Pastor's Blog

Pastor Jackson's blog shares ministry updates, wisdom, words of encouragement and daily thoughts. 

Fast Guidelines: March 5-18

As we fast together corportately as a church family, we are focused on a SHIFT in 2018. Each week, we are focused on 'adding' to our spiritual growth and development as individuals and a church family. Below are the guidelines for Monday, March 5th-Sunday, March 18th.

1. Meditate and sit still for at least 20 mins! (Journal only!)
2. Intentionally pray 4 times a day...split these times up during the day!
3. Intentionally seek to do one good deed per day! 
4. Intentionally meet and state your name to one person you don’t know of another race! 
5. Visit call or check on one person who is sick and shut in or experiencing a life challenge, can’t get to church, etc! 
6. Eat at least one meal at home at the table with your family at least once this week! No restaurant! 
7. Resist the tendency to murmur and intent and be mindful of God in every situation! 
Psalm 51:1-9; Romans 8:1-4; Psalm 51-10-12; Romans 8:5-9; Lamentations 3:19-23; 1 John 4:7-12; Matthew 6:25-34

Finding Comfort and Peace in the "Christ" of Christmas

In the midst of unsettling times in America, Christmas is upon us! This year has exposed many ugly, vile, hypocritical, and sad realities of our politics and our culture.  In a sermon delivered to the Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1967 entitled, “A Christmas Sermon on Peace,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “This Christmas season finds us a rather bewildered human race. We have neither peace within nor peace without. Everywhere paralyzing fears harrow people by day and haunt them by night.” Although Dr. King shared those piercing words fifty years ago, they unfortunately remain strikingly true fifty years later.

Nevertheless, in the midst of the many strange serendipities of this year, we can find comfort and peace in the “Christ” of Christmas. Isaiah declared: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6, NIV).

In all of Scripture there is perhaps no prophecy more liberating, transforming, and exhilarating than this one. In the midst of many dreadful prophecies, Isaiah proclaimed a jewel of hope to the people of God. God was sending a king who would deliver His people out of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional bondage. As a result, God’s people would experience the peace of God which surpasses understanding.

However, God’s comfort and peace for His children was connected to a child – the Christ child. The passive verbs at the beginning of that passage indicate that the Christ child born into the world would be a special gift from God uniquely equipped to bring peace into the world. With the phrases “a child is born” and “a son is given,” Isaiah utilized Hebraic expressions to illustrate both the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ. No wonder Jesus was called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.”

Jesus is “Wonderful” in that He is the “God-man.” He is both God and man. His acts are marvelous, miraculous, and incomprehensible. As “Counselor,” Jesus is intimately acquainted with the wisdom of God that becomes available to the people of God through Him. Consequently, He is uniquely qualified to become our “Top Adviser.”  Jesus is described as  “Mighty God” in that He is endowed with the power to save, protect, transform, and liberate. He is our “Mighty Warrior.”  As the “Everlasting Father,” Jesus is one with God in a kingdom that will never end, and that kingdom will include His followers. Because Jesus is the “Prince of Peace,” He brings calmness, wholeness, and serenity into our lives amidst confusion, brokenness, strife, anxiety, and darkness.

Aren’t you glad that you can experience hope, joy, peace, comfort, and light even in the midst of a dark world?  Isaiah declared: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2, NIV). Our hope, joy, peace, and comfort result from the notion that “light” broke into “darkness” on our behalf. There is no doubt that this world is full of darkness.  The darkness of materialism, greed, hatred, xenophobia, racism, sexism, classism, and many other “isms” permeate our world. Unfortunately, division and separation seem to be the order of the day. However, Jesus came to break into that darkness with the light of salvation, transformation, liberation, reconciliation, and restoration. John declared: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, NIV).

During this Christmas season, let the light of Jesus Christ shine strongly through you and the peace of Jesus Christ indwell you. Perhaps, you are struggling with the darkness of sin, the darkness of an uncertain future, the darkness of the loss of a loved one, the darkness of an unfavorable diagnosis, or the darkness of fear and anxiety. Whatever the darkness might look like, you can find peace in the fact that Jesus can break through the darkness of your world.

Years ago, there was a song written by Ronnie Hinson that stated: “There’s a lighthouse on the hillside that overlooks life’s sea. When I’m tossed it sends out a light that I might see. And the light that shines in darkness now will safely lead me home. If it wasn’t for the lighthouse, my ship would sail no more.”

Throughout this Christmas season and the coming new year, remember that Jesus is our lighthouse. He is the light of the world! No matter where you are in life, God’s light can shine strongly in you, around you, and through you! Thank God for giving us Jesus who is our comfort and our peace! Merry Christmas! And Happy New Year!

Count Your Blessings!

The celebration of Thanksgiving Day is one of America’s most cherished traditions. On Nov. 6, 1789, President George Washington encouraged America “to observe a day of public thanksgiving and prayer and acknowledge with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God.” Although we are 228 years removed from President Washington’s first Thanksgiving proclamation, America still has much to be thankful for!

There is something special about the potential of America. Despite our many differences and challenges, America has the potential of being a beacon of light in a dark and cruel world. She has the capacity to be a missional and liberating presence in this world that models Christ’s love, justice, peace, service, prosperity, civility, and decency. President Ronald Reagan once stated: “This anointed land was set apart in an uncommon way, that a divine plan placed this great continent here between the oceans to be found by people from every corner of the Earth who had a special love of faith and freedom.” In my view, America’s “exceptionalism” is her potential to “to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with her God” (Micah 6:8). Alexis De Tocqueville observed: “The greatness of America lies not in her being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.”

During this time of the year, I often think of the tranquility that Thanksgiving can bring to a nation anxious about its present and its future. The divisiveness, dysfunction, and disdain that abounds in our nation has many fearful, frustrated, and anxious. The collapse of leadership, morality, and character at every level is very troubling. The arguments concerning patriotism and protest are unsettling.  However, it is important to remember that Thanksgiving is not only a time to recount our blessings; it is also a time to reimagine our future.

In their book entitled, What Unites Us: Reflections On Patriotism, Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner remind us that freedom, community, exploration, responsibility, and character are some of the valuable traits that unite us as a country and position us for a better future. For so many in our country, the ability to imagine a better America and dream of a better future has been stripped away. However, we have the opportunity during this Thanksgiving season to help others in both word and deed reimagine and participate in an America that does not divide people by race, class, gender, or political affiliation but rather unites people by love, forgiveness, fairness, and service to each other in the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood.

I concur with President Barack Obama who stated: “The spirit of Thanksgiving is universal.  It is found in small moments between strangers, reunions shared with friends and loved ones, and in quiet prayers for others.  Within the heart of America's promise burns the inextinguishable belief that together we can advance our common prosperity - that we can build a more hopeful, more just, and more unified Nation.  This Thanksgiving, let us recall the values that unite our diverse country, and let us resolve to strengthen these lasting ties.”

What are you thankful for during this Thanksgiving season? I’m thankful for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” I am thankful that God spared my life from a life-threatening accident. I am thankful for the many persons in Gallatin and Sumner County who have prayed for me throughout this challenging experience. I am thankful for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that helps me to make sense of life in this cold and cruel world. I am thankful for the Holy Spirit who empowers me to live a life of purpose and meaning in service to others. I am thankful for family, church, and friends. I’m thankful for our troops, veterans, first responders, police officers, fire fighters, teachers, ministers, care-givers, social workers, nurses, doctors, public servants, janitors, mechanics, farmers, and all who serve for the glory of God.  I’m thankful that I live in “The Nicest Place In America” – Gallatin, Tennessee! I am also thankful that I am a citizen of the greatest country on Earth – The United States of America! What about you? What are you thankful for? “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1). During this Thanksgiving season, join me in doing what the hymnologist suggested: “Count your blessings, and name them one by one!”

With a Heart of Gratitude...

To My Dear First Baptist Church Family, 

I’m eternally grateful for your many thoughts, prayers, cards, and words of encouragement. Thank you for the love and support you have shown my family and I.

I’m making great progress everyday as I undergo rehabilitation at home. I am doing everything the therapists tell me to do, and of course everything my wife, tells me to do (smile). The medical team was amazed that I had no broken bones, head injuries, or paralysis. We know, that it is the grace, favor, and protection of God. I did suffer internal trauma to my lungs, ribs, and sternum.  It will take a little while to heal and to regain all of my strength, but the team says I’ve already surpassed their expectations! The prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective! God is indeed faithful and He is worthy to be praised!

Ministries at FBC have continued to flourish and multiply! Thank you for remaining steadfast in the work of the Lord. FBC, we have more work to do! I look forward to seeing all of you soon. 

As the scripture says, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His name" (Romans 8:28). 

I thank God for you FBC, and I love each of you! 

-Pastor Jackson