Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Gift of Giving

by Jill Jackson

This time of year many people are thinking about giving to others including family, friends, or those less fortunate. The holidays create quite a buzz of happiness found in the gift of giving, but such is a principle implemented by Christ years ago. Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). Despite this principle being at the forefront of our minds right now,with the passing of the holidays many will lose sight of this blessing. Thoughts shift from selfless giving to self-absorbed taking.

Call me. Invite me to your house for dinner. Visit me when I am in the hospital. Bring me food when I am recovering from surgery. Teach my children in Bible class. Send me a letter of encouragement. Make a point to talk to me at church. Include me in your plans.

What you will not hear from the self-absorbed: Who can I call to check on? Who can I invite over for dinner? Who is in the hospital and needs my company? Who can I prepare food for while they are recovering from surgery? When can I teach the children in my congregation? Who can I encourage with an unexpected card? Who can I talk to and make feel welcome at church? Who can I include in my plans?

Consider Paul's encouragement: "So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10). Sometimes we get busy and fail to do the good we could do, especially to those of the household of faith. But many times, those making complaints like the ones above need to be reminded of a few of biblical truths.

First, we must remember the golden rule. "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them" (Matthew 7:12). Sometimes we have the expectation that others should be serving us, but they are exempt from serving others. When we are quick to point the finger of accusation at others, with a long list of ways they have failed to do for us, we need to remember there are three fingers pointing back at us. Ask yourself, when is the last time you sent someone a card, invited someone into your home for a meal, or visited someone who was sick. Are we expecting of others what we are unwilling to do ourselves?

Second, we must remember it's not all about me. Certainly we all experience times of strife and hardship, but even in difficult times we must remember it's not all about me. Christianity is about selfless love. Sometimes we have a preoccupation with what others need to be doing for us. We can become very self-absorbed and neglect to follow the example of Christ who came not to be served, but to serve. "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28). Repeated examples are given in the New Testament of Christ showing love to others through service. His thoughts and concerns were not about himself, but about others. He hung upon the cross for you and me. He was not thinking
about himself, but of us.

Let others see the beauty of Christ in you through your interest and service to others. "Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully" (2 Corinthians 9:6). Sow bountifully and receive true happiness and blessings bountifully. Let the blessings of giving to others be a gift you focus on throughout the year, and not just for a passing season.

Recommended Reading:

Jason Jackson. Burden Bearing, It's The Law.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Loving Care #2 - Comfort of the Scriptures

by Betty Jackson

Caregiving is a sacrifice. Your loved one may be in a care facility, but you are still a caregiver with concern and expended energy. What do ill people need? What does the caretaker need? Besides the obvious physical necessities, spiritual food is required “to keep on going.” Endurance or patience is strengthened for it is “through the comfort of the scriptures, we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). However, there may be little time and energy to study in any depth. 

Even brief (but frequent) studies can be powerfully beneficial to one’s spiritual health. In the previous article, I suggested that it would be wonderful to have some Bible study time with the “patient.” If the loved one is able, it is helpful to watch or listen to good sermons or Bible classes available through many outlets. There are links throughout this article for helpful topics. Some may be too long to for someone seriously ill. But perhaps you can glean something to share, without a lengthy study.

It maybe your loved one isn’t open to a formal devotional Bible study. Perhaps it is perceived as preachy, or condescending to them that they are unable to study for themselves. It may be that their ability to concentrate is hindered because of pain and weakness. After reading some scripture and articles share truths in casual conversation over a cup of coffee or tea.

There are topics that are especially encouraging and needful when one is suffering. Does God really exist? Does he care that I suffer? Why does he allow me to suffer? Be alert to subjects that are most needful to yourself and your loved one.

Sometimes things simply seem to be out of control. As death looks us in the face, a study of God as the Almighty provides reassurance. His power was demonstrated in the creation, in miracles, in providence. He is in control. He does care for we are created in his image. (See:;

Meditating upon the life of Christ reveals how deeply he loves us. Such a concept is so valuable and motivating when we are enlightened to the fullness of that truth. The plan of redemption was brought to us through ages of providential and miraculous events. The whole purpose of Christ’s coming was to show how much he loves us. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us...” (Ephesians 1:7-8; NASV). The word “lavished” is full of meaning to feel! In some versions it is translated “abound.” The Greek indicates an overflowing to the point of affluence. That is how much Jesus loves us. Yes, he cares for us, just as he did for his dear friends, Lazarus, Martha, and Mary in their grief. (See: Emotions of Jesus

Topics of suffering will be on your minds whether worded or not. One may puzzle over why he/she is lingering when there is an eagerness to go to be with the Lord. We wonder why suffering exists. Such a study surely will include meditation upon the suffering Christ. He died suffering, because of his love for us. 

The historical reality of the resurrection of Jesus is a vital topic. Without his resurrection, nothing makes sense. His resurrection is a promise of our own (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:20-23). There is comfort in the fact that at death we do not go out of existence for our spirits leave our bodies (James 2:26; Philippians 1:23. [Note that in Philippians 1:23 the Greek word translated “depart” is the idea of being loosed, thus loosed from the body]). It is also amazing that at the resurrection, we will be redeemed body, soul, and spirit. Our whole person will be redeemed from the consequences of sin; there will be no more tears, sickness or dying.  Living with the Lord in heaven will be a peaceful place of full redemption. 

Prayer must be recognized as part of your efforts to keep on a spiritual path as the needs of the flesh press you. Long prayers are not evidence of a spiritual person, necessarily. Keep yourself and your loved one close to God in prayer. 

As you struggle with the limitations of the flesh while taking care of a sick person, may the Lord bless you for your willingness and determination to do this task. It may be needed by you one day. Do your best to be the influence you need to be to your loved one. You won’t regret it. If you are caring for one who has no interest in the Lord, your load is even heavier. But your service will not go unnoticed by our Father, nor others.

Never lose hope as you strive to meet each day. You may feel you have no life of your own presently, but that will not last forever. Stages of life are temporary. “Be happy because of the hope you have. Be patient when you have troubles. Pray all the time” (Romans 12:12; Easy To Read Version).

Perhaps you do not have the responsibilities as a caregiver at this time. I hope the previous article and this one will encourage you to take some time to help someone who is worn down by illness or caregiving. The Lord will bless you.

Picture Copyright: <a href=''>kuzma / 123RF Stock Photo</a>


Monday, October 27, 2014

Loving Care

by Betty Jackson

Swifter than a weaver’s shuttle...(Job 7:6). That is the pace with which life passes. There are so many things we want to accomplish, and so little time.

Life brings challenges at each stage. 
For most of us the last stage may be the most frightening. As I watched my mother during those “dying days” my heart ached for her, knowing that she was facing that battle of pain and terror on her own; though we did the best we could to provide gentle assistance for the daily rigors. How will the rest of us face those last days—those evil days? (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

What can we do to encourage those we love who are facing those days of rapid decline? 
Poor health often hinders worship attendance, but spiritual food is so needful, more than ever. How can we have the strength for the significant demands we must meet in caring for those we love, whether our babies, an afflicted child, or elderly parent. How can we spiritually encourage the one for whom we provide care?

It would be wise to establish a habit for short devotionals with your ill loved one, if that is possible. The caregiver, as well as the "patient," needs spiritual strength to cope with the significant challenges, frustrations and fatigue. 

Your adult loved one may resent your efforts at a formal devotional. It may be helpful to simply share your own study conversationally, rather than in a formal study format. That will lessen the appearance of your “preaching at” the “patient.” Pray together on a regular basis—at meal time, and bedtime. One of the most meaningful prayers I shared with my mother was the last one. We asked God for forgiveness in the ways we had offended one another. And we did do that!  

There will be regrets. 
Recognize that you are human. You will wear down, and say or do things, inadvertently, that will irritate your dear one. There may be times you must rebuke for unseemly behavior. That is so uncomfortable, if you are overseeing the care of a parent. Seek how to do this in a way that is not condescending.  You may err. You need to ask for forgiveness, not only from God, but from your loved one. Unless the patient is mentally incapacitated, this will help as you deal with regrets after that person’s death. You will need to learn to forgive yourself.

Caretaker support is a must.
Support is needed so badly for the caretaker during these difficult days. An understanding and patient mate is such a help in keeping things in perspective, listening as you vent, giving you opportunity to attend worship at least once on Sunday, or grocery shop. Allow others to help you by giving you time off. If possible, hire some help. Take advantage of every aid you can to help yourself. If you can afford it, use a housekeeping service. Even teenaged youngsters can help with chores.

It is common for one family member to be the caretaker.
Siblings commonly neglect their duties. Some cannot help because of health matters or job restrictions. You will need to accept the reality of what it is, and not let it fester. Whenever you are desperate for a break, call a sibling to see if there is any way he or she could give you respite for even a few days. If you don't ask, you may not get the help you really need.

Towards the end...
Towards the end you may suffer severe sleep deprivation. Nap or rest if you possibly can; try to protect your health. It is a given that you sacrifice some well-being over the months of caregiving. However, after the end, you will be rewarded, knowing that you have done all that you could (Mark 14:8). 

You will grieve.
You will grieve, forgiving yourself and others for their lack of support. You will be able to look back at the difficult times, knowing that neither you nor your loved one wanted to hurt the other. So on that dying day, you can let go of the past, and look forward to serving in other ways that the Lord may have in store. And if both of you are faithful Christians, you will find comfort in knowing you will be reunited, without all the sorrows of the flesh (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). You will rejoice together in the light of God's throne.

Recommended Reading

Jackson, Wayne. What is the Meaning of Corban?

Picture Copyright: <a href=''>victor69 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Monday, October 13, 2014

Starve Out Bitterness and Feast On Betterness

by Sandy Jackson

Each of us has partaken of meals of strife and turmoil in our lives at one point or another. Those morsels of struggles may have come in bite size portions; or we may have experienced scooted up to the table, filling our bellies with heaping amounts of difficulties that have overflowed our plates of daily living. Some of these troubles we spooned up ourselves by our own poor decisions or those around us have made. But we also experience some distresses that just land in our laps with no fault of our own. The troubles we face through life do not have to be the sum total of what we are made of. How we deal with the tasteless and sometimes bitter experiences we have been served can make our lives palatable and even teach the world this abbreviated life is not the totality of our being. 

Here are 4 things we can stick a fork in and enjoy the bountiful blessings of this life  as we deal with our portions of adversities.

1.  Decide TODAY what you want to be full of...Bitterness or Betterness.  

Happiness is a choice. Your thoughts belong to YOU. They are in your possession. Be confident, in spite of poor circumstances that you have to deal with that no person has control over your state of mind except YOU. This takes practice and determination by filling our hearts with what will bring us true happiness. The menu is in God's Word and we need to be gorging on the righteous instruction therein. "Lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul." Deuteronomy 11:18

2.  "If you want to soar like eagles, you better not be gobbling around with the turkeys." 

Eagles will spread their wings and face a storm using the winds to glide them to higher places. The turkey will flap around in circles then flee nervously to the coop with his feathered friends. I have never yet seen an eagle on someone's dinner plate! Surround yourself with spiritually positive people. Gather with those that have the same goal as you. Lot was caught up into the cares of the world and moved to a population of unrighteousness. He ended up fleeing for his life losing even loved ones that did not keep their eyes on God the Almighty. The instructions in Proverbs on choosing friends still applies today, and we would benefit greatly by adhering to those wise words. 

3.  Set a goal each day of encouraging others who are suffering even in the midst of our own anguish. 

What an example we have in our Lord Jesus who while hanging on the cross and bearing the most cruel actions imaginable did not dwell on his own misfortunes of being treated unfairly. Yet, Christ outpoured his compassion even on the very ones spewing mockery and harsh spittle from their lips into his face. 

Often, we hold grudges against those who have hurt us in some way. Will we forget those actions...probably never, but they can be tucked in the back of our minds as vague memories with effort on our part. More times than not....we are the ones keeping the torture alive in our hearts by stewing over the pain and wishing ill will to those individuals who have hurt us. We may bear scars of misfortune for the remainder of our lives, but we do not have to open the wounds afresh day after day causing bleeding to our souls. Allow the Great Physician to work on your scabs by spending time in his word everyday. 

4. Invest yourself in deep reliance on God. 

I read a sad note recently by a lady obviously experiencing extreme stress in her life. She stated, "I am having a hard time believing prayer works."  I am the first to admit that waiting on the Lord to answer my petitions is the hardest thing to do in this life. We live in such a "microwave" minded world. We want answers and we want them NOW.  Here, I would strongly recommend an excellent article to read regarding this heart wrenching subject, "Seven Laws to Pray By" ( We do not fully understand how God intervenes in our life, because we operate on a purely human vantage point. But I can have confidence that he DOES look out for us ( Isaiah 40:29-31, Phillippines 4:19)   I want to reap benefits as the faithful people such as Hannah, Paul, Noah, Abraham, Elijah, and countless other prayerful souls did. God has yet to go back on any of his promises, and I can count on Him providing for my every need. What a rich study would be on the promises made and kept by the Creator who made mankind and cares for him. Highlight them in your Bibles and hearts!

These points are not to diminish the stresses of life because I know they are very real. Divorce, cancer, death, financial struggles, Ebola, ISIS and other warfare are real. But we have all witnessed the different ways people handle these stresses. None comes out of trials unscathed, but we can be made stronger and maybe even help someone else that is going through turbulent times. 

If you really want to feast on betterness and starve out bitterness, please gift yourself or someone you know that is dealing with a tough life situation with an excellent book, Stronger Than Ever, by Jason Jackson. Here is the link to where you can find You will not regret the small price you will pay for the encouragement. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Champions are Not Just Athletes

by Sandy Jackson

I have sat at probably 124,516 ball games watching my precious nieces, dear friends' kids, and my own competitive boys battle it out on the field with a ball and glove. I love the game of baseball. I'll even watch complete strangers play the sport. I had no idea what the future would hold when Nicholas, now 17, read the Sundown Little League sign-up poster at the age of four. You see, it was almost every day after that for a full year that he asked, “Is it time for me to play ball?” Matthew was right behind him, not satisfied with being a spectator at his brother's games; at five he signed up to take his place on the field. 

Fast forward a few years with moving up through the different levels—hitting off a tee, to coach pitch, and finally to kid pitch. There were tough losses, close wins, exciting championships, and lots of hot dogs eaten along the way. It was this past year that the term "champion" took on a new meaning for our family. I am not referring to the "major league" throws that our youngest son, Matthew, threw from third to first to make the close out plays. And I am not alluding to the thrilling state championship for which Nicholas had the privilege to pitch and cheer his teammates on for the win. These young men started down the walk of champions when they obeyed our Lord by being immersed in baptism last summer and the new beginning of this year. 

I would like to share with you from the very words of our Creator why being a champion for him is the most important accomplishment our children can achieve, and how we as parents can enjoy the win with them in the end. 

1.  Our kids need faithful coaches. They need to see us living the Christian life 24/7. Will we make the wrong calls from time to time? You betcha! But our children need to hear our prayers of repentance and see us striving to do better every day. 

2.  Our kids need to KNOW God. This only comes by knowing His playbook, the Holy Bible.  May we look to the psalmist as an example to instill the precious truths of God and his promises in our children's hearts, so they will possess the strategies for defeating Satan, their most vicious opponent (119:7.) Our influence, as powerful as it is, will only stand on the foundation that we have built for those little souls. There is no substitute for reading, talking about, and practicing every day the game plan laid out for us by the "Divine Planner." Let's not just be spectators of Christianity. 

3.  Our kids need to be trained to be team players. Young people need to be taught to look for opportunities to stretch out a hand, helping a fellow player up when she has fallen or going through a slump. 1 Peter 4:10-11 reminds us when we serve those around us not only is our team built up, but ultimately God is glorified in our doing good toward others. Kids are valuable to the kingdom no matter what age they are; we need to remind them of this and help them cultivate their talents to serve the church and their neighbors. 

4.  Our kids need guidance in choosing good companions. They will become like those they spend the most time with. Supervise your child and who he is hanging around with. Supervision requires your active attention!  The book of Proverbs is packed with valuable counsel for choosing friends. “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:9). The desire to be a champion is contagious. May our children be godly examples before others (Titus 2:7), yet always looking for righteous role models to emulate. 

Let us cheer our children on to look to their Father as their head coach with the prize of heaven ever before them. And may they long for the eternal reward of living a faithful Christian life, more than the temporary shiny trophies of this earthly abode. 

Recommended Reading

Jackson, Jason. Building Character Before the Concrete Sets. 
Jackson, Wayne. Joel 1:3 — Parental Responsibility.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby.....or Have We?

by Sandy Jackson

In an age where we can heat up a meal in minutes, transport ourselves across town in a flash, pop up any recipe on the internet, read countless articles at our finger tips about fostering happy marriages and raising “kids we want to keep,” why are America’s mothers and wives feeling ill-equipped to fulfill their duties in these roles. Do not be mistaken, I am thankful for the microwave that popped our popcorn last night in two minutes, our mini-van that embodies the smell of sweaty ballplayers, the ease of googling while I shop the ingredients for the chicken dish I will make for supper, and all the wonderful marital and parental advice I can read on blogs of faithful Christians. But with all the technological advances and modern conveniences women have today, why do we still fall short of getting the important things in life done. Please notice, I did not say the urgent things done. There is a difference.  

I have been reading the Autobiography of G.C. Brewer and was intrigued by one of the chapters titled “Grandpappy and Grandmammy.” The few pages of chapter ten tell of the couple, Mr and Mrs. E.G. Hall, Brewer’s parents-in-law and the events that lead to “Grandpappy” becoming a New Testament Christian. Most of the words are dedicated to describing ‘Miss Betty” aka “Grandmammy.” Her humble servitude was quite remarkable. She birthed eleven children, eight of whom grew into adulthood and seven of those outlived her. Read what the author penned as one of the joys of his mother-in-law’s life.  

The Hall home was the preacher’s home, and many of the older brethren now living, and many more of those who have passed on, enjoyed its hospitality. Better meals no preacher ever ate than those that were cooked by “Grandmammy.” With a houseful of children and without servants, she could “keep” the preacher and attend every service of a meeting. And that was before eugenics, gymnastics, athletics, and swimming had come to make our women strong and robust! (Brewer, p. 52).

G.C. Brewer wrote these words about his mother-in-law from his wife’s childhood recollections and what he himself witnessed as he lived in their home shortly after his marriage to their daughter.  

Here are some points that hit me like a brick as I read the tender words about this “spiritually robust” lady living 79 years before passing from this life in September, 1931.

1.  Leading her family toward heaven was forefront in her mind and heart all the days of her life.  

When she married E.G. Hall, he was not a New Testament Christian. Her husband was exposed to faithful preaching of God’s word as he attended the services of the church along side his wife. Soon he became aware that his preconceived ideas of the church and his salvation did not match the simple teaching of the Bible. Her determination to live a Christian life before her husband and teach him the way of the Lord eventually brought saving results described as, “Grandpappy and Grandmammy were not only one flesh, but they were of one faith” by Mr. Hall believing the truths of the Bible and obeying. (Brewer, p.51.)

Mrs. Hall is described to have loved her children immensely, caring for their every need. It was said her “whole joy in life was seeing her children well and happy and whose daily prayer was that they might be faithful in the service of the Lord. (Brewer, p. 50.) She found joy in what matters most; the same thing John talked about in III John 1:4. Just like every mother that has ever walked on this earth, she was not perfect and made many mistakes, but her concern for her family’s eternal spiritual rewards out weighed any reward they would receive at work, on the ball field, or in the classroom. 

2.  She made no excuses nor complained about the Christian service set before her.

Anyone would understand her fatigue and weariness in caring for a large household, yet she hosted many meals for preachers and other Christians in her home. She didn’t have the conveniences of ordering take-out, or popping a meal in the microwave, or even dashing quickly to the store to pick up last minute items for dinner. She served with what she had with a cheerful disposition. I can imagine her house a little dusty with children running around at foot but a home welcoming to guests when the opportunities afforded her. She taught her children the blessing in giving without a word needing to be spoken....her actions spoke for themselves. 

And just as the psalmist expressed, she experienced “joy in the presence of God.” Psalm 16:11. Brewer writes of his mother-in law recalling her journeys to church services in a wagon pulled by an ox, yet never remembered being late. As mothers, are we well prepared and enthusiastic about worshipping Jehovah every time the saints are gathered together?

3. She saw the bigger picture and made it her purpose in life. 

She did not have a “career,” in the popular acceptation of that term; she did not belong to any clubs; she never sought prominence in public affairs; she never attained either fame or fortune" (Brewer, p. 50). Today, the opportunities for advancement for women are immeasurable, yet the women who hold titles of CEO, PTO presidents and other “prestigious positions” are saying they feel unfulfilled and their families are spiraling down out of control. I’m not saying stay at home moms always have it all together with the perkiest attitudes either. God knew it best when he urged us through Matthew, an inspired writer, to place the kingdom of God and emulating Christ-like ways at the top of our to do list. He promises all of our physical needs will be taken care of. I want to trust and follow the One who has a perfect record of keeping his promises.  

Many Christian women in the 21st century are doing exactly what “Grandmammy” Hall did, living their lives for the Lord, serving their families and encouraging those around them with what state of the art resources they have been blessed with; and each of us has many! These modern day ladies may never have words penned in a biography about their faithful service, but their names are being written in the Book of Life (Revelation 20:12). I’ll admit I enjoy reading about the days gone by and do not intentionally diminish any of the hardships and struggles that people encountered that, honestly, few of us will ever experience in our lifetimes. But I do long for the determined focus that faithful Christians had even just a couple of generations ago. The fact remains that discomforts, toils, afflictions, and difficulty will encompass each generation; but at the time of our departure from this life let it be said of us,“she did what she could” to further the cause of Christ.

Brewer, G.C.  Autobiography of G.C. Brewer. Murfreesboro, Tennessee: Dehoff Publications,1957. 

Other Recommended Reading:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Better Way

by Jill Jackson

In the previous articles, we discussed the trials of those who grew up in “Christ-less Christian homes.” We noted that the first step to walking down the “road of a better way” is to acquire a balanced view of sin. But how does one walk miles, not just a few steps, from those trials and baggage on that road? 

The past is over, the future is yet to be, and what you choose to do in the present will largely determine what life has in store for you. Will you choose to hold onto your baggage? Will you allow the past to burden you? Will you continue to be the victim suffering in silence, allowing your perception to be molded by your experience? Or will you choose God’s plan for the family as found in the Scriptures? Will you choose to allow your start in life to turn you away from God, or will you draw near to God as the sustainer of your life? Will you continue to go through life pointing the finger of blame at your parents, neglecting to see the accountability you have for your choices today? Will you hold onto resentment like a cherished friend, despite the destruction she brings to your life?

The time has come to let go of the hurt, anger and the desire for justice and validation. Now is the time to leave the wounds from your parents behind. Now is the time to quit trying to prove to them, or others, that what they did was wrong. Now is the time to worry about yourself and leave the concerns of the past in God’s hands. Concern yourself with the people your choices will impact in life (i.e. your own family).

Recognizing the choices we make affect ourselves, and those around us, is a principle Joshua tried to get the Israelites to see. He urged them to fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and faithfulness. His desire was for them to be loyal to God alone and to turn from the false gods they had worshipped. He asked them to make a choice, to decide whom they will serve: the one true God, or the false gods they had been influenced to worship by previous generations; or those they had come to know in Canaan. He goes on to declare that he, and those within his house, would serve the Lord (Joshua 24:14-15).

Today, like the Israelites, you have a choice. Fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and faithfulness by the instructions found in his word, or allow previous generations (or the world) to be your guiding influence in life. You have an opportunity to give your family the things you wish you had: positive role models, spiritual guidance, the ideal Christian home. You can choose to serve God, and spare those who depend on you from the heartache you experienced, by following the plan of action found in Colossians chapter three.

Choose to serve the Lord by setting “your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). Recognize this world is not our home. There is a better home we can claim as our own, if we will live according to God’s commands. There’s more to life than the physical dwelling we are now experiencing. There’s something to be gained that will make all the suffering and perseverance worth it. Focus on what awaits you.

Choose to serve the Lord by putting to death what is earthly in you (Colossians 3:5-10). When Christ was put on in baptism, a declaration was made that we recognized our lost state and desired our sins to be washed away. When we were lifted up from that watery grave, we made a commitment to put our sins to death—to begin a new life in which our aim was to live for Christ and conquer the sins that plague us. This conquering process requires an understanding of our vulnerability to temptation, a watchfulness for pitfalls, and prayers for God’s help (Matthew 26:41). Christians are called to be different from those in the world; but if there is no proactive effort to put to death what is earthly within, how will we stand out as ones who have put on Christ?

Choose to serve the Lord by putting on the virtues of Christ (Colossians 3:12-15). The Christian life is not just about conquering sin—it’s about becoming more like Christ! There’s no Christian who can be pleasing to God while failing to manifest the name of Christ in her life. Christ provided the perfect example of one who was full of virtues we need to emulate. He was full of compassion. He was kind, humble, meek, and patient. He was forgiving, loving, and peaceful. When dealing with relationships (especially troubled ones), how much improvement could be seen if we showed more compassion, kindness and forgiveness? How many burdens could be lifted if we seek peace in our relationships? How much easier it could be to implement these virtues if our attitude is more humble than haughty? Put on the virtues of Christ.

Choose to serve the Lord by letting the word dwell in you (Colossians 3:16). One can’t expect to create a better home if the crucial ingredient—God’s word—isn’t permeating the heart. Within the Bible are the directions for a happy life. Will it be problem free? No. Will it always be easy to serve God? No. But consistent study of the Bible will equip us with an understanding of right and wrong. Encouragement comes from reading the struggles others endured for the sake of Christ. Because our hearts and minds are filled with hope for our heavenly home, we are motivated to press on.

Choose to serve the Lord by giving thanks to God (Colossians 3:17). Certainly, some weren’t given the start in life they deserved. Hardships can result from the choices of others. But one must move from a constant focus of what was wrong with her childhood home, to what’s right in her life, if she ever hopes to continue to walk down the road to a better life. Thank God for the ways he has provided for you—for the good role models in your life, for the people who have showed you kindness and generosity, for the job he has blessed you with, for the family he has given you, and for the opportunity you have to give your children something you did not have.

Put your baggage down. Understand you don’t have to be burdened with it from this point on. Choose to step on the road to a better way by acquiring a balanced view of sin—recognizing you are imperfect and in need of God’s forgiveness, that you must forgive to be forgiven, that your parents’ sins do not give you the right to sin, and that sin always separates one from God. With that perspective in place, begin walking that road to a better life. Choose to make God’s ways your priority. Serve him in word and deed. Focus on the eternal. Be driven to put to death the sins you struggle with. Strive to become more like Christ. Be proactive in putting the word into your mind and heart. Thank God for the ways he has cared for you. Make these actions a daily priority and in doing so, you will bring your family closer to the ideal Christian home—a home where the family looks forward to the eternal reward, where people strive to live better tomorrow than they did today, where Christ is the ultimate role model and where the Bible is the most treasured book. Will it be a place where perfect people live? No, but it will be a home in which Christ dwells.

Recommended Reading

Jackson, Jason. Character Studies in Joshua. Christian Courier:
Jackson, Wayne. He Restores My Soul. Christian Courier:

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Balanced View of Sin

by Jill Jackson

For those who grew up in a “Christ-less Christian home,” the first step on the road of the better way takes place when they acquire a balanced view of sin. They may not even realize their view of sin is off-kilter. They may not understand how this baggage of tainted perspective hinders them from setting their baggage down and walking away, but it does.

One may have lived a lifetime watching hypocrisy at its best. As we discussed in the previous article, there is much silent suffering . . . shame, fear, brokenness, and loneliness. Along with those wounds there is anger—for the suffering or abuse they endured, for the home they should have had, for the way others believed their home was a positive spiritual environment, and perhaps for being let down the most by the persons they should have been able to value the most. Many may struggle with a desire for justice. Justice, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. But when born out of anger, the desired outcome may remain out of reach, leaving one still holding that heavy baggage. Blatant transgressors need to be exposed for what they are, but without having a balanced view of sin, one could do so for all the wrong reasons. Consider the following truths with me with regard to sin and a desire for vindication.

First, each of us bear the burden of sin. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Perhaps some parents have no regard for God and the transgressions they commit against him. Maybe some are just weak and find themselves succumbing to temptation repeatedly. Whatever the reason, those who grew up in a "Christ-less Christian home" must be objective enough to recognize they too, sin and are in need of the blood of Christ. It’s easy to fall into the trap of she is a greater sinner than me mentality, but Jesus taught against this mindset in John 8:1-11. The scribes and Pharisees brought him a woman, whom had been caught in adultery, desiring to stone her. After writing something on the ground, Christ told those seeking justice, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (v.7). Some children may feel so wronged by their parents. They may be perfectly right and just for feeling that way, but they must be balanced enough to see that they too are imperfect and transgress against God.

Second, each of us must forgive to be forgiven (Luke 6:37). Forgiving does not mean forgetting. It’s impossible to erase the memories stored within our minds, but forgiving means letting go of the resentment. It’s the proactive effort of releasing the anger or ill will attached to the hurt committed against you. Withholding forgiveness will cause grudges to grow like a cancer within. It's toxic to one’s well being mentally, physically and spiritually. Failing to forgive parents does nothing to hurt them, but in reality prevents the child from receiving God’s forgiveness. One with a balanced view of sin can see objectively the pain and anger felt for one’s parents is not worth the depriving of her own eternity.

Third, those whose parents sin against them does not give them a license to rebel and live a sinful lifestyle. Some feel entitled to rebel and do what they want because they lived through the school of hard knocks. Experiencing wrong from the hand of others does not entitle one to “enjoy the pleasures of sin” now, at the expense of righteousness, without being accountable for the consequences.

I was once talking to someone who was willfully engaging in sinful activities. I was trying to get him to turn away from these behaviors and come back to God's ways. He began running through his long list of those who had (in his mind) wronged him. He wanted me to see these sins of others (his opinion, not mine) as justification for his behavior. I interrupted him to ask one question. What does what ________ did to you have to do with what you are currently doing? Sin is personal. We are each responsible for our actions (Deuteronomy 24:16). Others sinning against us does not give us a free pass to turn around and sin. One with a balanced view of sin recognizes growing up in a home where God was not acknowledged, where Christianity was abused, where mistreatment abounded does not make one less accountable for her choices.

Fourth, sin always has the same outcome. Can pleasure be found in sin? Certainly. Otherwise what would be tempting about it? But those pleasures come at a cost that's always the same. Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). It draws us away for his truth, from those in his body, from clear spiritual perspective, and most of all, sin puts our souls in jeopardy. "For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). No one walks away from sin unscathed. Even if it appears that your parents are not suffering for their sins—and perhaps at this very moment they aren't—but eventually, if unrepentant of, they will suffer. The angry individual looks forward to the day, but the one with a balanced view of sin fears the day, because she recognizes eternity is sealed at the time of death! The experience of living in a “Christ-less Christian home” can create an unhealthy concentration on the sins of others (namely parents) to the point that it blinds one to her own transgressions. It can create a hard, unforgiving heart that can prevent one from receiving forgiveness for her own sins. It can cause one to believe she’s entitled to a leeway she’s not. Enduring this homelife can delude one to the outcome of sin!

Work to acquire a balanced view of sin. Strive to set your baggage down and walk the “road of a better way.” Let go of your hurt and anger, knowing God knows the tears and griefs of your heart (Psalm 56:8). Leave your desire for justice and validation in his hands. “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

Recommended Reading

Jackson, Jason. Stronger Than Ever: Heavenly Advice for Earthly Life (True stories of real people who overcame adversity and are stronger because of the power of Christ.). 2008. Stockton, CA: Christian Courier Publications. 

Jackson, Wayne. Why Do Good People Do Bad Things.