By Kenneth Jackson

By Kenneth Jackson

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!!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"WHO Told You That You Were Naked?"

     In the book of Genesis, when Adam and Eve sinned and then hid from God and covered themselves with leaves, God came to them and the question He asked was "WHO told you that you were naked?"  When I was reminded of this months ago, it was like a bolt of lightning hitting me!!  It has been almost a year since I went to Brookhaven Retreat in Tennessee--a voluntary, small, women's treatment center for mental health issues or substance abuse.  When I got there I thought that I was a failure---that I had failed God---that I was washed up--done up as a teacher and speaker---that all the passion I had for teaching and speaking God's Word was gone.  I was dying---physically, mentally and spiritually.  I could not sleep or eat and was in a horrible pit.  It is a long story that I will slowly share with you in future blogs, but the one thing I want to tell you about that hit me was "WHO told me I was a failure?"  WHO was feeding me all the lies?  Just like in the garden of Eden, it was the serpent--the devil--who came to tempt and lie to Adam and Eve, it was the "thief" that comes to steal, kill and destroy---the "father of lies"--the accuser of the brethren---the devil, who comes like a roaring lion seeking whom he can destroy and I believed the lies---lies straight from the pit of hell.  One of the greatest tactics of any enemy is to convince his opponent that he does not exist.  If satan can convince us that he is not real, we will never resist or come against him like it tells us in scripture---"Submit yourself to God, resist the devil and he WILL flee from you.  I like what someone said---"I know the devil is real--the Bible says so and I have had dealings with him."  I can attest to both!!  HOWEVER, "Greater is He (Almighty God) that is in us than he (satan) who is in the world!!"
      You and I are to be overcomers by the power of His Holy Spirit.  If we ever hear "Just WHO do you think you are?"---what we truly believe about ourselves will come rising up out of us---if we believe we are a failure and concentrate on all we think we have done wrong---then to us, that is what we will be, BUT---if the TRUTH--the Word of God---rises up in us, we will begin to believe, speak and know exactly WHO we are!!!  You and I are a child of the Most High God.  We are joint-heirs with Jesus---the apple of God's eye---a blood-bought child of the King of Kings.  We are unconditionally loved, completely accepted by God, and absolutely forgiven.  We are an original creation of Almighty God---there has never been anyone like you in the whole wide world and there never will be another like you---ever!!!  When we look in the mirror and agree with what God says about us instead of the lies the enemy feeds us, we will begin to love ourselves.  The commandments are summed up in "Love your neighbor as you love YOURSELF."  Many of us miss that part----We are to receive God's love, love ourselves and then that love pours out of us to others---until we truly accept, forgive and love ourselves, we cannot love others.
     Beloved----WHO do you see when you look in the mirror?  Scripture says you are fearfully and wonderfully made!!  This is not about being "full" of ourselves---proud and arrogant.  It is about agreeing with what our Father God says about us---believing the truth.  There is a scripture that says---"As a man believes in his heart---so is he."  What we believe deep down in the core of our being--our heart---then we will be.  ALL things are possible, only believe!!  We have been robbed, duped and lied to by the enemy of our souls--satan--.  Isn't it time to rise up and believe the truth of who you and I really are?  Amen and Amen!!
"Out of Death Comes Life"---next blog---

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"There's an "Angel" in my neighborhood!!"

     There is a scripture in the Bible that says to be careful how we treat strangers, because some have entertained angels and didn't even know it.  I am sure you have encountered many angels on your journey in life---they are everywhere!!  Not only are we surrounded by a hugh heavenly host of angels that we cannot see, but we are ministered to all the time by angels we can see.  I have been seeing one of these "angels" in my neighborhood for a long time.  She walks very slowly around the block and holds one arm up by her side.  In the wintertime she wore a green coat and would often be accompanied by a yellow cat.  Many times on her walk, this "angel" would stop to pet the cat.  As she was walking, she would always check to see if my neighbor across the street had received her paper.  If the paper was in the yard, the angel would pick it up, slowly take it up the sidewalk and lean it against her front door.  I don't know if she did this to other people in the neighborhood but she always did it for Hazel who lives across the street.  I observed her do this over and over.  A few months ago, when I saw her walking, I stopped my car and told her that she was an "angel."  She just smiled as I told her she was an angel sent from heaven.  The next time I saw her out of my bedroom window, as she came walking around the corner, I went outside and told her again she was an angel and asked her what her name was.  She could not tell me her name---she is not able to talk!!  I asked her if she could not speak because of having a stroke and she nodded her head.  I told her it was all right because I knew her name was "angel" and asked her if I could give her a hug which she did.  A few days later, a card was at my front door.  On the card, was a name and address---I knew at once it was my angel and her name is Lisa.!!!  I was so excited to know her name.  A few days ago, I looked out the window and there she was!!  I went outside and asked if her name was Lisa and she nodded her head and smiled!!  I just cried and was so moved with compassion for her!!  This precious one cannot talk but she is still ministering love, care and concern to others.
     Sometimes "angels" come and we are not even aware until after our encounter with them that it was truly an angel sent to us---they fly in and out of our lives.  They come as friends, family members and even complete strangers.  I have a whole "army" of these angels---friends and family who have prayed me through these last difficult months.  I am reminded over and over of the song by Alabama called "Angels Among Us" that says "I believe there are angels among us, sent down to us from somewhere up above.  They come to you and me in our darkest hour---to teach us how to live--to show us how to give---to light us with the light of love.  They wear so many faces, show up in the strangest places, Grace us with their mercy in our time of need."  Many times, these angels come just at the very moment we need them the most.
     They are everywhere!!!---if we will just open our eyes and see:) 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

"Just Do It!!!!"

    After more than a year of silence and after coming through a very difficult two year period, I am not sure where to begin in posting.  There is no way in one post to say everything about where I have been or to begin to thank everyone who prayed me through.  In thinking about starting to post again, I have gone through the usual excuses---what if I am not ready, what if I am not well enough, I'm not sure I "feel" able, where do I begin?, etc. etc.----which brings me to this post "Just Do It!!" 
    One thing I have learned on this journey called life is that we cannot go by our "feelings."  If we wait until we "feel" like doing something, we may never do it!!.  Feelings will deceive us--they are wishy-washy.  One day we may feel one way and the next day we may feel totally different!!  Feelings come and feelings go!!  How many times have we heard or said that we will do it when we feel like it---that our actions are the result of our feelings.  Like with love--one day we may "feel" so in love and the next day, we may not "feel" so in love at all.  Years ago, someone told me this about marriage.  Many marriages are abandoned because one partner did not "feel" in love or "feel" happy---not realizing that love is NOT a feeling-- it is a verb---it is something we DO.  It is an action.  Many times feelings will come if we will just go ahead and do those things we would do for someone if we "felt" so in love.  We have it backwards!!  If I feel like it---I will do it!!  In John 3:16, this is exactly what love does----it always GIVES.  "For God so loved the world (you and I) that He GAVE His one and only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."  Our God DID something!!!  He came to earth in human form--Jesus---and literally gave His life for us!!  Love is something we Do---regardless of how we feel.
    Who or what is controlling us?  If it is our feelings, then we might never even get up in the morning if we waited until we felt like it!!  How many people would actually show up for work if they only went when they "felt" like it?  How can husbands and wives love and meet each other's needs if we wait until we feel like it?  We use the typical excuses of not feeling like it---being too tired or some other excuse instead of depending on our Father God to give us His grace and strength to "Just Do It!!"  I love what a columnist who is over 90 years old said---"Every single day, no matter how you FEEL---get up, fix up, and show up!!!" 
    Love is a commandment--- in fact, all the commandments are summed up in this---"Love your neighbor (that is anyone) as you love yourself"---not if we "feel" like it----but rather--"Just Do It!!!"  You might even be amazed when you begin "doing" that the feelings follow:) Love gives first--then receives.  Amen and Amen!!
Part of my journey this past year took me to Brookhaven Retreat where I spent 3 months for depression and anxiety.  I will be sharing in future posts much of my experience there and what I learned during that time away and what I am continuing to learn since coming home in November.