Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas Sergeant Jackson

So I wanted to pause and thank all of you who have been praying for me. I received a fantastic Christmas gift this year. I was promoted to Sergeant by the Battalion Commander on Christmas Eve. I've been up for this promotion for a few months, and was told a few weeks ago that it was going to come through soon, but it was quite the suprise when we had a formation for us to take a company picture, and I was called up front by our BC and promoted. Thank you guys!

This is the biggest jump of rank in the Army. It means I go from being a "regular joe" to being a member of the Corps of Noncommissioned Officers (NCO's). It means I'm being entrusted as a leader and given the title "Sergeant." This is a really big deal.

It's kind of funny because once again it was something I was really frustrated about and really wanted, and I had talked with God lately and prayed for Him to expand my sphere of influence so that I could affect more people. So, He's trusting me with a huge responsibility. Please keep praying that I stay strong and my love for Him continues to grow and become more evident.

Thank you for your prayers. God is still great this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Time to Remember

I love this part of the year because it's a time that forces you to reflect. Lately, I've been going through my old journals, and reliving some conversations with God from the past few years. It's weird because I find myself getting mad, and I find myself realizing things about myself and how God has painted my personality and character into who I am today-- into who He wants me to be.

As I read, I realized how much I used to draw on the people around me, particularly Laura, for my self-esteem. I knew it at the time, and commented to God about it. I asked Him to forgive me and help me place Him as the only object of veneration. (Just so you know, you should be very cautious about what you ask Him for... I should have just been content to be an idolater. My life would have been easier!)

Well, as you know, since then, God has broken me completely down. When I got back from Iraq, Laura left me. My sources of esteem failed me, and I went through a major depression. I was considering hurting myself in some serious ways just so that I could feel pain on the outside in order to drown out the pain that was inside.

I constantly asked God to show me that He was there and that He cared. At one point, I asked Him that, and some verses came to mind that I had never read. And I went to that passage and was struck by how He was the conquerer who was already marching in victory. He knows that He wins in my life.

My feet had hurt constantly from the deployment. When I went to Guatemala last summer I asked Him to heal my feet so that I could help build this orphanage more effectively, and while I was standing in the shower one day, the pain went away completely.

Still that wasn't enough. I didn't trust Him. I told Him that He I could swear those and many other instances away as coincedence.

So one day, I quit. I decided to leave Him. I told Him that I no longer believed Him. I didn't think He cared. So an opportunity presented itself for me to leave Him in a very physical way. And I decided to do it. I told Him that night that I was done, I was going to go have some fun and do what I wanted to do. I hopped in my car to go have some "fun" and was driving on an empty road in North Dakota at 1030 at night when a car whipped out of a used car parking lot and nailed my car. He completely totalled my car. And that night, I knew it was God. He had litterally reached into my life physically and there was no way to swear it off anymore.

So I asked Him, "What do You want me to do?" I heard only one word in reply, "Run!" It was weird cause it was one of those sorta audible, but silent kind of things. I don't know if you know what I mean, but I was clear that it was Him and no one else. I didn't know what to do.

Litterally the next day, Ben called and asked me to come to California to help him with his shop. So I put in my two weeks, got out of my lease and moved.

Most of you know the story from there, but God put my in an amazing church working with awesome, supportive people. My relationship with my brother is fantastic. And my walk with God is solid. I can only get my self-esteem from Him. And I know if I try to go somewhere else for self-esteem, He'll total my car, and I don't want that.

So that's my story, and I would encourage you this Christmas to think back through what God has done for You. Maybe he's sheltered you from evil like He has me. Or maybe He pulled you out of some lifestyle. Whatever the case, I would encourage you to write it down and keep it. It's so cool to see where God can bring you.

Sorry this is so long.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Third Time's the Charm

There are days when I look at this blog and think to myself, "Well, I have to have something to write about. I mean, I know people care about me, and I want to keep them informed." But it is tiring sometimes. What if I don't want to admit that I haven't learned anything this week? What if I don't want to admit that sometimes it is hard? I mean, this is like three gloomy notes in a row, and if I don't start bring the energy level up, people are not going to want to read about me anymore. And we know how much I like attention...

This week, I've been thinking about various options for the future. Will I go back and work for Ben? Will I get a full time job with CCF? Will I extend my military career? Will I move somewhere else? They're all viable options. But which one is best?

Then I got to thinking, "Why would I do any of them?" I know my purpose in life is to bring glory to God, and time is terribly short. What would be the best use of my time? Do I have time to spend in preparation for something in the future? Or should I just make the future now and do the best I can? How can I serve best?

That progressed into thinking, "Am I taking the time right now to do the best I can? How will God entrust me with something bigger if I'm wasting the time now? What can I do right now to show that He is real to the people around me?"

It turned out fantastic. I was in the back seat of our Humvee thinking about all of this, and someone asked me about what had happened to me this past year. I got to explain my entire testamony and how God has protected me my whole life, and has done straight up visible miracles this year. It was awesome because I got to remember, if even just for a minute, what God has done for me.

That brings me to another point. Isn't this website awesome? Cause even if no one reads this (which I can't tell if you read it if you don't leave a comment, so please leave a comment! It's really encouraging!), I get the chance to recite what God has done for me in the past week. I would totally recommend finding a way, time, place, journal, or website to consciously think over what God has done for you on a regular basis.

Well, that turned ungloomy there at the end. Cool. Later.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I played a guy in ping-pong who could beat me.

Don't worry, he didn't.
I mean, we were warming up, and I thought he could beat me. Then we played, and I beat him, so for those of you who are waiting for me to lose at a game of ping-pong, you're going to have to wait a little longer.

Somehow, the Chaplin tricked me into telling him I play the piano, and now I have to play this Sunday. I don't know how the guys in ministry can rope you so sneakily into their devices, but I appreciate it.

I was going to go to practice this past Wednesday night, after going to the gym. And I sprained my ankle playing basketball. So I had to hop all the way to the chapel. That was an experience in itself.

I'm learning about how God is worshiped in all circumstances.

Have you ever taken a rifle with you to church? Well, I have, and it's weird because no one looks at you weird when you bring in a rifle. And I can't help but imagine what in the first century people must have done. They were being persecuted not far from here, and I'm sure they came to church with a war plan. Or at least an escape plan. It's really interesting to think, and to be put in a position where your life is in danger, and still worship God.

God will be worshiped whether we feel good or not. Whether we sprain our ankle or not. Whether we are in danger or not. Whether we care or not. God is bigger than any of our human circumstances. How cool is that?

God is pretty cool this week in Iraq.