Thursday Thinks: We Are the Saints, We Are the Children

Dan Jackson

“This was written a year ago. I’m so thankful God’s truth never changes.”

Having just passed my fourth anniversary (some of you will know what for, and NO, it’s not Alcoholics Anonymous), I got to thinking. It never ceases to amaze me how much the simple truth of Salvation is something that we simply forget. Being a seminary student, the stuff that I study tends to (well, will really when I move to Massachusetts next Fall) go deeply into things that the average person–heck, even the average Christian–wouldn’t give a passing thought about. But at the center of all that I study, discuss, and debate is the Gospel.

Within Christianity, there seems to be a battle going on between the intellectuals and the anti-intellectuals. Unfortunately, neither of those usually further the Kingdom and spread the Good News. They tend to create division, conflict, and sometimes hurt. Some within the intellectual movement are moving the faith away from what it has been historically, and what it should be, into something that doesn’t resemble knowing Christ, let alone Christianity. The anti-intellectuals simply tell you that you shouldn’t question anything, you need to just believe it–whether you want to or not.

How do either of those stances further the Kingdom of God?! Christianity isn’t about how much faith you have, it’s about WHO your faith is in. Simple, right? Even when that is our intent–having a relationship with God through the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus on the cross–we sometimes mess that up. I sometimes (okay, a lot) mess that up. Thankfully, we’re loved all the same. Humans are inherently impulsive creatures. We want to survive. With eternity staring us in the face, we should be reaching out to the One who can save us.

You want to know the best part about that Salvation? It’s given freely to those who ask it in Jesus. 

It’s so simple. We shouldn’t be reaching out in fear, because “it’s the thing to do to look good,” or anything that’s motivated by greed or selfishness. Christ gave everything so that the gap between man and God could be bridged–all out of love. To be loved is to be known, and still loved in spite of ourselves. That love doesn’t create fear. That love doesn’t say “only if.” That Love says “come to me, and I’ll show you life.” Money can’t do that. Popularity can’t do that. RELIGION can’t do that. To the children who know the Father, I simply want to remind you that your salvation is in Christ alone, and that your rest will be found only in Him. We don’t need to look to anything else to save us.

To those who may be reading this, and don’t know Him, or maybe just don’t know what to think…I’m praying for you. I was that man once. Had it not been for Christ, there is no way that I would stand living, proclaiming what His love can do. Maybe you’ve heard about salvation before, but it confuses you. I’m here to tell you that Christ’s gift of redemption is something that is SO simple, but SO powerful. There is no person too lost, too far gone, too much of a screw-up to not experience what forgiveness is. I’m not a liar–you’re in my prayers, whoever you may be.

Jesus wasn’t simply a man who did a lot of good things, and then hung on a cross to die. He is the son of God. He took on human form, lived as a man, and was crucified–the worst death imaginable–so that we could know peace. How do I know this? For the Gospel says so in ten words.

Christ died for our sins and rose from the grave. Death has lost.


Faith Friday: Do You Know What a Hug Is?

Dan Jackson – “This is an entry from my blog earlier in the year. With my schooling coming ever closer (January!) reflecting on my last mission trip to the Dominican Republic reminds me time and time again how faithful God really is, and how faithful He always will be.”

A wonderful woman of God once asked me after church “do you know what a hug is?” Thinking “of course I know,” I smiled and said “Yes…?” And she laughed, and the conversation went as follows:

“No you don’t! You’re supposed to say no!”
“Oh, okay.”
“Go on!”
“No, I don’t know!”

After I said no, she gave me the best, and I mean the BEST, huge I have ever received. Now, I’m not the kind of person who usually says whether a hug is good or bad. One of my love languages is physical touch (The Five Love Languages), so I’m typically not picky when somebody shows me love with a hug. This hug, however…wow. It wasn’t just Esther, a sister in Christ, showing her love for a brother. 1 John 4:19 comes to mind. “We love because He first loved us.” Today, I have been pondering who God is according to what He has revealed to us through Scripture and how awesome He is. Obviously, the first thing that comes to my mind is love. I’ve written about God’s love and how He IS love a few times before. This wasn’t just a “so glad to have you missionaries here” kind of hug. This was a hug that clearly said to me and everybody else who received it “I love you.” How incredible is that? After the first hug, we (the team) kept getting hugs from people in the church. People showing love who actually meant it. It’s such a blessing to be reminded that love is real, and love is there for anybody who seeks it.

This world is so superficial and full of things that make us think that we’re receiving love or fulfillment, but this tangible, genuine display of true love was mind-blowing. The Bible tells us that when two are three are gathered in His name, He is there. That Sunday in Iglesia Bautista Cristo Para las Naciones–He was there. Fellowship together wasn’t just a compulsory Sunday morning thing. It was a gathering of God’s children to worship the one who has given them life. 1 John 3:16 says “This is how we know what love is: Christ laid down his life for us, and we should do the same for our brother.” Wow. We should love others so much that we are willing to lay down our lives for them! Honestly, I can admit that there are times when I don’t feel that love. But we’re commanded to. And it’s not “I love you because I have to” kind of love–it’s the real love that we give to others because of the love that Jesus has for us. My prayer is that He would teach me how to love like that; that He would teach me how to love like Him.

What I have just come to call “The HUG” kept coming to my mind today. It also reminds me of God’s faithfulness. Today I woke up feeling lonely, and I was struggling with a lot of things from the past. God used this experience to remind me of not only the love we are to have for each other, but also to remind me of the love He has for us. If that huge demonstration of love was just a glimmer of how great He really is, I can’t wait to be before His throne to experience Him in all his awesomeness. He is faithful in His promises, and for that I praise Him. Sometimes all we need is someone to just tell us that they love us. God tells us that all the time. What started as a hug was a vehicle for God to show me a glimmer of the love He has for me. Bondieu li Bon, tout nan. I can’t stop saying this truth.

Thursday Thinks: Forgiveness

**Dan Jackson**

Normally when I hear the word “forgiveness,” I think of the Ryan Reynolds/Amy Smart movie Just Friends. In the film, Ryan’s character works in the music business, and his boss wants him to follow around a braindead socialite that he’s looking to sign to his record label. During a flight to Paris, Samantha James (the aforementioned socialite) has started working on a song entitled “Forgiveness.” It seems like the only thing she’s done is sing the first verse of the song since they left. She sings it again. Then again. She then imagines if Bono sang it with her. Again and again and again and again. Then she sets the plane on fire. Hilarity ensues for the rest of the movie.

Back to her song. The first line of the song, “Forgiveness is more than saying sorry” is rather poignant, given the context that it’s presented. When looking at Jesus, forgiveness is so much more than us saying that we’re sorry for sinning. Forgiveness is the acceptance of what Christ did for us. The entirety of it. His life (sinless), death (brutal), and resurrection (miraculous) were all prophesied by the prophets and fulfilled in the Son of God so that every sin could be wiped away. As a mere, sinful man, I can’t imagine what Jesus must have felt to forgive not just my transgressions, but all of humanity’s. Every thing leading up to and following his death on the cross. There’s a saying that when someone has a difficult decision to make, the “weight of the world” is upon their shoulders. With Jesus, it literally was.

No, there is no “logical” way to explain his sinless life, death, and rising from the dead other than the simple fact that he was an incarnate deity–the Son of God. There doesn’t need to be some man-made, scientific, rational explaination for what happened. The supposed “logic” of man is mere folly to God as it is. One act of obedience led to the departure of condemnation for sins. There is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. How is that an allegorical or ficticious writing? It seems quite blunt to me. Christ died and rose again so that our sins could be forgiven.

With that all being said, that means forgiveness is real. It means it’s tangible. It also means that sin and all that it entails is real. We’re weak creatures. We’re not inherently good–we’re inherently sinful, therefore “bad.” We need Him. I thank God for His grace, mercy, and love that He freely gives to us. It’s something that is so simple, yet so often contested and debated. The price has been paid in full. With that entire scope, it almost seems foolish that we struggle to accept His forgiveness (and admit that we need it), as well as forgive those in our lives who wrong us. I’m just as guilty of harboring hurts and pain. They seem rather inconsequential in comparison to what Jesus must have felt to forgive everybody who was, is, and is to come. Wow. It blows my mind.

Even in my walk with Christ now, I struggle to accept His forgiveness. Why am I so special? Why are any of us? We are worthy because He loves us. Everything that this world deems as “love” fails. The one true love? Never. I thank God for loving me enough to forgive me, even when I’m ready to write my life away. It sounds selfish, but everybody is worthy of that love and acceptance into the King’s arms. If you have yet to experience that love, I urge you to run to Him. He wants to know you so that he may love you and show you how to live a life full of His love.