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.


Sinner to Saint

Run, run, fall away
Down I am, down I’ll stay
Darkness engulfing, flickering flame
Nothing changes, nothing’s the same
Mass confusion, screaming, crying
Cackle, fire, pain, and lying
Flat on my back, gazing up high
Nothing but black, no glimpse of sky
Long way down, no way up
Empty and dry becomes my cup
Much time to wonder, questions of why
“Help me, Lord Jesus!” Finally I cry

Piercing light, bright as the sun
Peace overtaking, no reason to run
Screams of agony fade slowly behind
Calmness, gentleness, serenity of mind
Lifted out, set on rock, miry clay now gone
Truth becomes reality, no more reason to con
Presence of God surrounding my life
Putting to death hopelessness, conformity, and strife
To hell is no sting, no hold on me now
At the foot of my God do I humbly bow
Thank You for salvation, my rescue from the grave
Mighty are You in victory, mighty are You to save


My Reflections on Haiti

**I am still really not all that pulled together right now, so forgive me the repost. In May of 2010, five months after the earthquake in Haiti, I had the honor of being a part of a team that went to minister down there. We worked with a missionary family, the Wrays, in Les Cayes. They have an incredible ministry there. It was my first missions trip out of the country. What a break-in for me. What follows is my heartache for Haiti put into the most healing way for me: a poem. I hope to be back to full blogging force soon. Thank you for bearing with me. Please continue to pray for the Erskine family, as well as for several friends of mine that lost everything in a terrible fire on Tuesday night in Sussex, New Brunswick. So much heartache right now for so many…**

When I think about our mission to Haiti, words to describe what I experienced just don’t come to me easily. The second day I was there, the only phrase I could come up with to describe what I was seeing and feeling was “devastatingly beautiful”. I tried, being who I am, all week to put my thoughts into poem form, to no avail. Finally, the night before we left, God brought the words to me. Here it is:

“Devastatingly Beautiful” ~ May 28, 2010

From the peaks of the mountains
To the lowest flooded vale
The beaches and the city streets
They all have their own tale

Devastatingly beautiful
Is the land so stripped away
Never knowing whether it might
Provide for another day

See the streets crowd with people
Beloved creatures of Your making
Forget their roots and know You not
While through them evil roots are taking

Devastatingly beautiful
Are the people plagued with doubt
And though their lips may stay silent
Their eyes are shouting out

Rise up, people of our Lord
Can’t you hear His children crying
They need us now, their darkest hour
Sacrifice of yourself and save the dying

Devastatingly beautiful
Is this country desperately broken
Now is the time, the harvest white
The hearts of His people are open

Now Your people have answered the call
And are raising the banner of Your name
For when Your word has gone forth
Haiti will never be the same

Devastatingly beautiful
Out of the ashes she will rise
Praises for You will ring anew
From a country once despised

Devastatingly beautiful
Shall soon be in the past
And lovingly blessed shall become
The legacy that will last


Broken Down…And I like it.

**This is a guest post from a good friend of mine, Dan Jackson. Dan will be contributing to the blog on a regular basis. Dan is a great young man with a heart for God and a message to spread. I pray his words touch your heart and, wherever you find yourself, give you a chance for reflection, thankfulness, and, if necessary, strength to change. To be all God wants you to be.**

This is my first entry, and as such I feel like what I’m about to ramble on about would be rather pointless if I didn’t do some sort of introduction. My name is Daniel Jackson, and I’ve been a blogger over at for around six years. Over the past few years, I’ve been trying, at times almost too hard, to discern God’s call on my life. I graduated from college in May of 2010, and immediately began trying to figure out what my next step was. When I wasn’t sure, I figured more school was in order. I spent a year in education classes—that was a bust. Teaching isn’t my thing. I have the utmost respect for those who are called to the profession, but that isn’t me. I also had the opportunity to go on a short term mission trip to the Dominican Republic in 2010. While there, I began to get some kind of sense that ministry was where I needed to go.

Since then, I’ve spent all of my time and energy focusing on going to Seminary. That was the be-all, end-all that needed to happen. I can’t serve the Lord outside of the Church or working on professional ministry, right? I returned to the Dominican Republic this past February, where I felt my call not only affirmed, but almost fine tuned. I felt called to a life of missions. As such, I planned my seminary education accordingly. Over the past few months, however, various things in my home church life coupled with what I’ve experienced while serving God abroad have really left me in quite a predicament. I felt this immense pressure to always do what I was “supposed” to do. I was living under that burden so much that I completely lost sight of the Son and grew deaf to His voice. I realized that I was deaf to Him in a moment that seemed like it was too late: while working at a Christian camp. It terrified me. What was I doing? What was I doing wrong? I didn’t know. I had no idea what God wanted me to do, or how He could use someone like me to effectively minister. I tried my hardest to shrug it off, while at the same time becoming so engrossed in things that I felt like I couldn’t live without: relationships, religion, saying the right things, looking the part, and leading worship. It slowly started killing me.

In what I assumed to be a headlong pursuit of God and His will in my life, I also allowed the expectations of this world and those in it to run my life. I’m quickly approaching my twenty-fourth birthday, and it hit me for the first time ever: I didn’t know how to live life the way I wanted. Not even that—I didn’t know how to follow what God wanted. Chaos ensued in my heart. Earlier this year, I was let go from my position of youth director at my church. I don’t believe it was handled well, and as such I was left angry, hurt, and bitter. I didn’t want to be those things, but I couldn’t help but wonder “if they’ll do this to one of their own, no wonder people don’t want to come to Church.” Cynicism reigned supreme in my life. Mixing cynicism, expectations of others, and not knowing where I was going was a definite recipe for disaster.

I was supposed to actually move down to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary this coming Sunday. As of this morning, I’m not going. So many things have led to that decision. Last night, when I realized that the money situation wasn’t feasible, I finally allowed myself to let go of it. After the initial let-go, things started coming to my attention. I’m in no way ready for Seminary right now—and it took God slamming the door in my face to realize it. This isn’t the first time in my life that I’ve had this happen. There is so much in my life that I’ve allowed to have dominion over my heart that the term “out of fellowship” doesn’t even begin to cover it. I was living a lie. The smiling, pastor in training, seminary-bound worship leader Dan was a farce. I’d become the very thing I claimed to despise—a Christian Atheist; a follower of a set of religious rules and guidelines. I’d become something I vowed never to be: a label. The inside was governed by jealousy, rage, lust, self-hatred, mistrust of God…the list could go on. Those few things alone shame me. There wasn’t any love—certainly not the love I should have for the Christ who saved me. I figured that all of the negativity I’d allowed to cloud my view of the Church would evaporate when I went to seminary. Truth is…it would have made it worse. My heart was set on a destructive path. I was going to fully transform into what Jesus tells us not to: a whitewashed tomb. I look great on the outside, but the inside is rotten.

During my breakdown last night, I cried out with what little energy I had left to Jesus. I’m not really one for dramatics, but I had no hope left. Thankfully, He heard my cry (okay, sobs).  I felt the presence of our Lord for the first time in months. What does that feel like, you ask? Peace. Love. Calm in spite of chaotic circumstances. The past was just that—the past. The aforementioned sins were counted as no more. I’m looking at this divine intervention in my life as a second chance. Well, maybe not a second chance; more like a five-thousandth chance. I lose count. The point is that our God is true to His promises. One of those promises is that He’ll never leave us nor forsake us, no matter the circumstance. I was convinced with all of my heart that I was on the right path, and regardless of how I felt inside, I was going to serve God and others. My spiritual health wasn’t a concern to me, when it clearly should have been.

The point of this long-winded introduction is to show that there is nobody too far gone, too screwed up, too “wrong” or deemed “less than” for God and His love to reach. People may look at me and say “you don’t know me; you don’t know what I’ve done.” To that, I say I’m no different. God’s love isn’t exclusive. There is more love and grace in His little finger than all that this world could offer. And for that, I am SO thankful. Tony Campolo once said “I’m not who I was, I’m not yet who I’m supposed to be—but I’m on my way.” It’s just that. Forgiveness and salvation in Christ isn’t just a magic pill or spell that we say to be transformed. It is a daily renewal; sometimes hourly. His mercies are new every morning. His love never ceases, never fades, never wanes.

The only label we should be concerned with is the one that says “Child of God.” That label covers everything that we think will remove us from His presence. Over the coming months as I reevaluate where God wants me to be, I’ll daily be striving to live in, not up to, that label. A child of the King. Will you?