Meaningful Living in the Hashtag Age

Posts tagged ‘religion’

Finding Your Way Out of the Boat


I’ve always wanted to be an accomplished writer. From the moment I read Alice Walker’s book Meridian at the age of 13, I wanted to be an author. I love the way words exemplify the human condition so concretely. The way a good story can transport a reader from a mundane existence to another world. I love that when expended into the pages of a good book I could be anyone I chose to be and that writing allows me to dream out-loud and share that dream with readers from every walk of life.

Books are magical. Inspiring. Influential. From the heartfelt stories of a Christian novel to the powerful pages of the Holy Bible, books change lives and good writers are invaluable. At a young age, God showed me that writing was my true calling but to step into the life He pre-destined for me I had to activate my faith.

In preparation to walk into my destiny, I spent many years honing my writing skills. Even though when I look back at that time in my life, I realize I didn’t always trust my talent.  Therefore, I did other things. I worked various jobs, started businesses and wrote for other people. It was safer to do those things then to go after my dreams head-on. I was afraid to be the writer God wanted me to be until 2005, the year I turned 31-years-old and the same year I lost my mother to cancer. Her death changed my life. It brought forth a strong desire within me to live a life of purpose in dedication to her because she loved me unconditionally. To be the writer I wanted to be I needed faith in God’s promises for my life as well as the support of people who inspired me to move towards my dreams.

Many people have the same story. We are passionate about dancing, but we never become a dancer. We are skilled carpenters, but we take jobs sitting behind a desk. We love to sing, but we never join the choir or share that gift with the world. We hear God’s calling on our lives but refuse to accept it because of our fears. We become what I call boat-people, afraid to take a step out of the boat – our comfort zone –  because of our fleeting sense of security and a flawed belief that our God-given talents aren’t good enough to be accepted by the world.

The boat symbolizes the limitations of living in the flesh – an act that’s rocky and unstable yet conventional. Most of us are raised to be boat-people. We are expected to conform to this world and the expectations of man. Stepping away from the boat represents our growing faith in God and finding our true purpose in life. The importance of finding our true purpose is to honor God by fulfilling His Great Commission to spread his teachings to all the nations. When we fail to live a purposeful life and to use our gifts to glorify God’s Kingdom we hinder the spiritual growth within our homes, our communities and the world.

The boat carries many people who believe it’s safer to stay in it than to venture out. But when God has placed in your heart a belief that life has more to offer than sitting in the boat, you experience a powerful pull towards your calling.

In Matthew 14, the Bible illustrates the power of stepping away from the boat and subsequently, fear-stricken boat-people. In these verses, Jesus sends the disciples in a boat to cross a lake and wait for him on the other side. As time progress, Peter and the other disciples find themselves in the boat far from land. The boat had sailed a considerable distance from where Jesus was, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Jesus, who had gone up a mountainside alone to pray, was not with his disciples when the wind and darkness cast fear upon them.

The Bible states in Matthew 14:25-29 (NIV): Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Over the years, I’ve cherished the teachings of these verses. Jesus walks on water and Peter, a commoner, joins him on the water until his lack of faith causes him to sink. Every time I hear this story, I am drawn to understand better the symbolism of the boat itself and how this story is an example of what happens when God is calling for us to walk in our destiny, but we fail to move closer to him. In my opinion, Peter’s failure didn’t come from his lack of faith once he got on the water, but his lack of faith before he stepped out of the boat. In the boat were the other disciples who I imagined were debating what to do. Should they turn back? Should they cry out? Should they drop the anchor and stop moving? They were afraid. Afraid to go forward, move backward or to leave the boat. They were boat-people struggling to save themselves and convinced the situation before them was too dire to be resolved, even by God.

Peter, engulfed in his own fears and those of the other disciples, had to decide what to do. Peter called out to Jesus in Matthew 14:28, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water. Instead of believing that only Jesus would have the power to walk on water, Peter, a loyal disciple, questioned if it was Jesus at all. He was doubtful before he stepped out of the boat.

When I think about my faith to go after my dreams, I realize that I often operate like a boat-person. Rocking from wave to wave during the most turbulent times of my life, I ignore God as He calls to me to take a step out of my comfort zone and away from people who are stuck believing that life has nothing more to offer than their current situation. God has shown me that hidden in each of our DNA is a strain of greatness that we can only tap into with unwavering faith as minuscule as a mustard seed.  We should step out of the boat even if we periodically find ourselves sinking because we must perfect our faith walk before reaching the pinnacle of our Christian experience.

My desire to be a writer is God’s way of calling me to get out of the boat. He is telling me to trust Him and to have faith. To fight against the challenges and limitations before me and to go after my dreams. What I’ve learned over the years is that getting out of the boat is one thing, but getting out of the boat in faith is something altogether different.

Stepping out of the boat means stepping away from boat-people

Whenever I hear a sermon on Matthew 14, I always wonder why God called Peter out of the boat but left the other disciples behind? I liken this story to so many of us who are listening to God with one ear and listening to earthy influences – or boat-people – with the other ear. God tells us to come and to have faith that he will direct our path. Boat-people, often comprised of our friends and family who harbor doubt and fear, are whispering words of defeat that often overshadow God’s voice. The other disciples did not ask to step out of the boat. They were satisfied waiting for Jesus to come to them, to show himself and prove that he was capable of walking on water. Peter chose to meet him on the water, while the other disciples chose to remain in the storm.

Was Peter stepping out of the boat to get away from people who doubted Jesus more than he doubted Jesus? Was the doubt in his mind the results of being around other negative people who lacked vision? Moving towards God is a faith walk we often do alone. The men Peter left behind in the boat could not see or understand the destiny God had for his life. But to reach that destiny, Peter needed the faith and fortitude to step away from the norm.

This story is a reminder that what God has for you is for you. Our destiny was determined before we came into this world. Our responsibility is to decide whether to remain in the boat and doubt God or to take steps to fulfill our purpose. The people sitting in the storm with you are often there because they don’t trust that God can bring them out.

Peter stepped out of the boat doubting Jesus’ power. He did not complete the journey, but he did show Jesus and the other disciples that he was willing to take the necessary steps to reach his destiny.

Sometimes we all find ourselves sinking. But God will not let us drown. In Matthew 14; 31-33 the story concludes:  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him [Peter]. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

I encourage you to get out of the boat. Leave the boat-people behind and pursue the life God has prepared before you. Jesus is standing on the water in the middle of the lake with his hands stretched out, waiting for you to come.

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

The original article was published in the January 2018 issue of The Mount Christian Magazine. To order an copy visit The Mount website.



To Die For


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



Love Thy Neighbor


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

This article was published in the September issue of The Mount Magazine. To view the publication go to: 

Awesome God, Make Me Whole!



There is a spiritual lesson in the making of a patchwork quilt. An early American pastime, the art of quilting used the imaginative designs crafted by women gathered in a quilting bee. Patchwork blocks made from fabric scraps and salvaged material accumulated from memorable events and treasured possessions are stitched and sewn into individual designs then aggregated into useful pieces. Colorful and oddly shaped fabric is cut, assembled and attached to create a complete work of art with three layers – the patchwork, the insulation and the backing – which is mended into a quilting masterpiece that is often passed down from generation to generation.

When I think of God’s masterful work to make me whole I see my life as a patchwork quilt. Scraps and salvaged parts of a life well-lived but often hard-fought cut, paired, and mended together by the hands of a loving God.  Each patch exemplifies my faith, my character and my capacity to love. Each layer is insulated by the Word and the strength of my salvation.  God is my Potter, my Maker, my Restorer and my Redeemer. Through His craftsmanship He has turned this spoiled vessel into something new. And He has transformed the tattered pieces of my life and restored me into a purposeful and enduring believer.

God has taken the jagged edges of my faith and cut away the doubt and uncertainty. He took the rough and uneven ends of my spirit and smooth away the unmanageable parts. God attacks the obscurity of sin that seeps into my mind and leaves me with the courage, through His salvation, to stay strong and to move forward with confidence.

I am His work of art. Tattered, bruised and weak, I am made strong through the love of an omnipotent God.  Even in my brokenness he can craft me into something whole.  His Word insulates my life and reminds me that the real work to living out my destiny is done inside and not on the peripheral of my flesh. My backing, or my foundation, is God’s love – a sweet but firm fortress of strength that keeps me humble and strong.

A Christian’s life is a work in progress. There is no day that passes that God isn’t cutting, pairing and mending our broken parts to make us whole again. He is the Creator of all things good. Resting in His arms guarantee us that we will be equipped and restored, beautifully packaged and secured through His love.

Jeremiah 18:3-4

Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make.

2 Corinthians 4:7

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.

Isaiah 64:8

But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.

Michelle D. Jackson is author of The Heart of a Man, a Christian novel and Founder of The Charity Supper Club, a program designed to raise money to benefit local charities and families in need.

This piece was printed in the March 2015 issue of The Mount Christian Lifestyle Magazine.


OMG! Obedience. Mercy. Grace.

Check out my article in the Nov. Issue of The Mount Christian Magazine.

Check out my article in the Nov. Issue of The Mount Christian Magazine.

To view the complete November issue of The Mount Christian Magazine, go to

Dreamers Only

ManThis blog is for dreamers only. People with an expectation of life much broader than what others can comprehend. The sixty-five year old grandfather who wants to skydive and the twenty-three year old single mom who wants to be president. There are no impossibilities, there are only opportunities.

Living is about making dreams come true, exploring the universe in ways no one knew was possible and taking on the world and all its obstacles.

Working is about turning jobs into careers, organizational leadership and ambition. The focus will be on public sector management, entrepreneurship, social media management and building successful networks.

Inspiring is about faith, religion and spirituality in the 21st century.

1st Morning Thoughts will have contributing writers from all over the world and an insightful dialogue to help you navigate your day.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: