By: Kevin Jackson
As I look around at this world, we have a serious God problem. Our society loves to dip their toe in faith, but when it comes down to it, we would rather make our own decisions and carve our own path in this world. We are a society of hypocrisy. In the United States our money says “In God we trust”, but our government has done everything in its power to take God out of our country. We like to call it “separation of church and state” but in reality it is just making sure we have a secular society. This country was founded by faithful people and yet we are trying to change history and our country as to not offend people who are not faithful or believe in God.
Let me be the first to say it, we need to get serious about God.
You may be reading this and wondering why it matters what society thinks, it only matters what you think. Well, society is made up of individuals and the sum of the parts is what I am talking about. It is the same reason you may go to church. Yes, church is about worshipping God and learning the Word, but you can do most of that from home. Church is also about surrounding yourself with fellow Christians. It is basic sociology. People tend to follow the masses and if the masses are learning about God, it makes it easier to do so. If the masses you follow are full of sin and are not faithful, it is easy to get sucked into that as well.
When I say it is time to get serious about God, I mean both as a society and as individuals. So, let’s start with us. As I mentioned above, if everyone changes individually, then the masses and society would then be comprised of all faithful and God-serious people. In order to get serious about God, we need to identify all of the ways we aren’t serious about God. Think about how you go about your day. Ask yourself this “Do I make EVERY decision based on glorifying God and in-line with His plan in my life?” Most likely the answer is no. We try. We think we are good Christians. But is that good enough?
So, how do you get serious about God? Well, the first step is to recognize that Jesus Christ is coming back and you don’t know exactly when. Let’s say you are throwing a baby shower and the invite says 6:00PM. You get your house all ready, decorations out, food prepared, and then you suddenly realize it’s already 5 o’clock and you haven’t gotten yourself ready yet. You are standing there in sweats and a t-shirt and the doorbell rings. “Are you kidding me” you scream. Well, guess what, Jesus isn’t going to wait to come back when it is convenient for us, He is coming back when HIS time is right. So, you better get your house in order in case your guest of honor shows up early!
For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. (Matthew 16:27)
So again, think about your day and how you tackle it. Do you start and end it with God? Come on, let’s get serious now. How often do you sin freely and think it is ok because Jesus forgave you already and you will try harder next time? A lot I am sure. Me too! Let’s get serious.
Truth bomb here….. The world you live in, the people around you, the possessions you own, mean nothing compared to God and your salvation. If you are being honest with yourself, you are listening to me now, but do you hear me?? NOTHING means as much as the Lord. So, to get serious about God means you have to give it all away to Him. These things you own, the job you have, the money you have earned, those are all from Him! God has blessed you in so many ways and how do you repay Him? Pray every once in a while and go to church most Sundays? That is not enough. Get serious and give it ALL to Him. God deserves it and more.
Take stock of your life this week. Look around at your family, your friends, your house, where you live, your job, everything. Once you have done that, be honest with yourself and figure out what you have put God in the middle of. Stop the lying, stop the cussing, stop the drinking, stop the sexual temptation, stop the hate, stop the jealousy, stop it all. Be serious and deliberate about your love of God and the path to Heaven. That is the most important thing you can do.
So, now that I have forced you to look in the mirror and get serious about God in your life, let’s move on to the next part…. our world and society.
This world is a broken, secular world full of sex, violence, temptation and distractions. Yes, you can find churches on many corners, but is God in the center of our world? Everything you read, watch and listen to is trying to pull you away from God. Buy this, try that, vacation here, watch this, watch that. Distractions are everywhere and they meant to drive you in certain directions, mainly to spend your money. Some of these are intentional and deliberate ways to pull people from their faith. But honestly, some of these things are just worldly things not focused on God.
I have taken some time the last week or so and paid attention to what is going out in our society. If you really pay attention, it is frightening. It starts early with our children and their use of technology. It goes all the way up to the nightly news. NOTHING about God. If there is mention about faith or God, it is usually negative. We have run God out of town, I am afraid. We think we can do everything ourselves. “Don’t worry about it God, we got this.” We are going to fix climate change and the weather, we can fix our economy, we can feed the hungry, we got this. We are obsessed with ourselves and idols we have created instead of God.
Below are modern-day idols we're in danger of letting take over our lives instead of God:
Truth is, we have created a mess here. If we don’t watch it, God is going to clean it up for us. He has done it before and it isn’t pretty my friends.
This world needs to get serious about God. We need to allow Him in our lives individually and in the center of our society. I am not talking about religion; I am talking about God and Jesus. God is the creator of this beautiful world and all we are doing is messing it up.
But there is hope. It lives in each one of us. Our society can change because we can change. Remember as I mentioned before, society is just a sum of its parts. Well, you are a part, an important part. So, start today and spread the love of God and Jesus. Tell someone you love them; tell them that Jesus loves them. Yes, it will be uncomfortable. Yes, it will be strange. Jesus walked this earth alone at first and before you know it, He is known everywhere on this planet. Start small, but start. This is not a joking matter; it’s time to get serious. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Spreading God’s love for me always brings me immense joy. Even more important, it brings God joy.
Think about how many friends you have on social media and how many friends you have in “real life”. You can be an influencer. You can spread God’s love. Post a Bible verse, use one of our Facebook profile image frames, write a blog, anything that you can spread the Word with. Let’s start a movement, a God movement. It is beyond time to get SERIOUS ABOUT GOD!
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.
By: Kevin Jackson
If you read or know the Bible at all, you know it is filled with references to God talking to various people throughout time. Sometimes directly, sometimes through a burning bush and sometimes by putting His laws on stone tablets. But do you feel you know when God is talking to you? Are you waiting to hear some voice from the sky that sounds a lot like Morgan Freeman? You might be waiting a while for that. But the truth is, God talks to you all the time, you might not be listening though.
Learning how to listen properly to God is a skill very few master in their life. Even those that seem to have the ear of God (like maybe your local pastor) struggle to know when God is speaking to them, truth be told. We are all searching for that close relationship with God. But it is hard to have a tight relationship unless you talk to each other. And when you feel the talking is a one way street, that can be tough. Think about your marriage or any other close relationship you have. Communication is the key to that relationship working and being the best it can be. Your relationship with God is no different.
So, the first thing you need to do to perfect your communication with God is stop always being the one who talks! When you pray, talk to God about what you thank Him for, what your needs are etc. That is certainly important. After you finish, sit quietly and patiently, listening for God. I know what you are saying: “I can sit there forever; I doubt I will hear God talking to me”. Might be true, but you have to stop waiting for Morgan Freeman.
God talks to you in a variety of ways throughout the day, every day. You honestly are just - not - listening. As it says in Job 33:14, “For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it.”
The first way God talks to you is through His Word. The Bible was written by many men, but everything in there is the Word of God. In the Bible, He tells stories, guides you with His laws and gives you advice for your everyday life. If you aren’t reading the Bible every day, then you aren’t listening to Him every day in this way. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” - Timothy 3:16.
Reading the Bible seems to be the most obvious way to hear what God is saying, but what about other ways? Well, those are more subtle and probably less understood. Let’s start with what you think is you. In today’s society, it is all about us, isn’t it? We love to think the world revolves around us for sure. So, let’s look at us for a second. That voice in your head, call it what you will, sub-conscience, etc., but that might just be God talking to you. Ever sit there and think about the decision you are trying to make. Sometimes, it’s easy, sometimes it’s tough. Maybe, just maybe God is talking to you at that moment. Sometimes you heed “your own” advice and sometimes you don’t. What happens when you don’t, it usually doesn’t work out to well, does it? It is not surprising that the voice in your head sounds exactly like your voice (go back to my earlier comment about how we love us). Do you wish it sounded like Morgan Freeman? Me too. So next time you hear yourself guiding you, maybe listen a little bit closer. God is talking to you and giving you a little life nudge.
Another way God is talking to you is through people in your life. Now, let’s get this straight, God talks through all different type of people in your life. He is guiding your life through them. Sometimes it is literally the words that come out of their mouths and sometimes it is just through actions and interactions. But God uses them all, sometimes positive and sometimes, well, not so positive. That boss that keeps holding you back and not giving you the promotion you think you deserve. Guess what, that might just be God teaching you patience and putting you in a place in your life that you need to be in. That neighbor inviting you to church randomly….guess what, God. He is everywhere and works through every one. Next time you are in a situation and someone says something that hits you in a peculiar way, listen closely, it might just be God talking to you.
Finally, let’s talk about things all around you. You probably listen to things all day long, the radio, TV, strangers in the hallway, etc. Listen closely, there are messages from God in there. My favorite song when I was a teen was U2 ‘s “I Finally Found What I’m Looking For”.
Just look at these lyrics:
You broke the bonds
And you loosed the chains
Carried the cross of my shame
Oh my shame, you know I believe it.
But I still haven't found
What I'm looking for.
But I still haven't found
What I'm looking for.
You didn’t know that was a Worship song about looking for salvation did you? Well, imagine that, you weren’t listening.
So, open your minds and open your hearts to God. He is talking to you. It might be disguised as a pastor, a stranger, a friend, a book, a movie, who knows. But He is and He wants you to listen to Him because He listens to you constantly. Once you figure out how to do this, this world changes and your perspective changes. Your life will never be the same. You will spend your time searching for God’s presence and letting His words guide you. God is talking to you, you just need to listen.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand." - John 10:27-28.
By: Kevin Jackson
How many friends do you have? How many of those can you really trust with anything? How many encourage you, challenge you and help you grow in your faith? As you ask yourself those questions, I bet the numbers start to dwindle down with each question.
In this time of social media, many people can claim to have hundreds if not thousands of “friends”. Truth is, most are acquaintances or just people in our life that make up your local community or daily life. But as you look around your life and take stock of your relationships, look at how many Christian friends you have, the ones who understand your love for Jesus and share in your Christian journey.
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. ~ Proverbs 18:24
Below are 5 reasons to be surrounded with Christian friends:
1) They Will Support You
Christians typically have good, Godly values and are part of a church family. So, they understand the meaning of being part of a community and taking care of others. When times are tough they will give you encouraging words, give you a hug or bring you dinner. It all goes back to the lessons learned from the Bible and Jesus’ words. If you look at most charities in this world, they are Christian based. We know the meaning of family and the impact we can make is other’s lives.
2) They Ask Tough Questions
When you are having struggles, most people will certainly ask “what’s wrong”, with your response probably being “nothing”. Your Christian friends will dig deeper and won’t let you off so easy. They want to know how you really are. Christians are rooted in forgiveness and will work with you to ask for forgiveness for things you have done or encourage you to forgive others. No matter what you might be going through right now, let your Christian friends press you with tough questions. This is will help you open up and get past anything you are dealing with.
3) They Hold You Accountable
When is the last time you heard “we missed you at church”? Seems judgy, but in reality your fellow Christians care about you and want to hold you accountable when you get off track. We are all part of a Christian community and it is our job to encourage us to answer for our decisions and choices.
4) They Provide Godly Advice
I know, everyone has an opinion. But with your true, Christian friends, theirs is rooted in love and really meant to help you out. All the answers you need are in the Bible. A good Christian friend can help you relate your situation to God’s word and there you will find the guidance you need. Jesus’ words are all that is required and are always relatable to anything you are dealing with. So many times I have been so surprised to find a passage in the Bible that makes everything make sense. It continues to amaze me. Christian friends will guide you on God’s principles and offer you advice that is genuine and honest.
5. They Will Pray for You
Who couldn't use a little more prayer sometimes? You see it all the time on Facebook when someone post that they are having troubles. “Praying”. “Sending Good Vibes”. Good vibes? What in the world are those? With 2 good vibes and a few bucks I can buy a bowl of soup. Geez. Christian friends really do pray for you and ask God to help in your life. When you become really close, they will even pray with you. There is no closer bond than the ability to talk to God together with your Christian brother or sister.
The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. ~ Proverbs 12:26
Now, don’t get me wrong, you don't have to segment yourself away from your non-Christian or not-actively Christian friends. They bring their own benefits and challenges. God wants us to make disciples that make disciples. So, maybe you need to look at the above list and take stock in how good of a Christian friend you are, not just to your Christian friends, but your non-Christian ones as well. We are all in this together, one big family of sinners looking for salvation and all loved by our Father.