I go through life many times with only one question: "DO THEY GET IT?" Sometimes I ask myself that question, at other times I am thinking it of others. Now before you burn me at the stake for being judgemental, let me explain myself. It is not a question that elevates myself above anybody else, as I challenge myself with this question every day.
This question mainly comes into play when I am talking about somebody's walk with the Lord. Notice I said walk with the Lord, as I believe that this is an ongoing path that we walk down the rest of our life. It is not meant to be something we "Try" for a season, and then abandon and get off the path. Even yet it is not meant to be a treadmill where we stand in place and experience little too no growth.
I have always been intrigued by the amount of people who "Play Church." Now once again before you tell me that it is not my place to characterize people, Matthew 7:16 (ESV) says, "You will recognize them by their fruits." This is of course referring to the Fruits of the Spirit found in Galations 5:22-23. Some people get all caught up in committees at their church, that they forget to experience the freedom and joy in the Lord. Others are so hauty that they forget that Jesus didn't care for the religious ways of the Pharisees and Sadducees (which were the pompous religious followers of the law in Jesus time).
The reason I am writing this Blog, is because of a conversation that I had with my 8 year old boy Nathan on Sunday. Coming home from church, he starts talking about the pastors sermon. He was bringing up details that I was absolutely shocked with his recollection of details. It was as if I was carrying on a conversation with an adult. I have to say that I just assumed that he wasn't paying attention and was fidgeting the whole time. I brought this to his attention and he simply said the following with the the utmost respect, I am sure: "Well Duh, I always pay attention in church." That same night he went on to tell me that he was on chapter 9 of the book. Once again I was a little dumfounded and asked him what book he was referring to. Once again with the utmost respect I am sure, he answered: "Well duh, the book that you gave me to read." I had given him a book entitled "Little Pilgrims Progress" to read a couple weeks ago after we watched the newly released movie. Why had I taken him to church, but expected him not to listen? Why had I given him a book, but expected him not to read it?
I guess the naivety was on me. However, is this not parallel to our relationship with Jesus at times? He has given us His word, but yet we rarely read it. He has shown us the way, but yet we rarely follow. He has won the war, but we very rarely are equipped to fight any battles. DUH... Get in the game. CAN I HEAR A WAR CRY???
As you know, I sent an e-mail out last Friday on the 15th stating that I was going to Haiti. Nothing has changed with that, as I still plan on going.
However, due to the civil unrest and violence, a lot of the relief organizations are being limited on even entering the country and in their effectiveness once they get there. My bags are packed, Inoculations underway, and money is currently being raised.
So to reiterate, I am still planning on going, just the timing will be a few months later.
If you have already mailed me a check made payable to Edge Outreach, I will mail this back to you. There is a possibility that I may go through another organization. Until the decision is made which organization I will travel with, I am returning your check and ask that you still consider supporting me when the choice is more clear. If you have not mailed a check, but would like to contribute in the future, please e-mail me and let me know.
I appreciate your understanding of the vast need for relief in this situation and the fluidity on the ground. I want to make sure that I am being effectively used in the safest manner possible.
I wanted to let you know that I am going to Haiti… This will make my 4th foreign mission trip that I have taken in the last nine years. However, it will be like no other that I have ever been a part of. I am e-mailing you to ask for your prayer and support.
Nine years ago last Wednesday, El Salvador was rocked by a major earthquake that rated 7.7 on the Richter scale. I felt the calling of the Lord to go and assist with humanitarian aid. I was down there a week helping the country recover from the effects of the building damage. I will never forget how this experience shaped me into who I am today.
In 2005 and 2006 I had the opportunity to lead trips to Jamaica. This was a construction trip of which some men from the church were a part of. This was quite the experience as well. However, nothing can compare to the absolute devastation and tragedy in the massive loss of life in Haiti. Tuesday evening 1/12/10 at 4:53p.m. when Haiti was struck down by a massive 7.0 earthquake, the Lord started working in my heart. I felt the absolute need and desire to be in Haiti. The next morning I woke up with the same feeling that I couldn’t shake. I feared missing God’s will, but really had no desire to go down there. After all, Haiti is the most poverty stricken country in the Western Hemisphere. I prayed one simple prayer: “Lord if I am to go, please open the doors and make it available to me.” That night at church, a woman came up to me with the name of a Mission Organization in Louisville that was going in to Haiti. That night at 10:00p.m. the Director called me. Yesterday morning, I went to Louisville and took a tour of the mission facilities at Edge Outreach. While I was there, two news stations were already there doing reports on them going into Haiti. As I was standing there, WAVE 3 news did an interview with me as to why I wanted to go to Haiti. Friday morning I went and got a round of innoculation shots that I needed. Less than an hour ago, I received a phone call telling me that I was accepted and that they wanted me to come for training on Sunday afternoon. They already have 3 ten day trips scheduled back to back. I am going to be on the 4th trip the end of February or the first of March. They haven’t set the exact date for the 4th trip as of yet, because everything is so fluid on the ground.
I am excited about this trip, because I know it is God’s Will that I GO… The bank has agreed to let me take the time off without having to use vacation days. The cost of the trip is about $25,000, and there are six members per team. That means that I will have to raise over $4,000+. I am not concerned in the least bit by this, because God told me to GO, therefore he will provide. I am going with Edge Outreach ( www.edgeoutreach.com ). They specialize in water purification/filtration systems. We will be able to take down the supplies, assemble the water purification system in country, and then provide clean drinking water to the people of Haiti. I know this is a down economic year and everybody has tightened their belt straps. However, the need is immense. Would you pray about sponsoring me on this trip. I also will be putting a significant amount of my money towards this trip as well.Please e-mail me at Greg.Jacobs@CBandT.com and let me know how much you are willing to sponsor me for. You can then do the following:
Make Checks Payable to: Edge Outreach
Then mail the check to the following address: Greg Jacobs3005 Falcon CourtShelbyville, KY 40065 Edge Outreach is a non-profit organization, and your donations are tax-deductible.
Many of us live our lives oblivious as to what goes on around us, not to mention around the world. I remember vividly what happened 9 years ago today. On January 13th, 2001, El Salvador was struck by a massive earthquake that measured 7.7 on the Richter Scale. It absolutely devastated that country. More than 844 people were killed, 4,723 were injured, 108,226 houses were destroyed, and over 150,000 buildings were damaged. There were landslides everywhere, and malaria was rampant because of the unsanitary living conditions that followed. How do I know all this you might ask? I WAS THERE!!!
Okay, I wasn't there 9 years ago today, but I was there six days later. I remember landing at the San Salvador airport experiencing a third world country for the first time. The hot air blasted me as we walked through the open air pavilion. When we got to customs, there was a big red button. If you pushed it and it turned green, you weren't checked by customs. If you pushed it and it turned red, you were checked. Remember this was prior to 911. I talk about my experience in El Salvador in Chapter 4 of my book addressing Pride in my life. Over that week long span of time, I experienced life that has forever changed my outlook. This was a country that had nothing, and overnight was suddenly shoved into the dark ages.
If you turn on the news today, you will see that Haiti was struck with a 7.0 earthquake at 4:53 p.m. yesterday. It hit just a few miles outside of Port-Au-Prince (the capital city). Not only is this immensely devastating, but the most populated area. Pictures are streaming out of the country that bring tears to my eyes. Until you have lived and seen this devastation and its effects first hand, you have no idea how helpless you feel. I want nothing more than to jump on a plane for Haiti to help out with the relief efforts.
Did you know that earthquakes go on daily all around us in the US? No it is not just California, although at the present they have the majority of them. Ferndale, California was struck with a 6.5 earthquake on January 10th. False Pass, Alaska was hit with a 3.8 earthquake yesterday. Seeley Lake, Montana also had a 3.9 earthquake today. The ground is rumbling my friends. I am not trying to say that this is anything new, but it certainly is eye opening.
Luke 21:11 (ESV) says, "There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven." This is talking about the end times. This blog is not meant to instill fear in your heart, but rather an awareness of your surroundings. Is the ground shaking beneath your feet???
Have you ever had a dream that was so real that it made you take notice? I am a firm believer that some dreams occur because we ate too much pepperoni before we went to bed, but others we are meant to take note of. Monday morning I had a dream prior to waking up (Duh, obviously it was prior to waking up, or I wouldn't have dreamed it).
I am going to do my best to describe this. I dreamed that I was crawling under this net of some sort. I could not stand up, but rather was crawling through on my knees. I saw people at the far end at what I thought was an opening. I was aware of the net above me and its restriction, but paid it no attention. As I crawled a little further into the net, it narrowed itself down to the point where I was no longer able to crawl on my knees, but now had to crawl on my stomach. I thought this was strange, but kept going forward and pushed ahead. Pretty soon I was not able to really raise my legs forward to crawl, but had to slither more than anything. At this point in time, panic struck in. I started realizing the trap that I was in, and it was way more than just a net over me. It was smothering me to the point of chronic claustrophobia. I realized that I couldn't go any further, and literally freaked out. I also could not go backwards as the weight of the entrapement had me snared.
I am sharing this, as I feel somebody reading this might need to hear this. I didn't feel that it was for my life, but for somebody else that God wanted to warn them. Please don't mistake that previous sentence. It is not that I don't need the challenge as well, but I strongly feel that it was for somebody reading this Blog.
The net represented SIN. When you enter into the trap, you don't realize or think that it is a trap at all. You are just aware of a covering over you. Soon it starts to oppress you a little more to the point of constricting. You are discomforted along the way, but feel like things will open up eventually and you will be alleviated from the painful knees and elbows as you crawl along. Not long afterwards you realize that this sin is a trap. It has so easily ensnared you that from every visible feature, there is no way out. You can get so far into this sin that you start screaming out for mercy and begging for grace.
I am here to tell you that sin grips our lives in that fashion. One minute we think everything is fine, the next we are ensnared by sins vile grip. It doesn't happen over night, but walls are built brick by brick. Jesus Christ is there to grant you Grace and Mercy. He wishes that no person should be trapped in sin. He holds the key to open that trap wide open and set you free. It does not require running down an aisle at a church, or being baptized in a baptismal (Although each one of these can be a part of the conversion experience). The most important thing is to call on His name and BELIEVE. He will set you free from the law of sin and death.
Before you even read this, click on the video link above. I must clarify that as a Banker, I am not promoting another bank. However, this commercial from Ally Bank is absolutely hilarious. Beyond hilarious, it is so true to life. Sometimes we just feel like a bait and switch has been done on us. It is easy to say that life is not always fair, but still harder to swallow and accept.
In Matthew 20, we find a story of a Vineyard Owner:
There was once a man who owned a vineyard. Here he grew grapes which were harvested once a year and turned into wine. Each year he would hire men to pick the grapes. One harvest day he went out early and found some men looking for work. “Would you like to come and pick grapes for me?” he asked. “I will pay you a Denarius for a days work.” The men agreed it was a fair wage for a days work and went to pick the grapes. They worked hard till lunch time, by which time the vineyard owner decided he needed more men. So he went out and found more men looking for work. “Would you like to come and pick some grapes for me?” he said. “I will pay you a Denarius if you can work till the end of the day.” The men agreed that was a fair wage and went off to the pick the grapes. All the men worked hard but towards sundown the vineyard owner saw that all the grapes were not going to be picked in time. So he went out again and found some men who had not been lucky enough to find work that day. “Will you come and help pick the last of the grapes for me?” he said. “There’s about an hours work left to be done and I will pay you each a Denarius.” The men were delighted and followed him to the vineyard. When the sun set and all the grapes had been harvested, the owner called the men to pay them. He gave the first lot, who had worked all day in the hot sun, a Denarius each. Then he called the second lot who had worked all afternoon in the hottest part of the day, and paid them a Denarius each. Finally he called the last lot who had only worked an hour in the cool of the evening and paid them a Denarius each. Well the ones who had worked all day started to grumble, “That’s not fair, we have worked all day in the hot sun and we get the same pay as those who have only worked half the day and those who only worked for one hour.” So they went to the vineyard owner and said, “It’s not fair you are paying us the same wage that you have paid to those who have not worked as long as us. Surely we should get paid more than them?” The vineyard owner replied, “Did we not agree to a Denarius for your days work? And haven’t I given you that money? My money is mine to do what I like with and it’s no concern of yours how much the others are paid” And then he said a very strange thing: “The last shall be first and the first shall be last.”
This is just as difficult for us to understand today as it was in Jesus time. But I believe Jesus is challanging our ideas on what fair means. He says that God’s idea of fair is letting everyone into the kingdom of heaven, even those who find out about it at the last minute. I challenge each one of us to interpret our definition of Fair...
Have you ever been stumped on where to go for Vacation? I am currently there. I LOVE VACATIONS.... I am a planner, so therefore to be sitting in January and not having the whole year planned out, is unusual for me. When I say I am a planner, I mean that any vacation trip that my family embarks on, I have a 3 ring binder typed up and ready to go. It might include print-outs of restaurants, thing to do, water temps., etc...
This is more a cry for help, then it is a challenging Blog. I am interested in hearing where others go for Vacation. I grew up going to Ludington, Michigan almost every year for vacation. My wife grew up going to a different location every year. I am not a huge fan of LONG drives with the 3 kiddos (more than 10 hours), and don't want to pay for airfare. I am contemplating taking the family to Washington D.C. this June. I have also heard of Kiawah Island in SC.
Share with me your favorite vacation destination. If you have website addresses, make sure to include them as well...
I have a confession, I do not know much about certain sports. Don't get me wrong, I love outdoor sporting events, such as Hunting, Fishing, Target Shooting, Back-Packing, etc. I just have never really gotten into following Basketball, Baseball, or Football on tv. When I was sitting at church on Sunday, Andy McDonald said something that I had never heard before. It was not so profound that it significantly changed my theological acuteness. No, it didn't even bring me to the point of self-awareness in God's Grace. It did however put a face on God's Church like I have never thought of before.
Andy flashed a picture of some football players up on the screen. He said that at a football game, the only people that looked like they could use some rest were the 22 men on the field playing. Otherwise, the other 40,000+ looked like they could use some exercise. It really hit me. This is the way that it feels in churches, business, and society overall. You have 10% of the people doing 90% of the work. Now before you go getting all critical about this banker not knowing his math, I am fully aware that 22 is not 10% of 40,000. You understand my point though. In this New Year set before us, how will God use you in Leadership? The how part is not quite as important as your availability. Are you available to be used by God this year?
According to Websters Dictionary, they define Epitaph as the following:
1 : an inscription on or at a tomb or a grave in memory of the one buried there
2 : a brief statement commemorating or epitomizing a deceased person or something past
I have to admit, this is not something that we traditionally like to think about. I happen to be of a minority class of people. It is not because I am a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant that is 6'6" and weighs over 300 pounds. Yes, all that is true, but is more in line with the fact that since I was a youth I have enjoyed cemeteries. No, it is not a weird ghoulish reason that has anything to do with a fascination of the dead, but rather the history of the past.
This last week, my pastor and I (Steve Rice) went on a roadtrip to Frankfort. By the way, Steve also writes a great Blog at www.stephencraigrice.com We were going to lunch and decided to kill a few minutes and drive around Frankfort, KY. If you have ever been there, you know the State Capitol sits down in a valley alongside the Kentucky River, but on the bluff overlooking the city is an old cemetery. Steve had never been to the Frankfort Cemetery, so I decided to go show him where Daniel Boone and Paul Sawyier are buried. While there, it reminded me of all of the different epitaph's I have seen on grave stones through the years.
If the Lord tarries and you are removed from this earth, what will your gravestone say? Will it say that you always got your reports turned in on time, and faithfully attended church every time the doors were open? Maybe it will say that you coached little league, and faithfully fulfilled the duties as Secretary of the Homeowners Association. Will it say that you were a Good-Ole-Boy that always treated people with respect? Although these are all good "Things" do they really speak to the Heart of a person?
Matthew 25:21 (ESV) says, "Well done, Good and Faithful Servant...Enter into the Joy of yourMaster." This is what I want the Lord to say to me. This is the Attaboy that I will receive in Confidence.
What do you want said about You?
On Christmas Day a terrorist plot was foiled, after a Muslim extremist attempted to blow-up himself and his fellow passengers on a plane. Since this time, we have heard the media talking about how "Peace-Loving" the Muslim Religion is, and that it is only a handful of Extremist that commit Jihad. This is the same verbiage that was thrown around after 911. It got me thinking about my Faith and relationship with Jesus as a Christian.
Let me make it very clear, I do not agree with Jihad, the Muslim faith, or the killing of innocent civilians. My simple point is that it is easy to point the finger at other religions as extreme or radical, when in essence we are asleep at the wheel. George Barna with The Bara Group, put out some research in 2003 about what it meant to be a Christian with a Biblical Worldview. According to his research, less than 4% of adults have a Biblical Worldview as the basis of their decision-making. He says that the primary reason that pople do not act like Jesus, is because they do not think like Jesus. Behavior stems from what we think-our attitudes, beliefs, values, and opinions.
Of those 4% that had a Biblical Worldview, they were less likely to accept and partake in the following behaviors:
31 times less likely to accept cohabitation before marriage.
18 times less likely to endorse drunkeness.
15 times less likely to condone gay sex.
12 times less likely to accept profanity.
11 times less likely to describe adultery as morally acceptable.
Less than one-half of one percent of those with a Biblical Workdview said voluntary exposure to Pornography was morally acceptable. Around the same percentage did not support Abortion.
If we have ove 85% of Americans saying that they believe in "A God" then my question is "What god are they worshipping? The numbers speak for themselves. I have you know, that I am proud to be called a Radical Extremist in the Eyes of God. The difference between me being an Extremist versus a Muslim, is that I believe in a God of Peace that is Loving and Forgiving and wanting all to come to Him. However, I also realize that He is a Jealous God with Righteous Indignation. He does not wish that any should perish. I choose to stand up and FIGHT against the things of this world that so easily entrap us.
I am a part of that minority of 4% of adults that call themselves Radically in Love with God. I am so Extreme in my walk with God, that I am willing to stand apart from the fray and not succumb to the peer pressures of this world.
Will you take a stand with me, to be a minority called out from the Complacent?