Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Showing Up for Christmas

As we get closer to the 25th of December, I am really amazed at the conversation surrounding whether or not a church is going to have services on Christmas Day. My response is simply, "Are You kidding me?"

Christmas Day is the time we stop and celebrate as a family, the precious birth of Christ. What better place to be on Christmas morning than in worship. We go to Birthday parties all year long, but this Sunday marks one I don't want to miss.

I understand some reasoning for a person not able to make it. Away is understandable. If you have guests staying with you, bring them with you.

Kids want to enjoy Christmas. I certainly agree, and what better way to teach them what the priorities are in your life and family than to honor God on His day.

We don't know for sure the exact day that Christ was born. While that may be true according to the calendar, biblical history puts us in a very close time frame. This is the time when the world stops and celebrates Christmas.

How much more should a Christian and the church begin His day by saying thank you to the Lord for coming into this world to die for our sin. God with us came so that he could save us!

Light the candles! Jesus is born!

From Renee and our whole family, I wish you a Merry Christmas. See you Sunday!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Snow and Satellite Dishes

The music, lights, and traffic all point to the fact that Christmas is upon us ready or not. One reason I enjoy Christmas so much has to due with my mom and dad. They always made it fun. We were by no means rich growing up, but I always felt like were were. I guess the reason was because they taught me how to be content and grateful. I hope I never get over that life lesson regardless of how old I get.

Another reason I enjoy it so much is because Renee loves it. The gift buying, the cooking and baking, the decorating. She is like a kid when December rolls around. I don't share enough with people the impact she has on my life as she encourages me in ministry. It is true. a Pastor's wife can make or break him, and I thank God that He gave me Renee. She is a jewel. A keeper!

A third reason I love it is because of Drew and Stacy. Kid's make the season fun and loaded with expectation and anticipation. As God has blessed Drew and Ashley with Aiden, it is obvious that the joy he has brought to our lives is unexplainable. With Stacy and Kyle preparing for marriage in June, we realize that our lives as we know it are constantly changing.

The other night, the big Ohio State/Duke basketball game was coming on. I couldn't wait, and as the game approached the TV starting jumping and missing and I knew we had a dish issue. It had been snowing so I decided to go out and knock the snow off of the satellite. When I walked back in the picture was crystal clear.

I believe our lives can get that way around the holidays. We can have stuff accumulating in our lives that block us from the true meaning and blessing of Jesus. It can cloud our relationship with the Lord and frustrate us.

My prayer for you this Christmas is to ask the Lord to remove the snow(sin) in your life that is hindering your relationship with Him. He will cleanse you making you ready to hear from Him.

Renee and I wish all of our readers a wonderful Merry Christmas!
A Savior is born! Bro. Greg

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Oh Little Town....

It really is. Today the message was on kindness in the series on the Fruit of the Spirit. People do seem to be kinder when it comes to this time of the year.

I love living and pastoring in a small town. Recently I read a book named in the title of this blog and was reminded of the blessing of living in a rural small community. During the holiday season, a small town comes to life. Camden becomes a Thomas - Kinkaide like water color represented by the lives of the wonderful families that live here. We are no exception, small towns can spread news like a speeding train, but the pros far outway the negatives.

Like a small town, a church is a family. Families may have a difference or two every now and then, but the Lord works us through those moments.

I am super proud of the mission heart our folks have developed. This season the Lord has blessed us to provide a Fourth Annual Thanksgiving Day free community meal. We will be having for the first time, a deacon and wives led, "Night To Remember" for our widows and widowers, an often overlooked group at this time of your. Kids and Adult Christmas programs. It is electric at church, buzzing with excitment. Caroling, Christmas Eve Candlelight, and the privilege to gather together and worship on Christmas Day.

In all of the doing, it is important to remember that Christ is the focus of the season, not our schedules or activities. May the ministry holiday schedule in our Oh Little Town... glorify Jesus!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Sunday night , we did an Old Fashion 5th Sunday Night Sing. Great crowd and great blessing. As I opened in prayer I thought I heard something, and then I heard it again. It was true! Someone was calling out my name, but they weren't saying, Brother Greg or Pastor. It was getting louder and louder. I could hear people snickering , trying to muffle it as I prayed on. It was a sound that was even sweeter to my ears. The voice and the tone began to sound quite familiar. it was coming from a special guest that I didn't know was there. It was coming from the lips of a nearly two year old blond headed boy seated toward the back with his family.

The word he was shouting out carries great weight and responsibility. It is a term that means someone is counting on you, and that regardless of circumstances, love still wins.

When I said Amen, I asked our folks to great each other and everyone go give my grandson Aiden a big welcome hug.

The word which he spoke over and over.............Papaw! I loved it! One of those moments you cherish. What a joy and a blessing to be part of a family that has such a loving church family.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

COURAGEOUS will be Contagious



Well the excitement has built toward this week as Sherwood Pictures releases the much anticipated motion picture, COURAGEOUS. Having previewed it twice, I believe God is going to use this film maybe in a greater way than He has already shown with Fireproof. Every man who sees it will be challenged and convicted about our roles as fathers and husbands.

I am grateful for Michael Catt and the vision the Lord has given Sherwood Baptist Church to take the gospel to Hollywood. COURAGEOUS stands shoulder to should with the best the film industry has to offer in terms of quality, effects, acting, and overall production. As you will see, it touches every emotion we have.

The one thing that a movie like this one offers that others can't is the fact that we can't change ourselves, and that a personal relationship with Christ is the answer for your life.

We are looking forward to having most of the Theatre packed this Saturday at 10:15 A.M. for the first showing of the day. If you are not able to go with us, make sure you go see it. You will never be the same.

We pray God's blessing on the opening of COURAGEOUS the movie. Check it out!
www.courageousthemovie.com

Thursday, September 8, 2011

911 Remembered

This Sunday, 9/11 is the tenth Anniversary of a day we will never forget. As special services are prepared to remember those who lost their lives and the families that were destroyed, our minds are still flooded with pictures of the ash covered people wandering helplessly on the streets of NYC as well as the heroic effort of the first responders and chaplains who gave tirelessly to help people in need.

As I saw the following announced on the news recently, it is hard to fathom the thinking of excluding those who represent the God we clung to and cried out to on that day and the God we still need every second of the day.

Richard Land writes from the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission,

"Perhaps you saw or heard it on the news, that New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s decision not to include chaplains and religious leaders at the 10th anniversary of 9/11 commemoration service, despite his acclaimed support of religious freedom and tolerance:

It is interesting to contrast the 10th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers with the day of the attack. Chaplains and religious leaders were welcomed, and some were martyred, as they sought to minister their faith to the victims of the attack. On that day, political correctness didn’t matter. It was overwhelmed by the crushing reality of the tragedy of 9/11, and people turned, as they always do, to solace from the realm of the spiritual.

“I understand that first responders were also not invited to the 10th anniversary event, unless they happened to be relatives of victims. Once again, on the original 9/11 attack, first responders were not excluded. I suspect that if, God forbid, there is another attack of similar severity in New York, neither religious leaders nor first responders will be excluded, but welcomed at the scene."

Monday, August 22, 2011

Reading My Obituary

Wednesday I will attend the funeral of a boyhood friend, and ironically, a friend with the same name as mine. Only difference is that he was Greg O. Jackson and I am Greg F. Jackson. We used to have some fun with people mixing us up or confusing the conversation. The biggest mix up came when we both went to the same oral surgeon to have wisdom teeth taken out. I only had three and Greg O. went to his appointment before me and they only took three of his four teeth out. He had to go back. I was laying back in the chair and noticed my x ray had Greg O. on it. We caught it in a nick of time.
I wonder if anyone will see the obit and immediately think it is me who has passed. The difference in the second sentence of this blog is he was and I am. It was very eerie reading the obituary with my name on it. The good news is that Greg O. is not a was. He is at this moment in the presence of the Lord with a son and his dad. He is more alive than he has ever been.
Do you realize you are writing your obituary right now with your life. Make it count for Christ!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Back to the Beach!



One thing that I am grateful for is the memory of family vacations. The expectation and excitement was over the top as we prepared to go south, and many of those trips going over to Myrtle Beach.



Now as a Papaw, we are traveling with our family, and grandson. He has no clue what is in store, but one thing I pray for. That he will enjoy it as much as we did growing up. That he will enjoy it as much as his dad did when he was a little boy.



So as I prepare, here is the last checklist for Mamaw and Papaw:

Family

Bible

Money

50 spf Coppertone

Golf clubs

Beach tools

Money

Good Shades and Hat

Boat Load of Fun

GPS

Money!


Time with your family: Priceless!





Thursday, June 23, 2011

Reflections from the 2011 S.B.C. in Phoenix

It has been a week since returning from this year's Southern Baptist Convention and Pastor's Conference in Phoenix. I am very encouraged in regards to our Convention and the focus on planting churches and taking the gospel to the nations.

New IMB President Tom Elliff was right when he said that the whole convention had led to a commitment to get involved in touching one of the 3800 unengaged people groups that have yet to hear the gospel of Christ.

It is always good to be reaquainted with preacher friends from all over the country. One hi light was meeting the cast of Courageous coming out September 30. It is going to be huge.

As in the past few years, the dress code was very casual with President Bryant Wright sporting a golf shirt through the entire convention. He did a fine job of handling the business, and used appropriate humor to lighten any tenseness.

One thing I appreciated was that some of the speakers did wear suit and tie, just as they always have. That is where I wish to make a point. Let's just be who we are and not think we have to fit in someone else's mold. If we are casual on Sunday morning in our home church amen. If we are in a suit amen. Just be who you are in Christ.

In regards to the Pastor's Conference I was blessed tremendously. The music was spirit led and each preacher I heard spoke to my heart. With somewhere around 200,000.00 coming in through the offering , not to cover expenses, but to have a Bible translated into two languages who have never had the Bible is wonderful.

One bit of sorrow I have is that for many years us older pastors have prayed that young preachers would attend. When Vance Pitman scheduled the speakers this year it seemed he became a target for many and there seemed to be a great assault by some of us seasoned preachers. I pray as I get older, that criticism and sarcasm will not be weapons I use to hurt another brother in Christ.

While attendance was down, probably due to the economy and the location, there were more young preachers there with their wives and family. If the next generation is going to lead, we need to support them and encourage them as they do so. The next generation, like you and me, who are preaching the Bible and the Gospel of Christ. That is what I heard from each of the men invited to preach.

I am grateful to pastor a S.B.C. church and one that is growing to have a heart for the nations.
This year's convention has fueled that flame.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Across the Street


It is hard to believe that we are now in June. The rainy spring shot us into 90 degree humid weather. Summer is upon us ready or not.

I used to have some crazy thought that if I were ever a pastor, I could schedule vacation whenever I wanted and have pick of the prime weeks. The truth is, that during the summer, it becomes one of the busiest periods of the year in the life of the local church. Camps, Mission Trips, VBS. There are plenty of places to serve this summer. These are exciting times to be part of the First Family with the privilege of serving in a wonderful community like Camden.

If the Lord wills, we are excited to take our first beach vacation later in the summer with the entire family, grand son and all. I remember those beach vacations as a boy and they are things I hope our family continues to repeat. Our kids were blessed to go on trips with my parents and I hope we can do it as our family grows.

One memory I have is the fact they we normally stayed across the street from the beach. We could see the ocean, but were just across the street. There were reasons that I now realize such as cost, and that my parents were loyal to clean places that had good managers. You could count on it being as advertised.

As we serve this summer by doing things here and going to other places, let us be sure that we go across the street in our neighborhoods and streets and share the hope of Christ with those closest to us, even across the street!

Until He comes...we will go!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Family of Faith

What a great blessing to lead a church that loves each other. That is not to say that as a church family that we never have differences. All families have a little tension from time to time, it is normal. It is natural. It is hard at times to understand some of the things that sidetrack us, but the truth is, as long as we are in the flesh we will have relational hiccups.

I believe that a trait of a healthy church is learning to go forward even when relationships get off track a little or off balance. When we realize that we are all different in some way, it helps us appreciate even the differences that we have.

While there may be personality differences, there is a common thread that binds us together. It is the thread of what the Lord Jesus Christ had done for us. The Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. It is greater and more powerful than anything the devil can throw at you and is strong enough to heal even the most fractured relationship.

What a blessing to be part of wonderful family of faith. I love my church family.

See you Sunday.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Worth of a Mom? Priceless!


Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. Proverbs 31:10

Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her: Proverbs 31:28 (NKJV)

Tomorrow, Lord willing, I get to celebrate the 72nd Birthday of my first valentine. The first love of my life as a young boy, my wonderful Mom, so I dedicate this blog to her.

A Boy Never Forgets
Pressed clothes, clean sheets hanging on the line and opening the windows and smelling spring.
Little league practice and the patience to just sit and watch. Strike three but still your all star.
Sacrificial summer vacations, the beach bag and the wonderful smell of coppertone. Summer nights sitting on the patio swing waiting for dad to come home from work.

Clean house, clothes folded perfectly, church clothes in closet.
A faithfulness to the house of God and a home that worshipped Christ. Hamburgers on Friday, and roast on Sunday.
Breaking beans in the summer and eating those beans in the winter. A great cook!

LP records and the excitement of Christmas fast approaching. The perfect gift wrapped just right.
Rebounding foul shots and replaying the games over a Tony's pizza. A fun home.

Tears of loss and tears of joy. Tears of a Granny holding her grandchildren and now blessings of a Great Granny holding little big man!

After all of these years, I have come to realize that a boy never forgets the love of a mom.
Happy Birthday! I love you, Greg


Monday, March 7, 2011

Haiti and Revival

Well it's been a week since we have returned home from a Mission Trip to Mirebalais, Haiti, a village about an hour outside of Port Au Prince. A layman, Jay Mabry and myself had the privilege to travel with Terry Essex, founder of It's A Brighter Day Ministries. He has had an orphanage there for over ten years.
Many had concern about our travel safety and the Lord was good to us, as we had uneventful flights and arrangements. The truth is we are anxious when we fly even if it for vacation; there are always some nerves involved.

It didn't take the kids long to warm up to us, as Jay was involved during the day with them. I had the privilege to preach a revival at night and teach the pastors during the day. These were services that I will never forget. I had the privilege to shake hands and look into the eyes of nineteen Haitian pastors. I felt in may ways as if I were looking into the eyes of preachers from the New Testament. Pastor Joseph reminded me of the Apostle Paul.

The power of prayer and the heart for worship were things that immediately touched my heart. I want to be like that. I was challenged, convicted, and broken over my own sin and often lackadaisical approach to both prayer and worship. God forgive me, I want to be a man after your own heart.

Gratitude is another lesson that has emerged from the trip for me. I will no longer take things for granted as I have in the past. A family for one. We were at an orphanage; a place where kids go when they have no parents to raise them or love them. Pastor Frisnell and Sylvannie Donne do a great job there in loving and nurturing these kids. Food? I will no longer leave food on my plate. Witnessing children being fed rice and beans twice a day and grateful for it, and then hearing the soft voice of a little boy say, " I'm still hungry", broke my heart. We are blessed in America, and spoiled in many ways we are not even aware of.

What does the trip to Haiti have to do with Revival? Everything! When prayer becomes a priority for us, worship takes on a whole new dimension. It is no longer just going through the motions, but seeking a supernatural encounter with the God we serve. Without the power of God, we get stale, cynical, critical and cold toward spiritual things. Lord send Revival and let my prayer life be real. May my worship be sincere, and my gratitude constant and overflowing.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Anticipation

Well, the trip to Haiti has become a reality and a team of three of us will leave on 2/21. I must tell you that there is a little bit of fear built in to this trip due to the recent political unrest in Haiti. What a privilege to take the gospel to a place where many may hear it for the first time.

I have found that when you are away on mission, you realize why you are there. You are focused on the task. You go to bed tired and get up early with one thing on your mind. Sharing Christ.

Pray for all aspects of the trip with us. From packing to health, pray that the Lord will give us great opportunity to proclaim His truth.

By the way, has Jesus been part of your common conversation today?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Old Faithful


Psalm 119:9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. 10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. 11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Old faithful can apply to a number of things in life. It can refer to the famous cone geyser in Yellowstone National Park that spews 125 ft. into the air every 45 to 125 minutes lasting 1.5 to 5 minutes.
It can refer to an old car that always fires up for you or it can refer to man's best friend that is always there at your feet waiting to be petted. It can mean a special uniform or jersey you wear that makes you feel better by just wearing it.

Old faithful to me is the Bible I preach with each Sunday. The precious, infallible Word of God. It seems to almost fall open to the areas I am wanting to turn to. It is the one that is most worn, most marked, and most importantly the most read.

After preaching away last week, I began to look for Old Faithful, and got to the office Sunday morning thinking it was on my desk. To my surprise it wasn't, so I preached from a Bible that I used years ago that had been re-bound. It contained the very same thing that I read in Old Faithful, yet the personal touch from most of the notes were not there.

Why don't we all make a fresh commitment to become as familiar as possible with God's Word. One thing you can be sure of when you open it.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, it can change your life at anytime, it will point to Jesus, and it will be a road map that will always lead you home, even when you have been away, it can lead you home. I love God's Word!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cereal Bowl?

As we approach the end of College Football bowl season, I have come to a conclusion. There are too many bowl games, and because of that, most of the games have become insignificant.

As we immerse ourselves in 2011, let us be very careful when we consider our culture and what we hear more and more. there aren't a number of ways to get to heaven according to Scripture, and all roads don't lead to God according to the Bible. Jesus said, "I am the way , the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father except by me." John 14:6
That's what the Bible says and that is what folks who are lost need to hear.

Because we are living in a day where many think there are a number of ways to get to God, it does not change who He is, and that We must come to Him through Christ.

Share the truth in love, and watch the Holy Spirit work. Jesus is still the answer!