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, November 28, 2014

The Circle Of Fulfillment


“Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms shall be filled with pleasant and precious riches.” - Salomon - Proverbs 24:3-4

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read the Scriptures: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes”? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” - Matthew 21:42-44

Prolific: “producing offspring, young, fruit, etc., abundantly; highly fruitful” - Dictionary.com

Sitting in front of me is this year’s issue of Forbes’ special issue Billionaires Magazine. At the top is says, “The definitive guide to the richest people on earth.” There’s a banner on one side stating that included in the list are 210 new billionaires, 138 women, and a net worth of 5.4 trillion dollars. Then at the bottom is the most striking statement. “The names, the numbers and the stories behind the 1,426 people who control the world.” The list includes at least one prince, hopeful politicians, and political backers. But only three have ever been elected to any office. If the statement on the cover of the magazine holds true, that would mean that the vast majority of people controlling the world today are not elected in any sort of way. If it’s true, that would mean the world isn’t quite as democratic as we may have thought. Could that startling statement on the cover of Forbes be correct? This is what the Bible says, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” - Proverbs 22:7 The thing is, many, if not most of these billionaires earn their money. Here’s the title of Steve Forbes’ commentary in the same magazine, “They succeeded by meeting your needs.” This is how humanity works. We succeed by meeting other peoples needs. Indeed it’s how life itself works. The problem is that the definition of “Needs” is easily manipulated. It doesn’t take long to go from needing a meal to needing a limousine. Because after all, “no one wants to disappoint an important client.” We all have a tendency to exaggerate our worldly needs. I do every day. And I’m not trying to disparage billionaires or anyone else. However, I think it’s useful to know how humanity is run. It’s the circle of wealth. I’ll give you money to meet my needs, then I’ll charge someone else to meet their needs, then they do the same, and the cycle continues. To get rich we try to get paid more for meeting needs than we pay to have our needs met. And that’s not a bad thing in and of itself. However, we all have a need much greater. A need that can only be met by a Savior. He meets our needs and doesn’t charge a dime. In fact, He met our needs and paid for it with His life. The billionaires gracing the page of Forbes Magazine may control the world, but they don’t have to control you or I. The Bible says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will.” - Romans 12:2 God should be the only one that rules our hearts and minds. We were made in His image to do His work in our lives. Sometimes that looks like being President of the United States of America. Sometimes it looks like building airplanes. Sometimes it looks like Billy Graham. And sometimes it looks like a child on their knees. Whatever our lot in life is, let’s use it to do the work of God by meeting peoples needs. He met our ultimate need for freedom. Now how can we perpetuate that circle of fulfillment?

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, November 26, 2014

Focus Bigger


“Very often a change of self is needed more than a change of scene.” - A.C. Benson

But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. - Matthew 6:33

Trump: “a decisive overriding factor or final resource” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Ever argue with people who aren’t around? Ever go to bed and can’t sleep because your busy trying to prove a point to someone inside your head? Ever wished you could just have peace of mind for a little bit? Trump those arguments. Think about something greater. Sure, you may be working out an important problem in your mind. There are lots of important things to be thinking about right now. Race relations, war in the middle east, justice. Sometimes solutions to those problems come from working out little mock arguments in our minds. But sometimes we need peace. In fact, we need peace all of the time, even in the most tumultuous of times. There is peace in something bigger. We can’t solve every problem in the world. In fact we can’t solve any by ourselves. We need the help of the Creator. One of the things He’s given to remind us that He is bigger than our problems is His Word. No matter what issue we may be facing, there is a larger principle in the Bible. Open it up, see if it’s not true. Often I will open the Bible to a random spot and start reading. It’s amazing how God’s word can speak peace and instruction into life. It may not be that what we open up to is the solution to the problem we’re facing, it may be that what we open up to is a solution to a problem that is more important than ours. Either way, God’s word has a knack for shrinking our problems and bringing clarity to the issues of this world. I would bet that your experience will be different than mine. However, God has a way of showing us the way, when we make Him our guide. That’s why Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd.” - John 10:11 Proverbs 3:6 says, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Worried about money? About suffering? About a divorce? God can trump those problems. Too often we worry about little problems that can never be solved without a solution to the larger problem at the root of our issues. Maybe we’re worried about racial issues and we can’t find it in our hearts to love people we don’t know? Maybe were worried about justice while seeking revenge on someone we assume hurt us deliberately? Maybe what’s disturbing our inner peace at home is the echo of our outward anger towards our family? To every problem we face, there is usually a larger culprit that humanity can’t touch. We can make laws against violence, but we are powerless to heal every heart without the help of God. We can dictate the terms of a divorce, but our laws are useless against the wondering imaginations that so often break apart marriages. And we may be able to enact justice, but the Lord is the only source of true restitution. You see, God is the only true source of justice, peace, and love. There are much bigger problems that only He can solve. They’re the type of problems that are laid out in His word. Along with those problems are solutions. Those solutions always come with a relationship with God. It’s impossible to have Godly love without loving God. And it’s impossible to find a love for God without seeking Him. And it’s pretty hard to seek Him when we let dust gather on top of His Word. We all have problems and conflicts. We all want to find peace with them. There is a real and powerful way. It starts in His Word.

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, November 25, 2014

Fill In The Blank


“That others may live.” - USAF Pararescue Slogan

But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-every one-to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. - Isaiah 53:5-6

Slogan: “a war cry especially of a Scottish clan” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

In US Air Force Pararescue training you’ll be drowned. By drowned, I mean given a task to do underwater until you can’t hold your breath any longer, inhale water, and would die if it weren’t for your trainers rescuing you. Why? It seems so cruel. But they don’t do it to be cruel. It isn’t a pleasant experience for sure, but it isn’t to be cruel. They do it to remove a persons fear of drowning. “But we need to fear drowning to stay alive,” you might be saying to yourself. And you’re right. However, an Air Force Pararescue man or PJ can’t fear death either. They’re slogan, “That others may live,” is a sentence that purposefully leaves out the expectant subject and their action. There’s an unstated blank before the statement that begs the question, “Do what?” so that others may live. The answer is, “You fill in the blank.” And now we know the answer as to why a PJ can’t fear death. It’s because they have to be willing to be tortured and die so, “That others may live.” It’s their job and they’re proud of it. My question is this. Could we live by that slogan? By that war cry? Certainly we’re not all called to be military rescue operators, but we are called to save. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” - John 15:13 We may never have the opportunity to save a physical life, but there’s no doubt we’ll be faced with saving a spiritual life. “But how?” You may be wondering. “Will I have to pray in front of people?” “Will I have to ask people if they know the Lord?” “Will I... (state your greatest fear hear)” Maybe… That’s why it’s important to train. So that our greatest fear loses its power. Drowning is pretty high up on most people’s fear list, that’s why to be a PJ you must be drown. But as scary as drowning my be, speaking to others about Jesus may be higher on many people’s list of fears. We need to remove that fear. But how? Answer: I’m not sure. It may be different for you than for me. However, I do know this. Dirty jobs always seem much worse before you get your hands dirty. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling evangelism a dirty job. But it does take some getting used to. It requires we get involved in things we may not be comfortable with. It requires... Fill in the blank. So that others may live. So that others may have the “Peace of God which passeth all understanding.” - Philippians 4:7 So that others may see Jesus face to face. That’s evangelism and it’s something to be proud of. Not because of our own efforts and what we do, but because of who we’re serving. God and others. “That others may live.” At first glance it seems like an incomplete sentence. However, upon further inspection, it’s as complete as it needs to be. Who’s the subject? Others. What’s the action? Live. Could a sentence like that be written about our lives? And what would it take for that sentence to apply to our lives? Fill in the blank.

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, November 24, 2014

Keep Your Claws


“We can’t avoid reasoning; we can only avoid doing it well.” - Peter Kreeft, Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics

Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. - Psalms 119:105

Apologetics: “systematic argumentative discourse in defense (as of a doctrine)” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

My wife and I have a little Persian cat named Millie. As you may know, Persians don’t make very good outdoor pets. Their long fine hair makes it impossible for them to effectively groom themselves. So they get matted and dirty very easily. On top of that, it’s dangerous to let them outside because they’re often stolen. So Millie is an indoor cat, despite the fact that she loves to run and climb and try to kill things, like most other cats. The problem is her claws. Like I said, she likes to climb. But we have no trees inside our house, so couches and chairs have become her trees. It’s a constant struggle to keep her from trying to climb those “indoor trees.” We’ve even thought about having her claws removed so she can’t do any more damage. She would certainly be easier on our furniture without her claws. However, cats are made to have claws for a reason. They provide the ability to hunt, defend themselves, and escape danger. So much of what a cat is, is found in their claws. They may not need them inside, but they’ll always need them outside. And even indoor cats escape to the outside every once in a while. As Christians, many of us reside in the proverbial “indoors.” There is no danger to our lives, no challenges to be faced. We go to church and hang out with other like minded Christians. We go to work and don’t talk about our faith. We walk the streets of our cities and towns looking no different than any other person. For most of our lives we have no need to defend our beliefs. And so we often become “Declawed Christians.” Our identity is in Christ, but we have no way of defending ourselves, of sharing the Gospel, or escaping ridicule. It’s true, most of our lives will be lived unchallenged. However, we will all be challenged at some point. I want my cat to have her claws just in case the next time she tries to explore outside the house she’ll be able to escape a neighbor dog. And I want the same for you. So how do we retain our claws for Christ? And what in the world is a claw for Christ anyway? Our claws for Christ are anything that can help us defend the Gospel. Their technical term would be “Apologetics.” They consist of a knowledge and understanding of the scriptures, the ability to understand and form arguments, and the ability to think logically from the Christian standpoint. It’s important as believers to know what we believe. It’s important to have a firm foundation to our faith. And it’s important to be able to recall the sources of our spiritual identity. Many books have been written about apologetics, so it would be impossible for me to talk about everything pertaining to it here, (and I’m not really qualified). However, here’s a start. Get into God’s word. Listen to it, read it, memorize it. You’ll never know when you’ll need it. It’s not as hard as you may think. Sure there are hard parts to the Bible, but you don’t have to start there. Start with the gospels, continue with the writings of the apostles in the New Testament. God will lead you to His word if you give Him a chance. You’ll be surprised at what you can learn and how your perspective on everything can change. God is our source of life and His word is meant to be food for our souls, able to strengthen and sustain us. What’s more important however, is that it builds a relationship with Him. And it’s out of a relationship with Him that these words of Jesus can become true in our lives. “When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” - Luke 12:11-12

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, November 21, 2014

Love What You Do


“We all need a job, but if we love what we do, we’ll do a better job.” - Jack Georges (Owner of Jack Georges Inc.)

For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. - Philippians 2:13

Dictation: “the action of giving orders authoritatively or categorically.” - New Oxford American Dictionary

What can we say about a God that’s in control? 1 John 5:4-5 says, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” What kind of way is that to talk? That as Christians we overcome the world! But it’s not for us to be rulers of the world, rather, over-comers. It’s easy to fall into the temptation of control. There are more Christians on this planet than any other group. Does that mean we get to control everyone? That we get to dictate Christianity? Not at all, rather, as Christians, it gives us the opportunity to serve the entire world. In a conversation Jesus had with His disciples about authority He said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” - Matthew 20:25b-28 Our victory is not for ourselves in a way that makes us victorious. It’s a victory of Jesus’ that gives us salvation. It’s a victory of faith because of what Jesus did for us. As Christians we are to be like Christ in that we are to follow His example of servanthood. Our positions of control and power are to be used as positions of service, not dictation. We were given the greatest service ever known by Christ when He lived and died and rose again so that we can have a hope and a future. Can we continue that service? I hope so, because it is our job as Christians. It’s our job as Christians to love. And when we take that seriously, how could we not love our role as Christians. To love… It’s at the heart of Christianity, because it is the heart of 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

Thursday, November 20, 2014

All Things New


“And You’re making all things new
You are making all things new
God You’re making all things new
We are free.
You’re love never ending
You’re grace never failing
Redemption is calling us home.”
-Excerpt from the song All Things New by Elevation Worship

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. - Psalm 51:10

Steadfast: “firm in belief, determination, or adherence” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

For some, this may have been a tough week. Tough on the heart. Tough on the mind. Maybe even tough on the body. There are a lot of weeks like that. The fact is, there are a lot of months, years, even lives like that. But no matter what, He makes all things new. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” - John 14:2b-3 He also said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” - John 8:35-36 Sin has us all in captivity. It deprives us from good and depraves us to pain. It tarnishes everything and enhances nothing. There are times when it appears attractive, times when it contains excitement. However, it always brings pain. It always brings suffering. We can’t escape on our own. But we can be free of it. We can be saved. Jesus did the work. The Son set us free.  So now, whatever it is that weighs heavily on our minds. Whatever it is that holds us back. Whatever it is that guilts into shame… It’s gone. Through the power of the Cross they’re all gone. He is making all things new. He is capable of creating a pure heart. He is the source of steadfastness. I’ve often heard the phrase, “I’m too far gone for Jesus to love me.” You’ve probably heard it too. Maybe you’ve even said it. Bull s#*t. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” None of us can earn His love on our own merit. We’re all too far gone for that. If you could see inside the heart of someone who you thought never did anything wrong, you would see cancer and disease. But Jesus saves. He’s making all things new. And one day all things will be new. We’ll live in perfection. Sin will no longer bring sorrow. It will no longer bring death. It will no longer tarnish what is good. Can you imagine? All things new…

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, November 19, 2014

Under God

No Mountain, no valley
No gain or loss we know
Could keep us from Your love

No Sickness, no secret
No chain is strong enough 
To keep us from Your love
To keep us from Your love

How high?  How wide?
No matter where I am 
Healing is in your hands

How deep?  How strong?
Now by Your grace I stand
Healing is in Your hands

Our Present, our future
Our past is in Your hands
We’re covered by Your blood
We’re covered by Your blood

How high?  How wide?
No matter where I am
Healing is in Your hands

- Excerpt from the song Healing Is In Your Hands, by Christy Nockels

Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen - Ephesians 3:20-21

Palliate: “allay or moderate (fears or suspicions)” - New Oxford American Dictionary

I’ve heard it said that while visiting the grounds of Gettysburg before his address, Abraham Lincoln committed his life to Christ.  I can’t remember where I heard it, and if I could, I doubt it could be proved.  What we do know however, is that Lincoln’s faith in life was evolutionary.  What we do know, is that his faith grew.  What we do know, is that he was like all of us.  He was on a journey with the Lord.  Gettysburg was by some accounts the bloodiest battle ever fought in the western hemisphere.  And so, on November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln came to honor the dead at their memorial there.  And it’s in that speech that Lincoln by many accounts inspired our nation’s motto.  “Under God.”  It was in that speech that Lincoln stood with our nation’s founding and with God and repurposed a country to its Creator through an improvised line.  In his original draft Lincoln wrote, “We here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”  However, Lincoln strayed from what he wrote leading up to the visit and speech.  Not significantly in words or length, but profoundly in meaning.  The words he orated that day have never been forgotten and they still ring in our nations ear.  “That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom…”  And so today as we look back seven score and ten years we can be thankful for a nation that through its faults and failures has always been under God.  May we realize that, when we see the division in our midst.  May we realize that, when we see destruction.  May we realize that no matter our opinion; no matter our belief; no matter what others think of us; we are all under God.  And that in God, there is healing.  Healing from Civil War.  Healing from deep disagreements.  Healing from this world.  His is no palliation, but a healing.  No assuagement, but a cure.  He is the only cure.  Healing is in His hands.

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, November 18, 2014

Redemption's Standard


“God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but He does what is still more wonderful: He makes saints out of sinners.” - Soren Kierkegaard 

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. - Romans 10:13

Redeem: “gain or regain possession of (something) in exchange for payment” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Cancelations abound. Redemption is required. That’s the world we live in today. That’s the world we’ve lived in since Eve first ate the fruit of temptation and shared it with Adam. However, we also live in a world that has been redeemed. In the garden, God lost us, in a way, to sin. At that point the plan of salvation went into full effect. The plan to redeem us back again through the payment of Jesus’ life. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to stay redeemed? Life is full of redemption stories gone wrong. Drug addicts clean themselves up, then fall back into the life. Many find it easier to steal than to work. Over and over, they try to live an honest life, but just can’t. Relationships fall apart… We can’t do it on our own. And it’s not enough to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, then go on like nothing ever happened. Relationship is required. We need to be close. We need Jesus in our hearts. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when He is old he will not depart from it.” Isn't that what Proverbs 22:6 says? But how do we do that? It sure seems like a lot of us aren’t going the way we should. With a new baby, I find it hard to put my faith in that verse. I’m afraid I’m going to do everything I can to raise a Godly woman and that I’m going to be seen as a failure. I’m afraid that she'll fail and that people will say, “I told you so.” Standards are hard to commit to. We can never live up to them. So why have them? Why are they so important? They’re the ticket to what we need. Jesus is our Savior. Nothing could be truer. But with Him come standards. We aren’t saved based on our works. But our standards show who we belong to. There is another definition for the word Redeem, New Oxford American Dictionary says it is to, “compensate for the faults or bad aspects of (something).” We’ve been given a standard to live by. A standard laid on us by our Creator. We are reminded of it every day through the Holy Spirit. Most of us call it, our conscience. However, we all know that we can’t live up to it fully. That while we need those standards to approach the gate. We also need a redeemer. When you purchase a ticket for an event. How much is that ticket worth? A couple cents maybe? It’s worthless without a redeemer. Someone who recognizes the value of the pass that has been purchased for the opportunity to enter. For us that redeemer is Jesus. Our good works are worthless alone. We need a Redeemer to recognize their value. And so we show up at the door with a ticket that’s been washed accidentally. That’s been folded up in our back pocket. Forgotten about. Dropped in the mud and stepped all over. To anyone but Jesus, our ticket is laughable. At one point it may have been pristine. At one point the letters on it were clearly legible. At one point it wasn’t torn apart and dirty. Now, the best we can present is an illegible, musty, worthless piece of garbage. But Jesus sees it for something more. He sees it for its real value. He sees it as priceless. The standard hasn’t been met. But it’s been valued. He alone can redeem it. He alone can compensate for our faults we’ve added to the standard. We can’t redeem ourselves. We continually fail. But Jesus can! He will never fail. I’m reminded of the song Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United, “Your Grace abounds in deepest waters, Your sovereign hand will be my guide. Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, You’ve never failed and you won’t stop now.” There is something powerful about those words. That He’s never failed and He won’t stop now. And if for some reason you find yourself lined up at the door. No ticket in hand. Look to God. There will be no line at the will call. Just a question. Can I be yours? And at that point we realize the synergy and symmetry in our relationship with God. That while He is the only one that sees our true value. We must also see His. He says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in…” - Revelation 3:20a Make Jesus yours today. The door to Him must first open in our hearts. Become His. Eternity awaits through that door in our soul. So whether we’ve been serving Him our entire life, or we’ve never taken Him seriously, we can all pray the prayer of the sinner and ask Him into our lives. It’s a prayer we can and should pray continuously. Because only through Him, can we be redeemed.

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, November 17, 2014

Last Call... The Flight Of Life


“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” - John F. Kennedy

“And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” - The Apostle Peter - Acts 11:15-17

Undergird: “to form the basis or foundation of : strengthen, support” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

“Last call, boarding all rows, flight 258, service to…”
The woman’s voice was kind and gentle, the message was simple and sincere. If you don’t get on the plane now… Well, you’re not.
What was a bustling crowd of people is now an empty terminal. The plasticky snap of overhead bins closing. “Excuse me, I’m next to the window.” “Ladies and gentlemen, if I could have your attention.” The sounds of air travel constant and familiar. So is the experience. Turn off all electronic devices. Tray tables up. Seat backs in their full upright position. Seat belts securely fastened. The destinations weather and estimated time of arrival. The gentle push from the thrust of the engines. The metallic machine sounds of the landing gear lifting, their doors closing. Faith and hope in the safety of flight. Now, hopefully sleep.  
In a few hours you’ll be somewhere new. Somewhere a long way away. The possibilities, the newness, the smells and the air; they’re the hallmark of travel. At home you have a mug for everywhere you’ve visited and you’ll get one here too. But that’s not the reason you’ve come. Who knows the reason. Fun, money, friends, family… Escape? But for now…
“What would you like to drink?”
It’s amazing what can be going on at 500 miles per hour, 40,000 feet off the ground. We take it for granted. Any little bump is a disruption. We’re uncomfortable. But sometimes we’re amazed. Amazed at where we’re at. Amazed that we can be watching live television. Amazed that the internet on our phone is working just like we’re on the ground. We forget how close to tragedy we actually are.

Where I live, safety is the norm. It’s rare anything scares us real bad. It’s rare that our lives come into danger, unless we’ve done something to put them there. We don’t think about the dangers that exist in this world very often. Why should we? We hardly ever encounter them. But some do. People have been at war somewhere constantly for as long as history can be recounted. Someone is fighting and dying right now. Every once in a while we’re confronted with what life can bring and what it can take away. We’re reminded of the dangers and our blessings. But we do our best to stay away from the dangers. At least not to think about them. The little girls trafficked for sex everyday just a few miles away. The abused wife a couple doors down. The life of widows and orphans around the world. Becoming aware of them is often met with denial, anger, maybe sadness. If you’re reading this, you’re blessed. I’m blessed I get to write it. I’m blessed I have access to a platform to publish it.

The sound of metal breaks the silence.
Is the peace over? What was once so good, is it now a nightmare?
The flaps are coming down. The gear doors open and the wheels lock into their proper place. In a few minutes destination will await. Many thank Jesus for another safe flight.
Flying isn’t so easy for everyone. For some, every sound, every movement, every unknown, is the beginning of disaster. They’ve been waiting for this moment with heart racing for the entire flight. Others think it impossible for anything bad to happen. It never enters their mind. Some don’t care. And some may actually hope for the worst. To put an end to a life of hopeless misery. Every walk of life steps onto an airplane. The hopes, the futures, the entitlements. Everything. It’s a speeding tube of life in the sky. Somehow, not much different than being on the ground. Dangers, history, technology; they all are on the ground too.  It’s allegorical of a life that demands the question; “What is your destination?”

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, November 14, 2014

Be A Sermon


“Speak the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” - Often attributed to Francis of Assisi 

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. - 1 Corinthians 10:31

Servant: “a devoted and helpful follower or supporter” - New Oxford American Dictionary

After coming to the alter to give her heart to God she felt the need to speak. So she asked if she could. The evangelist was willing and the woman spoke. She spoke about the reason she gave her life to Jesus. That it wasn’t because of the preachers words that night. Not because of a life changing epiphany that evening. Not because of a piece of literature. That it was because of a servant in her house. An older woman, broken and frail from the hardships of a lifetime of hard work as a washwoman. That she was giving her heart to the Lord because this woman who, despite her hardships and position in life, never said an unkind word. Was always kind. Always loving. Never complaining. And after losing a daughter not long before, this servant woman, “Brought joy and gladness into [her] barren and empty life.” She recounted how her servant had read to her from the Bible about the hope of life after death. Offering her, “[Her] first ray of hope.” She said that, “[She] began to long for that something which made her life so beautiful.” That something was Jesus. That something is always Jesus. One of the most controversial statements in the Bible can be found in Ephesians 6:5, in which the Apostle Paul instructs slaves to, “Obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” For many years and generations this verse was used to defend slavery. But Paul wasn’t condoning slavery. He wasn’t talking to slave owners in their capacity as masters of people. He was speaking to slaves and to the ability they had. They may not have had the ability to be free. But they did have the ability to serve God. They may not have had the power to influence their masters with earthly things, but they had the ability to influence with the Godly. By simply living like followers of Christ. We’re all servants and slaves to something. There are things that control our earthly lives in very real and tangible ways. Things we don’t wield a great deal of influence over. However, we can be like that servant who brought a woman to Christ through simple kindness and love. Whether earned or not.  

* The story recounted today can be read from the book, Little Journeys Into Storyland by Reynolds and Paddock. The chapter is entitled, “Sermons We See.”

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, November 13, 2014

Can't Fake It


“I love you more than tongue can tell.” - Robin Bush * (Spoken to her father, President George H.W. Bush, shortly before she died of Leukemia as a little girl Oct. 11, 1953)

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out. “Lord Save me.” Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” - Matthew 14:30-31

Alone: “isolated and lonely” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Fake it till you make it. So many people have said it. So many do it every day. And there is in fact a little wisdom to it. Because no one is perfect and we all know it. We know better than anyone that we are not what we want to be. We know that we are not what others are looking for. So we have to fake it. And then there’ s God. Our relationship with Him. Our love for Him. And then there’s God… And we know we can’t fake it anymore. We read 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…” We see the fear in us and we realize our love isn’t perfect. And we can’t fake it anymore. Because God sees to the heart of us. We know it and we begin to fear. For a moment out there on the lake Peter’s love was perfected and he too walked on the water with Christ. But then He sank. And so we sink too. The winds and the waves of life cause fear and anxiety to rise. If only we could always have the response of Peter when we’re sinking. “Lord save me.” Because it’s with that request that Jesus reached out to Peter and reaches out to us. Ready and able to save. The power is not in us. The perfection isn’t within ourselves. If perfect love casts out fear, we realize we don't have perfect love. Because we definitely fear. But we aren’t left alone. 1 John 14:19 says “We love because He first loved us.” And with those words we are comforted, because that love doesn’t come from trying harder. It doesn’t come from faking it. We’ll never make it faking it with God. It comes, like everything else, from God. Peter’s buoyancy on that lake, the love we feel in our hearts, the outstretched arm of Jesus. They come from God. If ever we’re waining, if ever we’re doubting, if ever we’re full of fear; let God love. Just let Him love you. Let that feeling of His love wash over you. Let the tears of love fall. He loves you. He loves you with an everlasting love. He loves you more. You are not alone.

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

*  “41 A Portrait Of My Father” - George W. Bush - pg. 55

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Free


“The time is near at had which must determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves.”  George Washington

But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.  For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.  Psalm 59:16

Independence:  “showing a desire for freedom”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

What does freedom cost?  Freedom has always come at the cost of life.  Or has it?  You probably know that God told Adam and Eve that eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil would cost them there lives.  We say that God gave them the freedom to choose.  But would they have been free if they hand’t ate the fruit of that tree?  Does a kite not have freedom because of its string?  Indeed, a kite is held back by its tether.  However, we all know how long a kite could fly without being held down.  Would it be more accurate to say that independence always costs life?  While I’m writing this, millions of Americans are celebrating America’s independence.  It’s the fourth of July, Independence day.  Of course it’s something to be celebrated.  On this day we think of freedom, democracy, and heroism.  Freedom, democracy, and heroism that has spread throughout much of the world because of our Declaration of Independence.  And so we are thankful for the bravery of our forefathers and mothers.  We are thankful that they risked their lives to gain freedom for many.  What were the chances a colony like ours could militarily overthrow its empire?  Those signers of the Declaration we celebrate today knew that this colony would have to win a war against the greatest super power in the world in order for them to live.  Signing that paper was a death sentence without victory.  And so it is with us.  Life is a death sentence without the victory of Jesus.  When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and declared their independence from Him they signed our fate.  Only, we have no hope of defeating the will of God.  However, it was not God’s will that we should all die for eternity.  He had a plan for victory.  He had a plan to reconcile freedom and independence.  We all want the freedom of independence.  However, there is no such thing.  Like the kite crashes to the ground without the string, our freedom evaporates without dependence on God.  So today, as we celebrate our countries independence, let’s also celebrate our dependence.  Our dependence on the victory of Christ upon the Cross.  
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that help Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

How Deep The Fathers Love For Us
by Phillips, Craig, and Dean

The time for us all to choose between slavery and freedom is right now.  Choose the only true freedom.  The freedom found through slavery to 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

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day 2014


What does it mean to be innocent? Very often we take it to mean basically ignorant. Ignorant of war, violence, wrong… Babies are innocent because they don’t know that it’s wrong to slap. Children are innocent because they don’t have the ability to defend themselves. Civilians are innocent because they aren’t a part of the fight. But what does innocent really mean? A synonym often used is faultless. While many we refer to are indeed faultless in respect to the context we choose to describe them, in reality, no one is purely innocent. 
When it comes to war, everyone is innocent… Except the soldier. Everyone is guiltless… Except the ones who have to fight. Is that fair? I’m uncomfortable saying so many honorable young men and women lose their innocence when they swear to give their lives to protect others. It seems to me, some of the most innocent are found on the battlefield, (on either side.) Because it’s just as possible to remain guiltless fighting a battle as it is to send someone to fight for you. I’m afraid we often confuse innocence with a target. In war the innocents are the ones that can’t be targeted. Those fighting are left to lose their innocence simply by becoming a legal target. 
Let’s never forget the value of life. No matter who's life it is. In war, the people at home, the children in their beds, the mothers are indeed innocent. But the boys and girls, the men and women, the mothers and fathers on the battlefield are not somehow less innocent because of the oath they took. They willingly and knowingly took upon themselves a target for all of us at home. They too can be as innocent as anybody. Even with a weapon in their grasp.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than someone lay down his life for his friends. - Jesus - John 15:12-13 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Easy for You to Say

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” - Confucius

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. - Proverbs 1:7

Fear: “to have a reverential awe of” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

“Easy for you to say.” Ever heard that reply? I know I have. Not so much from other people, but from myself. Ever say that to yourself? “Easy for you to say.” What’s that all about? What does it mean? I’ve noticed that it’s a phrase that usually follows a word of wisdom. Something like, “You probably shouldn’t get another credit card and go farther into debt.” — “Easy for you to say, you don’t have the bills I have.” Or, “God loves you and wants you to be happy.” — “Easy for you to say, there’s nothing sad happening in your life.” The truth is, it will always be easier to say what’s right than to do what’s right. It’s always going to be easier to advise people to confine sex to marriage when we’re married. It’s always going to be easier to suggest that people give when we have the money and resources to give. It’s always going to be easier to say than to do. However, that shouldn’t stop wisdom from being said. Yes, there are times when we need to be sensitive. There are times when we need to realize that saying with words is far less important than relating through actions. Nobody will ever care what we say if we don’t also do! That’s called being a hypocrite, and no one appreciates a hypocrite. But thank goodness that it’s easier to say than to do. Because speaking is often the first step in changing our actions. “I need to be a more loving husband.” “I need so show more appreciation for what my husband does.” “I should listen better to what my parents have to say.” “I should respect my boss a little more.” “I should give more.”  All of those things are easier to say than to do. And they’re all worth doing. Maybe it’s a phrase like one of those that we need to speak into our lives. Ya, it will be easier to say than to do. But saying is just the beginning. Say it to yourself every day, every time you think of it. Maybe even write it down daily. The things we think have the power to change the way we feel. And the way we feel has the power to change the way we act. Want to change the way you act? Change the way you think. And doing that usually requires changing the way we speak to ourselves. So let’s speak to ourselves in a way that builds, in a way that corrects, in a way that rectifies. Let’s speak to ourselves in wisdom. And above all, let’s allow the source of wisdom to speak into our lives. After all, with His words God spoke life into existence. And with His words Jesus heals.

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