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About Arthur Jackson

In the fall of 2016, after twenty-eight years of pastoral ministry in the Chicago area, Arthur and his wife, Shirley, relocated to Kansas City, Kansas, where Arthur was born and raised. In addition to being a contributor to Our Daily Bread, Arthur serves as the Midwest region urban director for PastorServe (a ministry that cares for pastors) and as a director for Neopolis Network (a global church-planting ministry based in Chicago).

Ripe for God’s Restoration

By |2024-01-07T01:33:31-05:00January 7th, 2024|

The pictures coming from a friend’s text stream were stunning! Photos of a surprise gift for his wife revealed a restored 1965 Ford Mustang: brilliant, dark blue exterior; sparkling chrome rims; reupholstered black interior; and a motor to match the other upgrades. There were also “before” pictures of the same vehicle—a dull, worn, unimpressive yellow version. While it may be difficult to envision, it’s likely that when the vehicle rolled off the assembly line in 1964, it was also an eye-catcher. But time, wear and tear, and other factors had made it ripe for restoration.

Ripe for restoration! Such was the condition of God’s people in Psalm 80 and thus the repeated prayer: “Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved” (vv. 3, 7, 19). Though their history had included rescue from Egypt and being planted in a land of plenty (vv. 8–11), the good times had come and gone. Because of rebellion, they were experiencing the hand of God’s judgment (vv. 12–13). Thus, their plea: “Return to us, God Almighty! Look down from heaven and see!” (v. 14).

Do you ever feel dull, distant, disconnected from God? Is joyful soul-satisfaction missing? Is it because alignment with Jesus and His purposes is missing? God hears our prayers for restoration (v. 1). What’s keeping you from asking?

Troubled Souls, Honest Prayers

By |2023-12-30T01:33:07-05:00December 30th, 2023|

Three days before a bomb blast rocked his home in January 1957, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had an encounter that marked him for the rest of his life. After receiving a threatening phone call, King found himself pondering an exit strategy from the civil rights movement. Then prayers emerged from his soul. “I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right. But now I am afraid. I have nothing left. I’ve come to the point where I can't face it alone.” After his prayer, there came quiet assurance. King noted, “Almost at once my fears began to go. My uncertainty disappeared. I was ready to face anything.”

In John 12, Jesus acknowledged, “My soul is troubled” (v. 27). He was transparently honest about His internal disposition; still He was God-centered in His prayer. “Father, glorify your name!” (v. 28). Jesus’ prayer was one of surrender to God’s will.

How human it is for us to feel the pangs of fear and discomfort when we find ourselves with the option of honoring God or not; when wisdom requires making hard decisions about relationships, habits, or other patterns (good or bad). No matter what we’re faced with, as we pray boldly to God, He’ll give us the strength to overcome our fear and discomfort and do what brings glory to Him—for our good and the good of others.

Tell of God’s Goodness

By |2023-11-16T01:33:08-05:00November 16th, 2023|

Testimony time was the segment in our church service when people shared how God had been at work in their lives. Auntie—or Sister Langford as she was known by others in our church family—was known for packing lots of praise into her testimonies. On the occasions when she shared her personal conversion story, one could expect her to take up a good bit of the service. Her heart gushed with praise to God who had graciously changed her life!

Similarly, the testimony of the writer of Psalm 66 is packed with praise as he testifies about what God had done for His people. “Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind!” (v. 5). His deeds included miraculous rescue (v. 6), preservation (v. 9), and testing and discipline that resulted in His people being brought to a better place (vv. 10–12). While there are God-experiences that we have in common with other believers in Jesus, there are also things unique to our individual journeys. Have there been times in your life when God has particularly made Himself known to you? Those are worth sharing with others who need to hear how He's worked in your life. “Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me” (v. 16).

One Door for All

By |2023-10-25T02:33:21-04:00October 25th, 2023|

The protocols at the restaurant in my childhood neighborhood were consistent with social and racial dynamics in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The kitchen helpers—Mary, the cook; and dishwashers like me—were Black; however, the in-restaurant patrons were White. Black customers could order food, but they had to pick it up at the back door. Such policies reinforced the unequal treatment of Blacks in that era. Though we’ve come a long way since then, we still have room for growth in how we relate to each other as people made in the image of God.

Passages of Scripture like Romans 10:8–13 help us to see that all are welcome in the family of God; there’s no back door. All enter the same way—through belief in Jesus’ death for cleansing and forgiveness. The Bible word for this transformative experience is saved (vv. 9, 13). Your social situation or racial status or that of others doesn’t factor into the equation. “As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.’ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him” (vv. 11–12). Do you believe in your heart the Bible’s message about Jesus? Welcome to the family!

Extreme Kindness

By |2023-09-04T02:33:04-04:00September 4th, 2023|

Fast-food restaurant worker Kevin Ford hadn’t missed a shift in twenty-seven years. After a video surfaced showing his humble gratitude for a modest gift he received to commemorate his decades of service, thousands of people rallied together to show kindness to him. “It’s like a dream, a dream come true, that nobody can even think of

this,” he said when a fundraising effort brought in $250,000 in just over a week.
Jehoiachin, the exiled king of Judah, was also the recipient of extreme kindness. He’d been incarcerated for thirty-seven years before the benevolence of the Babylonian king resulted in his release. “[The king] freed him from prison. He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon” (Jeremiah 52:31–32). Jehoiachin was given a new position, new clothes, and a new residence. His new life was fully funded by the king.

This story pictures what happens spiritually when, out of no contributions from themselves or others, believers in Jesus’ death and resurrection are rescued from their estrangement from God. They’re brought from darkness and death into light and life; they’re brought into the family of God because of the extreme kindness of God.

Humbled but Hopeful

By |2023-08-26T02:33:17-04:00August 26th, 2023|

At the pastor’s invitation at the end of the church service, Latriece made her way to the front. When she was invited to greet the congregation, no one was prepared for the weighty and wonderful words she spoke. She had relocated from Kentucky where in December 2021 devastating tornadoes had taken the lives of seven of her family members. “I can still smile because God’s with me,” she said. Though bruised by trial, her testimony was a powerful encouragement for those facing challenges of their own.

David’s words in Psalm 22 (which point to the sufferings of Jesus) are those of a battered man who felt forsaken by God (v. 1), despised and mocked by others (vv. 6–8), and surrounded by predators (vv. 12–13). He felt weak and drained (vv. 14–18)—but he wasn’t hopeless. “But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me” (v. 19). Your present challenge—though likely not of the same variety as David’s or Latriece’s—is just as real. And the words of verse 24 are just as meaningful: “He has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; . . . but has listened to his cry for help.” And when we experience God’s help, let’s declare His goodness so others can hear of it (v. 22).

Wash Me!

By |2023-07-12T02:34:07-04:00July 12th, 2023|

“Wash me!” Though those words weren’t written on my vehicle, they could have been. So, off to the car wash I went, and so did other drivers who wanted relief from the grimy leftovers from salted roads following a recent snowfall. The lines were long, and the service was slow. But it was worth the wait. I left with a clean vehicle and, for compensation for service delay, the car wash was free of charge!

Getting cleaned at someone else’s expense—that’s the gospel of Jesus Christ. God, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, has provided forgiveness for our sins. Who among us hasn’t felt the need “to bathe” when the “dirt and grime” of life have clung to us? When we’re stained by selfish thoughts or actions that harm ourselves or others and rob us of peace with God? Psalm 51 is the cry of David when temptation had triumphed in his life. When confronted by a spiritual mentor about his sin (see 2 Samuel 12), he prayed a “Wash me!” prayer: “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow” (v. 7). Feeling dirty and guilty? Make your way to Jesus and remember these words: ”If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Texts, Troubles, and Triumphs

By |2023-06-14T02:33:04-04:00June 14th, 2023|

Jimmy hadn’t allowed the reality of social unrest, danger, and discomfort to keep him from traveling to one of the poorest countries in the world to encourage ministry couples. The steady stream of text messages to our team back home revealed the challenges he encountered. “Okay, boys, activate the prayer line. We’ve gone ten miles in the last two hours. . . . Car has overheated a dozen times.” Transportation setbacks meant that he arrived just before midnight to preach to those who’d waited for five hours. Later we received a text with a different tone. “Amazing, sweet time of fellowship. . . . About a dozen people came forward for prayer. It was a powerful night!”

Faithfully serving God can be challenging. The exemplars of faith listed in Hebrews 11 would agree. Compelled by their faith in God, ordinary men and women faced uncomfortable and unfathomable circumstances. ”Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment” (v. 36). Their faith compelled them to take risks and rely on God for the outcome. The same is true for us. Living out our faith may not take us to risky places far away, but it may well take us across the street or across the campus or to an empty seat in a lunchroom or boardroom. Risky? Perhaps. But the rewards, now or later, will be well worth the risks as God helps us.

Courage to Stand for Jesus

By |2023-06-04T02:33:19-04:00June 4th, 2023|

In ad 155, the early church father Polycarp was threatened with death by fire for his faith in Christ. He replied, “For eighty and six years I have been his servant, and he has done me no wrong. And how can I now blaspheme my king who saved me?” Polycarp’s response can be an inspiration for us when we face extreme trial because of our faith in Jesus, our King.

Just hours before Jesus’ death, Peter boldly pledged His allegiance to Christ: “I will lay down my life for you” (John 13:37). Jesus, who knew Peter better than Peter knew himself, replied, “Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!” (v. 38). However, after Jesus’ resurrection, the same one who’d denied Him began to serve Him courageously and would eventually glorify Him through his own death (see 21:16–19).

Are you a Polycarp or a Peter? Most of us, if we’re honest, are more of a Peter with a “courage outage”—a failure to speak or act honorably as a believer in Jesus. Such occasions—whether in a classroom, boardroom, or breakroom—needn’t indelibly define us. When those failures occur, we must prayerfully dust ourselves off and turn to Jesus, the One who died for us and lives for us. He’ll help us to be faithful to Him and courageously live for Him daily in difficult places.  

Tired Tents

By |2023-05-03T02:33:03-04:00May 3rd, 2023|

“The tent is tired!” Those were the words of my friend Paul, who pastors a church in Nairobi, Kenya. Since 2015, the congregation has worshiped in a tent-like structure. Now, Paul writes, “Our tent is worn out and it is leaking when it rains.”
My friend’s words about their tent’s structural weaknesses remind us of the apostle Paul’s words regarding the frailty of our human existence. “Outwardly we are wasting away . . . . While we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened” (2 Corinthians 4:16; 5:4).
Though the awareness of our fragile human existence happens relatively early in life, we become more conscious of it as we age. Indeed, time picks our pockets. The vitality of youth surrenders reluctantly to the reality of aging (see Ecclesiastes 12:1–7). Our bodies—our tents—get tired.
But tired tents need not equate to tired trust. Hope and heart needn’t fade as we age. “Therefore we do not lose heart,” the apostle says (2 Corinthians 4:16). The One who has made our bodies has made Himself at home there through His Spirit. And when this body can no longer serve us, we’ll have a dwelling not subject to breaks and aches—we’ll “have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven” (5:1).
How does it make you feel that in the midst of declining health, Christ still resides in you by His Spirit (5:5)? When you find yourself “groaning,” how often do you turn to God in prayer?
Father, thank You for Your continual presence. When I’m physically uncomfortable, help me to trust You even as I anticipate an eternal dwelling that will last forever.

 

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