By Kenneth Jackson

By Kenneth Jackson

Monday, December 7, 2015

"Is it The Truth or a Lie?"

I recently taught a Sunday School lesson to the youth at my church about how we can know if something is a lie.  I gave each of them a one hundred dollar bill (play money) and told them what all we were going to do with the money.  They all said it was not real money.  I asked them how they knew it was not the real thing----because they knew what real money looks like.  Experts in counterfeit money, spend all their time studying real money---they do not spend all their time studying counterfeit.  That way, they know when money is fake because they KNOW the real thing!  The only way we can know if something is a lie, a fake, a fraud, or a counterfeit, is to know the truth--the real thing. 
What do we spend our time studying?  A few weeks ago, the first thing I thought about when I got in my chair to pray was ISIS, Islam, terrorists, Allah, etc.  I could not get it off my mind.  I had recently watched several disturbing videos about ISIS and what they were teaching their children.  I became so upset and disturbed and consumed with the evil of all of it.  At prayer group, I asked what our response is to be to all this going on in our world.  First of all, I was reminded that the Lord has already told us what to think on in Philippians 4:8--"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, THINK on these things."  The Word of God IS the truth and we must KNOW the truth so we will recognize a lie.  The Lord reminded me of Psalms 37--"Do not fret yourself because of evil doers"---meaning to not worry, stress out, flip out, wring our hands over those doing evil--because He IS with us---it goes on to say "Trust in the Lord and do good"--that is what we are to do not fretting..  Then I was taken to Psalms 91-"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, He IS my refuge, He IS my fortress and in Him will I trust.  It goes on to say that "I will not be afraid of the terror by night" and then telling us "He shall give his angels charge over us to keep us in all our ways."  I have been reading and meditating on these two Psalms---words of life---not concentrating and thinking on words of death coming from the terrorists.  My friends also reminded me that even if America becomes Islamized and Sharia Law takes over, we KNOW the end of the story, we KNOW who wins---Our God!!  We have read the end of the book---the Bible---we win because we are in Christ.!!  Hallelujah!! 
We have heard that Allah and our God are the same---we all worship the same God----This is simply not true.  Our God is nothing like Allah.  I tell the youth over and over that the god of Islam---Allah---asks his followers to die for him.  That is why they are flying airplanes into buildings and blowing themselves up because they believe it is pleasing Allah and that 70 virgins wait them in paradise along with all the alcohol they can drink.  These are lies that they have been taught since they were babies so of course they believe lies because they have not been taught the truth.  I tell the youth that our God does not tell us to die for him, our God died FOR US!!!  Islam is a religion of hate,  the Quran tells to destroy all infidels (anyone not believing in Allah) with the sword.  They hate Jews and they hate us next, we are the second satan to them.  Our God says forgive our enemies, pray for them, do good to them and bless them---He does not tell us to kill them.  I asked the youth what we are to do if a Mulsim family moves next door to us?  Are we to throw our trash in their yard or be hateful to them?  We are to LOVE our neighbors as we love ourselves.  If we say we hate Muslims, we are hating what our God loves because He loves all people.  But, we must be wise as serpents and know what the Word of God says---the truth----so that we will not be indoctrinated or taken in by the lies of the Islam religion. 
We keep hearing that the majority of Muslims are peaceful, however, the peaceful majority is irrelevant to what the evil minority are doing in our world---just like the majority of the German people were peaceful during the World War 11, but it was irrelevant to what the evil minority under Hitler were doing.
Beloved, you and I MUST know the truth.  The Word of God is the truth.  Unfortunately, most never take the time to read and study this amazing book.  It is LIFE to us, it brings healing and health to us.  The truth is also a person---Jesus said "I am the way, the TRUTH and the life."  We must KNOW our Lord---not just know about Him---so that when a fake comes, we will immediately recognize him.  I tell the youth that Allah is a counterfeit, a fake, a fraud.  He is not our Lord, our God IS the real deal!!  Our God is the true God---the only wise, Almighty, All Powerful, All loving, all kind, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords and His name is not Allah----His name is Jehovah God and there
 is none like Him!!
Our Father God is still on the throne, He is not shaken and He is not moved, and as we stay in His Presence, we will not be shaken or moved by all the evil we see and hear. 
We can know what we are thinking on and studying on by the words that come out of our mouth.  May the living Word of God in our hearts, fly like arrows from our mouth!!!  God has need of you to speak hope, encouragement, words of life to all those you meet each day.  Amen and Amen
Blessings!!!!
Carolyn

Friday, November 13, 2015

"Valley Duty"

Three years ago, I walked out of Brookhaven Retreat in Tennessee where I spent three months for anxiety and depression, including being suicidal-- plus I had to be detoxed from a prescription drug for anxiety that I had been addicted to for a year, and I also had shock treatments while I was there.  I thought there was no way I would ever be able to face people and look them in the eye after going through all of that with the guilt and shame I was experiencing .  I TOTALLY underestimated the love and grace of God and the army of people He had raised up to pray me through! 
I have had so many posts to share, especially what God has done in my life and heart since Brookhaven, but just haven't been obedient to write them---so in thinking of where to start, I came across this message I had written almost six years ago when I was on a "spiritual high."  At that time, little did I know I was about to go through the hardest, darkest valley of my life.  As hard as I prayed for the Lord to deliver me out of the pain, I realized I was going to have to go through.  Sometimes faith lifts us out and sometimes faith takes us through.  Either you or someone you know is going through a valley.  I pray this post ministers to you:  "I believe the Lord gives us many  mountaintop experiences with Him to prepare us for "valley duty." It is wonderful to be on top of a mountain--the sky is so blue--the air so crisp--all is well.  It is like that in our spiritual walk with the Lord.  When we are on top of a mountain--on a spiritual high--all is well.  We feel that life is good--God is good, and we need those times desperately of refreshing and encouragement.  However, just like on the top of a real mountain, when you get above the tree line, nothing grows up there.  It is all barren.  All the lush, green growth is in the valleys below.  So it is with us on our spiritual journey--we grow in the valleys of life, not on the mountaintops, because it is when the hard times come, that we realize how much we are in need of God's grace, strength, and mercy.  It is then that we cannot rely on our own strength but His.  We can feel His presence surrounding us way up high on those spiritual mountaintops, but when we are in so much pain, sometimes we cannot feel Him at all--in fact, we may think that He has forsaken us.  Jesus did that on the cross when He cried out "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"  When all the weight of our sins was on Him and He was carrying all that and in so much pain, He cried out to the Father, but the Father had never forsaken His Son--He was right there with Him on the cross  In those hard valleys of life, He will never forsake us, but strengthen us and carry us through the valleys.  It is easy to rejoice on the mountaintops and say how good our God is, but I believe that even in the darkest of valleys, our God wants us to rejoice and know how loving, gracious and kind He is.  I believe He wants us to trust Him so that we will KNOW that He will bring us through every one of them--to rejoice no matter what KNOWING He will never forsake us, never fail us, but is with us every step of the way.  That "valley duty" is when we minister His love, joy, peace, mercy, grace and forgiveness, and encouragement to all those people we meet in life who are going through a hard, dark valley.  You can be sure as a member of His army that He is preparing you for that "valley duty."  He has need of you---many are walking through dark, hard, painful valleys and are in need of His comfort, grace and strength."
This is the exact message I wrote those many years ago, but I must confess that going through the valley, I did not do a good job of rejoicing my way through!!!  Mainly, I was just trying to endure  and not doing a very good job at times!  I am amazed how He brought me through and used many of you to encourage and pray for me---you were doing "valley duty" as part of being in God's army!!  Thank you!!
Today, there is someone you know who is in one of those valleys, and I believe the Lord will use you to minister His healing love, grace, mercy, forgiveness or encouragement to them---God has need of you!!
Blessings!!
Carolyn



Monday, May 4, 2015

"Ever Been Discouraged?"

Asking the question "Have you ever been discouraged?" is sort of like asking the question "Have you ever been hungry?"  Of course we have been both!!!  Now the question is "What do we do?"  If we are hungry, we get something to eat---we don't wither away and die of extreme hunger--we feed ourselves.  When we are discouraged, we must begin to feed ourselves on something other than more discouragement---which is one of the things that happened to me yesterday.   Being discouraged is one of those tactics of the enemy---to get us so down about something or someone that we are rendered "helpless" to ourselves or others.  I remember reading "a discouraged soul is helpless.  He can neither resist the attacks of the enemy for himself, while in this state, nor can he prevail in prayer for others." I know discouragement is not from our Father who is our constant source of love, hope, and encouragement.  I believe He wants you and I to be a source of encouragement to others.  After being impressed to share a story with you, I sat down to write this post.  Yesterday in my church was senior recognition Sunday where we honor and celebrate the five high school seniors, one of which was my oldest granddaughter.  I so wanted everyone to be there for this special occasion and sent out e-mails and posted on Facebook to encourage everyone to come.  I expected a full house---all the pews full for this joyous occasion that I was so excited about !!  I prayed and prayed for lots of people to come.  When I got to church early, it was not a packed house like I thought, but I just knew they would be coming.  I looked around and began to think "Oh Lord, where is everyone?"   I began to be discouraged in looking around at the empty pews because it was not a full house like I wanted.  I had no idea at the time that I was stepping right into a trap!!  The service started and it was a wonderful time of celebrating these amazing five seniors that we have all had the joy of watching grow up--praying for them and loving all of them.  My pastor, Leah, gave a wonderful message on Jonah and how God told him to go to preach to the people at Ninevah, but Jonah ran away from God in the opposite direction, got on a boat, thrown overboard, swallowed by a great fish, prayed for three days in the belly of the fish, vomited out of the fish, and finally Jonah did what God told him to do in the first place---we all know the story---but Leah's message was for these five seniors.  She told them that no matter what Jonah did---obeying God or disobeying Him that God was still with Jonah in everything he did and everywhere he went-- just like no matter what we do or where we go, God is there---whenever we are doing what God wants us to do or running away from God---He is still with us!!!  He never leaves us---ever---just like He never left Jonah!!  She spoke words of encouragement to the seniors and to all of us.  God's presence with us at all times is a promise we can all count on and believe.  Later in the afternoon, I began to see what happened that morning----I was looking around at the empty pews instead of looking at the people who were there and BEING THANKFUL for each and every person!!!  There were LOTS of people in church to thank God for---but I had allowed myself to be discouraged.  It is sort of like the glass of water filled up half way---is it half full or half empty?  Or we can look at the glass and BE THANKFUL for the glass and that it has water in it!!  I know that when I walked into my church yesterday morning, I was to look around--then look up and BE THANKFUL to God for each and every person and not fall into the trap of looking around and being discouraged!!  This is one of our spiritual weapons----seeds of discouragement from the enemy cannot be sown in a HEART of GRATITUDE!!!  I encourage you today to make a habit of looking for the silver lining of every cloud of discouragement that tries to darken your day and keep looking at that silver lining instead of the gray in the middle of the cloud.  Maybe sometimes we don't get what "we" want so we will be THANKFUL for what we do get!!  Hope your heart is full of gratitude today and that you dispell any clouds of discouragement that might come your way by looking up, up, up to the Lord and thanking Him!!
Blessings!!!!
Carolyn





Thursday, April 2, 2015

"A Powerful Weapon"

Recently, I have been impressed to do a series of blogs on our spiritual weapons.  I heard a statement years ago that has remained with me and I believe it to be true.  It is "The Christian army is the only army that does not train its soldiers before sending them into battle."  No army on earth would recruit members and send them out on the battlefield without thoroughly equipping the soldiers with weapons and training them in the use of the weapons and the tactics of the enemy.  We as Christians are in an army---it is called the church----a living, breathing body of believers--you and me.  Our weapons according to scripture are not human weapons  --we cannot use guns or bombs to defeat our enemies.  The Word of God says we have three enemies---the world, our flesh (human nature) and satan.  One of the greatest tactics of any enemy is to convince its opponent that it does not exist---if we don't believe we have an enemy, we will never resist or fight.    If we, the church, do not prepare our soldiers when they become a follow of Jesus, it is like sending a lamb out into a pack of wolves.  Every day we live we are in a battle between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light---evil versus good---hatred and love.  This blog is about a powerful weapon we have been given----a weapon to defeat moaning, groaning, murmuring and complaining---all of which our flesh is really good at doing!!!  I know I am--after all, we have had more experience in being human than anything else.  Paul tells us in Romans that we are in a battle within us--between the flesh (our human nature) and the spirit (our divine nature).  This weapon is GRATITUDE--one of the most important, absolutely essential weapons we must learn.  Over and over in scripture we are told to "give thanks" and the way we become proficient in using our weapons is just like any army----practice, practice and practice!!  However, most of us need reprogramming so instead of griping and being negative, we have the choice to be thankful.  It will require us to purpose in our heart to choose to give thanks. Sometimes old habits die hard.   It is our choice to wake up in the morning and begin to thank the Lord for the gift of another day---no matter how we feel or if we slept well or not or whatever we have to do that day.  We can actually change our mindset and change our day if we determine to thank God----because there is no way we can moan and groan and be thanking God at the same time!!!  Only one thing can come out of our mouths at a time---that is why it is such a powerful weapon, but we must use it not just once a day but all day long---until it is a habit instead of the negative.  Why not start today practicing this powerful weapon in your life and speaking it out?  Let's start now---"Thank you, thank you, thank you Lord for the gift of another day.!!  I will rejoice and be glad in it!!  Thank you that your grace is sufficient for everything that this day brings!!  And that is just the beginning---I encourage you to live a life of gratitude!!  Amen and Amen:)
Blessings!!
Carolyn




Monday, January 26, 2015

"Let Me Loose In Your Life!"

Have you ever felt impressed to say something to a total stranger---words that you feel God is wanting you to speak?  I believe this is God's Holy Spirit wanting us to speak words to others that will encourage them, comfort them  or lift them up--or have you wanted to ask others if you can pray for them?  In the past when this has happened to me, I usually responded this way--"What if I don't say it right, what if they think I'm crazy, what if this isn't really from the Lord, what if I mess it up, so I better not do anything at all.   I have just "what if'd" my way out of doing what I knew God wanted me to do.
About a year ago, when I was praying, out of the blue I heard the words "Let Me Loose In Your Life!"  At first I wondered what that meant, but then I knew exactly what it meant.  I began to see a dog on a chain--the dog only went where I wanted it to go, only did what I allowed it to, and I had complete control of the dog.  It is like with God--I was keeping Him on a chain--just doing or saying what I wanted to do or say without being obedient to the leading of His Holy Spirit."  I knew it was "fear"--fear of what other people might think--fear of failure--fear of missing God or messing up what God wanted me to say or do.  I believe we can turn all our "what if's" into "What if it is exactly what the Lord wants me to say and do--what if this is exactly what the person needs--what if I pray and something happens---what if this is God directing me?  I know something always happens when we pray for someone---hearts are touched--needs are met.  When I have asked someone to pray for them, no one has ever said no, but the opposite--they are so thankful for the prayer.  Many times, this will happen in the grocery store, Wal Mart, post office, convenience stores--anywhere where people are.  Every day, you and I bump into many people who need a touch from the Lord.  Since you and I are all God has to use here on earth, it is up to us to speak for Him.  It is an honor and privilege to be a part of what God is doing in the lives and hearts of 
the people who cross our path every day.
One of the first times this happened to me, I was at a conveniene store.  There was a pickup by me with a young man feeding a banana to a little girl about a year old.  Another little girl was also in the pickup.  I knew the Lord wanted me to say something to him but not exactly sure what to say.  I went into the store and looked out the window at the man.  I did the usual excuses---what if he thinks I'm nuts, I don't know him, etc. etc.  But I was so convicted to speak to him that I told the Lord I would do it.  I went to the pickup and when he rolled his window down, I told him he did not know me but I wanted him to know the his daughters were so blessed to have him as a father.  I told him some other things too that I don't remember and went to my car.  I then heard a still, small voice saying "Was that so hard?"  Pretty sure it was my Father.
There are people every day that we bump into that are in desperate need of a touch from the Lord.  Sometimes it is a smile, a kind act, an encouraging word, a prayer offered them---it is whatever God puts on our hearts.  Why not today, just "do it" and let God loose in your life.  Not only will the person be blessed, but you also will be blessed too!
Blessings!!!
Carolyn

Saturday, January 3, 2015

"Do I Have To?"

I believe this message has the ability to change our thoughts, our words and our actions---even change our life. Several years ago, when our granddaughters were having a dance recital, my husband, Lynn, asked me if he had to go. I told him that No--you don't have to go---you GET to go!! He definitely wanted to see his granddaughers---he just didn't want to sit through the hours it took to watch everyone else's granddaughters perform. I reminded him that some men never had the blessing of watching their grandchildren.
As we come into the new year, we have a choice every day of our life---it can begin this way. When we wake up in the morning and think "Do I have to get up?"--we have a choice to choose this day as a gift from God and be thankful---then change this thought to---No, I don't have to---I GET to!!! Mercy woke us up this morning---another day to look like our Father---another day to be like Jesus---another day to enjoy and rejoice!! Then as we go through our day we can change all the "Do I have tos?". Like going to work---no, I don't have to---I GET to---a job means I can work---a job means I am blessed with a job---a job means I get to go and carry God's presence into the workplace---I get to
enjoy the ones I work with!  Do I have to clean house, do the laundry, prepare meals, take care of my spouse----the list goes on and on----always with the choice to change it to I GET to !!!!  Do I have to mow the lawn, take out the trash, keep the children------help someone, feed the hungry, go see someone, give to this---give to that---Wow!!!! the opportunities that we have every day!! 
This year, 2015, I pray we all wake up every day realizing we just received another "gift" from God---another day to live--another day that we GET to carry His presence---to be what we were created to be---to be His image in our world.  Next time we start thinking "Do I have to?", I challenge you to remember---"No, I don't have to--I GET to!!"  There is another choice, because even though we tell ourselves that we get to----sometimes our want to, just doesn't want to!  But I believe if we just "DO IT"-- the want to will come too.  Why not try it?
Blessings!!!
Carolyn

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"Out of Death Comes Life"

  This post has been a long time in coming---mainly because it requires me telling the depths to which I had descended before going to Brookhaven---HOWEVER---stay with me---that is not the end of the story!!  A little over a year ago when I got to BH, I had spiralled down into a deep, dark pit----this is something we would never wish on anyone and I hope you have never been there.  There is a good chance that if you have never been there, you have had friends or family members that have.  At that time, I had begun isolating myself--not answering the phone, texts, e-mails or the front door.  Now I know that is a "red flag"---when someone begins to "isolate" something is not right.  I was basically not functioning at all---just lying on the couch all day and my thoughts were very dark.  At that time, not living looked like a better option than living.  I know, my thinking was all messed up.  I know this sounds awful, but it was reality for me at the time.  I kept seeing myself hanging by a rope in the garage.  At first I knew I would not actually do anything like that because I would never do that to my family or put them through that, but as time went on and I sank deeper and deeper, I began to cross a line.  It is hard to explain, but there is a point when thinking about something but not acting turns into beginning to act on the thought.  It was at the point when I began to plan out how to hang myself and dwelling on those thoughts brought me to telling my family that if I did not get help, I would not be here.  Within a few days, I was at BH.  I walked in there with no desire to live---I was dying physically, emotionally and spiritually.  It would take a book for me to tell you everything that my God in His love, mercy and grace did for me during those three months at BH and in the months since I have come home. 
     So, this post is to tell you one incident at BH that happened.  After I had been there about a month, we had a group of artists come and help us paint a picture.  We had our easels outside and I knew I wanted my picture to be an old, dark wooden cross with bursts of light coming out from behind it and at the bottom of the picture I wanted written "Out of Death Comes Life."  The artists helped us and I wanted the cross to be all cracked looking---just like we are at times in our life----so they helped me use this plaster looking material that cracked when it dried.  Then I stained the cross.  As I was trying to outline the cross with a paint brush, my hand shook so much from the anxiety I was dealing with at the time that I could not paint a straight line.  I began to ask the Lord how long this was going to last.  At that very moment, a beautiful butterfly landed at my waist.  As I looked down at the butterfly, I knew it was from the Lord reminding me of the promise of new life and that truly "Out of Death Comes Life."  The butterfly comes from death--as the caterpillar becomes a cacoon and dies, then out of that comes forth a beautiful live butterfly.  I was not able to write that at the bottom of the cross, but I found someone who would write it for me.  I kept it on my wall at BH while I was there, and I now have it framed.  I see it every morning when I sit down in my chair reminding me of so many things---first of all, out of our Lord's death on the cross, you and I live--we live free from the penalty of sin--because He died, we live.  But there is much, much more to this.  As we follow Him and "die" to self, He lives His life in and through us---a river of life that flows out from our innermost being.  At BH, we painted a "letting go box" and we put in it all the things in our life that we needed to let go of---mine included letting go of trying to please everyone, trying to fix others, letting go of past regrets or mistakes, letting go of worrying about the future---just a few.  In thinking about "dying" to self---it is like letting go---"dying" to always wanting to be right---to always having our own way.  It is letting go of the wrong motives in our hearts, letting go of bitterness, unforgiveness and resentment towards others, ourself or even God.  Beloved, it is just not worth hanging onto all that----it only brings "death" to us.  The good news is that when you and I "die" and come to the point of surrending our will to God and truly want His will more than we want ours, then an amazing thing happens----His life comes and fills us with joy, peace and love!!!  We live because He died---then we die so that He lives in and through us.  Hallelujah!!
Blessings!!!!
Carolyn