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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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Staying Connected


“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.” - Herman Melville

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. - Romans 12:4-5

Pococurante: “indifferent, nonchalant” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Whatever you’re doing in life, it’s worth staying connected. Connected not only to what you’re doing, but the people you’re doing it with. To be honest, I’m not a huge “team” fan. I appreciate teams and I know the power they possess by nature. But I’m just not into doing everything as a team. And not everything can be done as a team. It is nearly impossible for teams to make quick decisions. And while teams can lift the abilities of many of their members, they can also dilute the talents of some. So it’s important that we balance the use of teamwork in our lives and work and organizations. However, we should always be connected. We should know what other people think. We should be able to respond in a relevant way to the needs and questions of those around us. Working as an individual or making executive decisions does not exclude us from being a part of a process that involves other people. In fact, the more individual your work becomes, the more you need to be in tune with those things and people affected by what you do. Know them, care about them, work for them. Because no matter who or what is around us, no matter if we’re alone or one in a crowd, whatever we’re doing, we’re not doing it completely for ourselves. Even watching a stupid TV show all by ourselves in a dark room is not just for us. There are people’s jobs that depend on what kind of TV we watch. So if you’re a leader, a follower, or just jumped on a bandwagon, care about what you’re doing and how you’re connected. It makes a difference to everything. Jesus never did anything He wasn’t absolutely purposeful about. He didn’t need a disciple to give Him advice. He didn’t need help being God in any sort of way. He was and is God. But He chose to connect. He worked through people, touched people, wept… He is the King of kings and Lord of lords, but He chooses to be with you and me. He chooses to be connected, to stay in tune, and to love. He is Love, and love is what being connected is all about. It is that love that created Jesus’ need for one thing. Because He so badly wants to be connected with us, He needed help with one thing. He needed someone to kill Him. You see, it’s through our connections that we share our love. A fiery speech, a heroic act, a great achievement; they can inspire and influence, but they loose their affect without a connection. We must stay connected to show that we care. Jesus, the King of the universe does it. Can we?

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, December 30, 2014

It's Personal


“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” - James - James 1:27

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. - Galatians 4:4-7

Puissant: “having great power or influence” - New Oxford American Dictionary

“Did you even want me?”
The question struck to the soul of the man standing in front of his foster son.
“If you didn’t want me, why am I here. Just let me go!”

We all want to belong somewhere we are wanted. What good is it to be on a team who doesn’t want or need your contribution? What fun is it to be in a club that doesn’t value your company? What joy is there in be unwanted?  

But relationships grow. Wounds and hurts can heal. Love can blossom. To the foster child… You may not have been chosen. That does not mean you’re unwanted. To the adopted child… You were probably not picked by your parents. Instead you were placed by God. To everyone reading… You may not be somewhere you planned. But you’re right where God wants you.

It’s personal. It hurts to know that at one point someone you love may not have loved you. It’s not fun finding out that you were abandoned by someone who should have cared for you more than any other. It’s painful to know that this world is full of rejection and denial. But it’s so good to know that God is full of redemption and love. We have no way of choosing our destiny, our children, or our parents. However, God does. He’s personal. He cares. Maybe you’re thinking, “But what about those in need with no one to help? It doesn’t seem like God cares about them.” And the answer is personal. What have we done to help? Maybe we’re the ones to care. We won’t be able to choose the ones we care for. Maybe the group, or the category of need, but not the individuals. And they’ll have the right to ask, “Did you even care about me?” And our answer will have to be. “I didn’t even know who you were.” But God knows. He’s personal. He knows every person with every need. He knows the one who needs and deserves a drink of water. He knows the child who needs a home. He knows the runaway who needs a parent and a place to stay. And He knows our greatest need too. He knows our need to help. It will probably get personal. But that’s what being a person is all about.

“Son there will come a point when you are more than free to go. You’re right. I didn’t want you. I didn’t even know you. I didn’t pick you out or desire to be your father. But God put me on a path towards you. He put you in this home. And so whatever happened in the past. However we felt before. It was to get here. The question isn’t, ‘Did you want me?’ The question is, ‘Do you love me.’ And I love you more than…”

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, December 29, 2014

Present Love


“I cannot imagine how religious persons can live satisfied without the practice of the presence of GOD.” - Brother Lawrence

Whoever says “I know Him” but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked. - 1 John 2:4-6

Casuistry: “specious, deceptive, or oversubtle reasoning, especially in questions of morality; fallacious or dishonest application of general principles; sophistry” - Dictionary.com

The common knowledge of humanity is stupid. The common knowledge of this world often says “Christianity is real,” closely followed with, “The Bible’s not accurate.” If the Bible is not accurate than the foundation of Christianity is destroyed. Would you live in a house with no foundation? Neither would I. The common knowledge of humanity often says “Recreational drug use is ok.” While in the United States 25 percent of deaths are attributed to alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use. And if you’re thinking, “Nobody has ever died from marijuana use” right now. You must know, that is a casuist argument. While it may be true that no one has ever died of a marijuana overdose. It’s also true that many have died from drugs they took, or things they did that they would have never done without the use of marijuana. Saying that “Marijuana has never killed a person” is like saying, “In the history of the world, there has never been a motorcycle that killed a person.” We all know that motorcycles cannot kill a person all by themselves. We all know people are killed by what they do on motorcycles. But the argument goes way beyond drugs. It goes to every part of our lives. Maybe you’re repulsed by drugs, but you secretly hate your spouse. Maybe you love you kids with all your heart, but you’re throwing away the family through an affair. Or maybe... We all know the struggles we face in our own hearts. I work in the aviation industry. As you know, aviation is inherently dangerous. So we’re continually being reminded to avoid complacency. As dangerous as aviation can be, there’s something more dangerous. It’s life. Life has a 100% mortality rate. Life is going to kill us all. Is there something that will keep us in the grave? Life will kill us, but Jesus saves. Is there something separating us from His saving power? You may be angry at me right now, but I’m angry at lives being thrown away. You may claim to be a good person. Are you acting like one? I had a friend who said to me, “You can tell what kind of person someone is by what they don’t do.” What don’t we do? Is knowing God keeping us from breaking His commandments? Or are we satisfying our desires, then asking forgiveness. There’s a saying you’ve probably heard. It goes, “It’s better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.” Do we do that with God? If we do, we need to ask ourselves if we really love God. We wouldn’t do that with our husbands, wives, or kids. Why do we do it with God? God loves us, He want’s to save us, He promises to save us, if we accept His grace. Accepting that grace is a love thing. It has everything to do with love. I pray that we learn more about what it means to live like we love. There is no better way to love than to be present. I pray that we learn to be present with the things, the Thing that matters most.

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, December 24, 2014

Touch Someone

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.” - Henri Nouwen

When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. - Matthew 8:1-3

Catharsis: “a purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

There is nothing like human touch. It has the power to heal and the power to injure. It has the power to console and the power to reject. It has the power to love and the power to hate. There were times when Jesus healed through touch and a time when He punished merchants in the temple with His hands. There is a connection through touch that can’t be had anywhere else. Shaking hands, stroking backs, embracing. They all say something and mean something that can’t be carried over a phone wire or internet stream. I recently listened to a TED Talk by a doctor who advocated that physicians ought to use their hands more in their healing practices. He recalled treating AIDS patients in the 80s. He would often see patients day after day, knowing that the end was near and that there was nothing he could do but simply be there. So he touched them. He would thump there torsos listening to the percussion. He would check there vitals and feel their abdomens. He would generally examine them. Not because he was trying to find something new or thought it might heal them somehow, but because it’s what he could do. It was the only thing he could do. It may not have been medically necessary or even effective, but it was healing nonetheless. He said it was cathartic for him if for no one else. And for his patients, it meant he cared. That’s what touch means. It means caring. We don’t touch people we don’t care about. In fact, touching a stranger for no reason would be unusual and strange. But so too, it’s strange to avoid touching when it’s appropriate. The absence of a hug from a spouse coming home from work. The rejected handshake. The high five left hanging. They all speak of rejection and lack of care. The hug, the kiss, the warm clasping of hands, the exuberant high five. They speak of caring in ways that can’t be said alone. They speak the words of our heart and souls, when our mouths speak from our minds. We all know words can be conjured and smiles can be faked. But a hug, a caring touch, they tell of the heart. What’s more, they can heal the heart when words alone won’t do the job. They can lift the spirit when words aren’t up to the task. And they have the power to change the words on our minds. Hug the people you love. Shake someone’s hand when you meet them. Kiss your spouse. It makes a difference. Ask my neighbor who just lost his wife.

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, December 23, 2014

Jesus Loves You

Today I want to break from the usual format and I want to talk to you. Whoever you are. Wherever you are. There are times when I feel like I want to reach through this keyboard, through the internet and the screen on my computer and touch a heart. I have no idea who’s or where that heart may be. Maybe it’s mine. But somewhere a heart needs to be touched. And I don’t know how to do it. So I just start writing. 
There’s so much brokeness and pain in this world. So much hurt and suffering. But there’s also joy. There’s gladness and happiness worth sharing. It’s all part of our human experience. It’s all a part of living a fallen life, but being redeemed by a Savior too.
At the Cross Jesus changed it all. At the Cross all can be changed. At the Cross, the Bible says, every knee will bow. But we’re held back so often. Phoniness ruins a lot of our faithfulness. Lies destroy our trust. And pretty soon we give up. We give in. We stop being children and grow up. Or do we? Is what we call growing up actually a regression? Jesus said, “Unless you believe like a child…” 
How many of us believed in Santa as children? It’s struck me this Christmas season, what if we believed in Christ the way a four year old little girl believes in Santa. I heard a little girl at my house say the other day, “If you believe Santa is real you can hear the bells.” We all know Santa is a fictional character. As adults we’ve seen the evidence. We’ve pretended to be him to others. We know that “his” presents don’t come from a sleigh, but from a store. Sadly, as adults many of us have experienced Jesus a lot like Santa. He was so real when we were little. But as times passes, His smile dims. As times passes we hear rumors. We hear that He’s not true. As time passes. But those rumors. Those rumors are just what they are. Santa doesn’t have a Bible. Jesus does. Santa can’t stir a heart. Jesus does. Santa can’t slide down your chimney. But Jesus. Jesus won’t be coming down your chimney no, but He does desire a place in your home. He can sneak into a heart. He can leave gifts. Gifts so precious they can’t be valued. Gifts we all need. “Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of Heaven.” - Jesus - Matthew 19:14 
Bells won’t ring in your head when Jesus enters your heart. But there is a feeling. A feeling of joy and peace in a tumultuous world. Whatever it is that’s holding you back. Whatever it is that’s hurting you. Whatever it is that tamps down your faith. Let Jesus take it. There will be liars. There will be people taking advantage. There will be temptations to break the faith. But through it all. Through everything. The Cross stands as a reminder of what’s been done for you alone. Jesus died for you because He loves you. If there is one message I could give to this world. If there’s one thing I could write on my tombstone it would be, “Jesus loves you.” So today I’ll break tradition. I’ll break format. It’s just me here to say, Jesus loves you.

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

Jake

Monday, December 22, 2014

Fate Mata

“No one in our world is rubbish.” - Dr. Gary Parker

I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. - Matthew 25:40

Fate Mata: “We know you’re in there” - African saying

I have to say, it’s not always easy to write these messages. The truth is that I don’t always feel inspired. And trying to inspire while feeling uninspired is like going to work with no hands. You show up, but nothing happens. That’s why I am so thankful for God’s gift of inspiration. Inspiration through His presence. Inspiration through His Creation. And inspiration through His servants. In those moments when inspiration is lacking I love being able to pick up my Bible, my iPhone, or an old fashioned book and refuel a little bit. I’m thankful that this morning I was able to listen to the 60 Minutes podcast from this weekend and be inspired by a story about an organization called Mercy Ships. Over the last 35 years they’ve made 575 port visits and brought healing to 2.35 million people with no other hope. Many of them are outcasts from their society because of medical problems such as, cleft pallets and benign facial tumors that are considered easily solvable in the west. Many of them don’t know love because of the way they look. I’ll always remember Dr. Gary Parker saying about his patients, “The healing begins when they get acceptance based on who they are, no conditions, just, we know you’re in there.” And Nurse Ally Chandra who has stopped seeing the growths and tumors on the faces of her patients but instead sees them for who they are. She says “You find their eye and you find a way to connect with them.” The Bible contains four Gospels. It’s said that we’re the fifth, and that we are the only one many will read. So the question arises. Am I a gospel worth reading? Do I represent the Gospel of Jesus? Want inspiration? Read a Gospel. A Gospel that tells 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

Friday, December 19, 2014

True Character

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” - Marilyn Monroe

Do not conform any longer 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

Unsated: “not satiated: not satisfied” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Often, the last thing we give away is our grace and our kindness. We give of our time and our money, and whatever quantifiable thing we have. And at the same time we hold onto what matters most. Our spirit and heart. It’s easy to give a few dollars to someone in need. It’s easy to help someone move on a Saturday afternoon. It’s easy to... Those things are measurable and temporary. What’s hard is to give of ourselves. Maybe not for you. Maybe it’s harder for you to give the quantifiable things. However, for most, giving of ourselves is harder, if not impossible. Giving of ourselves is timeless. It lasts forever. It is kindness to someone we hesitate to like. It is a smile towards someone who’s wronged us. It is a good spirit when we want to be in a bad mood. It’s hard to give of ourselves, because it requires that we change our feelings. It’s possible to mow our neighbors lawn out of kindness and retain bitterness in our spirit towards them. It’s possible to change someone’s tire and resent them at the same time. It’s possible to mask our feelings, be content with our actions, and forget our spirits. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.” Notice that those are the fruit of the Holy Spirit with a capital “S.” Those are not the fruit of our spirits, the lowercase version. It’s possible to act out some of those fruits in our own spirit. But time will reveal our true identity. There is at least one of those fruits we struggle with. We’ll lose control, our temper will flare, and those fruits we worked so hard to produce will rote in a matter of milliseconds. But the fruits of the capital “S” Spirit are everlasting, and they’re not an act. When we have the Spirit in us, those outward actions are a natural byproduct. They’re the effervescence of a healthy relationship and heart with the Lord. But it requires the relinquishing of our spirit. It requires that we commit our hearts to the Holy Spirit. It requires a change on the inside. Fa├žades and masks can be swapped regularly, but interior renovations take a change of heart. We all know how to act civilized in public. But do we know how to feel civilized inside? It’s the heart that really matters. It’s what we feel that makes the most difference. It’s our spirit that bears fruit. Not when everything is going well, but when it seems like everything is falling apart. It’s after the careless fender bender, the rude comment, the negligent bump that reality shows up. We like to think of ourselves as bing pretty good, but how do we respond in those roughed up moments? Rather, who responds? Is it our often hateful, grumpy, strident, impatient, unkind, bad, unfaithful, harsh, out of control spirit? Or is it His Spirit? You may be saying, “I’m not that way, I’m kind and considerate.” I know that’s what I want to say. But is it really true?  I know I’m kind and considerate when I’m in a good mood. But it takes everything I have to put a smile on my face when my mood is lacking. And that’s not uncommon for me. Let’s lose the act. And let’s gain a life. Let’s admit our true characters. And gain true character. With His Spirit it’s not only easy to offer a helping hand, it’s also easy to offer a loving heart. With His Spirit people won’t have to deal with our bad days to get a good one. With His Spirit we can be changed, we can be renewed in our minds and our spirits. 

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, December 18, 2014

Steady


“I think the reason we sometimes have the false sense that God is so far away is because that is where we have put Him. We have kept Him at a distance, and then when we are in need and call on Him in prayer, we wonder where He is. He is exactly where we left Him.” - Ravi Zacharias 

Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the thorn a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll to to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals.” - Revelation 5:1-5

Dudgeon: “a fit or state of indignation” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Have you ever noticed how walking with a cup of liquid - almost full - is easy until you try. We walk along not even noticing, and not even spilling, until something happens. We look at the cup. Then we worry. We start trying not to spill. For every bump we compensate. Then something happens. We spill. Until that point our brain and body worked naturally together to steady the cup. However, conscious effort ruined it all. Something about seeing, thinking about, and trying to solve the problem lead to the failure. And sometimes, isn’t life a little like that? Everything seems well and good. Life is seemingly problem free. Then we take a look at it. Or perhaps something draws our attention to it. We see the potential problems. We begin to compensate for the bumps… I know it’s not a perfect example. Sometimes I spill my coffee even when I’m not paying attention. And there are times when we do need to pay attention to what we’re doing and where were heading in life. However, here’s the power of the illustration. We can’t fix the problems by paying attention to them. There are jostles and bumps and jolts we won’t be able to compensate for. And so, let’s be thankful for the steady hand of the Lord in our lives. Just as I’m thankful I have a body able to steady a cup of coffee while I climb the stairs, let’s be thankful we have a God and Savior able to steady us on the climb of life. No, we can’t control everything. We don’t have the power to change the way life is and can be. But there is one who is able to do all this. There is one who is able to see us through whatever life and death can bring. The Bible says, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” - Jude 1:24 There are things only He can do. Things we need to trust Him for. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” - Psalm 46:1b Do we believe that? Or are we still trying to solve the problems of life on our own. If so, it probably feels like life is losing control. We probably feel a step behind on everything. We’re probably living from temper to dudgeon, frayed at both ends. Let’s stop trying to keep the coffee from spilling. Let’s leave our life for Him to steady. “Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” - Psalm 55:22

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, December 17, 2014

The Source


“The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.’” - Billy Graham

I lift my eyes to the hills.
   From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
   Who made heaven and earth.
- Psalm 121:1-2

Agape: “Christian love, esp. as distinct from erotic love or emotional affection.” - New Oxford American Dictionary

The internet… Google… Wikipedia… They don’t hold the answers to our most pressing questions. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a problem, then picked up my phone to find the answer. It’s not there. The best I can find is a forum and a fight. Has that ever happened to you? And that’s with things like car problems. Things like choosing what product is best. Or finding the best Christmas gift. What about the hard problems. Like how to rebuild a relationship. Fix a marriage. Or find a friend in a new town. And what about God? Can technology solve that problem? Can a phone tell me about how much God loves me. Ask Siri and she’ll refer you to Wikipedia’s page about “Love.” Ask anyone, and the answer lies in the definition of love. I guess that’s why the Bible says in 1 John 4:8, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” And so, is that the answer? God is love. Agape? That’s certainly what God has for us. It is what He is towards us for sure. But how much? All! God is all love to us. He is the fulfillment of the verb and the noun, the adjective and the adverb. Love, love, loving, lovely. One hundred percent. He made us with love. And with love He saved us. So back to the pressing parts of life. The hard questions. The questions we can’t answer. Have we looked to God yet. I’m reminded of what Jesus said, “Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” - Matthew 7:9-11 No doubt our knowledge can answer a lot of things. A lot of quandaries and questions. But to the real hard things. The unanswerable… Have we looked to the help of our Creator? He has a way of helping that is unlike any other. He has a way of answering like no other. He has a way, because He is the Way. “I am the Way the Truth and the Life.” Jesus said in John 14:6a

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, December 16, 2014

Because Of Him

“More was lost in the war.” - Unknown (reference to WWII)

For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though He cause grief, He will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast love; for He does not afflict from His heart or grieve the children of men. - Lamentations 3:31-33

Bereft: “deprived of or lacking something, esp. a nonmaterial asset” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

In the midst of the Civil War Abraham Lincoln made the remarkable and often quoted statement, “This too shall pass.” He told the truth. Everything in this life will pass. The good and the bad. Still, we hold on to what we have for dear life. Our possessions become our normalcy. We look to them to find comfort. Maybe it’s because we’re proud of them. Maybe because we see them as accomplishments. And maybe because if we’re careful enough with them… They won’t die. But despite our tenaciousness and vigilance, we often lose our most treasured assets. “More was lost in the war.” It’s a telling answer to a common complaint. We hate to lose anything. Money, clothes, homes; their value exponentiates through our peacetime perspective. “More was lost in the war.” It tells of something more valuable. Life itself. Innocence and culture. Freedom too. The things that drive our lives in deepest ways. Loved ones, our religions, and values. These things are taken away in war too. It leaves us bereft of the things that matter most. But we all know, it is part of life as much as anything else. However, there is something more important than the things war removes. Our soul and its salvation. It’s the only part of us that can continue on and survive the death of our body. Because of it, because of Jesus; in the midst of war it becomes possible to say, “This too shall pass.” Speaking of our soul we can say in the height of death and battle, “The devil took more.” But Jesus has the power to give it back. He has the power to restore and heal. Because of Him we can say, “The devil may have taken, but he can’t keep.” Because of Him, the battle may be raging, but the war has already been won. Because of Him… That’s great news in a world filled with loss. That’s great news of hope. That’s great news… Period. 

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, December 15, 2014

Children Of God


“I have four children. Two are adopted. I forgot which two.” - Bob Constantine

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by this world. - James 1:27

Adopt: “to take by choice into a relationship; especially : to take voluntarily (a child of other parents) as one’s own child” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Over the past few years international adoption has come under fire. Adoption to many, has become a source of, and even a form of child trafficking. Many view those who adopt internationally as child collectors or crazy Christians. And no doubt there are people like that who exist, and we do have to do our best to protect the innocent of abuse. However, we also have the responsibility to help the innocent.  
Under influence of international organizations, country after developing country has shut down international adoption over the past decade, in order to prevent child trafficking. Then statistics are cited. After Guatemala shuttered its international adoptions, Ethiopia’s rose drastically. And the majority of the kids are going to the United States, to Christian families non-the-less. So what are we to believe? That Christian families are demanding children? Like colonists demanded slaves? That’s what many believe. Many refuse to see or believe that there are many Christians who respond to need.  
As waiting adoptive parents, my wife and I are not demanding an Ethiopian baby. Yes, we had trouble getting pregnant and having our own baby. But we are not demanding a child. No, we are simply responding to our situation as an opportunity to do good. To provide love and a family to children in need. To live the Gospel out to the world. We don’t get to hand pick a child. We aren’t in charge of the child’s requisition. And we don’t believe our child will be a victim.  
In all likelihood our child will have a parent left in Ethiopia. But having a living biological parent does not preclude a child from being an orphan. Most orphans around the developing world are a result of poverty, not death. And so, while we adopt with the goal of providing for an innocent and needing child, it is also our goal to provide for all of those in need. We pray for the father, the mother, the aunt or uncle, who, without means, give up their child to be adopted. We wish that there was no need. We wish that every child could come into this world in the arms of a loving family. Sadly, that’s not the case right now. It’s not the case here in the U.S. and it’s not the case in Cambodia either. There are tens of millions of orphaned and abandoned children in the world who need homes. Six million reside in Ethiopia alone. They must be cared for. Through international and domestic adoption. Through orphanages who have the ability to give them a hope and a future. Through whatever means possible.  
The fact remains, kids are given up. And some of those that are given up are abused by those who would traffic them for personal gain, or ill-will towards the innocent. As Christians it is our duty to follow Jesus. And in following Jesus, we will be opposed. Don’t let anyone convince you that adopting a child with a desire to raise them in a Christian household is tantamount to abuse or oppression. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s more important to understand heritage than to be a child of God. Heritage and culture is important. But Jesus saves. 
Some people simply don’t understand why anyone would adopt. Now that Whitney is pregnant, we are often asked if we are still planning to adopt. Of course are answer is yes! And the question is in no way offensive. But sometimes people don’t understand why we would still be adopting. They’re not bad people. They just don’t understand. Adoption is not just about parents. It never is. It’s also about the children. Whitney and I care about our adopted child just as much as our biological daughter. Although we haven’t met either yet, we look forward to providing a loving home for both. We don’t do it because we want anyone to think we’re good. And I’m not writing this so that you’ll think any differently of me. Chances are, you may think we’re mistaken in adopting. I’m writing to advocate for the innocent in need. Satan would love to eliminate all adoptions. He’d love to have everyone born into abuse and poverty. And so he fosters abuse and poverty, then blames it on those trying to do good. Corruption does exist. It’s the major reason countries are poor. But let’s not let corruption hurt more than we can help. Let’s not let evil deter us from doing God’s will. And let’s not be blinded to all the forms of ill in this world.

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

Friday, December 12, 2014

Synthetic Life

“I regret that it takes a life to lean how to live.” - Jonathan Safran Fore

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. -  Jesus - John 10:10

Life: “the sequence of physical and mental experiences that make up the existence of an individual” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

So my cat is addicted to the iPad. I don’t know if you’ve seen them, but there are games for cats to play that you can get for tablets. They feature mice and goldfish and birds that run, swim, or fly across the screen enticing any cat to try and catch them. As I’m writing this my cat is pawing at a blank screen trying to conjure a chase-able object to appear. Of course there’s nothing to catch. It doesn’t matter how long Millie plays, or how many times she claws at that same rat she will never catch anything on from an iPad. My wife and I have wondered if it’s torturous for her. If she gets depressed never catching anything. But then I wonder if it’s torturous for me when I watch TV all day? Or play on the computer all day?Or..?  We laugh at a cat chasing an object it will never catch and ignore the fact that we do the same thing. How much of our time is synthetic living? How much of our time do we spend vicariously living through a reality TV family? How much time do we spend actually getting out into what God has created, interacting with His creatures? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not casting any stones. I’m one of the entertainment industries best customers. But to come back to a question I asked a few sentences ago. Yes, it is torturous and depressing to watch TV all day. Have you ever tried it? Sometimes it’s good to relax and enjoy lazy entertainment. However, the end of the day doesn’t quite feel as good as when we’ve actually lived real life. When I’m watching TV who am I? Who are we when we’re not making a difference in the world? We’re like a tree falling when no one is around to hear. The only one affected is us. And the effect isn’t good. What’s the point of having all these talents and abilities if they lay dormant and smother in laziness. Ability without action leads to depression. Depression can’t exist in the presence of our true purpose. I’m not saying we should all throw our TVs out. I don’t plan on throwing mine away anytime soon. But if there’s something keeping us from living with purpose, it needs to be handled. If not, we’re no different than my cat trying to catch a fake mouse that can never be caught. Let’s get out there and catch some real mice. I guess Jesus threw down the gauntlet when He said to Peter and Andrew, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” - Matthew 4:19 He’s calling us all to do the same. Let’s not let it take a life to learn how to live.

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, December 11, 2014

It Falls On Him

“After all I’ve said and all I’ve done, for my own sake, it doesn’t fall on me...  It falls on You.” - Excerpts from the song Fall On Me by Adam Smouse

And He said, “Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.” - Exodus 34:10

Truant: “a person who shirks or neglects his or her duty” - Dictionary.com

We are conceived into this world innocent. Free from the damages caused by sin and depravity. The intentions of our life are still perfect. For that fleeting moment we are the beginning of what God intended us to be. We are not what we will become. Our personalities have not been shaped, influenced, or influential on our lives. Life experiences have not yet chipped away at our edges, honed our actions, or affected our thoughts. Our motivations have not been developed. Our desires have not been corrupted. And our pasts have not been tarnished. Then something happens. Life happens. Growth happens. Sin happens. Death happens. We are broken. Instead of being what God intended we become what He predicted. Our desires and actions reflect the world more accurately than they reflect our souls. Society and culture demands that we obey the norm. That we remain shattered. That we follow style and not substance. But Jesus in all His love came down to make us whole again. He picks up our pieces. Neatly stacks them. Points out to us what is real. What is true. What is worthy. We remain broken, but we have this hope that is pervasive in our hearts. A hope given on the cross. A promise of salvation and wholeness. That salvation can only come from one source. That source is Christ alone. We want to be able to fix the things we’ve broken. Repair the damage that’s been done. But we can’t. We don’t know how. And like the song says, “After all [we’ve] said, and all [we’ve] done, for [our] own sake, it doesn’t fall on us... It falls on Him.” It always falls on Him. He says come follow Me. You can’t see the path. But I know the destination. And I know the trail. I know. Come follow Me. “For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.” Christ is no truant prophet, He’s our true Savior. Let’s fall on Him. Follow Him. Let’s see what He can do.

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

Jake

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

In Whom Shall We Trust

“Faith in ourselves will guide us to final victory.” - Joseph Goebbels

Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. - Psalm 40:40

Spurious: “outwardly similar or corresponding to something without having its genuine qualities” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

In whom shall we trust? That’s a good question. One that is easily answerable on one level. That is, we can always trust in God. However, it’s much more difficult to answer on a human level. We can say that God will never let us down because we have assurance in His love, His mercy, and His Grace. We have assurance that, while we know our lives here on earth are temporary, He can save us and take us home with Him in Heaven. However, what about my job, my marriage, my house, my mentor, my pastor, my president, my..? The list could continue in perpetuity. Perhaps the greater question is this. Who hasn't let us down? The answer to that question is easy. God! That’s it! Everything, everyone, everybody else will let us down. The Nazi’s claimed that trusting in them and their values would lead to a thousand year reich. Their Reich Minister Joseph Goebbels literally wanted to replace God with the Nazi party. How well did that work? It’s laughable because we know history is littered with the failure of humanity. But before we start thinking too highly of ourselves, let’s remember, one of America’s defining pieces of literature is entitled Self Reliance. And let’s remember, the failures of humanity are at their worst when trust in humanity is at its highest. So should we simply trust someone who claims to believe in, be called by, or trusts in God? Not at all. Blind trust in anyone is never wise. We have no way of knowing for certain who is genuine, who is  spurious, or who’s character is lacking. One thing we can know however is this, those who claim to trust in the Lord will also fail. They will fail themselves and they will fail us. However, we can all be comforted by being on the same path together. There’s a reason why mountain climbers tie off to one another. It’s because they know there is a good possibility one will fall. It’s the same with humanity. We know we will fall, that’s why we all need a rope to save us. Let’s be sure we are tied off to the rope that has a sure anchor, the sure anchor of Christ. So who can we trust? We can trust in God. I wish I could tell you that there’s a magic formula to determine trustworthiness, but there’s not.  What there is however is an Anchor, a Rock, a Savior. If we join with those truly following Him, we can trust that while we will be failed and we will fail, there is a saving grace that can lift us all from failure and give us abundant life. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” - John 10:10

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, December 9, 2014

His Job


“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” - Oscar Wilde

But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8

Atonement: “the reconciliation of God and humankind through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Can I tell you about my friend Max?
Who tried everything to the max
The proud owner of a shiny sharp axe
He swung and he swung and swung
But alas little work got done

Can I tell why no work got done?
When work was to be done
It was not at his hands it could be done
It was the job of Another
A job with which only He can bother

Can I tell you this Max’s identity?
He’s no other than you and me
It’s the work of Grace you see
This work he could not do
This work we cannot do

We swing and we swing and swing
Our axes we mightily swing
But it’s on the Savior we should cling
Because at the foot of the Cross there is no fee
And at the foot of the Cross we are set free

Can I tell you who’s job this job is?
Who’s job salvation is
It is simply His
He is our Savior
And there is no other

Can I tell you what our axes do?
What their blades are laid to
The blades wielded at a job we cannot do
Why they hack and they cleave and chip away at the key
At the base of Calvary’s Tree

Now I’m talking to you and me
We need to be set free
To be saved without fee
So let’s lay our axes down and look to the Crown
It’s only in Him that eternity is found

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