Cognizant Of Creation

We're all part of creation

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” – Dale Carnegie

But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? – Job 12:7-9

Cognizant: “knowledge of something especially through personal experience” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary

What’s a better alarm clock than a morning in nature? The cool light, the birds sweetly chirping, the smell of fresh air. And what’s better to relax us than an evening in creation? The warmth of a sunset, the soft cooing of a dove, the world going to sleep. For some of us it’s been a while since we’ve experienced the beauty of nature. Some of us have no desire to experience it. However, we all need it. Whether we enjoy it or not, nature is a requirement for survival. Many of us separate ourselves from it, sometimes for good reason. Most humans have moved past the need to “survive” in the elements. We’ve built societies and cultures that protect us from having to “rough it,” in the outdoors. God made us to do that. However, we could all do ourselves good by appreciating what God has created. We’re a part of it. In fact, we were made to be in charge of it. Too often people argue about how to handle creation simply because of political differences. To hear some talk, you would think that half the people would love nothing more but to destroy every tree, bird, and plant on the face of the earth. And to hear those people talk, you would think that the other half would love nothing more than to destroy most of humanity in an effort to save a couple fish. I don’t think there are very many people who want nature or humanity destroyed. However, we could all use being a little more cognizant of the value of creation. That includes the wilds of nature and the civilizations of cities. We were made to be stewards of God’s creation. And that’s what we should be. Let’s not let our dislike of another person’s political views prevent us from doing what is right. But let’s not let our efforts to do the right thing give us a superiority complex either. Humanity is still learning how nature works. Can we reduce our footprint in the world? Maybe. Probably. But the simple act of living produces a footprint. And sometimes that footprint isn’t a bad thing. In everything we do, we should be trying to join our footprint with the footprint of Jesus. After all, He’s the One who loved us enough to create everything we know. He’s the One who created footprints in the first place.

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

A Bad Deal

Are you trusting Jesus

“This I know, that God is for me.” – King David – Psalm 56:9b

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. – Proverbs 16:9

Pang: “a sudden sharp pain or painful emotion:” – New Oxford American Dictionary

“In order to be successful you must learn to be self-reliant.” “It’s not about how many times you fall, it’s about how many times you get back up.” “If you get bucked off, get back on that horse.” These are some hallowed creeds of american ideology. They say, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” They speak of ownership. They speak to individual power. To the ability in us. And we have ability. I agree with them. But then again. They’re completely wrong to most of us. And so they stop being affective sayings and simply become discouraging rhetoric. They’re not genuine to the average person. Because there is something more needed. We need something more than just ourselves. Yes we have power in us, but that power is not of us or from us. The power we have is bestowed on us. And we have it for a reason. That reason may be unknown right now. But when we follow the One who gives us strength and courage and ability; that reason will be fulfilled. It’s a hope we have. A hope of something greater. As you watch a toddler learn to walk then run, you will watch a human being get hurt and get back up again. If you were to watch a young man peddling his bicycle with all he has, you’d be watching a boy dreaming of riding a motorcycle as a man. When you observe the care a little girl puts into her party with tea, you’re watching a person dreaming of becoming a woman. We all want growth. We all need growth. We all feel the pangs for growth. And we all want to take that step forward into being more than what we are now. We were built for it. But we don’t have the power. We can’t make ourselves grow any more than we can change the color of our skin. But it happens doesn’t it? We do grow. And if the sun hits us just right, the color of our skin changes too. But the power is not in us. It’s in the One who created us. We can eat the right things. We can lay under the sun. But God is the one who makes it work. He’s the one that designed our bodies to use the energy we put in. He’s the one who gave us sunlight and melanin. He’s the one who provides the very air we breath. But too often we place all the weight on our shoulders. We make or dream up ourselves to be the captains of our destiny. But God propels the ship. Jesus floats the boat. His love uplifts life itself. Are we willing to trust in Him? Are we willing to do what we need but rely on His doing? This is His creation we live in. It’s His love we live for. It’s Christ’s death we’ll live because. It’s not about you. It’s about the one who LOVES you. Do you believe that? Trust me, it’s a better deal than what we’ve been sold.

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

What You’re Made For

Is there something holding you bakc

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

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, – Genesis 12:1-4a

Endemic: “restricted or peculiar to a locality or region” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary

If you were to go to a major aquatic entertainment center to watch the whales and dolphins jump around and do tricks, you would be watching animals that most likely were born and raised in captivity. 12,000 pound Killer Whales swim around in a tank the size of a large swimming pool for decades. And while they’re beautiful, and they stick their tongues out at you, and they do tricks, they have no idea. Those whales have no idea the world they were created for. They have no idea that they were meant to swim hundreds of miles a day, and that their swimming should actually get them somewhere. They have no idea the problem solving their brains were meant for. They have no idea the family they were meant for. That they were meant to stay by their mothers for the majority of their lives until she died. That their brain capacity for love and family probably exceeds that of their human trainers. They know the tank. They know that the proper jump, the proper wave, the proper action will get them a couple fish. We are not whales, but can you see yourself in the life of a Sea World Orca? Do you live a life of endemic captivity? Are we living up to our life’s capacity? Just a question…

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

Accept Joy Today

The light the joy is jesus“Joy is the serious business of heaven.” – C.S. Lewis

You make known to me the path of life;
in Your presence there is fullness of joy;
at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
– Psalm 16:11

Beatitude: “a state of utmost bliss” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary

In an interview on 60 Minutes years before his death, Philipp Seymour Hoffman said, “The best you’ll ever feel is when you’ve done a good job.” Stop for a second and think of the implications. Really. Just stop and think about them. What happens when you can’t do a good job? What happens when life limits your ability to do much of anything? And have you ever done a really really good job? I mean a perfect job? There are a lot of perfectionists in this world, but no perfects. That’s probably why most people don’t like perfectionists. They’re serial hypocrites. But we all are, aren’t we? How many times have I said that no one is perfect? A ton right? So I don’t have to say it again. You already knew anyway. In light of our failure, how happy can we be, when happiness depends on our doing good? It’s a beautiful quote from Mr. Hoffman, a quote of an artist. And I know what he means. I don’t want to disagree with him, because I do know where he’s coming from. Doing good makes us happy. It’s what we were designed for, and following our design makes us inherently happy. However, we’re fallen. Doing good will never satisfy in this life again, because we can’t do the good we’re meant for. We can make a difference. We can be significant. We can help. But good… I mean perfect good. We just can’t do it. And so when happiness depends on us, when it depends on what we do, it will remain mysteriously aloof, like the end of a rainbow. Who knows where we can overtake it. It slips like a stream through our grasp. So where can we find happiness? A happiness that satisfies like no other? Certainly not in or from us. We’ve tried. And we may have found some. But the pinnacle?  Joy. Where is it found? It’s found in Jesus. It’s found when we surrender to Him and let His Spirit fill our hearts. I once said I would never use the word “joy” outside of the context of Jesus, because joy is something different than mere human happiness. It’s the happiness we receive from God. Happiness we can have in a prison cell or a penthouse sweet. JOY… It doesn’t depend on us, rather we depend on it. The good news is that it’s completely free of charge. It’s something our Creator desires for all of us. It’s not the result of something we do, rather what we do results from it. It’s a gift of God for simply being. However, it does take something. It takes acceptance. Do you accept it? Accept joy today.

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

Strength In Happiness

Let Happiness Surprise You

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

What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil – this is God’s gift to man. – Ecclesiastes 3:9-13

Define: “to fix or mark the limits of” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary

In Ron Howard’s movie Rush, the character of Niki Lauda said something that I found fascinating. While enjoying a serene moment of happiness on a lake somewhere beautiful, with a far off look in his eye he says to his new wife in effect, “Happiness is the enemy because it weakens you, it gives you something to lose.” Then she responds with an equally fascinating way, she says, “If you believe happiness is the enemy, you’ve already lost.” Admittedly these quotes are paraphrases of the movie, but their meaning and impact remain. What does it mean to win? What does it mean to lose? What is happiness and where is it’s value in a world of winning and losing? Philosophers have attempted to define happiness for centuries. We all know it when we see it, but defining it is something different. What causes happiness? What makes it go away? Why are some people happy and some not, when their circumstances are the same? You’ve probably heard it said that happiness is a choice. And while it sounds inspiring, it’s not really true. Joy maybe, but not happiness. One can be joyful and sad. We can even be joyful at the prospect of death at times. But happiness is something different. Some people demand it and blame others when they don’t have it. Some people have it, even when others try to take it away. And some people fake it and we’re surprised to hear of their depression. Is it something we can gain and lose on our power? Certainly we can choose to accept or deny it for our lives, but then acceptance requires an offering. We’ve all been offered happiness. There are times of unhappiness we will all have to bear. There are diseases and chemical imbalances that we will have to medicate and cure. There is depression we’ll have to counsel, and evil we’ll need to prevent. We’ll always live with those things. But there too will also be sunsets and rises. There will be new life to celebrate and memories to cherish. There will be parties and dances with lovers. There will always be sources of happiness. God wants us to enjoy them, to find happiness in them. We don’t live in a stagnant life. One where we’re born live and die, the end. We live in an eternity. The happiness of our lives now is just a glimpse at what is to come. And what is to come is a gift as well. A gift we should look forward to with happiness. A gift we can all enjoy. A gift we must accept to see. May we happily accept Jesus’ gift from the Cross. A gift that cannot be defined.

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

Risky Reward

Everything Great takes a risk“Gravity never accepts excuses, and if you mess up, gravity is not going to care.” – Jim Collins (author of Good to Great and great rock climber speaking on climbing)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. – Romans 1:16

Risk Averse: “A risk averse investor is an investor who prefers lower returns with known risks rather than higher returns with unknown risks. In other words, among various investments giving the same return with different level of risks, this investor always prefers the alternative with least interest.” – The Economic Times

The hardest part about success is taking the risk. The hardest part about significance is the risk. The hardest part about following Jesus is the risk. Everything great in life takes risks. Marriage takes risk, but it is absolutely great. Making the world a better place takes risk, but it is essential. Helping someone in need takes risk, but it is so rewarding. Life is defined by risk. It is in the risk that life is felt more than ever. Too often we bet on living comfortable lives, hoping that low risk will reward us with high yield. That’s a gamble as much as anything. Too often we rely on the risks of others to provide our reward. And that’s the beauty of our modern life. Other people’s risks can be rewarding to us. Airlines, computers, automobiles; they were all risks other people took that we reap the rewards from now. However, while we enjoy the material rewards of the risks of people like Henry Ford, Paul Allen, and Elon Musk, we don’t get to share in the satisfaction gained from them. Not much at least. No, our reward from them is relegated to enjoyment. Which is a good thing, but not a great thing. We can enjoy things all day long and still go to bed miserable. We may enjoy racing cars for example, but there is little satisfaction without finishing towards the front. Because it’s at the front that satisfaction occurs. It isn’t satisfying to be mediocre or poor at what we do. We don’t generally stay in jobs that we can’t do well in. We aren’t happy at home when we’re poor family members. We don’t like driving if we’re accident prone. Satisfaction generally requires performance, and performance always requires risk. The driver who wins a race is always closer to crashing than the others. However, risk doesn’t have to be foolish. It can be calculated too. When Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook, he didn’t create what the social media giant is today. He created a small platform that students from his school could use to communicate with each other. Then he opened it up to schools across the country. Then he made it something everyone could get involved in. Then he went public on the stock market. Following Jesus doesn’t have to begin with quitting your job to start a mega-church. Sometimes it starts by just admitting that you’re a Christian. Then living like it. Then answering questions. Then influencing people. Then… Accomplishing anything will take a risk. The risks can range from embarrassment to losing everything. However, the rewards are too good to pass up. Knowing that you improved somebody’s life is rewarding. Saving a life is rewarding. Jesus promised the reward of heaven for following Him. And that’s more rewarding than anything. And remember, He risked and lost His life for you and me. Yes, life takes risks, but with Jesus it has its ultimate reward.

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

Gratefulness Shining Through!

Is God's Love Viral In Us“Love is a game that two can play and both win.” – Eva Gabor

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation of our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:9-11

Propitiate: “to gain or regain the favor or goodwill of” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary

As humans we have an intense desire to earn what we have. Well, most of us do anyway. But, even people pre-disposed to stealing from and taking advantage of others want to earn what they have. They may steal, and cheat, and rob, but they still have to live with guilt. They still have to live with the fear of being found out. From the time we can comprehend we are taught that nothing is free, that everything must be worked for and earned. Sure, we may receive a gift every now and then, but someone still had to work for it. Even the things that are stolen must be worked for. Our salvation is no different. Salvation comes at a price. It’s not free. It’s valuable and it costs a ton. In fact it costs more than we’ll ever be able to repay. The funny thing about us is that, we often want to pay, or at least chip in on our salvational debt. I can hear Dana Carvey imitated George Bush in his nasally voice now. “Can’t do it.” “Not gonna happen.” It’s free, it’s a gift. There’s no possible way we can help God out on paying that bill. Trying to pay our way to salvation is like a toddler helping to pay for dinner with a monopoly dollar. The act is sweet, but as an adult we understand its folly. No bill goes unpaid. Every bill is paid by someone. However, some bills aren’t paid by the end user. Some are paid by another. A stolen candy bar is paid for by the merchant. A new bike is paid for by a mom. And salvation has been paid for by Christ. It’s done, it’s over, the bill is paid, and we don’t have the currency to chip in. I remember wanting a bike when I was a kid. I think it was $700 dollars or something.  here was no way I could have paid for it. I was seven, I couldn’t get a job, I didn’t have access to the kind of currency needed to pay for the bike. It was like that with most of the gifts we received as kids. Could you imagine rejecting the greatest gift ever as a kid because you didn’t have a way to pay for it? It’s the same with salvation. It’s a gift. There’s no way we can pay. But we can accept. God is pleading for us to accept. He can’t return it and get what He paid for back. In some ways the greatest act of stealing is by refusing a gift. Because when we refuse a gift we’re saying to the giver. “You’re time, your resources, your effort at buying this gift for me doesn’t matter.”  Let’s not waste Jesus’ time on the Cross. Let’s not tell God that His Son isn’t valuable and worth our acceptance. Let’s receive that love, that gift, and that promise. There is no gift greater than the gift freely given by our Maker. Not even that $700 bicycle I wanted so badly. “You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:20 When we accept that greatest gift ever given, something changes. Everything changes. Not because we’re trying to pay God back for what He did, but because we can’t help but reciprocate and spread the greatest love ever portrayed and given. When we truly accept a gift in our hearts we can’t help but be grateful. Let’s be grateful. It will show in everything we do. It’s the key to God’s love shining through our lives. It’s the source of the truest of loves. And true love has no losers.

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

Knowing Christ?

Knowing Jesus“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” – G.K. Chesterton

We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall. – Proverbs 16:33

Straw man: “a weak or imaginary opposition (as an argument or adversary) set up only to be easily confuted” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Did Jesus exist? Did He rise from the dead? Is the Bible true? Is Christianity merely a means to gain power and money? The popular politically correct answers to these questions today are, probably, no, a little bit, and yes. That is, Jesus probably did exist, but He didn’t rise from the dead. The Bible has truth in it, but it’s also full of myth and its truth is relative. And Christianity exists mostly because people used it to gain power and or money. What do you think? Here’s what I know. I know that Jesus is real because He’s changed my life. I know that God cares about us because of Jesus’ death. And I also know the skeptic wouldn’t even consider this an argument. But to that skeptic I ask them to prove love. Love is a feeling we all know. Still there’s no empirical evidence it exists. We see the effects of love all around us. But they could just as easily be the effects of people trying to gain a foothold in society. The skeptic could say that my mind is creating an experience. I say, God created my mind. How many times have you heard someone disprove Santa Clause, then equate Christ with Santa.  t’s easy to set up a straw-man, knock it down, and then call the straw-man Jesus. But how many skeptics would die for their skepticism. The people who have faced the choice of rejecting Jesus or life and died for their decision can’t be counted. Ten of Jesus’ original disciples died for their for their belief. Paul the greatest Apostle and arguably the greatest Christian ever to live, died for Christ. None of these men ever gained personal wealth or great power. Sure, they had influence, but their political power was nearly non-existent. It’s true that through the ages, Christianity has risen in power. It’s been used terribly to wield personal influence and gain riches. However, it’s also true that no belief has ever been attacked like the belief in Jesus. No belief has overcome abuse and doubt like the belief in Christ. It’s because Jesus is the only person to live who’s ever claimed to be the Son and the Word of God and been taken seriously. It’s because of the undeniable credibility of the Bible. And it’s against all odds that Christianity even exists today, let alone that it influences more people than any other belief system in the world. But then again, it’s God who determines the outcome of everything. God is not affected by odds, period. And if one were to count the odds, they would say there is a God. They would say that there is a God and that He loves you. They would say that there is a God and that He sent His only begotten Son to die for you and me. Go ahead and doubt. Go ahead and consider the odds. Go ahead… But consider these words by George MacDonald. “How often we look upon God as our last and feeblest resource! We go to Him because we have nowhere else to go. And then we learn that the storms of life have driven us, not upon the rocks, but into the desired haven.”

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

Healing The Hurt

“I sing my sorrows and paint my joy.” – Joni Mitchell

And he who had received the five talents came forward, bring five talents more, saying, “Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made fiver talents more.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” – Matthew 25:20-21

Heal: “alleviate (a person’s distress or anguish)” – New Oxford American Dictionary

There’s hurt in this world. Some of us see it every day, some rarely look. But we all come across it at points in our lives. Whether in a show on TV, a friend at work, or a family member. People hurt. We all hurt at times. It’s part of life. A sad part. But hurt doesn’t have to define. It doesn’t have to control or manipulate. It doesn’t have to have the affect we think it does. Why? Because we are not powerless beings. No, we don’t have the ability to eradicate hurt. Not even close. But we do have the power to heal. And it’s not as hard or as complicated as we might think. The healing starts with a decision. It’s not a hard one. It’s not even as hard as deciding what to pack in a suitcase. One decision. That decision is to look. To look hurt straight in the face. Because when we decide to look hurt straight in the face it pulls out of us something. Care. You see, instead of seeing hurting people we often look at the “losers” on the sidewalk. Instead of seeing wounds we look at the results. A beggar, a drug addict, a divorce, or maybe even tears staring back at in you the mirror. We were built to care for wounds and the hurt they cause. But it takes work. Too often we pass by that work and assuage our feelings with reasoning. We reason to ourselves that people get themselves into their own messes, so they can get themselves out. We reason to ourselves that anyone who really wants a job could get one, but it’s easier to ask for a handout. We reason and reason and reason. But it’s not working is it? People don’t always just pull themselves up by the bootstraps. They don’t always recover from addiction. And they don’t always bounce back from abuse. That’s where we come in. People helping people. Because there’s power in a touch, in a feel, in a care. And do you know where that power comes from. It was given to us by our Creator. Helping others isn’t something that evolves. Empathy doesn’t just build over generations. Compassion doesn’t spring forth from nothing. They come from a created heart. It doesn’t make sense to care about others. How can risking ourselves for a penniless stranger be good for us? It won’t make us rich all by itself. It won’t give us health or nourish our bodies. It won’t necessarily help us be happier either. But it’s our job. And that’s what it comes down to sometimes. We were built for this, whether it’s healthy, or fun, or what we want to do. We were built to care. We were built to heal. And so…

We pray… “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” – Psalm 51-10

God promises… “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” – Ezekiel 36:26

Daily Journaling Questions:

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

Thanks for reading,
Jake

Follow Him (Love Nation Day 20)

Over that past month we’ve been looking at all the ways Jesus loves us. The truth is, His life was lived for love. Everything He did was in the name of love. Healing the Talitha cumi (little girl) was an act of love. Calling Zacchaeus out of the sycamore tree was an act of love. And chasing the merchants from the temple was an act of love too. But His love was not meant to stop with Him. His love is meant to continue with and in us. He’s given us talents, are we going to use them for Him? Are we going to multiply them? He didn’t just leave this world with a mission accomplished banner. No, He left this world giving a commission. In it He told His disciples to, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” – Mark 16:15-18 What are we doing in His name? What are we doing in the name of love? Before He left, Jesus had some questions for Peter; the conversation went, “‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’ He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ and he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know everything, You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.’ (This He said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’” – John 21:15b-19 This is obviously a conversation between Christ and Peter, and none of us are Peter. But we can still learn from this conversation. It’s in the Bible for a reason. We can ask ourselves, “Do we love Jesus?” And if so, are we feeding His sheep? Are we living to benefit others? That’s what the love of Jesus does to us. More than anything it changes our motivation of life. It changes our focus from ourselves to others. Are we living like Christ’s love has changed us in any way? I pray Jesus changes all of us. This year let’s follow Him.

Until next year, may you know the love of Jesus,
Jake