The Intent of This Blog

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

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Purposely Consistent


“The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege.” - Charles Kuralt

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. - 1 Corinthians 15:58

Consistent: “marked by harmony, regularity, or steady continuity: free from variation or contradiction” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

There is definitely something to be said for consistency. It’s not always easy, being consistent, but it’s almost always easier than the alternative. And it almost always has its rewards. For years I didn’t go to church, not because I didn’t want to, but because I wasn’t consistent. I went when there was nothing else I wanted to do and when I felt like it. That equalled pretty much never. We all know how to be consistent. We consistently go to work. We consistently watch our favorite TV shows. We... But we often consistently fail at the most important things. Why? Family, Relationships, God, why aren’t we consistent in those things? Is it because there’s no paycheck involved? Is it because there’s no enjoyment involved? The answer is something we’ll have to figure out for ourselves. Too often we abuse forgiveness. Our families will forgive us for not being near. Our bosses won’t. God will forgive us for not having a relationship with Him. After all we’ve earned an entertainment break. But from God? In fact God will forgive us. And we do need to take breaks. Work is important, but so is purpose, so is relationship, so is God. What’s the point of a great job if it destroys our family? What’s the point of a relationship if we spend no time in it? What’s the point of God if we don’t need Him? The things we’re not consistent in, will become things of the past. That’s why work lasts our whole lives. We’re consistent in it. That’s why TVs are always around. We’re consistent with them. And is that why families often fail? Is that why, in a country where about 70 to 80 percent of people claim to be Christians only about 15 to 20 percent make it to church? “But I get paid for work.” Is pay the only thing that’s important? “I need time to myself.” When that time comes at the expense of someone else, is that selfish? “You don’t need to go to church to have a relationship with God.” That’s true, but do you have a relationship with God? “My husband is a jerk.” Was he a jerk when you used to spend the majority of your free time with him? I know this is harsh. And I know it may not apply to you. But it does apply to me. And maybe something I didn’t talk about applies to you. It takes purpose to be consistent. We can easily name the purpose of the things we are consistent in. What about the things we know are important but fail to be consistent at? Do we ever think of their purpose? Very few will ever remember that you never took a sick day off work. Chances are, more people will remember you for getting them sick at work. And it may be that very few people will appreciate how good a parent you were. But the most important people will. Maybe no one will care about your relationship with God. But then again. With its ability to transform the type of people we are, I think most will appreciate it. Even if they’re unaware of it. We have the ability to change lives through what we’re consistent in. However, it takes purpose. I pray that we see the purpose in the most important things in life. I pray that purpose brings consistency. And I pray that consistency brings blessing. 

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, October 30, 2014

Mountain Of God


Even  though the journey’s long
And I know the road is hard
Well, the One who’s gone before me
He will help me carry on
After all that I’ve been through
Now I realize the truth
That I must go through the valley
To stand upon the mountain of God

- Excerpt from the song Mountain of God by Third Day

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. - 2 Timothy 4:7-8

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

“Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy!”
The every-man’s twangy voice of John Denver plays over the radio.  Sunlight glinting through the windshield. The gears whirr as they creep along the narrow path slowly. This is what a Jeep is made for.
“Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry.”
It’s a bright summer day in the Pacific Northwest. Everything is still green, but a little dryer. It looks as though a small layer of dust has dulled the vegetation and by now, any native north-westerner is secretly hoping it will rain again soon. The sun is beautiful, but it’s always a shame to see the greenery fade. It seems unlikely, but by the time August rolls around many in Washington and Oregon are feeling the effects of seasonal depression. Not for the lack of sun, but for the overabundance of it.  

A thin tree branch bends then slaps her in the face after being displaced by the frame of the windshield. The top’s off laying in the garage at home. Of course it is on a day like today. Who wants any interruption between the great outdoors and the interior of a vehicle built for adventure. There’s something about being able to look down towards your feet and see the ground blur by while driving. But right now it’s slow going. The trail is narrow and winding and a little dusty.  It’s hard to say whether the destination or the adventure is more compelling. Don’t mistake anyone in a Jeep. They will reach the destination, but the adventure is just as much a motivating force. Maybe that’s why they all wave to each-other? 

By now the old John Denver tape is starting to noisily play the old standard Rocky Mountain High and the foliage is beginning to break. The terrain is beginning to steepen. The view of the top is coming into sight. This isn’t Colorado, but the lyrics still seem perfectly fitting.
“Rocky Mountain high Colorado
Rocky Mountain high...”
Finally it’s the summit. The destination has been reached. And it’s worth it. It’s doesn’t matter how old someone is here. It doesn’t matter what there name is, or who they are. This view’s for everybody. Lakes formed by rivers in canyons. The city in the distance. Home...  
The world we live in looks so different from above. Somehow we seem small when we see in perspective. Somehow this sort of perspective makes what life should be, make a little more sense. And the thought crosses a mind. What are we doing? Why are we constantly trying to conquer. We’re so small. This mountain is what matters.

Metaphors are everywhere. God created them on purpose. Definitely... He made them on purpose. We’re all on an adventure. There will be beautiful ones and muddy ones. But there’s always a destination. Mt. Zion God calls it. The summit is unlike any other. It’s view dwarfing any peak man’s ever stood upon. Upon that peak not only will we be able to see life fully, but Jesus’ arms will be wrapped around our shoulders. There will be an explanation for everything.  Maybe we’ll wonder why. Maybe we’ll just know. What matters now is the Mountain. What matters now is the Cross upon it. What matters now is that we’re on it. If you’re reading this, you’re still on the adventure with me. It’s enjoyable and it’s beautiful. Hopefully the top is down and the scenery is beautiful. But there will be tough times, times when it would be easier to turn around. However, we’re following Christ and no one can underestimate His power. It’s something we all have in common. Maybe that’s why we like to wave.

Daily Journaling Questions:
  1. How did I help someone in kindness today?
  2. What did I learnt 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, October 29, 2014

Always Compete


“If you want to win forever, always compete.” - Pete Carroll

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth 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. - 2 Timothy 4:7-8

Compete: “to strive consciously or unconsciously for an objective (as position, profit, or a prize): be in a state of rivalry” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Pete Carroll has a philosophy towards life. He brought it to the USC Trojans and now it’s with him at the Seattle Seahawks. It’s simple, “Always Compete.” On the face of it that sounds, well, not very appealing to someone who’s supposed to be, who’s called to be, who’s been instructed by Jesus Himself to be... Humble. It sort of sounds like an oxymoron to what a Christian should be. However, to always compete doesn’t mean we’re always trying to beat… someone else. Or that we’re always trying to win at someone else’s expense. Our biggest competition is not a rival at work, on the field, or in a church. Our biggest competition is always the part of us that wants to give up. That part that succumbs to temptation. That being who is after the destruction of our souls. Always compete with that part. Only through running that race as fast and as hard as we possibly can, can we become the mother, the father, the grandparent, or employee we’re truly capable of and meant to be. Even our salvation and our lives as Christians rely on a competition. That’s why Paul referred to His life and ministry as a race. That’s why he referred to his reward as a winners trophy, a crown of righteousness. God is still pushing you and me to be something more than we currently are. Can you feel it? Yes, the blood on the cross means salvation for the failures, for the imperfect, for the sinners, for all of us. We’ll never reach perfection, or any semblance of it on our own. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t strive to be the absolute best we can be. No team has ever won a championship in any sport without trying. Sure, there have been extremely talented teams who won everything they’ve attempted. But they still had to try. In some ways, the more talented teams have to struggle more. They have to struggle against laziness, against complacency, against themselves. And so it is with us. For some of us, our temptations aren’t like others. Don’t take for granted the atonement we have from Jesus. Even if we can’t find a sin we’re pre-disposed to, we still need Jesus. We still need to fight to be all that He calls us to be. In everything we do, to be the best we can be, we need to… “Always Compete.”

Daily Journaling Question:
  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, October 28, 2014

The Truth Is...


Walk blindly to the light and reach out for His had
Don’t ask any questions and don’t try to understand
Open up your mind and then open up your heart
And you will see that you and me aren’t very far apart
Cause I believe that love is the answer
I believe that love will find a way

Excerpt from the song I Believe by Blessid Union of Souls

Anyone who does not know love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8

Agape:  “Christianity  Love that is revealed in Jesus, seen as spiritual and selfless and a model for humanity.”  thefreedictionary.com 

The truth... What is it? Where does it come from? Who knows it? Just try looking it up on the internet. Truth isn't something most of us think about much. We tend to take it for granted. Probably because we rely on its existence. Many philosophize that truth is ever changing. That it's impossible to know. That the more we know the better society will become. And yet people fight over truth every day. People literally kill each other for not believing in the same truths as one another. Not one of us believes in the same truths, but we all hold our beliefs to be true unless proven false. And sometimes not even then. John 8:31-32 says, "So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in Him, 'If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.'" Then again in John 14:6, Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." Furthermore, John starts out his Gospel with a truth statement designed to lay out the source of truth. He says in John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." He goes on in verse 14 to say, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." So now, what is truth? The truth is God. How do we know it? Through a relationship with Him. Can we know every detail? Someday, when that relationship with Him is fully realized. In the mean time however, we have a problem. How do we live in truth? How do we express it? On its own that question is unanswerable, because every person's answer is going to be different. They would range from scientific based answers to solutions found in worship. All would fall short. However, since we know that God calls Himself love, we can rephrase the question to ask, "How do we live in love?" "How do we express love?" Again the answers will vary. But somehow, when truth becomes love, everything changes. Our fighting gains purpose, when it's for love. Our relationships gain meaning, when they're in love. Our lives are more fulfilled, when they express the greatest truth of love. So what can we all believe? "That love is the answer."
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, October 27, 2014

The Right Path


“Laws control the lesser man... Right conduct controls the greater one.” - Mark Twain

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good. - Titus 2:11-14

Extort: “to obtain from a person by force, intimidation, or undue or illegal power” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

“Stop!”
A tall black man, eyes blazing in contrast to his dark skin, holds his palm up toward the oncoming driver.
“Stop!”
The little white van squeaks to a stop beside the man in the road. No need to roll the window down. It’s hot and the air has stopped working more than a year ago. Naturally it’s already lowered.
“What do you want?” The driver of the little white van asks.
“Toll” is all the man standing in the sun replied.
“But this is not a toll road sir.”
“It is today.”
“This is extortion!” Came the voice from the van.
With a rev of the motor and a pitiful spin of a wheel the van rolled off into the dust.

Extortion was right. No one had placed a guard on that road. No one told this man to collect a toll. But that didn’t matter. He was there. He was demanding payment. Payment for no service rendered.  

Relief filled the van as the road guard shrank in the mirrors and the cloud of dust.  
“Too many people have paid that man.” Stated the driver.
“He’s been able to get away with it for years now.”  
“Why?” Asked one of the passengers.
“Because there’s no one to stop him. What law there is, has been corrupted by laziness and bribes.”  
“Why?”
How many “whys” can be asked until there’s no answer?  
“Because...” Was the only answer left to reply.

What happens when God leaves your life? What happens when there is no standard of conduct, or measuring stick of behavior? Why wouldn’t someone collect a toll to a road with no control? Why wouldn’t powerful gangs set up rackets to fleece the poor and powerless? Why wouldn’t people take advantage of each other for personal gain? Because of laws? Because of a government? What happens when the laws and the government become the source of mischief? Where will morality come from then?

“Kids... I want you to remember this. God is the source of law and morality. God is the center of this world. He builds up governments and He takes them away. I could have paid that man. But what would I be doing? I would simply be encouraging Him to continue in a lie. Remember the source of morality. Remember that God is always in control and that we are always to follow Him. Remember that while sometimes there are tolls on the roads we travel, the most important path is the one following Jesus. And there will never be a toll on that road, because Jesus already paid the price on the Cross.”

The vans motor rhythmically oscillated in revs as they passed over the bumps of the jungle dirt road.  

Daily Journaling Questions:
  1. How did I help someone 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, October 24, 2014

The Greatest Art


“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” - Pablo Picasso

But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. - Isaiah 64:8

Commission: “a task or matter entrusted to one as an agent for another” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

There’s no doubt, people love art. Sometimes we mock it. Sometimes we think it’s ridiculous. Sometimes we’re too cheap to see its value… And we all need it. How often do we think of art in a city park as excess spending? How often do we skip out on adding beauty to our churches and homes because of the cost? How often do we appreciate a sculpture for what it can do? Evidence shows that art, whether in the classroom or in the park, reduces crime. What’s that worth? A house becomes a home when we put a family and art in it. Many a mood has been lifted by the art relayed through a radio. I don’t think most people spend a lot of time thinking about art. But it’s always making a difference. Art is often taken for granted when it’s present and longed for in its absence. Every piece of artwork is unique. Some of those unique pieces, like your couch, or the painting you bought from Target, are replicated for sure. But each one has a unique origin. Each one was created by an artist trying to make something beautiful. And that’s the power of art. To provide beauty for our imaginations. Art can never fully satisfy our senses. It can never fully replicate reality. But it does something more powerful. It sparks our imagination. Why was that word used? Is that brushstroke purposeful or accidental? What happened after the shutter closed? The answers to those questions offer perfection. Words, brushstrokes, events, they all can become perfect. Words are too often used to hurt. Paint is often used in vain. And no event is ever perfectly happy. But they can be in our imaginations. That’s why the most loved pieces of art leave plenty of room for imagination. Because all art is finished in the imagination. All human art that is. Art longs for perfection either explicit or implicitly. It often points towards degradation to stir the desire for something better. At other times it points straight to perfection. We live in a world of art. Every tree and shrub, every plant and animal, every song and chord, point to a creator and an artist. Our pictures, our paintings and portraits, our sculptures, our books and songs, are all trying to capture a little of the magic in the original piece, creation. It’s been tattered and torn, worn and ragged. But it’s still better than anything we can do. Its Artist, its Creator is the same as ours. And we are a part of it too. God loves beauty. He created it. God loves the beautiful. He commissions it. God loves. He requires it. And that’s what art is, really. It’s love in the eye of the beholder. In the ear of the listener. On the tongue of the taster. Love can come in words on paper, paint on canvas, clay in abstract, food on a plate... Thank God for the love in art. Thank God that He chose to give us art to love. And to love us through it too. We are blessed to live in a world of art. We are all blessed to be a piece of art. Like any great painting, we aren’t perfect. But we’re not finished either. We’re a piece in progress. But our Van Gogh is not dead. Our Creator still lives. Unlike any form of art we can create, God created us with the ability to transform. We have the ability to smear the ink. To add splotches and mistakes. Imperfections we can’t remove. But if our life were a script it would read like the greatest piece of poetry or pros ever written. Because it contains the beauty of redemption. It contains the inspiration of forgiveness. It contains the heart breaking of the Cross and the joy of salvation. Because of this greatest of works, we have a hope. Close shutter.

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, October 23, 2014

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus


Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful Face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
- Excerpt from the song Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus by Helen H. Lemmel

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:1-2

Envisage: “to view or regard in a certain way” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary  

Tradition... The following of a template in an activity. Trick-Or-Treat, Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas presents. Church? People in many ways were designed to follow. Along that line of followers are leaders, preachers, and traditions; only to name a few. All of the characters in that line are following something. Maybe it’s the person in front, the horizon, a tradition, or all of the above. And we get led astray. We go down the wrong paths. We miss our goals. All in the attempt to follow something we envisage as worthwhile. There is nothing wrong with following a tradition in itself. There is nothing wrong with following a leader at work, or a pastor at church. There’s nothing wrong with following, as long as it never takes our eyes off of the Good Shepherd. Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd. I know My own and My own know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” - John 10:14-15 Humanity will lead you in the wrong direction. Your boss at work will be wrong. Your pastor will be wrong. I will be wrong. It’s not that we disregard all respect for the leaders and influences in our lives, but that they need to be placed in their proper perspective. If another person ever asks for your ultimate trust, run the other way. If a tradition requires undivided attention, break it. We all know that every human venture fails. We try our best to be right and to get better, but we’re not and never will be perfect. And so everything we do is wrought full of mistakes. And so to give our trust and allegiance to a mistake prone entity is foolish. We’re bound to be disappointed and disenfranchised, and they’re guaranteed to be set up for failure. But somehow the failures of humanity shrink when they’re put into perspective, when they’re put in their proper place. Because it doesn’t matter if my pastor was wrong last week, because Jesus still saves. It doesn’t matter if the President was wrong, because Jesus still saves. It doesn’t matter... Jesus saves! Do mistakes matter? Is corruption wrong? Are faults damaging? Yes, of course. But how much can this world hurt me when Jesus has already saved me? How much can this world hurt you, when you’re in the fold of Jesus. Pain, ridicule, disappointment. They’re all gonna hurt. But there’s something greater. Something that can assuage the impact of our setbacks, pains, and fears. Simply put, He’s Jesus 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?
Thanks for reading,

Jake

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Because He Lives

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” - Martin Luther

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” - Acts 13:2

Alacrity: “promptness in response; cheerful readiness” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

In the past I’ve written that satisfaction is what life is all about. On the face of it, that statement seems true. What is the point of life if its not satisfying? But dig a little deeper and its meaning seems to crumble. What if my purpose is to be persecuted for Christ? That doesn't seem like it would be satisfying. However, dig a little deeper and it begins to be truer and truer. Because of one truth. What matters most is God. He created us. He's in control. And He has a purpose for everything. With that purpose, in His gentleness, He throws in satisfaction. Do you think the apostle Peter was satisfied while being crucified upside down? Do you think the apostle Paul was satisfied as he was martyred for Christ? Yes! They probably weren't completely satisfied with their bodily predicament, but I'm confident they were satisfied with their lives and their relationship with the One who matters most. Why? Because God has the ability to grant satisfaction in the worst circumstances. Because with Him there is something that can shine a light on any situation. That thing is HOPE! Hope is His supernatural, proverbial, "light at the end of the tunnel." Hope is His source of peace. Hope is the driving force that sustains life. I heard pastor Rick Warren say this once, and I believe it. He said, "You can live 40 days without food, you can live three days without water, eight minutes without air, but you can't live a second without hope." I'm reminded of the hymn Because He Lives in which it states, "Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, because He lives, all fear is gone, because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living, just because He lives." Life is certainly worth living because He lives. He's our hope and our salvation. He lives and we can live because of that. That's why what matters most is God. And He's why life can be about satisfaction. 

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, October 21, 2014

The Prosperity Gospel

“I look forward to a great future for America, a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose.” - John F. Kennedy

Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless. - Ecclesiastes 5:10

Prosper: “to become strong and flourishing” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Ever heard of the prosperity gospel? It often gets a bad name because people claim that it’s all about asking Jesus for stuff and Him giving it. I’m not sure that’s what the prosperity gospel is all about. I do know however that Jesus is able to give us the greatest prosperity we could ever imagine. I don’t blame Joel Osteen for preaching happiness and joy. It’s what he does. Is there anything wrong with teaching that there is happiness, or joy, in following Christ? I don’t think so. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to defend or prosecute anybody. I can’t get into the hearts of prosperity teachers and see if they are humble in spirit or if they actually believe God will grant us whatever we desire. What I can do is read God’s Word and listen to what He says and see what He has done. Many of God’s servants were more prosperous than anyone reading this. Many of them, God says, He personally blessed with wealth because they chose to serve Him. And many of them also suffered for their service as well. There’s one common denominator among all of them. That is, they loved the Lord and served Him. For some that means wealth, for others sadness, but for all there is joy. I’ve heard it said that the day the Forbes Magazine top 50 wealthiest people list comes out is a rough one for some. The funny thing about that list is that it’s depressing. Not for the average person reading it but, oddly enough, for some of the people on the list. Do you know how much money you have to have to be on that list? No one could spend it all. But for the guy or gal who lost a spot, $35 billion isn’t enough. But before we get all judgmental and high on our horse, let’s see the ways we’re the same. If you are a fellow American, you’re one of the richest people in the world. To someone who makes a dollar a day and eats rice for every meal (like the majority of the world’s population), worrying about the kind of car you drive is just as stupefying as worrying about your wealth ranking. God provides...  He provides us with what we need. He can bless us with much more. He should be all we need. If we’re blessed with wealth; praise the Lord. If we’re scraping by; praise the Lord. If the worst has just happened; He is there when we’re ready to be comforted. Prosperity. Wealth. Joy. They’re all from the Lord. They can all be a curse or a blessing. That’s largely up to you and me. It depends on how we use the things we have. If we view everything we have as strictly for our use, I guarantee they will turn into a curse. But if we give out of lack, I guarantee we will be blessed. If with nothing more than a smile. And that’s really the pinnacle of the prosperity gospel isn’t it? To have a smile. I can’t help but think of Paul and Silas in prison, in stocks none-the-less. What did they do? They sang joyfully. What happened? They were set free. That to me is the prosperity gospel. It’s not God giving us everything we desire, but Him giving us everything we want. That is simply joy. And joy is something God can use. Can you imagine walking up to a person with a horrible frown, and upon asking what’s wrong, they simply respond, “I was just thinking about Jesus.” No! More often than not the love of Jesus looks something like this. “You’re going through so much, can I ask how you’re able to smile so much.”
“Oh, I was just thinking about Jesus.”
That’s the prosperity gospel. That’s what Jesus can do. There’s wealth and wisdom in that. There’s strength and restraint in that. And there’s power in purpose through that. Praise the Lord!

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

Jake

Monday, October 20, 2014

Life Desiccant


“Satan is not afraid of your words, but he is afraid of God’s Word.” - Rick Warren

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. - Ephesians 6:12-13

Insidious: “developing so gradually as to be well established before becoming apparent” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

With all its qualities, water has a problem. It has a few problems, but we’ll focus on one of them for now. It’s actually not necessarily a problem at all. It’s only a problem to us who have to deal with it. Water corrodes. It aides in the oxidation and decay of just about anything. It causes the metal on our houses and cars to rust. It causes wood to rot. And it makes our skin super wrinkly when we spend too much time in a hot tub. Ok, so that’s not a huge problem, but still... Speaking of water, kinda, have you ever noticed those stupid little packs of mystery in our bottles of pills? I hate them because they seem to be the only thing that wants to readily come out of the bottle when I’m simply trying to get a vitamin. Those packs are something called desiccant. They’re made to absorb the moisture in the air around them so that the pills or vitamins they protect stay dry and ready for consumption. In fact, most valuable items that are stored in containers are packed with desiccant to fight corrosion caused by moisture. Our lives aren’t much more different. Our minds, our spirits, and our souls can be corroded. Not by moisture of course, but by everyday life. The old adage, “You are who you associate with,” is true. Hang out in a gang? You’re going to be a gang member. Party with alcoholics? Chances are you’ll drink too much too. Associate with people who swear a lot? It will be hard to keep a clean mouth. What we collude with will collude with us. However, it’s impossible to completely segregate ourselves from all harmful influences. In fact, that’s not what we are called to do. Therefore, we need a desiccant in our lives to protect us from the things that would destroy our lives. The question is, what can serve as a life desiccant? There is only one thing... That is God. Spend time in prayer and meditation with Him. Spend time in His word. And spend time with His people. These things help to re-orientate our lives towards Him. Prayer helps us realize that we are mortal and weak. Meditation can clear our mind of distractions to focus on Him. His word teaches us what is right and true. And fellowship encourages us to keep going; that we aren’t alone in our struggles. Of course there are a myriad of ways to add God into our lives. The important thing is to add God into our lives. He is able to protect our minds, our hearts, and our actions. He is the desiccant able to preserve and save our souls from the insidiousness and corrosion of sin and temptation. “The Lord is good to those who wait on Him, to the soul who seeks Him.” - Lamentations 3:25 Let’s wait on Him. Let’s seek Him. Tired of being tarnished by this world? Let’s see what God can do in our lives.

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, October 17, 2014

Keep Going!

“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” - Mother Teresa

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. - James 1:2-8

Digress: “to turn aside especially from the main subject of attention or course of argument” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

So what about faith? If you don’t think it will take faith to have a relationship with God, you’re in for an unpleasant surprise at some coming point. Faith is a key element in our spiritual lives. No, it’s not always active to its highest extent, but it always needs to be available. It’s in those times when there is no doubt, when God seems like He’s sitting right beside you, when nothing could rock our belief that we need to strengthen our faith all the more. If you have an active relationship with God, you know He has a purpose in and for your life. That purpose will be tested. And it is faith that keeps us strong during the testing. No matter what, keep going. For  years now I have been writing the Daily Self Growth Journal. It’s possible that for years you’ve read this blog almost every day. I’m here to tell you, there have been many days when I didn’t want to write. There have been many days when I felt like a phony because I wasn’t feeling what I was writing. There have been many days when I’ve felt like a complete failure. Keep going. In faith I’ve known God has a purpose for my life, for my writing. In faith I wrote happy messages in the worst moods because of that one person whom it may influence. Keep going. If there’s anything I’ve learned from following Jesus it’s that. There can never be a break through without chipping away at the wall that’s holding us back. We all have walls that hold us back, and we’d all love to have a proverbial wrecking ball to knock them down. However, it’s often the case that our wall busting toolshed seems woefully inadequate. Get out whatever there is and start chipping. Maybe it’s a carpenters hammer, a mechanics wrench, a bicycle, or even a pen. That wall needs to come down. It will take work. Keep going. Often the work will be joyful. Sometimes it will seem pointless. At times we’ll wonder if what’s on the other side is attainable, or even worth the effort. Look up. I think you’ll see in the distance a cross. A cross that makes all the difference. A cross that makes all the struggles and tears worth the effort. What’s behind us will never motivate us all the way. Rather, it’s what’s before us that will draw us ever farther down the road to Him. Hell and consequence can never dissuade our hearts from sin, it’s the Gospel earned on the Cross that assuages our temptations and calls us to keep going. And it’s through faith that we hear the Words of Jesus calling our names. Keep going!

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

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Start Broken

After all You are constant
After all You are only good
After all You are sovereign
Not for a moment will You forsake me
Not for a moment will You forsake me
- Excerpt from the song Not For A Moment by Meredith Andrews

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. - Psalm 23:1

Sovereign: “an acknowledged leader” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Sometimes I wonder how people do it? How people commit their lives to a service and don’t turn back? What’s in them that makes the difference? Through discouragement and despair they must keep going. But how? Through sorrow and pain they forge ahead. But how? Through it all they remain faithful. But How..? And then it occurs to me. They’ve already given their all. Out of the abundance of their heart they’ve given all. But not to a service. Not to a person. Not to a need. No, they started in need. Then gave. They do not break easily because they’ve already been broken. Broken by the Spirit of God. They’ve been broken, but a new strength is instilled in them. A strength that can face any challenge. So if today, you’re wondering how you’ll make it through. If today, you don’t see the strength in you to carry on. If today… Fall at the feet of Jesus to be broken anew. Give God your tears and your heart. Give Him everything you have. Give Him your strength too. Because it’s only through Him that we can ever receive a new and a greater strength. Our pride, our weakness we call strength, our humanity; they must be broken. A rider cannot go far on a horse that is not broken. And God cannot show His strength through a soul unwilling to yield. Want strength for today? Want to make a difference? Want to meet a need? Start on your knees. Start bowed down. Start broken… At the feet of 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

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Between The Yin And The Yang


“The battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.” - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. - Romans 12:21

Pernicious: “highly injurious or destructive: deadly” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

What lies between the Yin and the Yang? Between the tear drop shapes that curve around each other to fit neatly into a perfect circle? It’s clear that good and evil exist in the world. We’ve seen their effects throughout history. And we’re affected by just the thought of them. We’d like to make them black and white and identify one from the other with clarity. Indeed they are easily distinguishable. However separating them is a challenge to which we’re not up to the task. We long to destroy evil and live in a world where only good exists. But it’s not possible for us. So there lies good and evil. It doesn’t matter what shape you draw them to be. The fact remains, they exist. But what do we separate them by. A line, a border, a wall? Tears... It’s the longing for good when evil touches that produces our tears and sorrow. When a loved one dies. When a treasure is lost. When pain is perceived. We can build walls and gates to separate places and objects, but there is no barrier that protects the good from bad. And nothing can hinder the view of good from bad. While we suffer the effects of sin we realize what could be. No more death.  No more sorrow or pain. And while we rejoice in good we are continually drug back to evil. In the space between there is suffering and strife. But the gospel proclaims a way out. A way of escape from the continuous circle of good and bad. Jesus promises a place of only good. A place where tears no longer form the boundary between good and evil, but a clear distinguishable wall bars evil from ever affecting good again. What a place that will be! To no longer struggle with death. To no longer struggle with temptation. To no longer kill to eat. A place where love has conquered hate entirely. What a place that will be! We look forward to that place where sin is no longer pernicious. However, we know that we still live in a world of good and evil. We must live with it, but we must not be conformed or conquered by it. It’s only through love that we can overcome evil and it’s effects. It’s with love that we can say to death, “Where is your sting.” It’s with the love of the Gospel, the love of Christ, that we know hate will be conquered by love, evil by good, and struggle by peace. What a place that will be!

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

Jake

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Where's The Power?


There is power, power
Wonder working power
In the precious blood of the Lamb
- Excerpt from the song Power In The Blood by Lewis E. Jones

“Never allow a person to tell you no, who doesn’t have the power to say yes.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

Eminence: “a position of prominence or superiority” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Recently I saw a video of a cat playing in a bathtub full of water. It’s not unusual to see videos like that anymore. But it is unusual for cats to like water. I guess that’s really what makes videos of cats in water all the more popular. But just in case, I thought I would see if my cat liked water too. Nope! We filled the bathtub with water. Not too hot, not too cold. Not too deep, but not too shallow either. Nothing we could do could get our cat to like a bath of water. Everyone knows that cats don’t like water. Well, most of them anyway. It’s a very unusual cat that likes a bath or a good swim. No matter how bad they need to be cleaned. And isn’t it kinda like that with us at times? Isn’t there something good for us that we just can’t handle. The thought of brussels sprouts to most six year olds is nauseating. Working out just doesn’t sound appealing to many 35 year olds. And how many times do we have to be reminded before we finally get busy on that task we’ve been putting off? There are so many things that just don’t seem appealing. No matter how good we know they are. They’re different for everybody. We all have strengths and weaknesses. However, no one is perfect. No one likes to do everything they know they should. No one has it all put together. Fortunately our salvation, our relationship with God, isn’t determined by how well we’re doing. Some people like going to church. Some are literally afraid of crowds. And while it’s a good thing, we’re not saved by going to church. Some people like to pray. Some people have no idea what they could say to a perfect God who knows everything. We’re not saved by praying either. Some people love to read the Bible. Others have trouble understanding it. The Bible alone can’t save. Only Jesus can save. He came to die for everyone who would accept His sacrifice. Not just the people who like to go to church, who feel fulfilled in prayer, who love His Word. Everyone! Everyone who’s made a mistake. Everyone who thinks they’re perfect. Everyone who can’t stand religion. That’s the power in the blood. That power has the ability to change. It has the ability to heal. And it’s the only thing with the ability to save. Lewis E. Jones starts his famous hymn Power In The Blood, this way. “Would you be free from your burden of sin? There’s power in the blood, power in the blood; would you over evil a victory win? There’s wonderful power in the blood.” The power is not with us. It’s not in the church. It’s not in the Bible or on our knees. While those things are all good. And a life lived for Christ will have those things more often than not. The power is eminently in the blood.

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, October 13, 2014

The Preternatural

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’” - Erma Bombeck

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. - 1 Peter 4:10

Preternatural: “exceeding what is natural or regular” - Merriam-Webster Dictioanry

To the athlete, what is your goal in life? To the aspiring writer, what is you purpose? To the person who sees themselves as normal and ordinary, what is your calling? I’ve always been bothered by the reference to people as ordinary. I’ve always thought that all people at least have the capability of being extraordinary. We all have extraordinary abilities lying inside us. Chances are, right now your brain went from being in awe of a particular individuals unmistakeable extraordinary abilities to identifying someone who seemingly couldn’t possibly be extraordinary, to trying to see that extraordinary gift in yourself and or someone you love. We all continually make judgements. We naturally try to classify. At the ends of the spectrum we classify people as criminals or saints, rich or poor, mean or kind, smart or dumb. And in the middle is the majority. In the middle is the ordinary person. Neither criminal nor saint, rich or poor. Capable of being both mean and kind, and both mart and dumb. Sadly, we too often relegate ourselves to the ordinary. Avoiding the publicity and risk of standing out, we choose to join and follow. There is a time and place to follow. It’s said that to lead you have to know how to follow. However, there is also a time to lead. A time to show off your God given ability and say no to the path that’s clearly heading over that cliff. We’ve all seen it. We all know what it’s like to follow a leader; seeing full well that we’re heading in the wrong direction. We all know what it’s like to be too self-conscious to correct an error. Many have lost their lives simply because they were too embarrassed to go public with their fears. How do we change that? How do we muster the courage to show off the extraordinary person inside? We travel the path God desires for our lives. That path is to Him. He is the goal we should all have. Whether we’re building homes, driving truck, or using our athleticism. It’s on the path towards that ultimate goal that we’re given purpose. God may have given you the ability to be the best wide receiver the NFL has ever known, but that isn’t your purpose. He may have given you the ability to capture hearts and minds through story, but that’s not your purpose. He may have given you the ability to argue a case in court better than anyone you’ve ever known, but that’s not your purpose. His purpose is so much more. His purpose for our lives is to be a reflection of Him. He calls us to be like Peter, to be fishers of men. That means using our talents and abilities. But not for ourselves. That means using our talents and abilities for Him. We aren’t all gifted athletes, or writers, or builders; but we all have what it takes to be all-stars for the highest calling. I guarantee God put it in you.  And if God put something in you, who can call you ordinary? No, you’re extraordinary. You’re just what this world needs. You have the ability to be a tool in the hand of the Ultimate Craftsman. It’s in responding to His calling, in following the path towards Him, that we become truly extraordinary. He wants us all to be preternatural people for 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,