. I know it’s going to be hard, but it will also be remembered. I’m ready for the challenge. The difficulty is not distracting, in fact I welcome it. “No pain, no gain,” they say. Well I agree with that sentiment right now. Not all the time of course, but for right now I do. The air is thin and thinning. I wonder if there’s going to be an emergency. I’m a little scared of that. Emergencies can’t be rescued here. This isn’t the Mountain of God we’re talking about. It’s not Zion. There’s no salvation on top of this hill. Just a view and a mood. I’m looking forward to the memories. I’m not sure about the experience though. This is a once in a lifetime event. Lord help me value it.

June 20, “Awake” 7:28 PM
My first conscious moment was today. My first since the mountain came into view. Not sure what happened. Just that the last words I wrote were, “Lord help me value it.” The only reason I know that is because I read them. I’ve been thinking about my last journal entry. I’m not sure what to think of it. There was a mountain, that’s for sure. But I’m not sure I was right about it. I’ve been told it’s a miracle I’m here. That I was rescued... Lord help me to be thankful.

August 13, “Realization” 6:03 AM
There isn’t a mountain void of God. Zion... The Mountain of God... It’s on the vista of anyone willing to see. It’s climb will be a struggle. But it will be remembered. I think I get it now. That life is a challenge. That there will be emergencies. There will be beauty and destruction. There will be the feeling of suffocation and the exhilaration of achievement. But there is always rescue. In fact the rescue is sometimes in the emergency. God isn’t at the top of every mountain, He’s not at the pinnacle of achievement. He’s in the rescue on the slopes. He’s in the emergency in the valleys. We can’t always reach to top. And when we do, it’s not us that’s important. It’s Him. I love the mountain. The metaphors that come from it. Then again, life is a metaphor in a way. Failure, success, hardship, ease. God teaches through all of them. He sure taught me on that hill. Humility... That’s what I really need to reach. For me that’s got to be the hardest climb. There’s no room for selfishness and pride on the top of a mountain that bears the Cross. There’s no room for that garbage, because the whole place is occupied by His presence. It’s by His grace that we reach anything. No matter if it’s the bluff in the back yard or a peak on the other side of the world. I don’t think the memory of the mountain and it’s cold and snow will ever come to me. They say the fall destroyed a little bit of my brain. But I will always remember what it did to me. That it brought me low and lifted Him high. That Jesus was placed atop the mountain in my heart. I’m thankful for that. Lord help me to share it.

A fictional journal of a person on a climb...

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 about today?
  7. What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,

Jake

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Relational Stories


“It isn’t just about the story.  It’s about my relationship to the story!” - Gary Trudeau (Creator of the comic Doonesbury)

But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went in the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. - Psalm 73:16-17

Jape: “to say or do something jokingly or mockingly” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

“That’s it, I’m done!” Mark shouted in his mind as he slammed yet another book down on the weathered white oak desk in back of the bookstore. “Nothing! Absolutely nothing.” He was so frustrated he could have cried, if it wouldn’t have made him feel like such a girl. Mark was tired and felt pointless. He had searched and searched, but couldn’t find anything he was looking for. Not that he could have told you what he was looking for if you asked however.  
“Something inspirational, something to touch my spirit. Something God. That’s all I’m asking.” Again, the words were incapsulated in his mind. To look at him you would see a perfectly calm thirty something average guy sitting at a table. To see what he was thinking...  Well, that’s a little different.
We can all be a little like that at times though huh. To look at us, we’re like a coral reef, all sea anemones and star fish peacefully existing with hardly a current to rough us up. On the inside though, it’s high tide and the seas are roaring. Smashing against the rock faces of land.  
“What’s the matter?” His wife asked. Wives have a way of seeing past the calm and into the storm. “I’ve been here for hours and all I have is this book of comics, scrapped out of old papers. It’s the only thing that’s captured my imagination this entire time, and I don’t know why. Here I am looking for God and all I have is newspaper!” “Well maybe newspaper is what you need.” She replied, as if it were completely obvious. “Newspaper is not what I need!” He yelled in his mind but whispered back to her. “How do you know?” Again, with a sense of the obvious, she japed. “Peanuts. Garfield. Dilbert!? How could this be something God speaks to me through?” He asked back sarcastically. “Since when is God limited?” How come questions so often become the ultimate answers to questions? Looking down at the page Doonesbury looked up at him. The caption read in all caps, “WHY? BECAUSE  IT ISN’T JUST ABOUT THE STORY. IT’S ABOUT MY RELATIONSHIP TO THE STORY! JOIN ME AS I JOIN THE STORY!”  
For that last week an a half Mark had been wondering why. Just like all of us, some crap had gone down and he was looking for an answer. He was looking for God to tell him something. Now it was a stupid comic strip. One of his least favorites too. But there was no denying that God had a word for him in it. “It’s about the relationship.”  
God isn’t about life and death. He’s not about happiness and sadness. Not all the time anyway. He’s about relationship. And He wants one with all of us. No matter, in spite of, and because of what’s going on in our lives. But then again. Are we willing to listen for Him? Are we willing to realize that the rocks aren’t going anywhere no matter how hard we crash against them? Can we see that Jesus is the rock we’re crashing against? He’ll always be there. Constantly affecting our lives. Constantly effecting our lives. Can we be at peace with that? Can we handle God’s relationship to our story? Are we willing to join Him as He joins our story? I pray so. Because it’s about a relationship.

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, September 22, 2014

Why Jesus?


"In the morning when I rise
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus
When I am alone
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus
When I come to die
Oh, when I come to die
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Give me Jesus"
- Excerpts from the song Give Me Jesus By Jeremy Camp

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. - Galatians 5:22-24

Discursive: “proceeding by reasoning or argument rather than intuition” - Dictionary.com

Why Jesus?  What’s the big deal?  Why do we want Him in our times of trouble?  Why not Gandhi or Buddha?  There are great men worth emulating, but we don’t need them when death seems near.  Not in the same way at least.  The closest thing for many of us would be our mothers.  Who hasn’t seen an image of a young soldier calling for their mother while dying on the battlefield?  What is it that is comforting and reassuring?  Unconditional love.  Our mothers will always love us.  Be disappointed...  Sure.  Love...  Always.  And so much more it is with Jesus.  Love, joy peace...  The fruits of the Spirit are what we all want.  No matter what we believe.  Even those who don’t believe in God or Jesus or religion or whatever.  They want there to be a Jesus.  Why?  Because there’s nothing like Him.  He’s hard to believe.  Not because it’s hard to believe a man named Jesus of Nazareth existed and created a following and was crucified.  All of that is hard to dispute, even from a purely historical perspective.  It’s even hard to dispute His resurrection.  What’s so hard to believe, is what He is.  That He would die for all of us.  It moves us to tears for no explainable reason.  Many people have sacrificed their lives for our benefit.  And it does make us cry.  However, not in the same way.  Not in a way that is comforting some how.  This world is full of evil and corruption.  It takes a psychosis to not want an escape.  But where is the escape?  Is it to blind ourselves from the ills of the world?  Sooner or later they will make themselves known.  Where is the escape?  Is it in service, in trying to change the world?  People have been working on behalf of the world for generations.  Slavery still exists.  Suffering still exists.  The percentage of people who still die is exactly the same, 100 percent.  You have to forget about most of the world to believe it’s getting noticeably better.  Where is the escape?  Is it in becoming the best person we can be?  Who doesn’t feel guilt.  No matter how good we may become, we all will still have a past.  We all have corrupted thoughts.  We all need forgiveness.  The only escape from the ills of this world is Jesus.  One could claim death as an escape.  But that would be to forget that death is this world’s ultimate ill.  So what about death and where is its escape?  Jesus.  That’s why there is a longing in our hearts to simply say, “You can have all this world, just give me Jesus.”
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, September 19, 2014

Signed By A Creator


“Real artists sign their work.”  Steve Jobs

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
Excerpt from the song Beautiful Things by Gungor

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.  Psalm 139:14

Homage:  “something that shows respect or attests to the worth or influence of another”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary 

In 1984 Apple Computers released the original Macintosh computer.  For its day, the design was magnificent if not revolutionary.  Designers and engineers, driven by Steve Jobs and perfection, spent their lives creating what many took for granted.  If you could removed the cover, you would see engraved in its case, the signatures of those designers, including Jobs’.  To Jobs, what couldn’t be see was just as important as what could be seen.  He had learned this concept of design integrity from his father as a boy, and it stayed with him until he died.  Before you start making judgements, this is not a homage to Steve Jobs or Apple.  Rather I mean it as a metaphor, a reflection, a slice, of what we are.  We are all creations of a God with integrity.  A God who does not value what is seen any more than what is unseen.  Jesus made this clear to the pharisees when He declared that sin began in thought, not in deed.  (see Matthew 5:28)  We are not perfect.  At one time God created us perfectly, but we have fallen.  However, we still carry the stamp and signature of an All-Mighty Creator.  A Creator who makes beautiful things.  But we are not static like a human piece of art.  We are self-aware.  We can change.  We have been given the power to choose.  We can mar and scratch away at the piece of creation we are and were meant to be.  Like a computer we are able to download destroying viruses into our character, the heart of who we are.  And so my question is this.  If we could remove our outward appearance, no matter how marked or religious, would the signature of our creator still exist?  God made a beautiful thing when He made us.  He signed us on the inside with a conscious.  He gave us a purpose with our abilities.  He made us beautiful in His image.  We are all living the embodiment of His masterpiece.  His crown of creation.  Are we living like it?

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

Thursday, September 18, 2014

He Is With Us


“Our God is with us
And we will not forget
That you’re fighting for us
Who can stop the work of Your hand

We rejoice, we rejoice for you have come
Emmanuel, Emmanuel, our King has come”

- Excerpts from the song We Rejoice by Elevation Worship

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel. - Isaiah 7:14

Emmanuel/Immanuel: Hebrew word meaning, “God with us”

In the morning I usually try to meditate on God for a little while. I’ll set a time for 15 or 20 minutes and let all the thoughts run through my mind, like leaves floating on a stream they simply pass by while I try to be with God. What usually happens is that I fall asleep at some point. When I set my timer for 15 minutes what I find is that the alarm usually wakes me up. However, if I set the timer for 20 minutes I usually wake up before it goes off and I wait expectantly for the allotted 20 minutes to expire with a jingle from my phone. I’m sure your thinking to yourself right now, “Who in the world cares what you do in the morning.” But follow for a second. Something happens between 15 and 20 minutes. My body naturally begins to wake up. But my mind was always with what I was thinking about when I fell asleep. Often the same thing happens when I sleep for the night. When I go to sleep asking for God’s presence I find I am always awakened with the feeling of His presence through a thought, a song, or a feeling. Too often we want God’s presence in our lives but we don’t take the time to watch for it, listen for it, feel it, or even ask for it. Too often we fill our minds with everything but God, and expect God to show up somewhere in there. And it’s not that God can’t show up in those times, however God generally shows up after He’s been invited. Jesus is Emmanuel, He is with us. The problem is that we’re often not with Him. Are we seeking His presence? And how often? The Bible says, “Today if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” - Hebrews 3:15 He is speaking. His voice is being carried through our thoughts and minds. In times of need, see if you can’t hear Him say, “I am with you.” When the sun is shining on the beauty of creation, see if you can’t hear Him say, “I made this for you.” In our disbelief, see if you can’t hear Him say, “I’m waiting for you.” There are many who may read this and not get it. It simply won’t make sense. Perhaps they’ll even think it’s foolish. But if it means anything to you now, it means more than words can say. I can’t presume to know what God says to you in your heart. I can only repeat what He says to me and what He’s said to everyone through His word. And if you’re listening for God, wondering what He’ll sound like. He generally sounds like a thought. But not just any thought. He sounds like a thought you need to hear. A thought that brings healing. A thought that offers guidance and reproof. Jesus left His disciples with this, “And, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” - Matthew 28:20b He is with us. I believe His promise.

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, September 17, 2014

The Miracle In Purpose


My Father said,
“Don’t you worry, don’t you worry, child
See heaven’s got a plan for you
Don’t you worry, don’t you worry now.”
(Excerpt from the song Don’t You Worry Child by the band Swedish House Mafia)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. - Paul - 1 Timothy 4:7-8

Enlist:  “to participate heartily (as in a cause, drive, or crusade)”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Want a miracle in your life?  Be a miracle to life.  “Well how do I do that?”  You might be asking.  I don’t know.  I have no idea what you could do to be a miracle.  But here’s a start.  You don’t have the power to work miracles.  Confused now?  Let me clarify.  You don’t have the power to do anything.  Now you’re thinking that I’m just crazy.  Obviously you’re reading this.  And that’s something in and of itself.  Let me be specific.  You don’t have the power to do anything without your Creator.  The power to work miracles is not in you or I.  It’s not in our dads or our moms, or anyone whom we hold in high regard.  The power to work miracles is in the Lord.  However, He calls us all to enlist in His miraculous work.  God in His wisdom has built into us innate abilities and talents.  However, we are not forced to use them for Him.  In fact, He allows us to use the abilities He’s given us, in an effort to destroy Him.  But He will not be destroyed.  How could He be?  He’s God!  But still, too often we use His talents, on loan to us, as tools for us.  And we miss out on the very thing that could work miracles in our life.  Sure, there are plenty of people who have done amazing works in their lives and the lives of others who could care less about God.  There have been, are, and will be many atheists who do amazing things for humanity, while at the same time hating the very idea of God.  But this isn’t abut what we can do with our lives, but what God can do in our lives.  Want a miracle in your life?  Give your life to the only one capable of working miracles.  Become a slave to Him and His divine purpose for your life.  For some that may mean volunteering at the local food bank in the name of Jesus.  For others it may mean traveling the globe spreading the Gospel.  Without God, there is nothing but cause and effect.  With God their is purpose.  With God there is intervention.  With God there are miracles in wait.  It’s not enough to volunteer at a food bank.  It’s not enough to give a billion dollars to the poor.  It’s not enough to smile at everyone we see.  Those are great acts of charity, but they’re not enough without God.  No act, whether for ourselves or humanity can fulfill our lives.  Charity cannot satisfy our need to help.  No amount of profit can satisfy our desire to earn.  And no amount of belongings will ever satisfy our want of more.  Satisfaction is a miracle, and sadly it’s getting hard to find.  Because it’s nothing we can ever get on our own.  Not completely anyway.  It’s a gift; a miracle from God.  Our lives may not turn out like we planned.  In fact, nobody’s has.  But don’t worry.  Like the song says, “Heaven’s got a plan for you.”  Our lives will be rocked with disappointment and tragedy.  But a purpose for God will steer us through any hardship.  What if we were to die?  Could we say, “Praise the Lord?”  What if when we died the first thing we saw was Jesus saying to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.  Enter into the joy of your master?”  Matthew 25:23  That would be a miracle.  A miracle that is fully attainable through the power of God in our lives.  That’s what the purpose of God in our lives 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

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Not For a Moment

“You were reaching through the storm
And walking on the water
Even when I could not see
In the middle of it all
When I thought You were a thousand miles away
Not for a moment did You forsake me
Not for a moment did You forsake me
After all, You are constant
After all, you are only good
After all, You are sovereign
Not for a moment will You forsake me.”
- Excerpt from the song Not For a Moment (After All) by Meredith Andrews

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward - to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. - Philippians 3:12-14  The Message Bible

Sovereign: “being above all others in character, importance, excellence, etc.” - Dictionary.com

I was in a hurry.  I didn’t want to waste any time. I had stuff I wanted to do. Driving to my parents house and back was not one of them. But it was something I had to do. God was going to show me His power. It was a corner I had driven a lot. It was between my girlfriend’s and parent’s house at the time. This time I thought I would see if I could go around it at 70 miles per hour. I’m sure I could have. However, what I didn’t know was that something had spilled gravel on the road. I spun one way, corrected, then the other. The car I had at the time was notorious for oversteer in situations like that and I couldn’t get it back under control. I remember sliding backwards towards the rocks, thinking to myself that this was going to be a bummer, because I was going to dent my car. I didn’t feel the impact. But I’ll always remember the sound. An overwhelming crash that I don’t think I could ever reproduce. Then I remember being dropped on my head. I was upside down in the middle of the road. There was only one window in my car big enough to crawl out of. It was also the one widow that hand’t broken. It was what I thought was the drivers side window, but as it turned out was actually on the passenger side. But I couldn’t break it on my own. It was too strong. I was trapped in a car laying upside down in the middle of the road. The thoughts about what could happen ran through my head. My car might be hit by another driver. It might catch on fire. It might... Then I remembered the emergency glass breaker I kept in the car that my grandma had given me. Who ever thinks they’re going to need one of those to get out of their car? I’m the only one I know of who’s ever needed to use one of those things. It worked like a charm. I broke the last remaining window in the car and crawled out. I called 9-1-1. I was told someone had already called. I had no idea who that could have been. I couldn’t remember seeing anyone else around or passing by. My back started to hurt. I began to hesitate to move. My whole body felt like a sprained ankle that couldn’t take its own weight. I couldn’t wait for the ambulance to get there. I needed to be stabilized. I don’t remember the entire ride to the hospital, but I do remember being uncomfortable. Fortunately that’s all I suffered. A little discomfort, a relatively minor back injury, and maybe a small concussion.  
I’ll never forget going to see my car the next day at the salvage yard. When I first saw it I didn’t think it could be mine. It wasn’t how I remembered it. But then it had to be. The lady working was surprised to see me there. She was confident no one had lived in the accident. It didn’t look like anyone could have. And well, you can see the picture. The drivers side is flattened. You can see where the steering wheel and dash slid on the pavement. What you probably can’t see is that the dash is crushed a couple inches lower than what it should be. And what I know you can’t see is a tuft of my hair in the drivers side window sill near the seat belt attachment point. I knew I should have been dead.  
I knew I had been saved for a reason. I’ve always known that I was dedicated as a baby to work for the Lord and that up to that point I hand’t fulfilled that purpose. I thought that I might write about what happened to me. About God’s purpose for our lives. But I didn’t. It took probably a year to stop thinking about it. But eventually I did. I forgot the miracle. I went on living just like before. “Not for a moment did He forsake me.” He hand’t forgotten my purpose before the accident and He hasn’t since. It took years for me to start to honor the purpose He had for me. Eventually I did. That’s why you’re reading this right now. That’s why on July 12, 2010 I started the Daily Self Growth Journal. That’s why I knew it had to include the world of God. And the verse I used at the time was the same verse I used today. Funny thing is... I didn’t even know I was on this journey at the time. I’m sorry it took so long to respond to His calling. But I’m glad you can read this today. And I want to remind us all that God has a purpose for us. That He will never forsake us. That He has a journey for all of us. The journey towards Jesus. A journey with Christ.
Daily Journaling Questions:
  1. How did I help someone in kindness today?
  2. What did I learn today?
  3. What am I thankful for?
  4. Who did I love today?
  5. What am I dreaming of?
  6. What about today do I want to remember forever?
  7. What are my goals for tomorrow?
Drive Safely,

Jake

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Good News Of Intimacy



“I wonder if this is how people always get close: They heal each other’s wounds; they repair the broken skin.”- Lauren Oliver

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” - John 4:13-14

Intimate: “characterized by a close or warm personal relationship” - The Free Dictionary

Intimacy is always important. We all need it. We all want it. But we don’t always give it. I remember the day my wife Whitney and I got married; how nervous I was in the morning and how excited I was to be her husband. Somehow everything smelled differently and better that day. The colors were a little bit brighter. The love a little bit stronger. It’s a day that changed my life. We all have days like that. Days we look back on as being pivotal in our being and who we are. For many of us those days involve a sense of intimacy; with a friend, a wife, or a parent. Graduation day! A big birthday! A wedding day! They’re events in our lives that drive us to make new events. They drive us to protect the legacy that is our lives. They drive us to new horizons with a sense of cheer in honoring our past. Anniversaries, reunions, even memorials harken us back to those moments of intimacy. I remember friends asking me what the most important decision I ever made was. The answer was easy, and it may be surprising to you. But the most important decision I feel I ever made was to start writing the Daily Self Growth Journal. Why? Because it brought me into intimacy with the source of intimacy. It’s brought me closer to God than I ever thought it would. I didn’t start out writing to be close to God. But I knew I couldn’t exclude God from it either. And the thing about God is this, if you let Him be intimate in a little part of your life, He will start to be a part of all aspects of your life. Being intimate with God gives us an even greater capacity for intimacy in all our relationships. He’s the source of intimacy and He desires to be intimate with us. Furthermore, He created us to be intimate with others. He said of Adam, “It is not good for man to be alone.” - Genesis 2:18 So He made Eve to be with him. And just like Adam, it is not good for us to be alone. We’re not all meant for marriage, but we all need somebody. And somebody needs you. Don’t let your love go unused. God gave it to you for a reason. He gave it to you to share. And here’s the thing about love. It can’t be spread thin. It doesn’t run out. Rather, the more we use it, the more we give it away, the more we have. The more we have to give and the more we have in our hearts. Physically that doesn’t make sense. A cup of water if poured out will run out. But a heart of love if poured out will overflow. The Bible says the things of the Spirit are spiritually discerned (see 1 Corinthians 2:14.) Love is of the Spirit. Love and intimacy are of God. Maybe that’s what Jesus was referring to when He offered the living water to the Samaritan woman in John 4. Maybe that’s why later in their conversation He told her, “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” - John 4:23-24 Intimacy is something of the spirit. It is created through love in relationship. It was created to heal and console. And its greatest form begins in a loving relationship with our Heavenly Father who sent His Son to be intimate with us in a healing relationship. Reading from Isaiah, Jesus proclaimed at the beginning of His ministry, “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recover of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” - Luke 4:18-19 That “Good News” is made true and palpable through an intimate relationship with God.

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, September 12, 2014

There Are Miracles

“The unthankful heart... discovers not mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet fins the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!” - Henry Ward Beecher

Thus saith the LORD, Make this valley full of ditches. For thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet the valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye, and your cattle, and your beasts. - 2 Kings 3:16-17 (King James Version)

Plastic: “capable of being deformed continuously and permanently in ay direction without rupture” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

“Where’s the water?”
Mike asked in a curious shout, as they descended deeper into the canyon. Wondering not so much where the water was, he knew it was long gone, but where the water used to be.
“I don’t know, we’d have to go back and ask.  Do you wanna go back?”
“Oh no, that’s ok, let’s keep going.”
Replied Mike to their tour guide Stephanie.
Oddly he noticed that there were people cultivating what looked to be a garden plot to their right.  
“With no water, how were they going to grow anything?”
He wondered to himself.
Mike and a few of his friends had come to this canyon as tourists to see where, a long time before, water had miraculously filled a ditch in the bottom of this dry and crusty crevice in the earth.  He considered the event to be miraculous because no one could explain how the water got there in the middle of a drought. In the middle of a desert, no less. The water was long gone by now, but it had appeared just when it was most needed.

“It’s mine, all mine. Come on Grace, hurry!”
Steve was a cattleman on the dry and crusty plains of, well, who cares, it was the middle of nowhere in seemingly God-forsaken country. He had heard of water in one of the dried-out canyons about a mile away. Now he was galloping full bore on Gracie, his appaloosa mare, trying to get there first. His cattle were thirsty. He knew many would be lost without water. He’d been waiting for water, for rain, for weeks now. It would be a miracle if it were true. If there was water in the bottom of that canyon. It seemed like just the other day that he had been reading in the Bible, in 2 Kings 3 that God filled ditches with water to save His people from drought. He remembered the verse clearly. In it Elisha said to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, “Thus says the LORD, ‘I will make this dry stream-bed full of pools.’ For thus says the LORD, ‘You shall not see wind or rain, but that stream-bed shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, you, your livestock, and your animals.’” - 2 Kings 3:16-17 (English Standard Version)  In the midst of drought, in the midst of a dehydrated herd of cattle, Steve prayed that God would once again fill a dry stream-bed with pools.
“It’s a miracle!”
Steve kept repeating, rushing as fast as he could to this thing he had prayed for.

“What are those people doing? Why are they gardening way out here?”
Mike asked Stephanie
“They’re hoping to see a miracle.”
She replied simply.
Mike was wondering what in the world was going one when.
“In today’s news...  Syrian rockets have been landing on the Golan Heights in Israel and...”
It was Mikes alarm reminding him gently that this is the real world. He had been dreaming and now it was time to get ready to go to work.
“What a strange dream.”
He whispered to himself as he pulled on a clean pair of socks.
But he knew what it was about. He’d been feeling lately that his life was worthless. That he was useless. Like he was merely a drone. Going to work, doing a mediocre job, then coming home to be a lousy husband, and going to bed to get some poor sleep, just to wake up and start the cycle over. He knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to be those gardeners in the desert. He didn’t want to be the cowboy. His miracle had already taken place. He didn’t want to be the tour guide either, she didn’t seem to care. Or the tour group, they were looking for something that happened in the past. He wanted to be those gardeners. They were expecting a miracle. They were expecting water in the desert. That’s what he wanted. He was familiar with the story of Elisha and king Jehoshaphat and he knew what he was supposed to do. Dig some ditches. He knew that for his life to be able to receive God’s blessings, it had to be able to hold God’s blessings. That’s what the ditches were for. Mike knew he wasn’t worthless, but he hadn’t made his life available for God to work in. He was still going to go to work. He was still going to come home. But now it was going to be different. He was going to go to work with a higher purpose in mind. He was going to come home to be a godly husband. And he was going to make his life available to the Lord. Somehow it seemed better now. Somehow Mike knew that no matter what, God’s blessings would be seen in his life.  
“It is a new day.  A new life!”
Mike thought with a smile.

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, September 11, 2014

The One

How many times have You heard me cry out
“God please take this?”
How many times have You given me strength
Just keep keep breathing?
Oh, I need You
God, I need You now.

- Excerpt from the song Need You Now (How Many Times) by Plumb

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the first fruits; then, when He comes, those who belong to Him. Then the end will come, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. - 1 Corinthians 15:22-25

Don: “to wrap oneself in” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

There is sickness in this world. There are people who hate others for simply being alive. There are people who’s goal it is to destroy life, peace, and happiness. We persevere and sacrifice and even die with the desire to rid our streets of as many murderers and terrorists as possible. We want to keep our neighborhoods safe from future threats. But there will be more. There will be persistence. Death will continue. Evil will persevere in the persecution of this world and this life. That’s why we cry out, “God please take this.” We search for comfort in the face of hardship. We search for meaning in the presence of confusion. We search for leadership... But we’re all just guessing. Adrift on the ocean of humanity we look for destiny and purpose. There is but one true north we can set our compass towards. The one who said, “I am the way the truth and the life.” - John 14:6 There is but one in whom we can rest. The one who said, “Come unto Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” - Matthew 11:28  There is but one who can heal. The one of whom we put our trust and say, “For we know, all things work together for good, to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” - Romans 8:28 There is but one who can save. The one of whom it is said, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” - Revelation 5:12 Through our suffering and death we cry out, “God please take this.” Death and suffering is not something we were designed for. If it were, our hearts wouldn’t break. But since sin entered this world, they’re something we must live with. Our broken hearts… The only thing that can assuage the sting is what we live for. Rather WHO we live for. Because it’s in WHO we live for that determines what we live for. As good as it may sound, we don’t live for one another. Not even our children. We must live for Jesus first. He’s the oxygen mask we must don first, in order that we may help others. God will take this. He has taken this. It’s through His Son on the Cross that we have hope of a better future; a perfect future. A life of continual joy void of suffering and hardship. The work was done when Jesus proclaimed, “‘It is finished’ and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” - John 19:30 Let us grasp hold of that truth, of that everlasting love. That while we invited imperfection and evil into our lives, He interceded with His own life as the ultimate and only worthy sacrifice. In order that the devil might be crushed and death might be forever beaten. “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:4-7

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