Meaningful Living in the Hashtag Age

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Hero in Me

super hero girl

So many people are in need of a HERO. So many people are waiting on a SUPERMAN or WONDER WOMAN to descend from the sky and protect them from a struggling world.

But what if, there are no heroes coming to our rescue? What if, God provides us with the strength and courage to change the world, and WE were created to be the heroes of our own lives?

God blesses us with the power to come together and build a world comprised of integrity and goodwill. In these unpredictable times, it’s important that we stop waiting for our heroes to rescue us and start living like the responsibility is ours, and ours alone.

Ask yourself: Am I up for the task? Am I warrior-ready? Can I be a hero in my community? What will it take to change the world around me?

Learn to be your own HERO and watch your life soar.

#HeroInME #GrowingBOLD #FaithFUELED

 

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Writers Write (or that’s what ‘they’ say)

 

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Writers write or that’s what ‘they’ say.

But do ‘they’ understand how difficult it is to put your thoughts on paper; to open yourself to the scrutiny of everyone’s opinion?

Do ‘they’ know the awkwardness of baring your soul to people who may not appreciate the inner workings of your mind; who do not see the world the way you do or taste the bitter sweetness of life with a palate filled with words?

Do ‘they’ know the nagging pain of a story, song or poetic verse stuck in the hollow confines of your chest begging to be freed; begging to be released in the world like ink spilling from a pen?

Do ‘they’ know how hard it is to constrain a soul consumed with imagery, and intimately engaged in a desperate love affair with the written word?

Writers must write.
Like singers must sing.
Like artists must create.
Like dancers must dance.
Like lovers must love.

Do ‘they’ know? Do ‘they’ truly understand?

By Michelle D. Jackson, Author of The Heart of A Man. Follow her on Facebook at @AuthorMichelleDJackson.

 

To Die For

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The praise team approached the microphone stands behind the pulpit one warm Sunday morning. Called by God to inspire a congregation of worshippers, they gathered on the stage to give back and I, like many others in the church pews, was willfully ready to receive. The tempered playing of the keyboard was accompanied by the guitarist’s spasmed sound and the chest pounding thump of the drums. Each singer rocked from side to side in an uncoordinated dance; joyous, I imagined, for being blessed to see another day.

The song began with words I’ve longed to hear all week. Words that took me to a place of peace and joy. Words that encapsulated the heartbreak and uncertainty of living in a struggling world that desperately needed God’s salvation.

The choir sung with such perfection, “You thought I was worth saving. So, you came and changed my life. You thought I was worth keeping. So, you cleaned me up inside. You thought I was to die for.” With every verse, I was reminded of God’s faith in me. Regardless of the countless mistakes I’d made, the sins I repeated even when I knew better and the times I refused to do what he sacrificed on the cross for me to do, I was still worth saving – I was worth God sacrificing the life of his only begotten son.

Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He paid a debt we could never repay. We were worth dying for; we were bought with a price. What an honor to be loved so completely.

In every corner of the church, congregants sprung to their feet lifting their hands in praise. Together, we were transported to the ultimate place of worship. A place void of pain and filled with love. We were seated at the foot of Christ; worshipping him in unison. We were embodying what the praise team was called to do. Our faith – a blessing to God – was music to his ears.

My tears overwhelmed me. They were a testament to a life so filled with God’s love that I unequivocally could not take another breath without giving him praise. And while I praised him, the Holy Spirit revealed in me a path to a better understanding of my purpose on earth. I asked myself: If God thought I was worth dying for, how do I justify living a frivolous life? How can I refuse to follow God’s word?

God gives us what we don’t deserve. He redeems us. Sets us free. He took our place on the cross. He never asked for much from any of us; but he gave in abundance.

Knowing how unconditional his love is, gives me the strength to set my goals high and to see my life as a conduit to spreading God’s word. As a child of a living God, I cannot justify a meager life. My dreams must be bigger than the sky; my purpose filled with giving back and helping others. I am not here on earth to do my will, but to do God’s will and to show him that the life Christ died on the cross to save is working to be a blessing to those in need.

What are you willing to die for?

Our Christian walk is one of purpose. How we live our life and how we realize our dreams were set in motion during the long and torturous walk Christ made to the cross. His work on earth is done; he is now with God steering us in the right direction from his throne in heaven. Now, it is for us to complete the rest of the journey with God’s strength and faith beckoning us towards living a life of purpose.

But living a purposeful life is often hard to do. Knowing what’s worth sacrificing our life for is difficult to explain. That’s why I’m so happy God had no reservations about me. He didn’t look over the totality of my life, or considered my failures and sins before determining if I was worth sacrificing his only son for. He simply knew my heart and loved me despite my transgressions.

As the praise team continued, I recognized why the sweetness of their words brought me to tears. Again, in perfect unison they sang: “You thought I was to die for. So, you sacrificed your life. So, I could be free. So, I could be whole. So, I could tell everyone I know.”

I pray that on this journey we clutch hold to things worth dying for and we live our lives with principle and courage so we can do as the song writers says – be free and be whole.

Michelle D. Jackson is author of the inspirational novel, The Heart of a Man. Follow her on Facebook @AuthorMichelleDJackson. The original article was published in the October 2017 issue of The Mount Magazine.

The song referenced in this article is “Worth” by Gospel Singer Anthony Brown and group therAPy

 

 

You Are A Masterpiece


It dawned on me this beautiful Sunday morning that over the years God has been working to get me to a place where I understand the true purpose for my life. So many times I’ve visited the graveyard to say goodbye to a friend or family member. So many long, sad walks back to my car wondering if that person, who is now with God, fulfilled their earthly purpose.

This journey to live on earth takes us through many peaks and valleys. We struggle with understanding who we are, our mission, our purpose and why God chose us. We see people who appear to navigate life with such ease and grace, and then we witness the fallen – those who struggle with every turn. 

We all have a story; we all have fears, but do we know and accept God’s purpose for our life?

What I am more and more convinced of is that the God I serve whose imagination is as wonderful and brilliant as a bright and sunny sky and as massive as the roaring sea, has molded each of us into a unique piece of art, a masterpiece.

Once we accept that we are God’s greatest work, we can live in His purpose for our life and fulfill our destiny.

You were never meant to be like anyone else. You are an original. You are the first and the last. Your purpose cannot be defined by anyone but God. Your wins and losses are all intentional paths on your personal journey. Every experience was created to help you become the person God wants you to be. 

You are a masterpiece!

Accept it. Live in it. Love with it and be blessed.

Michelle Jackson 

A Time to Heal

a time to heal

As we mourn the death of someone we love, work towards reclaiming our good health after sickness or struggle against the despair that follows heartbreak and disappointment, we often find ourselves in need of a time to heal.

Healing is the restoration of our mind, body and spirit. It is the process for which we accept the pain of the past and mend the wounds of the present.

At some point in life we all find ourselves in need of a time to heal. Whether it’s healing from a major surgery, recovering from a divorce or finding peace after the death of a loved one, we must properly heal if we are to live the life God promises us.

The restoration process is a task often underestimated by many Christians. Exemplifying strength in our fleshly bodies is not the same as embracing God’s almighty strength and His commitment to mend our broken spirits. Healing is crucial to our personal and spiritual growth. But God teaches us through his word that He will restore our health and heal our wounds (Jeremiah 30:17).

A sick body needs to heal. An embattled mind deserves time to rest and a spirit, tormented and challenged by temptation and evil, warrants time in God’s strong and mighty hands. A time to heal can be perceived as a time to lean on our faith in God and His promises to give us life abundantly.

In our training for godliness we must learn how to take time to heal from the struggles of this world. In accepting this task, it is important to know why the act of healing is crucial to our spiritual growth.

H reminds us to Honor the Process. If you are in a healing period, you have survived the storm. Respect the process no matter how hard it is and know that God is with you. Invest the time needed to properly heal from the pain, restore your strength and rejuvenate your faith in God’s promise for your life. Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise – Jeremiah 17:14.

E is for God’s Everlasting Love. God will not turn away from you even in your broken state. He heals our mind, body and spirit by offering us an everlasting love that will not judge us for our weaknesses, failures or flaws. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you – 1 Peter 5:6-7.

A is for The Alpha (The Omega) & The Almighty. God is our most devoted friend. He listens to us when no one else will. He cares about us when we are at our loneliest. While we heal, we are covered by God’s love, grace and mercy. He is the alpha and the omega; there is no place where God’s love will not reign. Who is forgiving all thine iniquities, who is healing all thy diseases – Psalm 103:3. Who is giving healing to the broken of heart, and is binding up their griefs – Psalm 147:3. O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways – Psalm 139:1-3.

L is for Loving-Kindness. Healing comes after a period of rest and retrospect. God heals us through his love and gentleness. We must learn to love ourselves with vigor and consistency during our time of healing. We must believe that love heals the sick and the broken-hearted. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance – 2 Peter 3:9.

For those of us struggling during the healing period, remember that the renewal of our mind is one of God’s promises. Take the time to heal and let God restore your strength so you are prepared to be a disciple for his heavenly kingdom.

Michelle D. Jackson is author of the inspirational novel, The Heart of a Man. Follow her on Facebook @AuthorMichelleDJackson.

The original article was published in the March 2017 issue of The Mount Magazine, https://www.mt-ararat.org/2015-04-30-15-47-47/the-mount-magazine.

THE GREATEST

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Groans from the crowd permeate the arena as the undefeated boxing champion is caught off-guard by a hard right hook. Stumbling towards the rope, he struggles to keep his balance while the referee follows his every move in preparation to start the dreaded countdown to his defeat. Nonetheless, in an unexpected show of courage, he recovers his balance, shuffles his feet into a stance readily known as the marker for a true comeback, then starts to jab without fear or remorse.

The crowd goes wild.

His opponent, who just seconds before was convinced the fight had come to an end, and he was the victor, responded to the champion’s roaring fans with a grimace look. It wasn’t over. And now, in spite of his well-executed strategy to defeat his opponent and take his title, he would need the strength to go yet another round.

God takes the fight to our enemies whenever we find ourselves stumbling towards defeat.  In his fighter’s persona, he is the most powerful counterpuncher who couples his strength with fierce footwork, an on-target uppercut, and a strong jab which stuns the opposition every time. He is a fighter on a mission to save us from our enemy, so we can live a victorious life.

When we enter the boxing ring without God leading and protecting us, we often find ourselves limited to bobbing, weaving, blocking and parrying instead of punching back. We preserve our bodies from the hard blows and quick defeat, but we cannot win without the strength and courage to knock out the enemy who threatens to take our joy and leave us battered and bruised.

The enemy takes on many disguises. Whether it is drug addiction, an attack on our marriage or the dismantling of our relationship with God, when the enemy enters the ring, he is prepared to fight to the end. We need God to keep us strong, to protect us and to see us through.

God is the master of the rope-a-dope. He takes our punches for us then fall back on the ropes, letting it absorb the power of each blow and preserve our strength for another round. This is all in His plan to cause the enemy to “punch himself out” and make mistakes.  The biggest mistake our enemies make is believing that our faith is weak and defeatable. However, when God comes to defend us He always has a winning strategy. His counterattack will leave us protected and secured.

Once God takes the ring and we are moved to the corner stool to sit and watch Him work, we should be reminded of Exodus 14:14 which says, The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. When He lands the first punch, and the enemy falls to his knees, we must remember 2 Chronicles 20:17: You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you. And finally, once our enemy is defeated, we must keep God’s promise in our heart by remembering Isaiah 41:10: Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

As Christians, we are in a never-ending battle against the enemy. Our boxing gloves are torn and tattered; our shoes are filled with holes, and our boxing robes are stained with remnants of our defeat. But when we call on God to meet us in the ring, to protect us from our enemy, and to defend us at our weakest moments, we are, in essence, asking him to preserve and restore us, so we can continue to spread the word about a living God who loves us enough to fight for our heart, mind and soul.

God is the greatest. He doesn’t give up. He doesn’t fail. He doesn’t surrender. He will fight for you even when you cannot fight for yourself. No enemy shall defeat you as long as God is in your corner, and your faith is intact.

When the boxing bell sounds, and you are standing nose-to-nose with the enemy, fight your hardest and activate your faith. But when you need Him most, take your stance, remember your role as a servant of God, and let Him fight your battles for you. He has the strength, power, grace, and mercy to protect you to the very end.

Deuteronomy 3:22
“Do not fear them, for the LORD your God is the one fighting for you.”

Nehemiah 4:20
“At whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”

Luke 10:19

“Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”

This article is in the November Issue of The Mount Christian Magazine. To view the publication go here.

Michelle D. Jackson is author of the inspirational novel, The Heart of a Man. Follow her on Facebook @AuthorMichelleDJackson.

Love Thy Neighbor

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Growing up I was fascinated with watching my brother, a self-taught artist and one of the most talented people I’ve ever met, draw human portraits. Meticulously, he had a way of capturing the essence of a person’s unique features and through the slight impressions of his pencil and a strong belief in his creativity, he was blessed with the talent to turn a blank canvas into a masterpiece.

Using an array of art techniques, he would always begin his portraits by sketching an oval face on a white canvas. Next, he would draw a vertical line from forehead to chin, one horizontal line across the center, from ear-to-ear, and two or more horizontal lines toward the bottom of the oval. Each line would be used to place the person’s eyes, nose, and mouth in proper proportion to one another. Each stroke was as mystifying as the next. Nevertheless, like magic, as he focused on building the person’s facial features, a beautiful picture would appear.

While watching him draw portraits, I learned to appreciate the beauty of all mankind. From the color of our skin, the shape of our eyes to our crooked smiles and pointy ears, the variations in our physical appearances are what makes us unique but also the same. We all fill our canvasses with an image in the likeness of God; we are more akin than we are different.

For as long as man has been on this earth, society has suffered due to racial and economic profiling. The color of our skin and the amount of wealth we have determines the level of respect we deserve.  People with dark complexions are more prone to criminal activity, laziness and ignorance. People who live in poverty are unwilling to work and accepting of a second-rate life. That’s what profiling suggests. That’s the misperception that focusing on the flesh instead of the heart creates.

Man’s view of man is consumed with the physical. But what does God see? And if we could see each other the way God sees us would racism, sexism or colorism exist? Would unarmed black men be killed by white police officers at a higher rate than unarmed white men? Would people of color serve longer prison sentences for the same crimes as white people?

If God had to draw an image of you, what would it look like? Would he start off drawing an oval face, perfectly placed features, impeccable hair and flawless skin? Would he use his masterful skills to capture everything that makes you unique and physically beautiful? Or would he focus on something deeper, more meaningful than the color of your eyes or the length of your nose?

I believe God doesn’t see our physical bodies. He sees our heart. He knows us by our righteousness and our obedience to him. He blesses us because of our love of others and our reverence to the holy spirit. As his children, who we are and how we live should resemble him. And we are not to judge each other based on worldly standards but to accept each other and to believe that God has the power to change hearts for the good.

The bible teaches us that there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all (Romans 10:12-13). It also teaches us to treat one another equally and to remain fair and just in our interactions. In Romans 2:11 and James 2:9, it states: For God shows no partiality. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

What racial profiling has created is a false narrative about the responsibility God has placed on each of us to care for and love one another. We are each other’s neighbor no matter where we live on earth. And we are our brother’s keeper, even when our complexions, ideologies, and faiths are different. God gave the final word on the matter when he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth (Acts 17:26).

Racial profiling is the belief that white canvasses should never be marked with beautiful colors. That artists should only use single tones and straight lines. And that every picture should be of the same person with similar features, beliefs, and goals. But diversity and uniqueness bring brilliant light to the universe. Different hues and textures create a collage of people that are symbolic of the world God expects us to live in both peace and harmony.

Mark 12:30-31

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.

Leviticus 19:18

You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.

Michelle D. Jackson is author of The Heart of a Man, a Christian novel. Follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMichelleDJackson/.

This article was published in the September issue of The Mount Magazine. To view the publication go to: http://mt-ararat.org/images/Mount-Magazine/The-Mount-Mag-Sept-2016-Spreads.pdf. 

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