Tuesday, March 12, 2013

From Fear to Faith

Romans 14:23 Anything not done in faith is sin.

That hit me as a strong statement this morning. Believing is a NOUN and a VERB. We can't just believe something in our mind, we have to act upon what we say we believe. 

One of the most challenging statements for me: even the demons believe in God but what does believing in God do for them? Does it get them greater access to God? No. Does it allow them to go from where they are to a better place? No. Is that what gives them eternal life? No. They have eternal destinies but it's not in a good place and it's not b/c they believe in God.

I'm lead to ask myself these questions, What is my faith saying to God about me? What does my faith look like to God and others? Is God speaking to me, am i listening and believing what i hear and then am i doing what he is leading me to do?

In my case, i often see that my sin, in regard to faith, is FEAR. Fear of this or fear of that. Some of us fear success, some fear failure, fear of relationships or fear of rejection. Often i fear i won't handle "this" right or i have fear of an unknown situation. I think so much of our fear boils down to one thing- PAIN. Could be physical pain, emotional pain, relational pain or some other. We all want to move from the place of pain to the place of comfort. Fear is so paralyzing. Yet to move forward in FAITH we must risk what we often don't see. We CAN move forward in FAITH because there is a bigger purpose for us to achieve. 

Lord, increase my faith. Help me to see those times Satan tries to convince me to play it safe when i need to jump out and take a risk or be obedient to what you are asking me to do. No matter how contradictory or opposite your steps for me may seem to be, compared to what i desire, let me act in truth faith and trust.

Friday, February 1, 2013


Psalm 91: 11-12 "For he will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands; so that you will not strike your foot against a stone."

Well this is GOOD news!  In all the mishaps, trials and struggles we have been having in our family lately, this Word is such an encouragement!  For though it is easy to see the things that go "wrong" in our lives, sometimes we fail to see how much we are being protected from.  You've heard the old saying "when it rains, it pours", and there seems to be some truth to that....that is how we have felt lately, one struggle or unexpected circumstance after another.  But ya know what..... we seem to have an easy tendency to focus on the "raining" down of difficult things in our lives, when we can and should change our perspective to see the "raining" down of God's hand in our lives.  Our perspective should not be one of concentrating on the negative things around us or all the ways we are feeling attack, but instead, on the protective hand of God.

If you've been following my posts, its been obvious that God has been trying to speak to me a lot lately about PEACE and PEACE in His PRESENCE, REST and a need to slow down and take time with Him and my family on a regular basis.  Also, as i am studying through the book of Mark, this week's emphasis for me was the verses where Jesus says, "LISTEN!......"(Mark 4:3), "He who has ears, let  him HEAR...." (Mark 4:9), "If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear. Consider carefully what you hear," (Mark 4:23-24).  God is trying to speak to me and though i hear what He is saying i'm finding it difficult to apply what He's trying to teach me.

Why is it so hard for me to slow down, to rest, to find peace, to remain peaceful in His Presence?  Perhaps it's the face pace of this(my) world, 6 kids, home schooling, soccer, soccer, soccer, my type A personality, so many things of this world vying for our attention.  Whatever it is for you or for me, it's the thorns Mark 4 talks about that are constantly trying to choke out the Word of God and the fruit of the Spirit from out lives.

Lord, help me to not just hear but LISTEN and APPLY what you are trying to teach me.  Help my heart to be tender, responsive and willing.  Help me learn the lesson now or soon, instead of continuing to resist and fight the lesson, which then only takes more time and more lessons.  Thank you for caring enough about me to keep on teaching me, sometimes the same lesson over and over again.  I want to REST in you today, to TRUST the plan you have for my life and this day, AND to have PEACE in the storms and while scaling the treacherous mountains!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Unfailing Love AND Everlasting Arms

Deuteronomy 33:27   The ETERNAL God is your REFUGE, and underneath are the EVERLASTING arms.  He will DRIVE OUT your enemies before you, saying, 'Destroy them!'

Jeremiah 31:3  I have loved you with an EVERLASTING LOVE; I have drawn you with UNFAILING KINDNESS.

   Wow!  How comforting are the words and promises our God gives us!

 What are your enemies? Do you feel like they are people, circumstances, situations, attitudes, regrets, fears, or worries?  Or a combination of the above?  I know for me(Myra) it doesn't ever seem to just be one enemy i'm fighting but several at the same time!
  Encouragements i have gotten from this Jesus Calling Devotion have been SPOT ON for me.  It says God wants us to be ALL HIS.  Get this.....He WEANS us from all other dependencies.  Our security should rest in Him and in Him alone, not in other people, not in circumstances, not in who we are or who we think we are or want to be.
  Weaning is not the easiest experience, esp. if it's from things we are used to, comfortable with or things that are habits(good or bad ones).  Weaning is also a gradual thing sometimes.  Sometimes it's a "cold turkey" kinda experience but most often the most successful weaning is one that takes a little time.  It's a decreasing of dependency on one(or more) thing to be replaced by a dependency on something else.  I've always said, you can't get rid of a bad habit w/o replacing it with something else( hopefully that is a positive "something else.")

It does at times feel like following God and His spirit is like walking on a tightrope.  The good news though is that there is a "safety net underneath: THE EVERLASTING ARMS."  DON'T BE AFRAID OF FALLING!  Whoa!  That hits me b/c it seems like almost daily i am afraid of falling or failing or not measuring up.  Instead i should be looking ahead, focusing on my Savior and what He offers me each and everyday.  HE is always ahead of me,  BECKONING me on.  If i don't move ahead and chance the fall or failure how will i ever grow?  And despite the times i WILL fall or fail, that does not nor will not EVER separate me from Him, His LOVE or His PRESENCE.  That sure does bring a LIGHTNESS to my heavy load!

May you be BLESSED and ASSURED that GOD can do for you what HE has says AND OFFERS to you the same things he has offered me this morning here in HIS WORD!

Hand in Hand with you and Him!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Ray of Light in the Darkness

Ps. 118:24 "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!"

Last night at 6:30pm as i discovered i needed to go to the ER all the way in Nashville, I didn't see think that the above verse would be possible for me to implement today. Especially since we didn't get home til 3:00am this morning. I could hardly even prepare to rejoice in the day ahead i was so exhausted. Also, i wondered how in the world my dear husbandMatt Jackson was going to get up after 3.5 hours of sleep, fix breakfast, get everyone ready and out to church on time and still be able to function, as i laid there and had to sleep in. But GOD IS GOOD and His MERCIES are new ever morning!

I really needed that sleep in time! I didn't get up til 11:15! Just enough time to get up, get dressed and be ready for everyone to get home from church. And though the darkness and exhaustion put a deep discouragement on our evening and morning plans last night, God has redeemed our day! 

My Jesus Calling devotion this morning said to "try to view each day as an adventure, carefully planned out by your Guide." Well, last night certainly was! "Thank God for this day of LIFE, recognizing that is is a precious, UNREPEATABLE GIFT. Trust that i am with you each moment, whether you sense My Presence or not. A THANKFUL, TRUSTING ATTITUDE helps you to see events in your life from My perspective. A life lived close to Me will never be dull or predictable. (isn't that the truth!) Expect each day to contains surprises.

Todays adventure and surprises have been a great and needed time of rest for me, energy and stamina and even a little nap for Matt. A wonderfully productive time for me and the girls as we prepare to begin home schooling tomorrow(and what a treasure and blessing for me as i thought i might not ever home school again!), a fun time for J2 playing indoor soccer and J1 getting a coaching job, and a great walk with R2, my pup and my Mom right before this big storm hit.

It's really about perspective isn't it? As the rain falls heavily outside right now my heart can rejoice at the sunshines i have found in our day! Thank you Lord for your faithfulness, your encouragement and your LIGHT into my life!

Friday, January 11, 2013

When STRENGTH is Just Not Enough....

It's been a little while since i read God's word and just began to weep. 

Ps 46:1-6 "God is our refuge and strength," I(Myra) have always known God as a refuge but honestly, there have been many times, painful times that i have NOT FELT Him as my STRENGTH. "....an ever-present help in trouble." And quite candidly, i have know that God is an ever-present help, but at times...WHERE THE HECK HAS HE BEEN?! At times, i have been so deeply saddened by God because i was in such trouble and i FELT like he was no where to be found, and WHY was he NOT helping me? 

When i began to read this passage today, the second time i read it and the flooding of my present circumstances, caused a great amount of emotion to sweep over me and i just began to cry. 

"Therefore we will not fear, though the earth GIVE WAY and the MOUNTAINS FALL INTO THE HEART OF THE SEA, though its waters ROAR and FOAM and the mountains QUAKE with their SURGING." 

Can you make a mental video for yourself of what that vs. might look like played out right in front of your eyes? .......I can...but what is more powerful for me and what brought me to weep, was..... emotionally, i FEEL like i have lived that TERROR....and i HAVE and I DO,.. FEAR.....there are times in my past and there is a current situation with someone that is more dear to my heart than almost anyone and our WORLDS, our earths so to speak GAVE WAY!!! There were MOUNTAINS, the mountains of our lives and the lives of our loved ones what were FALLING INTO THE HEART OF THE SEA!! And our very HEARTS were falling with it! 

It's FEELS like total destruction!! It's your world completely flipped upside down. It's pain and it's suffering. It's disease and it's heartache. IT IS NOT EASY! But you know what, lets look at the very next verse.
"There is a RIVER whose streams make GLAD the CITY OF GOD, the HOLY PLACE where the MOST HIGH dwells. GOD is within HER, she will NOT FALL; God WILL HELP HER at break of day; Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; HE LIFTS HIS VOICE, the earth MELTS. THE LORD ALMIGHTY IS WITH US; the God of Jacob is our FORTRESS."

At that point in the scripture as i was seeing some things in my life and the life of this one i love so deeply, i began to weep from different emotions, emotions that were so thankful and so broken for being so faithless and fearful, for questioning and being saddened by his apparent neglect of me and our worlds. All of a sudden, like the first wave of heavy emotions, a new wave took over. A wave of his presence, a wave of his compassion for us, a wave of his mercy to us.....a wave of understanding that washed over me.

All along friend he has been our strength, we are still here. All along my love he has been our help, even when we fear and fight and feel it is so very unfair, he is THERE. HE has been there. He is still there. He will bring us to his river, he will heal us by his blood. He will free us from our fear. And all with LOVE. He sees you, He sees me. We are so very dear to Him. He weeps for our pain and our suffering and how we have been wronged or life has thrown us things we had no idea how to prepare for. His heart is so much more than ours. His love so much greater. His empowerment so much stronger. Hang in there my friend, hang on! It is at the very end of our rope that we sometimes see His light in our deep deep darkness. 

Let our part of this relationship with Him be a responsive part in the litany of LOVE. As God searches for receptivity among all his children, let him find us there. Guard this gift that HE has PLANTED in our hearts and the hearts of our loved ones. "Nurture it with the Light of My Presence."

My sweet sweet friend, the depths of my love for you and your family go deep into the pit and the core of who i am. I am here. I LOVE YOU with an everlasting love. I pray for you daily and though i wish i could, i HATE that i cannot solve the problems and fears you face every single day. But you know, just as well as i do, who can!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In the Shadows

So maybe the devotion this morning was something i was just supposed to read and be challenged by or was it that the enemy didn't want me posting it so it got deleted?  Hard to know the answer to that but as i have prayed about reposting it i thought i would try again.  If God allows it to be erased this time then we know the answer :)

This devotion is taken from the book of John 19:38-42.  Joseph of Arimathea and a disciple of Jesus asks Pilate for Jesus' body in order to give him a proper Jewish burial.  Nicodemus goes along to help Joseph and brings 75 lbs of myrrh and aloes to use in the wrapping of Jesus' body.

These two men are among Israel's most influential people.  Both good, upright, seekers of the truth.  Yet both kept their relationship with Jesus in the shadows.  "They feared the controversy and the consequences of making their faith public."

Now picture the scene:  As they approach the hill and then the cross,.."they are stunned to see the lifeless slump of torn flesh that was once such a vital Savior."  the emotion is more than both of the men can bare and they fall to their knees.  "They weep for Jesus."  They weep for what has been done, they weep for those that did this, they weep for those that lost someone they love, they weep for themselves.  For all these two didn't say and didn't do.  They weep of all the thoughts that rush to their minds of how they wanted to hide their connection with this man.

Joseph ascends a ladder that he places on the crossbeam of the cross.  He slowly climbs closer and grimaces as he has to struggle to release the nail that is holding his wrists.  Nicodemus is watching and waiting from the ground.  Preparing himself to receive the body of his Savior in his arms.  As Jesus is lowered into his arms, he feels the weight and his arms clutch his lacerated back still wet with blood.  They gory details could go on as they closely experience all the abuse and disfigurement that took place hours before.  What struck me was this authors focus on the secrecy of their relationships with Jesus.  "In the quiet courtrooms of their hearts, they realize that loving Jesus in private was just another way of despising him and esteeming him not.  And their hearts condemned them for their sins of omission."  At that time they felt guilty, they felt condemned, they just wanted to beat themselves up!  They were ashamed, so very ashamed.  Why didn't they do more or say more or use some of their great influence to try and help prevent this from happening?  They felt like they could have done something, something more.  But they were too worried about their careers.  However, as they shoulder this guilt and the heavy weight of the moment and the body of their Savior, Nicodemus remembers Isaiah's words: "He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death."  WHAT GRACE!

Jesus gave them this verse and they look at each other and realize "they HAVE done something.  They have spared the Savior the shame of a criminal's burial, where he would have been thrown into the garbage dump outside the city."  Can you imagine the emotion, the passion they both feel when they realize that despite their hiding and hesitation God himself ordained this moment AND this job for them!  This still was a dangerous time for them to step out of the shadows.  Hatred for Jesus was at an all time high and being known as one of his friends was definitely not going to make you popular.

This late blooming love is definitely better than a love that doesn't bloom at all!  "....a love that draws the cowards out of the shadows and into a fearless act of befriending their Savior."

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Jackson's

A year in the life of the Jacksons 
- Soccer, Travelling, Changing, Growing…   
There is definitely a lot of soccer in our lives.   I guess there is even more changing and growing.  And between trips, vacations, and travel soccer, we have driven a lot too.  We had downsized the pet population around here by 4 but added a dog, Jethro, to the mix.  A 100 lb., 6 month old Great Pyrenees puppy.  OH and a Beta fish.  Josiah’s Chinese water dragon met an untimely death and we released our 3 red-eared slider turtles back into the wild.  That leaves 2 cats, a dog, James’ 2 geckos and Rebekah’s fish.
Some of the highlights of the year include, Matt coaching James in Middle school soccer, John and Josiah playing together on a travel soccer team, Matt and James visiting Rick and Nancy in Saudi Arabia, Myra completing her second marathon, and hosting a baby shower for her sister Anne (and the 4th of July on the same day), a Trip to NJ for Matt’s Aunts wedding (and the Statue of Liberty) and yet another new church home for us.  Myra and I also celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary this summer!

Matt – I am teaching 7th grade geography at Warren County Middle School, coached the soccer team and loved having James on the team.  I am also now working part-time for another church in the community, Christ Community Church, working with the youth and families there.  We were not really looking for another church change but, when contacted   about the position, it felt like a change the Lord wanted us to make. It is a small non-denominational church with a wide range of ages, coffee and donuts every Sunday morning and some really great worship!   The family all agrees it was a good move for us and we are all enjoying making even more new friends.  I also had a great time visiting Riyadh this summer with James and getting to scuba dive in the Red SeaMyra asked the kids what they liked most about Dad and here’s what they had to say: Rachel’s most favorite thing about Dad is that she loves him and cares about him.  Rebekah  says “he always takes care of me”.  John says his favorite thing about Dad is “Dad’s new droid”.  Josiah says he appreciates all that Matt teaches him how to do, from soccer to yard work, yet he thinks he should get allowance for some of the work he does around here.  James really appreciates his Dad not giving him homework!
Myra – Keeps us all going.  While most of us are at school, she does more laundry than most would think possible.  She keeps the house looking great and makes sure everyone gets where they need to be, when they need to be there.  All while taking care of Ruth.  She also finds time to run, a lot!  Thankfully her mom can watch Ruth three mornings a week, while Myra logs 20-35 miles a weekThis past summer she completed her second marathon and is going to start training in December for her third. What do the kids have to say where Mom is concerned?  Rachel says “Mom sweeps a lot, is kind, and really likes her husband and her kids”.  Rebekah loves that Mom always wants to play board or card games with everyone.   Josiah says he really appreciates when Mom lets him help out in the kitchen, cooking and baking though, not so much with the dishes!  John’s favorite thing about Mom is “her new iPhone”.  James’ highlight with Mom this year was the many stops at Sonic after Cookeville soccer practice twice a week for a well-deserved treat! 

James- is 12 and in 7th grade.  He grew a lot this past year and is one of the tallest in his grade.  He had a great season playing with a U14 travel soccer team from Cookeville (about an hour away).  He also just made the Olympic Development Program (ODP) team for Tennessee.  We don’t know what all that will mean, but as of right now, he is seeing and being seen by some top club and college coaches in the region.  He also had a great time in Saudi this summer on an amazing trip.  We are very proud of the young man God is shaping James to be,  we are thankful to be his parents and we appreciate how hard he works in school (straight A honor roll) and on the soccer field.  He is looking forward to selling his iPod to Josiah when Josiah gets enough money and saving to buy is own new IPod 5th gen.  He is also really looking forward to his trip to North Carolina for the Olympic Development Soccer Team the first weekend in January.
Josiah – is just about 11 and in 5th grade.  He is playing trombone at school, following in the paths of his dad, uncle, and granddad and doing very well at it.  He is a strong guy that loves to laugh.  He is playing goalkeeper for their travel soccer team and is learning to be the leader/ encourager from the back.  Josiah also has a creative streak that loves to come out in anything from inventions to artwork.  He loves to help in the kitchen and says he likes to bake cookies.  He is also looking forward to his birthday next week and Christmas so that he can then hopefully have enough money to buy is own (James’) iPod.
John – is 9 and in 4th grade.  He works hard and is super competitive.  He is playing trumpet at school and wearing through pants and shoes at a very fast rate!  He can never sit still or go to sleep early; he might miss something and be just a tad behind if he did.  He plays all over the soccer field and can be counted on to do just about anything on the soccer field or at home.  He says his favorite thing to do is play soccer with his friends and build on the most recent fort outside with his brothers.
Rebekah-is 7 and in 2nd grade.  She definitely fits the oldest girl profile; she’s neat, organized, motherly and very responsible.  She’s athletic yet very much a girl at the same time, reminds me of someone else I know! She loves soccer, school, animals and playing with friends.  Two of the things she says she loves to do is snuggling with her mom in bed and playing killer Uno with the family.
Rachel-is 6 and in 1st grade.  She is slowly growing out of being the baby of the family but it has NOT been an easy position for her to resign.  She has grown and matured a lot in the last year, from a sweet little kindergartener to a 1st grader that is reading and writing in cursive!  She does NOT like soccer she says and she has just started her first gymnastics class across the street at the Civic Center.  She says she loves the new church because they have DONUTS and her favorite thing to do is painting and science experiments.
Baby Ruth-is 23 months old now!  Talk about growing a lot in the last year, she has really taken off lately in talking and singing.  She can almost sing the whole Rock-a-Bye baby song all by herself!  She is becoming very independent while still very attached to her family and her Gigi (Myra’s mom, Vicki).  We are all a bit sweeter because we have her in our lives.  Everyone still fights over who can get her up in the morning, who can get her from the nursery at church, who can get her out of her car seat, who gets to carry her in somewhere, who get s to sit next to her at dinner and on and on and on….it’s really rather sweet.

We are all healthy, grateful and glad to be living our every days with one another and having people like you in our lives!