Category Archives: Religion

Read an excerpt from “An Act of Grace”

img_0164Read an excerpt from Rev. Kelly R. Jackson’s upcoming book “An Act of Grace: Forgiveness and Reconciliation God’s Way. Release date for this work is January 25, 2019, but you can place your order now! Click HERE to visit the publishing website and place your order!

It’s about reconciliation. It’s about the relationship.

Forgiveness was never introduced as a mechanism for us to gain control or an upper hand over our fellow man. Instead, it was introduced so that we can have control over our feelings of anger, hostility, and our desire to hold on to grudges tighter than we hold on to relationships. Forgiveness was introduced to us so that we can move on together instead of moving apart from one another. And even in the event that some relationships are altered forever, forgiveness is supposed to be the way in which we depart in peace, with no hard feelings.

One of the things that get us caught up in the misapplication of forgiveness is the fact that we’ve twisted God’s design. If you’re reading these pages, chances are high that you’ve been advised by someone in your life to forgive someone so that you can be done with them, as opposed to moving on from the situation. Not only have I received that advice in my life before, but I’ve actually given it in error. However, if we’re really going to look at this from a Christian perspective and a God perspective, grace, mercy, and forgiveness was never given to us by The Almighty so that He could be done with us.

If you’ve read your Bible as I have, you’ll see that God has always desired a relationship with us, and thus, He keeps forgiveness on the table. He’s not trying to let it go so that He can “get some sleep” or “find some peace”. While those things are important to us as humans, it’s not the basis of forgiveness as God designed it. Forgiveness is what God wants us to do so that we can come together. It’s about reconciliation. It’s about the relationship. I would say that anyone that “forgives” with the mindset of being done with someone hasn’t really forgiven at all, or at the very least, they haven’t forgiven God’s way.

Understand that some relationships will go through several changes in a lifetime before it settles in to what it’s going to be. There will be ups and downs, highs and lows, and good days mixed with not so good days. However, reconciliation must be the goal. Having relationships reconciled doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the same as they were before, but it does mean that they can function. Again, some relationships may not be the same anymore, but that doesn’t mean that there has to be any hard feelings or hostility when we come into contact with one another.

Even if you never speak to a person again, sometimes that’s just how that relationship goes, but the reason for never speaking again shouldn’t be because we’ve hardened our hearts and we’re too prideful to reconcile things. As I’ve often stated, some relationships aren’t broken, they’re just settled. That means you’re not mad at them and they’re not mad at you, but the relationship has run its course and that’s that. God understands that and is even accepting of it. However, what God doesn’t accept is our unwillingness to put things to rest.

***

Man must release his desire to be forever offended. There’s been a shift in our thinking that has caused us to desire the grudge, as opposed to getting rid of it. Many of us have fooled ourselves into believing that moving on with a hidden attitude is somehow Christ-like. On the surface, we appear to be taking the high road, but underneath, we’re still bitter and angry on some level. On the surface, we pretend to be cordial, but underneath, our hearts are hardened. We say we’re over it, but if the test of Romans 12:19-20 came along, we’d probably fail it.

What grace does is put the offense in perspective. What Jesus teaches us is relationships are valuable. He teaches us that hidden animosity is still animosity in the eyes of God, and He will not openly release forgiveness while we silently hold things against one another. Consider where you and I would be if we believed that our eternity was secure in Jesus, only to die and find out that God had secretly harbored a grudge against us all of these years and heaven had been taken off the table.

This leads us to the understanding that grace is the antithesis of offense. We can either hold on to offense or we can administer grace. One corrupts the soul, while the other cleanses it. We should never desire to be offended more than we desire to be reconciled. Offense is a burden that even God wants to release. Why would we desire to carry that which God wants to put away?

Copyright 2018 Kelly R. Jackson

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The Pew Needs To Read Too

There’s always been a great struggle in the church to get the congregation to read more often. There’s a need for them to open their Bibles more often than just Sunday morning when the Pastor gives his text. The desire is that the pew not only quotes Bible verses, but also studies their Bibles. Yes, we all need to study The Word. But what about supplemental reading that could be beneficial to the congregation? Not just a book full of motivational quotes and inspirational sayings, but books of Christian substance that can draw the believer into a closer relationship with God, and closer to the true call of Christians: Make Disciples!

Something that we as preachers often fall into is building our own libraries, but neglecting to help the pew build theirs. It is vastly important that preachers be well read because there is a lot of great scholarly writing available to us that wasn’t available to preachers in years past. However, what we must remember in our search for higher learning is that we can’t forget about the people we serve and the fact that they need something to read that isn’t necessarily as thorough as what we’re called to read, but just as important to their discipleship and their development.

What we as preachers are often doing when we’re reading is trying to sharpen our skills so that we may rightly divide The Word in a way that the congregation can receive from us. We’re trying to polish our sermons so that there may be some understanding on Sunday mornings. But there is a time where the pew will need more than sermon notes. They’ll need more than our three points and a close. The pew needs to read too.

When I began using my gift of writing exclusively for ministry, I thought my books would be popular amongst my preached brethren, but I soon found that such wasn’t the case. God revealed to me why that is. It wasn’t about any jealousy or animosity or anything like that, because there are some in the ministry that have purchased much of my work. It was about the fact that God didn’t call me to write to other preachers. He called me to help the pew. What I write is redundant to a knowledgeable preacher. It doesn’t appeal to them. However, the pew responds in a much different way. The pew receives it in a way that preachers wouldn’t necessarily. And that was God’s plan.

The fact remains that no matter how much the preachers learn from all of their reading and studying, at some point, the pew is going to have to do some reading and studying of their own if the dots are ever going to be connected. Not just their Bibles, but also some other well-written material to help them to make sense of what their pastors are teaching and preaching. Pastors can’t be insecure about this because the truth of the matter is, if they’ve had any type of advanced schooling, there was some supplemental material that aided in their understanding as well.

What was good for pastors and preachers (additional material) is no doubt good for the pew they’re charged with serving. The connection between the preacher and the pew is often missed because all aren’t committed to study. Additional training is always desired, but there must also be an effort on the part of the congregation to assist in their own growth. Pastors should always have some suggested reading for the pew. Something that may be remedial to them could be monumental in the growth of their congregation. The material is out there. The church as a whole must stop being resistant to it. Otherwise, false and sugarcoated doctrines creep in. The fact remains that if the church is really gonna grow as God intended, all of the study can’t be on the pastor’s shoulders alone. The pew needs to read too.

Your Faith Must Match Your Vision 

God is showing some people some amazing visions these days, myself included. There are businesses that He wants to birth, ministries that He wants to bring to fruition, and dreams that He wants to fulfill. The only thing that can stop us is a lack of faith, not a lack of resources. 

The Bible tells us in Hebrews 11:6 that it is impossible to please God without faith. That tells me that impossible is where our dreams die. Impossible is what will cause us to lose when we’re born to win. Impossible is a disappointment to God. Impossible shouldn’t be in our Spiritual nature because it’s not in God’s. 

Scripture also tells us that faith the size of a grain of a mustard seed can move mountains (Matthew 17:20). Therefore, if your vision is larger than a mountain, you must increase your faith even more. At the bare minimum, we should all have mustard seed faith. Just imagine what a little boost can do for you. 

Scripture also reminds us that with God, nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37). Therefore, we must remove that word from our vocabulary. The struggle that we have with the gap between our vision and our faith is we’re often in moments of discomfort when the vision comes.  

God shows you the business plan when you’re broke with a mountain of bills. God shows you the plan for the ministry when people are still questioning your call and your ability. God shows you the better career when you’re barely holding on to a job that you hate, but you need for your survival! Yes, God will show you the best of life when it seems that you’re at your worst points. That’s not a time to shrink in your faith. That’s when you must grow! 

I encourage those that may be reading this to see God more clearly than you see your circumstances. You could have all the money in the world, but if you lack faith, you’ll be scared to invest it in your dreams. So see the vision more clearly than you see your lack of income and/or opportunity. God will never lead you to it without a plan to feed you through it. Trust Him more than you fear failure. He’s committed to you. Increase your faith. See the vision clearly. Watch God work!

Monday Morning Disciple: “Following His Righteous Lead”

(Be sure to watch the video above)

“He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” – Psalms 23:3

There’s something about God going before us that makes all the difference in the world. Just look at it as if there’s someone that’s always making sure that whenever you go, things will work out in your favor. Just imagine having a feeling that no matter what the day brings, things will always be alright.

However, we can’t be naive about life. There are difficult days, difficult situations, and difficult people to encounter. Being saved doesn’t mean being trouble free. Having gone to service on Sunday, shouted your heart out, and threatened the devil doesn’t mean he won’t try and get the best of the rest of your week. Your Monday morning discipleship needs to be even stronger than your Sunday morning praise.

As this text says, after a Sunday filled with soul restoration, by Monday morning, God is ready to lead us into the path of righteousness for His name’s sake. He leads into right places because He is a righteous God. So even when we find ourselves in rough places and in the wrong company, we can still be right as long as we’re following God’s lead.

If there’s anything that you can get from our theme verse or even Psalms 23 in its entirety, it’s the fact that we don’t have to become a product or a victim of our surroundings. Don’t leave your Christianity at the benediction. Stay on the path of righteousness all week.

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God knows your heart, and that should concern you 

Whether we really believe it or not, God really does know who we are. That may seem like a strange opening line, but sometimes, I think we forget. When spend so much time trying to put our best foot and face forward to our fellow man, that we forget that God knows the truth about us. And when I say the truth, I mean the WHOLE TRUTH!

It should encourage all of us to know that God loves us in ways that the vast majority of the people we come into contact with in our lives don’t. Some people can’t deal with our habits, issues, and shortcomings, but God is different. Even with all that is wrong with us (and there’s something wrong with all of us), God has the ability to look past it and love us anyway. But, let’s be clear: Just because God loves beyond our flaws doesn’t mean He excuses our flaws. 

Herein is our human problem while dealing with a spiritual God. We want our fleshy ways to be acceptable to God, and that’s just not how it goes. We’re approaching God as we do our fellow man. “I’m not perfect, just accept it!” That’s fine when we’re asking for a little bit of grace from one another, but not when we’re dealing with God. There isn’t a “have to” anywhere in a sovereign God, which means He doesn’t have to put up with any of us. He does what He wants, when He wants, and only has to accept what He wants. 

One of our favorite phrases is this: “God knows my heart”. However, this statement isn’t the defense mechanism that we think it is. It’s a warning. It shouldn’t be a statement to get others off your back, instead, it should be a revelation to whoever decides to speak those words. It’s a reminder that if no one else knows the deepest recesses of your thoughts, your feelings, and yes, your motives, it is The One Being that controls it all. 

Understanding that God knows the heart means understanding that no matter what you try and cover up, it remains exposed to God. No matter what you speak, God knows what you feel. No matter what you do, God knows whether or not you’re sincere. God knowing our hearts means God knows the lie in our lives whether anyone else ever sees the truth or not. Saying that God knows our hearts is saying that His opinion is the only one that matters. Believe it or not, that should actually make us uncomfortable! 

I don’t say this to scare anyone because God is a forgiving God, whereas man will never let you forget. However, I do say this so that we can be clear. God’s forgiveness doesn’t mean He’s going to pacify our wrong. God still punishes, whether new age religion wants to believe it or not. 

He’s not going to look the other way when we mistreat one another. He’s still jealous, so He knows when you’re doing things for Him and when you’re doing them for show. He knows when we reverence people more than we reverence Him, and that’s evident by who’s able to get us to move. Again, He doesn’t know the truth we want others to see, He knows the WHOLE TRUTH! 

Once we realize how serious that statement “God knows my heart” is, not only will we stop saying it to other people, we’ll actually adjust our behavior. Because God really does know our hearts!

Dissemination proper: The power is in God, not us

Before we reach, teach, or preach, we must know and understand what we’re talking about, and who has the authority.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us”. – 2 Corinthians 4:7

20141012_194349 (2)Sometimes we misunderstand what it means to have this treasure in earthen vessels. The Word of God wrapped in our fragile humanity. In our arrogance, we assume that whatever slips through the cracks of our brokenness will always represent the goodness of God. The truth of the matter is we ought to take great care when we speak on behalf of God. Because of our brokenness, we’re capable of great information and misinformation.

Something I shared in my latest book, Are We Still Making Disciples, is the fact that all transformation isn’t godly transformation. Meaning that everyone that claims to be transformed isn’t necessarily transformed by God. Every thought that comes to our mind isn’t God’s gospel just because we’re saved. After being dipped in Scripture, we’re still very capable of acting in the flesh. In action and in speech, all while claiming to speak from the Scriptures and for God. I would caution, as we operate in these earthen vessels, that we get an understanding with our memorization.

We’re in a day and age of Scripture bashing with limited study and/or understanding. What’s often missed by the world that hates to hear from the church on any controversial issues, is the fact that the church actually beats up on one another with Scripture just as much as they do the world, if not more. And they do it the same way: with a lack of understanding.

We’re under the impression these days that because we do things a little different than days past, that we are somehow different. We have some updated Bibles and viral ministries, and now we think that we’re progressive. In some cases, we are, but in others, we’re very much the same. We’re not openly pronouncing hell on everyone that we don’t agree with as they did in days past, we’re just a little more subtle now.

We have new school platforms with old school sensibilities, and we think no one knows the difference. We’ve invited everyone in, hoping that they don’t catch on. Where we’re no longer Bible thumping, we’re tablet tapping. But clever judgement in still judgment, and the world isn’t fooled.

One of the primary motivations for me writing Are We Still Making Disciples is the fact that we have so many that lack understanding that are on an evangelism crusade in the name of the church, touting a few memorized Scriptures as though they not only understand, but are living by them to the letter (Romans 3:23 comes to mind).

However, it’s not so much the church sending people out as it is people going out on their own. We have so many social media evangelist, prophets, and scholars, that the church can’t keep up or contain them. People have forgotten the difference between testifying about what God has done for you and the responsibility of leading people to Christ.

With leadership comes great responsibility. If we’re standing on Scripture, throwing it around on our pages, in our friendship circles, in our families and so on, all with the idea that we’re leading people to Christ, we must remember where the power lies. It’s not in our snappy statuses, it’s not in our spiritual high mindedness, it’s not in the fact that we’re memorizing more than we’re applying, and it’s certainly not in our ability to throw Scripture better than we can catch it. The power is in God!

So our responsibility isn’t to be smug or clever with His Word. Our responsibility is to rightly divide it. To keep quiet about what we don’t have a grasp on. To remember that the treasure is in contaminated earthen vessels, and if we’re not careful, the contamination of these vessels can spoil the contents, so that when it’s poured out and it’s consumed, it makes the recipients sick and not healed.

It’s so vitally important that we pay more attention to the fact that God has the power concerning His Word. We are the conduits. Have a zeal of God, but according to knowledge. We must rightly divide before we disseminate. In all thy getting, get understanding.

Things I learned at church…

Rev JacksonSooner or later, we in the church will have to take responsibility for what we’ve done to influence the negative behavior of the world. Didn’t expect that from the Reverend, huh? Yes, we often talk about how worldly ways are creeping up into the church, and that’s very true and it’s a very real issue. However, we often fail to realize that we’re doing damage to the world as often as they’re doing damage to us. The world may not be fighting us as much as they’re fighting us back for what we’ve done to them.

The church used to be a symbol of peace, love, hope, and salvation for the wayward souls of the world. They knew where they were wrong, but they saw us as the hope that they could one day get right. But we’ve changed. We’ve blurred the lines. We’re not what we used to be. We beat on them as much as the unsaved does. We’re no longer doing the missionary work we’re called to do. Our most active auxiliaries now are The Complaint Board, The Backbiting Board, The Judgment Ministry, The “I Won’t Forgive Or Forget” Team, and The “You Ain’t Been Called” Outreach Program.

It’s true, some of the worst behaviors we’ll ever learn, we’ll learn in the church. We’re overly concerned about the world coming in and tainting us, without realizing that we’re already tainted. We shouldn’t fear the world coming in because that was actually God’s plan. What we need to do is better prepare the people that are a part of us, so that they’re able to receive the world when they come and impart Christ onto them, instead of teaching them how to fight people by using a few scriptures that they’ve memorized, but don’t understand.

With that being said, here are seven things I’ve learned from “Christians” during my 40 plus years in church. See if you can identify:

1. Some people will only follow a leader if they can lead them – In a place where leadership is desperately needed, it appears that many are actually looking for glorified sheep of their own. The problem is everyone’s an expert, but never a student. They claim to want leadership that will listen to their concerns and guide them, but what they really want is someone that they can control. And in the event that they get a leader that they can’t control, they assume someone else is controlling that person. It couldn’t be that this person is following God’s orders, and those orders just happen to be contrary to their thinking, oh no. As I’ve always stated, those that plot and scheme will always assume that everyone is plotting and scheming. I submit to you that sheep need a shepherd, and if your leader is following you, you’ll both end up lost because you’re both sheep.

2. Those that contribute the least will always have the most to say – Have you ever been having a political conversation with someone that has all of the answers for the country, but they’re not a registered voter? They give you excuses like “my vote won’t matter” or “it’s all a conspiracy”. Then why are you here in America? Why are you complaining? Church is no different. The people that contribute the least in church, whether it’s time, effort, or money, are always the ones filled with suggestions and complaints. They’re the first to tell you what to do with an account full of money that they’ve contributed little to nothing to. They’re just like people that don’t wanna pay taxes, but somehow expects the government to take care of and protect them. Which leads me to my next point…

3. People will only work when conditions are “ideal” (Which means they’ll never work) – There are people in church that will tell you that the only reason they won’t work or contribute is because “things aren’t right”. But once they do get right, they’ll jump on board. What they’re really saying is “I want it done my way and I work when I want to, not when the church needs me”. But when are conditions ideal for discipleship? When people sought to be disciples of Jesus (Luke 9:57-62, Matthew 8:19-22), He explained to them that conditions aren’t always favorable. He told them: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head”.

There is no comfortable way to serve God. It’s hard work, but the pay is out of this world! If the church must be perfect for you to work in it, I gather that you’ll never do a thing of substance there. The church doesn’t need workers to keep it perfect, it needs workers because it’s perpetually imperfect. As Jesus ended that discourse on discipleship, He said: “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God”. If God isn’t worth the sacrifice, especially when things aren’t perfect, then you aren’t worth the Kingdom.

4. Forgiveness is sometimes just a word. Some people stay mad forever and ever! – For a group of people that have been saved by a graceful and forgiving God, we sure are on short supply of forgiveness. We say we’ve forgiven and are ready to move forward, but no church member is really ready to move forward if they’re standing still (see previous point) while talking about the past and old issues. True forgiveness is about disconnecting from the past so that you can move forward. However, the first time something happens that we don’t agree with, we connect it to a 20 year old issue that we’ve allegedly let go of. There seems to be no such thing as water under the bridge. We assume that talking about it doesn’t mean we’re not over it, but I challenge that theory.

For example, if someone broke your heart years ago, but you rebounded nicely into a nice marriage with the love of your life, you don’t spend all of your days talking about your ex. You’re over it and you’ve moved on. That’s forgiveness. You remember what happened, but you don’t waste time talking about it anymore because you don’t want it disturbing your peace. You remember the pain it caused, but you’re not hurt anymore. That’s healing.

Scripture tells us that death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21), and the reason some issues won’t die in the church is because people keep bringing them back up and implanting them on a new generation of believers. I submit to you that if someone joins your local church and you feel it’s your job to tell them who to “watch out for”, if you mention anyone other than Satan because he’s not pleased that they’ve turned their life over to Christ, you have unresolved issues and the person they really need to watch out for is you.

5. Everyone’s a witness, but no one’s a criminal – Speaking of forgiveness, isn’t it strange that sometimes in church, everyone is owed forgiveness, but no one owes? We all know who messed up things in the church, but we fail to see our hand in it? Never realizing that even inactivity can be sinful if you know what’s right and did nothing to confront wrong (Luke 12:48). We saw what everybody else did, but it would take an O.J. Simpson-sized trial to convict us, and we’d still expect the glove not to fit. We’re so aware of everyone else’s shortcomings, but are surprised to find out that we’re guilty too.

Even as I’m writing this piece, I have my faults just like everyone else. Scripture tells us that we’ll often look past our greatest sin to see the smallest fault in someone else’s life (Matthew 7:3-5). But how much stronger would all of our churches be if we just took care of the wrong in our lives? If everyone on the block maintained their own lawns, we’d live in a beautiful neighborhood.

6. Anyone that disagrees with you is an enemy – Disharmony doesn’t come from disagreements alone. It comes from people’s inability to accept the fact that they’ve been disagreed with. Church folks are the worst at this. They fear individual thinking. They see every dissenting opinion as an attack on their own intelligence. Heaven forbid that someone has a differing point of view.

No one has ever grown without someone else challenging their thinking on their most dearly held beliefs. Even if you never change your mind and come to agree with the person disagreeing with you, it should force you to strengthen your argument. It should force you to further research your position to find out why you feel the way that you feel. And if you find out you’re wrong, you should be strong enough to own that and change.

When you have close relationships, especially the ones we should have in the Christian community, you should be able to handle a difference of opinion here and there, even if it becomes heated because we’re passionate, without having to promise to be mortal enemies afterwards. More than anything, we have to accept the fact that there’s a difference between what’s right, what’s wrong, and what’s opinion. Right is right, wrong is wrong, but an opinion is how I feel about it. And we all have a right to one.

7. Many have scripture in their heads, but not in their hearts – Herein is the crux of the matter. All that we have discussed here is a matter of scripture. Not just the memorization of scripture, but the application of scripture. Even good, well-meaning Christians struggle with this one. Many people in the church can tell you what the Bible says, but they can’t always show you how they’re living it. Bible class is still the least attended of all services in the church, and that’s true no matter how large or small the congregation is. And that’s not the fault of the church (unless it’s not offered), it’s the fault of the Christian that refuses teaching.

Consider how we learned the secular songs that we love. Once we’ve committed to them, we learn them “by heart”. It’s written in our hearts to the point where if we hear a song that we grew up on 20 years ago, we not only know all of the words, but we remember all the dance steps that went with it. We don’t blandly recite them without feeling either. We apply them with emotion. The memory of such songs elicit a response. Scripture should be the same way. We shouldn’t repeat scripture without a desire to act something out. Knowing scripture is important, but living it out brings about a change in your life.


What we learn in church determines how we affect the world around us. We can’t show love in the world if we can’t show love to those that we call brother and sister. That’s even true in a secular sense. If you don’t have a sense of love for those that you call family, those outside the family have no chance. If we really want to know why the world is bringing a lack of love into the church, it may be because we keep sending people that lack love out into the world.

So what have you learned in church? That’s a rhetorical question that begs for an answer. We must remember that some of the “messed up” people in the world got messed up at church. The feeling of superiority of a few people that know a few scriptures and give a few dollars in church, but have issues with everyone in the church because they don’t live the love they claim, is crippling us.

We can no longer allow just anyone to be our voice, whether inside or outside of the church. “Jesus is the head of the church” is just a catchphrase for some people, not a mandate. There needs to be a new shift. And much of the negative that we’ve learned in the church needs to be unlearned for our own sakes.