Category Archives: Author

Read an excerpt from the upcoming book “Overcoming Your Pharaoh”

Overcoming10 (1 of 1)Click here to order now! In the meantime, please enjoy this excerpt from our Chapter on failure:

Character is formed in adversity

The adversity that we face during our trials and our failures is in fact what develops us. It’s in the adversities of the long and winding road to success that we learn just how fragile our dreams can be. It’s during those times that we develop not only what it takes to be successful, but also what it takes to stay that way. However success is defined for you, you’ll need some grit and determination to maintain it. Nothing can teach you that like falling on your face can.

I understand that none of us like to fall short, but there are so many lessons that can be learned from our failed efforts. I often tell people to learn to see God in everything, and where you can’t see God, you should seek God. Believe it or not, there are times when God made it hard for us, just as He did for Moses by the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. There are times when we claim a faith that hasn’t been tested, so God puts us through it by allowing a few no’s to come our way and allowing a few doors to be slammed in our faces.

The question must be asked of us as we pursue our life’s dreams: How bad do you want it? That question must be answered in what we’re willing to go through to get to where we say we wanna be. If you’re ready to give up at the first sign of trouble (we’ll discuss that in the next section), then you should be wondering whether or not what you’re pursuing is for you. It’s not enough to just be talented or gifted in something. You have to be courageous enough, tough enough, and mentally strong enough to endure. Whenever you’re chasing your calling, your purpose, your passion, or your career, know that it will be a marathon and not a sprint.

Excitement will only take you so far. Enthusiasm will only take you so far. Just wanting it so bad will only take you so far. Even drive has its limitations. It’s what you do with opportunities that matter, and even more so, it’s what you do when there are no opportunities or when opportunity is snatched away from you by forces that are working against you.

It’s not just about God’s promises to you, but it’s also about whether or not you’ll let God mold you into the person that you need to be in order to live out the promise He’s made to you. If you read your Bible carefully, God often promised prosperity to the unprepared, the uncertain, the unwilling, and often the unqualified. It wasn’t until He molded them to fit the promise that He’d made to them that they were able to live out their purpose.

The benefit of your adversity is in the fact that it often prepares you for the next challenge. Even if the next challenge is unique in nature and something that you’ve never seen before, if nothing else, you come to rely on the fact that God brought you out before, and He can do it again. It’s during those times when things aren’t working out that we learn to see God working it out.

During those moments when it seems that nothing will ever go right, that’s the time when we must draw on the strength that God has been developing in us through our various trials, disappointments, and failures. James 1:3 tells us that the trying of our faith brings patience in us. Even if God isn’t the cause of your adversity, it is God that can make you stronger through your adversity. It is God that can help us to overcome when we feel overwhelmed.

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#DontDieWithIt!

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#DontDieWithIt is a movement. It’s a statement. It’s a call to action!

Whatever it is that God has called you to do and be, your mission should be to not leave this earth without giving it your very best. It doesn’t do anybody any good in the grave. Whatever you do, don’t die with it!

That business idea He gave you, that dream He woke you up in the middle of the night to tell you about, that talent, that gift, that anointing, that undying desire to be something other than what “they” said you could and should be, don’t you dare take it to the funeral home. God didn’t give it to you for nothing. You can’t leave it undone.

This is an encouragement movement! This a motivational movement. This is a God-ordained movement. You have the time. You have the talent. You have the call. Be courageous. Be active. Be progressive. Be aggressive. God is on your side and He’s gifted you and purposed you. Do it all and do it now. Don’t die with it!

Purchase your #DontDieWithIt t-shirt here!

Faith don’t come easy!

There’s a common misconception about faith that exists not only in the world, but even inside the church. There’s this thought that a life of faith is a bed of roses. It’s an idea that people of faith are blissfully blind and neither worry nor concern ever darkens our door. Not only is this idea of superhero Christians incorrect, but it’s also damaging to new converts who get frustrated because they never reach that state of Christian bliss. 

I do my best not to worry about the ills of life and I’ve grown a lot since my younger days. However, I’d be lying if I said I never looked to God and wondered. When I’m tried and I don’t quite understand, I find myself thinking as Job did when he said “When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). However, it’s the trying that is the challenge. 

In the vein of Job, many fail to realize that some of the things that add to the trying times are the people around us. It’s the people that don’t always understand the ways in which we trust in God. They’re the people that can’t see past the right now, so they push our spiritual buttons. They assume that faith is simple, and yet they complicate it for us quite often. 

Their thinking at times is that we just decided to follow God without any concerns or trepidation. The thought is that we know where we’re going and what we’re doing at all times, but that’s not faith. There is a struggle to faith and while we accept it at most times, there are days when it’s difficult to understand and embrace. And yet, we do it anyway because the other option isn’t encouraging. We talk about faith glowingly because we know and trust God. But the road is anything but easy, even though God is worth every bit of the struggle.

Contrary to popular belief, faith doesn’t just come from people deciding to blindly follow God. Faith doesn’t always come when we decide to do something. Sometimes, it comes when we’re forced into something. When you didn’t leap off the cliff, but you were thrown. When you didn’t jump into faith, but you were pushed by people who were behind your back, but didn’t have your back. When you were showered with “We love you and support you”, but you realize you’re in a room full of strangers that you’ve known for years (let that sink in).

When you’re bombarded with advice from people that have absolutely no experience in what you’re going through. When you have to abandon what you’ve been doing for years because you now realize that you were wrong and God was right and He tried to tell you five mistakes ago. No, faith isn’t always what we decide. Sometimes, it’s all we have left.

Read an excerpt from “Are We Still Making Disciples”: “Think outside the box, but not outside The Bible”

 

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Think outside the box, but not outside The Bible

So many of the rules of the church have been loosened because we want to seem welcoming to an ever growing segment of society that doesn’t see the need in physically coming to church. While I understand that we need different methods in a different world, there are some things about the church that should be non-negotiable.

I once preached a sermon entitled “When Jesus Is Your Draw”, taken from Luke 5:1-10. In the text, Jesus goes out into the boat with Peter to catch fish. Peter had gone out the night before, as he explained to Jesus, and had caught no fish.

However, even after explaining to Jesus that the fish weren’t biting, Peter says to Jesus, “Nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the net”. Once Peter followed Jesus’ instructions, he caught so many fish that his boat couldn’t hold them. There were so many fish that the text says his net broke and he had to call another ship over to take in the overflow of fish.

The text also states that there were so many fish that both boats begin to sink. However, what I always noticed in the text was what didn’t happen. While the net was broken and the boats began to sink, nowhere in the text does it say that any fish got away. Peter had gone back to the same place that he had gone the night before to catch fish, but to no avail. The difference was that Jesus was now in the boat. After this, Jesus told Peter, “From henceforth, thou shalt catch men”.

This text is a great lesson in what we as disciples need to draw people. All we need is Jesus. We’re in a day and time where we’re “marketing” the church in an effort to reach a new generation. I have no qualms about this as this generation responds differently than generations past. You have to reach them through their phones, either by text or social media, and you must do so in ways that grabs their attention.

I’m very active on social media platforms and I use them to promote books, ministry events, and I even post a live video feed from the studio during my radio broadcast. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with different methods to draw people to church.

Where I have a problem is when Jesus comes up missing in the marketing plans. Where I have a problem is when we’re promoting services, but we aren’t promoting the Savior. Jesus is the center of the church, so how do we expect to make disciples of Christ, without promoting Christ?

When what you used to do doesn’t work anymore, you have to come up with a new strategy. Yes, believe it or not, there is a strategy to discipleship. When Jesus sent His disciples out in the 10th Chapter of Matthew, He didn’t do so without giving them instructions. He told them what to do, how to do it, and He even told them what their demeanor should be as they did it. Yes, God is intentional!

However, in the midst of new strategies and new approaches, we can’t water down the Word of God or Jesus in the process. No matter what our approach is, it must be centered on The Word. No matter what we’re doing to grab people’s attention, we must always make Jesus the center of attention. We can think outside the box, but we should never think outside The Bible. If Jesus isn’t the draw, then what we’re doing is in vain.

The world has convinced us that crowds matter when we’re putting on a program. Where we used to believe in “where two or three are gathered”, we now don’t believe it’s worth it unless there are two or three hundred. We’ve been convinced that the flyer can’t be too churchy, or the wording can’t be too Christian. We have buzz words like “fire”, “anointing”, and “breakthrough” that causes people to run to our churches.

We make sure that we have the praise team or the preacher of the moment. In the name of creativity, we do all that we can to draw people to our flame. However, when you’re doing something for The Lord, the who and the why are always more important than the number of people that show up.

No matter what program we put on in church, there ought to be three objectives:

  1. Glorifying God
  2. Getting someone saved
  3. Keeping someone connected to God

I know we like to fill the room, but our main objective should be filling the people up with Jesus. Again, this isn’t to disparage anyone that’s looking for creative ways to fill up the church. In fact, I encourage every church to have some sort of marketing plan that targets the people that are current members (we can’t be so concerned with the fish we don’t have that we neglect the ones that we do), as well as the people that you’d like to see at the church. The point here is that Jesus must still be the main reason we do any of it.

As we see in that Luke 5:1-10 text, when we take Jesus into the world, even in places where we were once unsuccessful, He draws where we once failed. And He’s so powerful, that even when we fill up our churches and people begin to overflow, because He’s the draw and He’s what people came for, no one will get away.

When we make Jesus the center of any program that we’re putting on, we are fulfilling our purpose as the church. When we draw people to Jesus with Jesus, they will stay because of Jesus.

Whatever we do in the church must begin with The Bible. When we come up with ideas, we should ask:

  1. Is this Biblical? – Are there any Scriptures that supports what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and how we’re doing it?
  1. Who’s getting the glory? – Is what we’re doing lifting up the name of Jesus or our particular ministry, our cause (if the cause isn’t Christ), or even our invited guests?
  1. Is there an opportunity for someone to be saved? – This is beyond simply opening the doors of the church. Is what we’re doing actually being done to draw people out of the world and to Christ?
  1. Does it point to discipleship? – For those that are in attendance that are already saved, will it cause them to go out and witness to someone else about Christ or just witness about the event?

I know this may seem a little stuffy to some people, and maybe we’ve gotten to a point where we believe we don’t have to mention the name of Jesus every time we invite someone to our church. But if you don’t want to mention the foundation of the church in what you’re doing in the church, supposedly for the church, then one has to wonder if any of it is really about the church. If Jesus isn’t the draw, then what are we really doing?

If we really want to fill the church, there are some tried and true methods that we can use that will ensure that the people that are coming are there for the right reason. Evangelism still works. Witnessing still works. The testimony of your personal life when you’re in the world still works. But no matter what the method, we should all be doing as Peter did. We need to get Jesus in the boat, or in the case of our discussion, in the marketing plan.

Then, we need to develop a nevertheless spirit. Maybe we tried some things the old way and didn’t get the response that we wanted, so then we have to ask ourselves, did we drop the net on our word or on the word of Jesus?

By simply obeying what Jesus said and when He said it, Peter did what he always did when fishing. But when he did it at the command of Jesus, the outcome was completely different. If we’d only follow His Word, we’d catch more fish than we could hold.

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Stay in your lane: Don’t focus too much on “the Joneses”

FullSizeRender (4)Everyone that appears to be ahead of you isn’t necessarily winning. This is one of the things that we need to understand in life. We’re often looking ahead, around, and behind us, when our primary responsibility is to run the race that God has designed for us. It is not our call to be overly focused on the apparent successes or supposed failures of others. Just do you, and all that God has promised will come to you.

Let me try and make it a little plainer. The only way for you to lose the race that God has for you to run is if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do. No one can beat you. No one can stop you. That is, no one but you. You have a specific duty and it’s all in your lane. If you stay focused on that and stay the course, God will cause you to triumph!

Focusing on those ahead of us can be misleading. There’s nothing wrong with having good, sound, accomplished mentors that have blazed the trail before you, but not everyone is doing as well as you think they are. There are people that are running ahead of you, and they’re running quite fast, but they’re also running towards destruction. Without having all the information that’s present in their lane, you could unnecessarily speed up while trying to keep up, and crash into a coming hurdle that God intended for you to jump over with ease.

Conversely, you must consider the example that God is setting through you. There’s someone running behind you. Not because they’re slow, not because they’re failing, and not because they don’t have the skills that you have (sometimes, they have more). There are some people that are running behind you just to see how you’re running your race. They’re taking notes. They’re learning from you. God may in fact be using you as a standard bearer. Are you running properly? Are you at the right pace? How are you handling your hurdles? Are you properly positioned in your own lane?

I’ve noticed that God has given me a very unique ministry. I don’t preach the same as others (I don’t have a “Baptist sound”), I don’t teach the same as others, and much of what I do in ministry outside the pulpit was established before I was ever licensed, which caused skepticism because people often put more stock in titles than they do in content. But I also believe that by answering my call later in life, I’m better able to handle the uniqueness of the call.

At this stage in my life, I have a better understanding of how a sense of competition doesn’t belong everywhere in life. This is especially true in ministry, where our primary goal should be leading others to Christ, and not trying to outdo one another. Because of the perspective that I have, I’m able to just do what God has called me to do. I can write as He inspires me, teach and preach as He inspires me, and walk in what He’s called me to walk in, without ever feeling inferior because it’s not quite what others do in their lane. But more than anything, because I’m unique in what I do, it helps me to appreciate the beauty in what my co-workers in the vineyard do without ever feeling the need to change or to try and change them.

I know the grass often looks greener on “the Joneses” side. They’re jobs seem better, their ministries seem to be flourishing a bit more, they even seem to have better friends than you. But just remember, as you run your race, all that glitters ain’t gold. People have become quite good at imagery these days.

At the same time, some people are doing exactly what it looks like they’re doing because God has called them to greater heights and platforms. But before you go aspiring to that, you must understand that there is also a greater responsibility there as well. While understanding that sometimes everything isn’t what it seems to be, we must also remember that we aren’t in some lanes because we can’t handle it.

“The Joneses” may be miserable or they may be as happy and accomplished as they appear. Pray for them and wish them well in whatever they choose to do. But don’t let it distract you from what God called you to do. I call it snowflake ministry. We don’t all look the same, but when we all get together, what a beautiful sight it can be. All we have to do is what we’re designed to do. And to get to the well done line, we can’t be overly concerned with any other lane but our own. Don’t press toward any mark. Press toward the one that God has set before you.

Excerpt from “Going Through to Get Through”

Read an excerpt from Rev. Kelly R. Jackson’s latest book “Going Through to Get Through: Activating your faith during life’s most trying times”.

BookCoverPreview (2)Taken from the chapter:
“The challenge of God’s timing: Working your way through the wilderness”.

Available March 1st!
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What are you waiting for?

When we’re trying to answer the question of why God brought us to a particular place, we must first examine ourselves. It’s so easy to begin questioning God and asking Him why we’re in a certain place or what we’re supposed to do now, but the first questions belong to us.

God may have in fact pointed us in a certain direction, but did we take the route that He told us to take? Did we go through the people that He told us to go through, or did our pride or our feelings about that individual cause us to use someone that God hadn’t authorized?

Did we commit to the vision that He gave us, or did we alter it? Most importantly, when we received that vision from a holy God, did we alter our living to coincide with living out the promise given to us by a holy God?

When you examine those questions for your own life before questioning, or even blaming God for why you have to wait in the wilderness, you may in fact find that it was never God’s plan for you to wait. Know that God’s blessings on your life aren’t yours no matter how you’re living.

When you ask God for a blessed destiny and He agrees to give it to you, you can’t continue on living however you want. God expects us to live up to the call and the blessings.

Also, you may find that it was God’s plan for you to go through some trials so that you might know that He delivered you, and so that you can appreciate your blessings when you reach them. All that you’re doing may have been designed for you to exercise your faith and for you to grow in that faith.

Consider again the Children of Israel. God could’ve made a way for Moses and the Israelites to escape captivity without ever having to confront Pharaoh. But by having to deal with Pharaoh head on, all were able to see that God’s power can deliver us without us ever having to cower in the face of those that wish to oppress us.

When they crossed the Red Sea, it wasn’t God’s desire for them to spend 40 years in the wilderness wandering. The journey from the wilderness to the Promised Land would’ve normally taken only a few weeks. It was their disobedience and lack of faith that kept them from reaching their destination sooner.

God’s promises to us are real, but we sometimes need to evaluate our commitment to God. There are times when we’re more committed to the promise than we are to the God of the promise. We want to go from point A to B, but God may want to add a few more letters to the equation.

God sometimes wants to refocus us on why it is we started out. So often we’re in this wilderness state looking to God and asking “What’s the holdup?” In the meantime, God is looking down at us and asking the same question.

There are times when God will slow progress because we’re moving in the wrong direction, or we’re moving in the right direction, but we’re skipping steps. There are also times when God will stop progress because we’ve stopped progressing. As we’re waiting patiently in the wilderness, we must also remember to wait FAITHfully!

We must remember to never give up on God just because traffic has momentarily stopped. There’s a plan, a path, and a purpose. But if you’re not moving, don’t always assume that God has stop working on your behalf. Sometimes, we’ve stopped working on His behalf. Sometimes, all you’re waiting on is you.

Isolation for elevation

Whether you’re in favor of the wilderness or not, you must understand that it’s all a part of God’s plan. It may not feel like it, it may not look like it, and it may be counter to what you thought God promised you, but know that it was always a part of God’s plan for us to be isolated before we’re elevated. This time of consecration is necessary if we’re to be what God would have us to be at the next level.

As God looks to shape and mold us into what He wants us to be, we must also understand that there is some reshaping that must go on as well.

So those of us that are passionate, but only passionate about sinful things, God wants to redirect our passion, not take it away from us. For those of us that are intellectuals, but only for worldly causes, God needs our intelligence, but He needs it focused on Him.

Those of us that are talented and gifted, but have used those talents and gifts for the world, God doesn’t want us to lay our talents down, He just wants us to use them for His glory.

When we come to God from the world or from a place where we weren’t in His service, we must understand that we have some things on us that must be removed. We have some habits, some ways, some addictions, and some behaviors that are not of God. Before we can truly be used for God’s purposes, these things have to be stripped away.

The easiest way to stay in a rut is to stay in the place that got you stuck. So when God calls us up and out for greater service, He’s going to call us out of the rut of former friendships, former family relationships, former jobs, former romantic relationships, and even former church relationships.

When He isolates us in the wilderness, He’s taking the time to strip us of all of our old allegiances in order to form some new alliances. When God is taking you to something new, you can’t be beholden to what’s old. Sometimes God has to break us apart in order to remake us into what He wants us to be.

When those Children of Israel had been in captivity all of those years, as much as they loved God, they had still taken on some characteristics of their oppressor Egypt. It’s been said that it took one night to get them out of Egypt, but it took 40 years to get Egypt out of them.

When we’ve been living in the world, following the edicts of the prince of darkness, we have some stuff on us. God can’t just elevate you to a Promised Land or a holy position just as you are. He’s got to have some alone time with you so that He can shape you into a vessel that He can fill, so that you may pour out into others.

Everybody’s seasonal: Lessons for 2016 and beyond…

2016-new-year-ss-1920I’m guilty. I was one of those people. Always at the end of the year, threatening to kick someone out of my life. Claiming new change for the new year. Making my list and checking it twice, and if you didn’t fit in, you can get out. It seems like a wise thing to do, especially in the name of self-improvement. But there came a day when I took a long look at this practice and found that not only was it unnecessary for me to even try to do such things, it’s not even my business. Let me explain.

First, let me state that we don’t need a lot of resolutions. We simply need resolve. Stop looking at the calendar as an indication of when you should change. Change when you feel the need to. January 1st isn’t some magic day. I know the feeling of newness hits us all, but that same feeling would hit you in the middle of June if you saw a need for change, made the change, and committed to it.

Also, I contend that we don’t need to choose our circle as much as we need to cultivate that which God has chosen for us. God has promised to direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6), so He will lead us into those places that He would have us to go, around those people that He would have us to be with. If you’re in the wrong place, He’ll make you aware. Not so that you can remove someone, but so that you will know why He’s about to.

In the Christian community, we sing songs like “I Give Myself Away”, where there’s a portion of the song that goes: “My life is not my own, to You I belong, I give myself, I give myself to You”. If this is in fact truth, how are we making decisions on who stays and who goes? If your life belongs to God, then He makes the decisions on who belongs in your life.

Now, I know the thought here is going to be “Rev. Jackson, don’t I have to make some decisions about who I should and shouldn’t associate with?” Yes, you do, and I believe that God does lead us to certain decisions. However, what I believe more than anything is that God changes us first, in order to change our surroundings and our circle of friends.

We’re so focused on who’s in and out of season in our lives that we lose sight of the fact that we can be out of season in someone else’s life as well. We’re so busy kicking people out of circles that we don’t know that there are some circles that we need to be kicked out of too.

Once there’s a difference in how you’re living, you won’t have to get rid of any wrong people in your life. Once they see you going in a direction that they don’t wish to go in, they will remove themselves without any assistance from you. This way you didn’t “kick” anyone out, and there are no hard feelings. You’ve probably recognized that they needed to go, and God moved them away. Most importantly, this leaves the door open for reconciliation, just in case we come back into season in one another’s lives down the road.

If we’d only just remember, we’re all seasonal. No matter how important you think you are, no matter what you’ve done for a person, no matter where you think you fit into their lives, it is only for a season. Remember that as people are passing through your life, so too are you passing through theirs. We don’t like to deal with difficult people in our lives, but their blessing may be tied to their interaction with us. We may be in their lives but for a season, but our impact may be life-long.

I’ve often stated in my writings and my teachings that we should let God be our gardener. We should allow Him to do all of the planting and uprooting as He sees fit. There are times when people are in our lives and we wish they would just go away. But if God placed them there, they must be there for a reason.

Many of us would’ve never learned the lesson of choosing the right friends had God not allowed us to make the mistake of choosing wrong once or twice in life. In the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13:24-30), Jesus tells us to allow them to grow together, and He will separate them when the time is right.

If we allow God into our lives in that same way, He will separate us from the “wrong” people when the time is right. But don’t be surprised when you look up in the end, and there are some “wrong” people standing by your side, who were supporting you all along. Some of those very people were on your “get out of my life” list, and you were so focused on how God was using you, that you had no idea how He was using them.

I know this thinking isn’t popular these days. We’re so busy taking pride in being some kind of lone wolf that we forget that we need one another. We’re so busy telling folks that all we need is God, while forgetting that God manifests His love for us through others. Social media will have you thinking that everyone is disloyal when they don’t co-sign your every move, when in fact the most loyal people you’ll ever meet in your life are the ones that aren’t afraid to tell you that you’re wrong. They’re the ones that would rather fall out with you than silently watch you make huge mistakes, all in the name of being your “ride or die”.

Seasons change all the time, and some last longer than others, no matter what the calendar says. Our relationships are the same way. Remember that any fruit that’s picked before it’s time can cause illness when it’s consumed. Allow all of your relationships to reach maturity. Even through the growing pains. Even through the difficulties of life. Even when it seems they’ve outlived their usefulness.

We’re all seasonal. Live your life, in your current moment, in this current season. Leave all of the changes to God, with the expectation that He will do something great in your life, while providing the people that you need along the way. And He’ll do it all in due season.