Tag Archives: Humility

You’re Still In The Running: Thank God Your Past Doesn’t Disqualify You!

In this current election cycle, as it has been in the past, there’s a lot of conversation about the pasts of the candidates. When you’re running for the office of President of The United States, you should expect that people will dig into your past, look at your voting record on certain issues believed to be critical, and even your past personal behavior to see what kind of character you have. While character and voting records are definitely things to consider when voting for someone for the supposed highest office in the land, standing firm on people’s past can be tricky proposition.

Now, I didn’t write this to tell anyone how to vote or what conspiracies they should be mindful of. I’m a preacher and I’m saved. That means that when I consider my past and where God has brought me from and what He has brought me to, I understand that we are often more than the sum of our pasts. When I see how we’re examining people based on past behavior, I can’t help but wonder, what if God disqualified me because of some decisions I made because of youth, ignorance (both willful and otherwise), and just plain ol’ rebellion? What if I wasn’t allowed to run for Jesus because in the past, I ran with the devil?

I’m reminded of Moses as I write this. When God chose him, he was a murderer and a fugitive. Even Moses thought he should’ve been disqualified, giving God every reason he could as to why God should choose someone else for this most important leadership position. But God was well aware of what Moses had done and he chose him anyway. God had to show Moses that he was more than his past decisions.

Recently after the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant in January of this year, there was murmuring about his indiscretions in Eagle, Colorado in 2003, almost 17 years before his death. In fact, it was just hours after the helicopter crash that people brought it up. Some on social media had held so tightly to his past, that they couldn’t even offer condolences to his family before they sought to remind all of what happened in 2003.

This compelled me to do two podcasts on redemption and retribution because I felt that we were confusing the two. By many accounts, whoever Kobe was in 2003 and no matter what anybody thinks he did or didn’t get away with almost 17 years ago, he was a far, far cry from that man at the time of his death. And because we believe so much in holding on to past shortcomings, I find it hard to believe that Kobe had another night like that and no one brought it to light. I’m not suggesting he was perfect for the rest of his days, but it was obvious he had changed.

I imagine what might have been had Kobe not been allowed to keep going, despite his past. It was clear that God had more for him to do. It was clear that he was more than just the poor choices he made in Colorado. And while some may think I’m defending what he was accused of, that’s not the case. I’m merely pointing out that some that have considered themselves better than Kobe was that night have committed atrocities in the sight of God and He still gave them the chance to change their lives for the better. If God won’t handcuff us to the past through an act of grace, who are we to deny people the opportunity to show that they’ve changed?

If all I ever care about is what you used to be, I may never fully come to realize what you are right now. If I’m solely stuck in where you were, I may never see how far God has brought you. And while it’s true that sometimes past behavior can predict future behaviors in our lives, I’ve listed two examples in this post alone that shows that there are exceptions to our rules when God gets involved.

The fact remains that God could easily do some fact finding in our lives. God could easily dig up some dirt on us and it would all be accurate. God could easily see what our voting record says when it was time choose between right or wrong, and He most definitely could have analyzed our character at any given moment and deemed us unfit to continue to run our race to make our calling and election sure. Instead, He chose grace. Instead, He sent a Savior.

In this climate of mud slinging and fact checking, let us remember that God has the goods on all of us. And yet, He’s allowed us to remain in the race. We haven’t been disqualified yet. We’re still in the running. In spite of our shortcomings and our pasts, we can still win this thing.

A Word of Caution: The Charges Were Never Dropped Against Us

If you know me or you’ve followed this blog, you know how I am about catchphrases in church. I do my best to combat them. I know that people wanna be clever and say cute things or things that will get them likes and shares on social media, but I always remind people that when it comes to the Word of God, clever, but out of context is still wrong. God’s Word deserve more respect than that. It should never be watered down or manipulated until it’s on par with a catchphrase.

One of the catchphrases getting traction these days in Christian circles is the statement “Jesus dropped the charges”. The first time I heard the phrase, it was in a viral video where a woman was giving her testimony. In short, she said she went to court one day, believing she had a warrant, but to her surprise, the warrant was nowhere to be found. From there, she exclaimed “Jesus dropped the charges!”, and the church went up.

I found it hilarious. I probably even shared it on my Facebook page, because contrary to what people may think when I tear down a Christian catchphrase, I love a good laugh. However, it’s all fun and games until people start taking that joke as Bible.

And here is my issue with things like “When praises go up, blessings come down”, or “Too blessed to be stressed”, things that aren’t supported by Scripture. People begin quoting them so often that they become the fabric of our churches. Combine that with people that won’t come to Bible class to see that some of these things aren’t anywhere to be found in the Bible, and you have people that will quote catchphrases as if they actually are Bible Verses. This seems like a small thing, but it can be quite problematic to the faith.

When we start leaning on things like “Jesus dropped the charges”, we fail to examine what that statement is saying. Again, don’t get me wrong. I love a good joke. As long as it stays that way when it comes to what we believe in our Christian faith. When we examine that statement of charges dropped, we must realize what that means. When charges are dropped, people go free and nobody pays a penalty. Nobody, that is, but the victim of the crime.

When charges are dropped, it’s sometimes due to a lack of evidence, and other times, people being falsely accused. In the case of the young woman in the viral video, she could’ve fallen into either of these categories and thus, the charges were dropped. However, in the case of sin, even though grace and mercy was given to us, there is no lack of evidence and we are by no means innocent or falsely accused.

A quick trip to the book of Romans helps us to understand all of this. In Romans 3:23 we find that we all have sinned and fallen short of His glory (charges filed). In Romans 6:23 we find that the wages of sin is death (punishment established). However, in Romans 5:8-11 we find that while we were sinners (guilty) Christ died for us, and through His blood, we escaped condemnation (freed, but not innocent). Yes, we got off, but not because God backed off. We got off because Jesus stepped up.

The crime of sin that you and I commit on a regular basis is a crime against God, and therefore, God is the first victim of our crimes. David says to God famously in Psalms 51:4 (NLT):

“Against You, and You alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgement against me is just.”

David understands his guilt and he understands who he’s harmed. He also understands that whatever punishment he receives is just. And if you know the story of David and Bathsheba, you know that even though God didn’t take his life, there was still a price to pay (2 Samuel 12:13-24). When you and I sin, we can throw ourselves on the mercy of God’s court and sometimes we won’t pay as harshly as we should for what we’ve done, but that will never, ever be because God dropped any charges against us.

As David said, the evidence is against us. We have fallen short of His glory, just as the Bible says we will (Romans 3:23). Hebrews 9:22 (NLT) tells us that “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness”. This means that charges are never dropped as it relates to our wrongdoing. Somebody had to pay.

When we reduce grace, mercy, redemption, and forgiveness to mere catchphrases, we minimize the work of the cross. We minimize the sacrifice that Jesus made for us by taking our place on the cross. He who knew no sin became sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) can be translated, He who did nothing wrong paid for the wrong that was done. No, Jesus didn’t drop the charges, Jesus took the charges.

Again, I’m not trying to ruin anybody’s fun, but the church must always remember what’s true. Isaiah 53:5-6 (NLT) says:

“But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all.”

We must remember that if everybody gets away with it, then grace is rendered unnecessary. The moment that we forget the fact that someone else paid for what we did, that’s the moment we begin to live recklessly, and that’s the moment that we become ungrateful. I hate to be a wet blanket, but in the midst of our having fun, let us never forget what was done for us on Calvary just to get a few likes, laughs, shares, and amens. Be creative, but be sound. Have a laugh, but have respect for the truth of The Word.

Hebrews 12:2 reminds us that He “endured the cross, disregarding its shame”. My brothers and sisters, there are no dropped charges for the Christian. If I can borrow another catchphrase, “Jesus paid it all”. That one fits because He really and truly did pay for our sins. The nail prints in His hands and feet tells us that someone faced punishment for what we did. Embrace your freedom and celebrate your escape. But in the midst of your celebration, never forget how you got free in the first place.

God is still rewarding faithfulness

Over the last month or so on the “Your Life With Purpose” radio broadcast, we’ve been discussing Abraham and faith. One of the most enduring lessons that I have relearned as I’ve gone through these shows and the pages of my Bible is that there were times when Abraham moved without questioning God, there were times when he didn’t trust God as completely as he should have, and there were even times when he thought what God was saying was so outrageous, that he laughed at God. However, the thing that stands out the most is that Abraham was ultimately faithful to God, and God was in turn faithful to Abraham.

What I often find amazing in my writing and in my ministry is that I’m often trying to encourage others with my thoughts or words, and in the end, I end up encouraging myself. I do my best to be obedient to the Holy Spirit in reference to what I speak and write, only to go back and realize that God was ministering to me. While people have often told me how they consider me strong in my faith, I always remind them that I ask God questions as well. I do my best to obey Him, and I assure you that I never doubt Him, but I will ask questions.

I do wonder why I’m put in certain positions. I do wonder at times why it seems as if I’m overlooked in certain areas of life and ministry. But what I love about God is that He doesn’t answer me in words, He answers me in action. He answers me in provisions. He answers me in protection when I feel under attack. He answers me by preparing a table for me in the presence of my enemies. Even when I have questions, God answers with faithfulness. Even when I find it challenging to serve, I feel as if I have no choice because He always rewards my faithfulness.

What we can learn from Abraham is that in the midst of doubt, fear, trepidation, concern, and all out disbelief, even when our faith is lacking, God is still a rewarded of them that diligently seek Him. If you look through the narrative of Abraham, you find him doing two things quite often: Talking to God and worshiping God. He was committed. Know that God is still blessing people just for ultimately believing in Him. God is still moving on behalf of people that hesitate when He calls them to the impossible, but will ultimately proceed anyway. God is still rewarding faithfulness!

We often find ourselves in places where we feel overwhelmed, unappreciated, unprepared, and even unqualified. The truth of the matter is some of those places are the places that God has actually called us to. We must remember that God rewards our faithfulness, not our perfection. He rewards us according to our obedience, not according to our accolades and acumen. He knows we don’t have all the answers. He knows we’ll doubt at times. He even knows we’ll fall short from time to time. But if we stay with God, He’ll stay with us. And not only will He stay with us, He will reward us.

God reminds Abraham, and even us, in Genesis 12:3 that if we remain faithful Him, He will “bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you”. This encourages those of us that are fearful of what man will do to us, and it encourages those that seek to help us along the way because they are faithful to what God is doing in our lives. All that God promised Abraham came to fruition, not because he was perfect, not because he did everything right, and not because he was the most gifted. God blessed him because he believed and because he was faithful.

You’re right, they don’t support you. But there’s more to the story.

You’re not crazy. Don’t let people make you think that you are. The very people that should support you in some way, form or fashion, the people that you call bro, sis, bother, sister, cousin, mother, father, friend, and even sometimes BFF, etc, are ignoring your efforts to live your dreams and create a better life. You see it because they do it in the open. The neglect is real. No, you’re not crazy. But you’re not defeated either.

If there’s anything that I’ve learned on this journey of entrepreneurship and individual ministry, it’s that God is The One that makes a way, and therefore, God is The One to be counted on. Many of us have simply misidentified our target (I’m guilty of that). We’ve missed who God has sent us to impact because we’re trying to reach for what’s right in front of us. However, the truth is who we’re near and who we’re meant to reach can often be two different things.

The fact remains that Jesus Himself had to leave His kindred and do the works that God sent Him to do (Mark 6:1-6). It was for them, but someone else had to receive it before they could appreciate it, and they still never fully did that. If Jesus faced rejection and neglect in light of His tremendous purpose, it’s going to be the same for you and I. But there is more to the story. God will still make a path for you.

Sure, many of us will claim to have haters that we don’t have, but that’s because we often fail to see that people don’t have to be haters in order to not support you. It’s true, some are haters, but some are also indifferent, and some quite honestly see you as competition or a threat. But if your eyes are on your God and on your mission, even though you see what you see and feel what you feel, you won’t be terminally affected, and most importantly, you won’t quit.

I’ve survived a lack of support by people that embraced me regularly and told me they loved me, just so that they can turn around and talk openly or post online about people that did the same thing that I do, while never saying a word about their “bro” or sending any love my way. I’ve survived my own mismanagement of my ministry, missing both financial support and other opportunities, because I was more focused on getting support from who I thought should have been supporting instead of going where God told me to go for support. You could almost say that I was constantly missing the bus because I was consistently standing at the wrong bus stops.

I’ve survived days when I looked up and the ministry was a one man show from beginning to end because my passion and perspective superseded those that pledged to help, but they didn’t know what help really entailed, and they bailed on me when they found out. But in the midst of it all, God was in the midst of it all. I’m still going. Not because of me, but because it’s greater than me. I’m still going because God has purposed this work, not because man supported this work.

I just want to encourage somebody today and tell you not to give up and not to give in. Remember why you started, and if the only goal was to be loved and accepted by all, you may need to adjust your goals because that one is unattainable. Remember, Jesus Himself was rejected by family, friends, neighbors and such. He was sent away by people who actually needed what He had. Work your plan according to The Master’s Plan (Matthew 6:33). That’s the true definition of success. Be encouraged on today. God has a victory waiting for you that no amount of earthly support could ever match.

Battling a Cain spirit: Our DNA is still a threat to unity in ministry

In my book An Understanding with God, I referenced the fact that we come from a damaged DNA in Adam. David outlines this in Psalm 51:5 when He says we were born in sin and shapen in iniquity. This stresses the fact that sin is a part of our makeup, and if not for the Spirit guiding us, we’re all susceptible. After all, the man that wrote the Psalm wrote it after taking another man’s wife, getting her pregnant, and having that man killed to cover up his sin. And he was a man after God’s own heart.

What this reminds me of is the fact that even God’s chosen can be a mess at times. I myself have behaved outside of my calling, and as long as I’m alive, there’s a good chance I’ll do it again. Thank God for grace, but how do we manage our ministry when it seems that those of a similar vocation in God seem to be at odds with us?

The first thing we need to remember is that DNA. It caused one man in Cain to kill his own brother. He did it simply because his gift wasn’t honored in the same way as Abel’s. This still happens today. We don’t know how to honor one another’s gifts at times, so we try and kill one another. We do this, and when God questions us, we act as if we have no idea what happened.

Understand that ministry can be a wonderful thing. It can be filled with camaraderie, love, fellowship, support, and encouragement. However, it can also be filled with jealousy, backbiting, sabotage, and quite honestly, hate. Depending on who you are, that can either discourage you or motivate you.

What must be remembered is that we’re all on the same team (unless, like Cain, we’re not). We do this for The Kingdom and not for ourselves. At least that’s the way it’s supposed to be. There is no competition, except against the devil because we are trying to defeat him and win the souls of mankind.

If we want to manage our ministries, we have to manage our emotions. We weren’t called to do everything, be everything, boss everybody, or even reach everybody. God has a lane for all of us. We need to find that lane and stay in it until God gives the order to shift. And, as I stated on broadcast last week, when He calls for a shift, you may be shifting alone and away from some people that you thought you’d be working with forever.

The best thing that we can do is to manage our own ministry without trying to manage the ministry of others. We all have a call that we’re responsible for. And truth be told, we wouldn’t be that impressed with God if we were all carbon copies. We have similar vocations, but different administrations. Applaud when you can and should. Pray when you feel you can’t. Because sin lieth at the door. I know we all feel like we’re Abel. But just remember, there’s a little bit of Cain in your DNA as well.

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!

Get Ready For Your Elevation!

There comes a moment when God wants some alone time with His children. Away from where we think we should be, and certainly away from where we used to roam and from what we used to be. Maybe He called you out of a bad relationship. Maybe He called you out of physical or spiritual bondage. Maybe He called you off of an unfulfilling job or out of a church where you could no longer produce. Or maybe, just maybe, He called you away from who you’ve been, so that He can bring you to be what He wants you to be.

It’s during this time of isolation that God will shape you and mold you into what He wants you to be and what you need to be for the next level of your journey. It’s during these moments when God will cause you to re-evaluate your life and whether or not you’re effectively operating in your purpose.

It’s during these times that even those around you may seem as if they’re “funny acting”, they have no time for you, or they’re kicking you out of their circle. But 2 Corinthians 6:17 says “Come out from among them and be ye separate, says The Lord”. So, know that they’re not kicking you out, they’re kicking you up! God has a new you waiting at the next level!

Know that your isolation is preparation for your elevation. Enjoy your alone time with God. Don’t despair when your phone calls go unanswered. Don’t worry when the enemy attacks you for leaving your former place. Be not dismayed when you had more company in bondage than you have when your chains fall off. Get ready, child of God. It’s time for your elevation!

(Like that “Isolation for Elevation” t-shirt Rev. Jackson is wearing? Click here to order yours in support of the “Your Life with Purpose” radio broadcast!)