By: Kevin Jackson
Being a native Texan and watching what is happening across my great state this past weekend is heartbreaking. Hurricane Harvey sure has given us a hard punch and continues to do so. But what it also has given us is a wake-up call of sorts. When the world stops turning, real emotions and feelings tend to come out. The truth comes out.
Hurricane Harvey has taken the lives of several people and thousands more are suffering losses, whether it is their homes, possessions, pets or friends. It has caused immeasurable harm and billions on dollars in damages. There is no telling how long it will take for some of the communities like Rockport, TX to come back, if they ever do. I go every summer to Rockport and Port Aransas; it is almost like a second home to me. Seeing the images of the places I love simply destroyed is almost more than I can take. However, as an eternal optimist who has a strong Christian faith, I am looking for what I can learn from this, what lessons God will teach us.
God often works through his followers and his children here on earth. At times of tragedy, you typically see churches and other faith-based organizations provide comfort, aid, a place to stay and a hot meal to those in need. Many non-believers tend to ask “Where is your God now?” or “If there is a God, why does he allow something like this to happen?” Frankly I don’t have an exact answer to that. I don’t know whether God allows things like Hurricane Harvey to happen or they happen in spite of Him. I know there are evil forces in this world and the only answer to them is God and our faith in Him. Regardless, what I do know is that in times like these, you see God’s people provide those in need the most support. What that tells me is that God is working through them. I can see God in their actions. It is God who is our refuge and relief in times of tragedy.
Psalm 9:9: The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
All that being said, churches and faith-based organizations are made up of people helping people, but they are not the only ones helping others this week. Let’s start with the first responders. Police officers, fireman, paramedics, the National Guard and more have all shown up in droves to help their fellow man. They are true heroes but they are not alone. There are neighbors helping neighbors out. When I say “neighbors”, I don’t mean they even know each other. There are people coming from all over the state and country to help out. There are people with boats going house to house rescuing people in Houston. There are those organizing donation accounts and clothes drives, knowing that so many people will need help one day soon. These are children in Christ (even if they don’t know it) helping out their brothers and sisters in times of need.
What we are also seeing is that all of the things that make us different, that the media tells us we don’t like about each other, don’t really matter at all. We are all the same. I have seen ALL Texans regardless of race, gender, religion or economic status all come together as one. If you follow the events in the last few weeks, you would think this country is as divided as ever and maybe it is a little. But that is because all we ever hear about is how different we are and how we need to stand up for “us” alone. But we are not alone, are we? We are all in this together. Texas is showing the world that right now. We are showing the world that we all love each other and help each other out, regardless of the differences we might have.
In this world, we are truly one big family, God’s family. Just like all families, we tend to disagree, argue and get a little too self-centered. When push comes to shove though, we watch out for each other. God is watching us. He is watching His children ban together and help each other out, just like families do.
So, hug your own friends and family tonight and tell them that you love them. You never know when tragedy will strike. Tomorrow look around and realize that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to make sure we treat each other as such, not just in times of natural disasters, terrorist attacks and other tragedies, but every – single – day.
If you feel the desire to help out, please donate to any of these great organizations that are helping with Hurricane Harvey relief.
By: Kevin Jackson
I have had numerous discussions recently with people struggling with figuring out how God wants to use them in their lives. Frankly, I have struggled myself for years and continue to. It’s not that we aren’t trying to be good Christians, but I think we keep asking ourselves “Is it enough?”.
The real question is “What is enough for God?”. The bible tells us to be guided by the Holy Spirit, strive to be like Christ. But what does that really mean?
First you need to evaluate the various aspects of your life. What you do for work (notice I didn’t say for a living, we will get to that shortly), your personal life, your hobbies, your family, the people you surround yourself with, what you watch on TV, what you eat, etc. etc. Too often people focus just on going to church, praying and trying to be a good person. Although those are terrific and all part of it, it’s not enough.
I like to breakdown my life in 4 categories:
Now, here is the tricky part, look at all of those and ask yourself “Is God in the middle of every one of them?”. God’s path for you involves every aspect of your life. Although you pray with your family and surround yourself with Christian friends, do you praise God through your work or job? Maybe you share God with your co-workers but when you go to a movie; do you mostly entertain yourself with R-rated violent movies? Frankly we all probably will fail at any combination of the above. It’s ok, we are human, we are sinners. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” - Romans 5:8.
Most conversations I have had revolve around work or jobs. I mentioned above that I didn’t say what you do for a living. Well, that is because too often in this world we focus solely on what we do to generate income. Our jobs define us, our lives, what we do for a “living”. That is certainly the wrong way to look at things. God views us and judges us based on what we do with our entire lives, not just our jobs.
So, to realize God’s path for you, you need to review every aspect of your life and truly live for Christ wholly and throughout your life. That doesn’t mean everyone has to be a preacher or pastor, but bring God into your job. That might mean changing your career to serve God and his children. That also might mean simply being an open Christian and discussing God with co-workers when appropriate. You never know whose life you will change.
So, pray. Pray hard to God to guide you through your life. But remember; bring Him into all aspects of your life. If you look at the above areas of your life that we listed above, think about the order we have them. They are probably listed from easiest to hardest to put God first into. But they are also listed in the most important.
Put God in the center of every decision and every aspect of your life, only then will you realize what God’s path is for you. Pray and listen, He will guide you.