Kyle Jackson joins The Redeemed Man podcast. Kyle Jackson, pastor at the Columbus branch of Church of the Highlands. Just as Church of the Highlands is a large organization that tries to offer localized worship and healing through its many locations, Jackson says people shouldn’t look only to their pastors for restoration; ideally, churches would provide small groups where worshippers can feel comfortable to open up and lean on each other for prayer and forgiveness. “We try to be a church of small groups, where people feel they can build trust, so as soon as something happens in their lives they have people they feel like they can turn to,” he says. “Where life-giving relationships are built, good things fall out.”
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Welcome and Guest Introduction
Hi! I’m Paul Amos, founder of The Redeemed, today we have a very special edition of Pursuing Restoration. This is an opportunity for us to come together as an online community where men of all types can come together to discuss not only their difficulties, but to discuss their triumphs over those difficulties.
Kyle Jackson: First I want to say places like The Redeemed is what our world needs. We need more spaces for people to be real and open and to deal with what’s really going on. We need a safe space like this to just be real. The world says vulnerability is a weakness, but really, it’s a strength. That’s what can get you up and keep you going every morning.
What Does Restoration Mean to you?
Q: Paul Amos: What does restoration mean to you?
A: Kyle Jackson: When I hear the word restoration, I think of sinners like you and I having our sins forgiven, through a relationship with Jesus, and knowing our eternity is in heaven. We don’t have to walk around with guilt and shame for decisions we’ve made in our past.
Living in a Broken World
The truth is, we live in a broken world. We’re not going to fix it by just trying to get everything right all the time. We’re going to live in a broken world until Jesus comes back, but we don’t have to walk around broken!
We don’t have to walk around with the mistakes from our past, a decision we made, or something we’re walking through. That restoration is all throughout the Bible.
Biblical Examples of Restoration
Jesus on the cross, restored a guy right next to him on a cross and said, you’ll be in eternity with me forever. That is one of the last things He did before ascending into heaven.
I think of Paul, who wrote two-thirds of the New Testament, and before that, he was murdering Christians. God redeemed his story, and he ends up writing what most of us sit around and read and get hope from in the scriptures.
Peter, one of Jesus, his best friends denied Him right before He was to be crucified. Then Jesus looked at him and said, I’m going to build my church on you and redeemed him in that moment.
So I think redemption in the simplest way is being able to take anything that you’ve done, any wrong that you’ve had, any sin in your life, and knowing that you can get it right, you can get back to who God’s created you to be.
The enemy tries to use guilt and shame and lies in your life, but it doesn’t have to be your reality. God’s got a plan for you, he’s got a hope, he’s got a future for you.
If you can have a space like this, like The Redeemed, where you can be real about it, then you can experience true healing. The Bible says that you should be in a space where your brothers and sisters can lay hands on you and receive healing. If you can figure out a way to use your past, you can walk not only a life that’s been redeemed, but a life that has purpose for other people.
I can receive God’s grace and pick my head up and use it for other people’s good.
No Sin is TOO Great
Q: Paul: What kind of message do you send to those people who are sitting out there today who are saying… “Yes, but….my sins are too great.”
A: Kyle: Paul says in the New Testament that he was the greatest of sinners. I think Paul was trying to get across to all of us, especially men, because we can be a little hard-headed, that we can assume everything’s for somebody else, but it’s not for me. Paul was murdering Christians, and then in a moment, God blinded him, knocked him off the horse and then ends up using him as one of the greatest story writers of all time to give us hope and to show us that there’s a future. He shows us that anything that we’ve done in our past that was wrong can be used for something good.
I grew up in a church reality where people used to send anonymous letters to my parents when I did something wrong. “Kyle was at this party.” I grew up in the world where it felt like if you made a mistake that everybody was watching and people weren’t for you, they were against you. That’s not what the Gospel is, that’s not who Jesus was, it’s not who the God is that we serve.
I think maybe for a lot of us that grew up in the South, we learned that God was this being in Heaven that’s just sitting around with a fly swatter, waiting for us to mess up. But that’s not the God we serve.
The God we serve loves us, is for us, has a plan for us. He WANTS to forgive us! The Bible says if we take one step towards them, he’ll come 990 steps towards us.
God doesn’t turn His face from you when you make a mistake, he turns his face toward you.
God’s Chosen Ones
Q: Paul: There are people throughout the entire Bible where God has chosen people for some reason or another. People who wouldn’t be seen as the “perfect choice”. What message do you think God was trying to send in choosing the people that he chose?
A: Kyle: I think at the core, He just wanted to make it simple and wanted us to all know that we’re going to make mistakes. We’ve all made hundreds of mistakes. I’ve made them, every pastor of every church has made them. Every person in your family that you think is the perfect Christian has made them. I think God just wanted to make it very clear that He uses people that are broken and hurting. He uses people that are imperfect to build His church. He uses people that have bad pasts to be people in the Bible who are incredible stories.
Whether somebody has called something to your life or whether you’ve done something that’s called something to change in your life, God will take it all, and I’ll turn it to good. I think he wanted to show that all through the Bible. He ended up redeeming it and using it for good.
No One Talks About the Enemy
We have a God, and we have a savior named Jesus, but we also have an enemy. A lot of people don’t like to talk about the enemy. We like talking about God, we love talking about Jesus, but there would be no need for all of that if we weren’t battling another side of this thing called the devil.
The Bible could call him anything that he wants to call him, and it calls him the father of lies. I think what happens with men is we make a mistake, and we never get healed from that mistake.
Then we hear in our head this record player. “We’re not good enough. What we did was too bad. What we did hurt too many people. People are going to look at me and they’re going to judge me.”
And that might be true. The truth is, you might walk into spaces and people might judge you and say things about you. But I know we serve a God that looks on and doesn’t talk about you like that, He doesn’t think about you like that. He looks on and sees you as redeemed.
The enemy lies to us all the time, says that we can’t be used after we’ve made that mistake. Some of the people used in the Bible for some of the greatest things were people that made huge mistakes, that He redeemed.
Men have a hard time figuring out how to leverage those mistakes for the good of others.
Maintaining the Faith When We Can’t Hear God
Q: Paul: People often want to find God speaking to them, coming to them, being with them throughout the entire journey, but God sometimes puts us through periods where we have to journey on our own. How do you maintain the faith through the periods of time when God is not necessarily speaking to us, but we know he’s ever present with us?
A: Kyle: I think of Joseph as he gets thrown into a prison. When he is in prison, he is with a couple of the king’s servants, a cupbearer, and a baker. The world would tell us when somebody done something like that, or we’ve made a mistake that we should just go sit in the corner of our own prison and just sulk and feel bad, feel like we’re not worthy of anything.
I love what Joseph did in that moment. Joseph in that moment continued to use the gifts that God had given him for other people, even when he was in the prison. The Bible says he interprets the cupbearer, and the baker’s dreams.
He could have just sat in the corner and sulked. And I think that is exactly what the enemy wants us to do when we make a mistake. I think he wants us to get into our own little prison and go to a dark place to over-think it. To think that we’re horrible and God will never use this again, and God’s not even present, I can’t find His peace, I can’t hear His voice.
There’s Only One YOU!
I think most of us know what we’re naturally gifted in. I think you know that God’s given you gifts and He’s given you talents, he’s given you an upbringing, he’s giving you ways of thinking about things. There has never been anybody on the planet like you. There’s never been anybody that’s been created like you, there’s never anybody to have the same thumb print is you, there’s never anybody that’s had the same spiritual gifts with the same personality as you.
The enemy would want you to do when you make a mistake, is go sit in your prison in a dark space where you can’t be used. Joseph, in that moment, instead of doing sitting in prison, he said, You know what, I’m going to keep serving. I’m going to keep using the gifts I have. I’m going to keep helping other people.
From Prison to Palace
Joseph went from prison to palace. How do you get out of a pit of just feeling bad and you don’t feel like you’re restored? How do you go from that to being restored?
I would say Get up. Use your gifts. Serve somebody else. Go make a difference for somebody else. When you do that, God is pleased, and I think you’ll start to hear His voice. I think you’ll start to feel His peace. I think you’ll start to receive His grace in a different way when you go make a difference in somebody else’s life.
Engaging God-Given Talents
Q: Paul: You all have done an incredible job at Church of the Highlands of giving that action step to the people who attend your church. How are you able to engage people in helping others? It seems like what you’re doing at Church of the Highlands is a little different than what everybody else is doing to engage their talents to really do something for God.
A: Kyle: All churches are different, and there is no one right way, but what we’re doing is working for the people that are coming to our church. I think we just all grew up in a church where we felt needed, where we felt like we had to serve because if we didn’t serve that it wouldn’t happen.
I think a lot of us, myself included, grew up in church feeling guilty about not serving more than we enjoyed getting up and serving. Which I don’t think was ever God’s plan at all.
We’ve just tried to figure out who an individual is, more than what do WE need? And as we find out who an individual is, and we find out the gifts and talents they have. Their personality type, we do a spiritual gift assessment test. It helps you kind of find out how God’s wired you because God’s wired you differently than he wired me. When we can get you in a place in whatever local church that you are a part of, when you can get on a team serving or when you can get in the community serving, that’s actually your gifting, not because you felt pressured to do it, but because it’s who you are.
We are created on purpose for a purpose. And that purpose wasn’t just to work, and it wasn’t just to make money, and it wasn’t just to provide for your family. Although that’s the American way, and I do think God created men to do that. That is a piece of what God created us to do, but I think he created us to not only do that, but he also created us to tie it back to a kingdom purpose.
I think that’s where a lot of guys struggle in the redemption story. They think: I get up, I go to work, I’m doing all the things, I’ve my routine, but something still feels empty. I would challenge everybody tonight to ask yourself, “Do you know how God’s created you?” If you don’t, jump online, and take what they call a spiritual gifts assessment test.
The Bible says we all have spiritual gifts. None of us shy away from taking a personality type test or other strengths test in the workplace. When you figure out a way that you can serve, even if it’s one hour a week that you get out on a Saturday and cut a widow’s yard or maybe you’re wired to teach and you host a one-hour Bible study in your house for men, or maybe you just got great hospitality gifts, and you hold a front door at church and say hi to people. If you’ll figure out a way to use those gifts you’ve gotten inside of you, I think it gets you back up on your feet. When you can tie what you do for a living to a kingdom purpose, then you’ve actually found what God created you for.
I think that’s how redemption can speed up in men’s lives, when we get out and we serve somebody else. Not because somebody’s asked us to do something, but because we figure it out.
The Two Best Days
The best two days in your life are when you were born because if you weren’t born, you couldn’t have the second-best day in your life. The second this day is when you find out why. Most men I talk to, don’t know why they were born. They don’t know why they were created. We end up in a job because that’s what dad did. We end up in a profession because that’s what Mom did. We end up doing something because we had to take a job, because we lost a job and we needed to make money, and 20 years later we’re still doing that.
When I sit with most men and I say, “Do you enjoy what you’re doing?” Nine out of 10 will say ‘not really’.
I hate hearing that because I don’t think that’s what God’s created us to do. I don’t think He created us to work 40 years in a job that we don’t enjoy and never find purpose in it.
When you can tie what you do for a living to a purpose in your church or a purpose in your workplace that’s when you make a difference. You might have a job and you might have a job description, but you also have gifts.
When you find your purpose, all of a sudden, it’s not about the job you work anymore, it’s about the purpose that God’s put in you to make a difference in people’s lives. When you do that, I think it speeds up the restoration process from a mistake we’ve made, or from somebody telling us we’re not good enough to serve or do anything else in the body of Christ, I think that’s all a lie from the enemy.
Serving in the Workplace
Q: Paul: That’s really fascinating. When I think about a worker at the work site, not everybody can come to God and just say, I’m going to step out and go in the ministry. But there are a lot of people out there that can find a different attitude through work and what God actually restores them and brings them to be.
How do you bring that sense of what God is doing in your life into the workplace? I feel like that in corporate America today, God has removed more than ever. It’s really a sad situation. How do we take the principles that Jesus has taught us and say, we’re going to bring a liveliness, an excitement, enthusiasm about guys teaching to the workplace without overstepping what we’re allowed to do?
A: Kyle: I think that God has a plan for your life, so even if you didn’t plan on being where you’re at, I think that God’s still in it. I think what God’s waiting on is you to take the gifts that you have and use them in your workplace.
You don’t have to read your Bible at work, or put Bible verses on everybody’s desk, but some of you have to gift of generosity. Be generous in your workplace.
I think we overthink it. We think we must figure out how to be super Christian at the workplace, but also fitting in with the guy. We think, I don’t want to be weird and be over the top and be super Christian, but I also want to make a difference.
It’s the simplest things. I think when you show up at your desk and you’ve had a tough week, and somebody in your workplace noticed that person shows up at your desk and there’s just a simple card that says, ‘Hey, man, I just want you know, I was thinking about you. I know it’s been a tough week in the sales world this week. I just want you to know I’m praying for you.’ Maybe there’s a $5 Starbucks gift card in there that says ‘Have a cup of coffee on me this week.’
With the simple things, you make a bigger difference than you think in that moment.
And not all just have that gift of generosity, so that’s going to be hard for us. But figure out what is your thing? What are you best in the world at? Figure out small ways inside the workplace you can do.
Personal Example of Serving in the Workplace
Kyle: I worked at a place called Suncoast Contractor Supply for three years in Southwest Florida. Went from coaching college baseball to selling doors, frames, hardware, bathroom accessories, etc. I remember I was 24 years old, I just got out of coaching college baseball, we move to Southwest Florida, we’re going to make all this money at this company, and then we moved in 2008. If you remember anything about the construction world of 2008, that’s when everything tanked, and Southwest Florida was the number two foreclosure place in the country. I remember saying God, what are you doing? I left college baseball coaching for this?
My wife was working in a similar place and just weren’t enjoying it. Then we felt called the ministry, but those doors weren’t opening either, and it was that day that I made a decision that I’m going to do ministry inside of this workplace. I just made the decision that I’m going to be light every day when I walk into this place.
I said to myself, I’m going to get up and I’m going to put my best foot forward. I can’t control the market, and I can’t control the sales, and I can’t control everybody’s attitude, but I can control mine I can use everything that I’ve walked through in my past to make somebody’s day better. I just made the decision that I’m going to choose joy. I’m going to know that I’m forgiven. I’m going to know that God’s grace covers me. I’m going to know that God’s in my story, and I know that God’s got me at this place in this season for a reason, and I’m not going to waste it, I’m going to use it.
I think God’s looking for men that are willing, even if they’re not in a place that they love, to walk in and make a difference. I think honors that, I think he opens doors, I think he sees that, I think he smiles down on it.
I think Christianity is a lot simpler than we try to make it. We get caught up in theology things so much, and Jesus wants people to be kind to somebody.
I think those simple things in the workplace help you realize that no matter what you’ve done, that God can still use you to help somebody. God can still use you to make somebody’s day better. And I think those small things over a period of time accumulate, and all of a sudden you’ll look up and you feel restored and then you feel like you can make a difference.
Restoration In Leadership
Q: Paul: Jesus came and said, in order to lead, you have to serve. It is truly remarkable to me to realize how upside down the leadership that’s being taught throughout the business world and other places is in comparison to what Jesus is teaching in terms of leadership. We see so many leaders fall and end up making the wrong decisions and needing the same type of redemption and the same type of restoration that we’re talking about today. But they’re having to do it from a platform that is a much larger.
What does it mean to restore within leadership? What do leaders need to be doing to uphold this charge they’ve been trusted with by God?
A: Kyle: Especially in Christian circles and spiritual leaders in our lives, I think we put them on a pedestal too much. The Bible is clear that those who are in spiritual leadership inside a church or a Christian organization, that you are held to a higher standard. But nowhere in the Bible does it show that because you’re held to that higher standard that if you make a mistake you can’t be forgiven, that there can’t be grace given to you, that you can’t be restored, that you can’t continue to lead people.
I think the world we live in right now puts Pastors and spiritual leaders on a pedestal that we were never designed to be on. We are imperfect people too. We have the same enemy that you have. I think that if we can just learn to give grace to all people, no matter what they do, no matter what their title is the same grace that we would want to be given to us, we should extend to others, but that’s not the world we live in right now.
It’s so easy to point a finger, to judge other people and the mistakes they made.
I have made horrible mistakes in my life. I got kicked out of college two weeks before my senior year, my parents divorced at 18 and I ran off and the drugs and alcohol, and chased things that the Bible clearly says that you shouldn’t chase. Even getting married, there was things in my life that I still needed to get straight and get figured out and get out of my life. I’m just telling you we serve a God that is so for you and loves you.
The Prodigal Son
I love the story of the Prodigal Son. I don’t think we even fully understand that story. I think we think that story means he got saved, and that’s God. The son went off and sinned and came back, and he was saved.
And yes, it is a story that shows that you could get saved no matter where you are, but I see another side of the story that says, the young man was already saved, and he just still ran off and decided to squander it all. He gave his family a bad name.
I think I picture this father just standing at the window every day looking for his son to come back, because it says his father saw him. What we don’t understand about the story is as it says the boy took a step up the hill, but then the father comes running down the hill, and in that day, men didn’t run, in that day, men wore sandals. So, this father is running, it says he tackles his son at the bottom and kisses him and puts a robe on him and brings him back.
He doesn’t make him a servant. He throws a party for him in his house. I think the son was saved, he left, he’s the prodigal, he came back and he didn’t get treated less than, he got put right back in a position of leadership, right back into the family, right back into a position of authority and influence from day one.
And it’s the older brother standing outside with his arms crossed, that I think is the world we live in right now. I think we have a lot of people that see a Christian leader like that. They get to come back into the house, and they didn’t have to start at the bottom of the position. Now they got restored in that moment, and they got their influence back, and they got their opportunities back.
I think the world we live in right now tends to lean a little more towards the older brother who’s outside with his arms crossed, thinking ‘really?! He’s going to come back and get all of that? And I’ve been here doing everything right!’, But the father, he walks out of a party, which is an embarrassment and looks at his older son and says, ‘Everything I have is yours’.
We live in a world right now that thinks we have to earn it, and when we don’t get what we’ve earned, we cross our arms when somebody gets something they haven’t. We get jealous about it. They think, well they are restored, but they shouldn’t have their influence back. I personally disagree with that. I think God can use hurting and broken people that have made mistakes as much, and sometimes even more than you can use those of us who have lived a ‘perfect’ life.
Don’t worry about your gift being seen, worry about to being used. If you use them, God sees them and God will open doors for you. If people have their arms crossed telling you that you’re not good enough, that you shouldn’t have a second chance, I think we serve a God of 77 chances. I think you’re going to get another opportunity. I think God’s going to use you in ways that you could think or imagine, because your past story is going to relate to more people than a perfect story ever will.
Tell Your Story
Q: Paul: Telling your story is such a critical part of this ministry. That’s what we are trying to get people to do. I’ve tried to help inspire through the speakers that we’ve had here and the conversations that we have. To encourage people to step out and really talk about their story.
In the story of the Prodigal’s son, God goes into great detail about all the things that the prodigal son did wrong. I think sometimes we are so ashamed of what has gone on in our lives that we’re unwilling to say that it can benefit somebody to hear that story.
But testimony is something that can truly be powerful. How do you utilize your testimony to help inspire other people to understand their story is something that can be used for good?
A: Kyle: The Bible is real, and it is true. None of this is possible without Jesus. Let’s just start there. Anything I’ve ever done, anything you’ve ever done anything, it’s only through what Jesus did on the cross that we can be saved, that we can be forgiven. It starts with Him.
But secondly, it says, by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony (Revelation 12:11).
I think our testimony is one thing that we’ve lost a little bit in our day-to-day. I think because of social media and the internet we are scared to talk about it because somebody can blast it, somebody could turn it, somebody could take words, say something that you didn’t say, and I get that. But… I think if you’re going to use it to help people, I think God’s going to bless it. I think He’s going to protect it. I think you have to tell your story, and I think it’s safer than it feels.
I think that your testimony is going to help more people than you think. And I think it’s going to help you more than anybody. Anything that stays in the dark grows. Anything that’s put in the light dies. If you’ve got a story and you’re hiding it in your soul, you’re hiding it in your mind, you’re hiding it in your heart, the longer it stays there and never get out, the enemy continues to grow in your head, in your heart, and whispers that you shouldn’t share it. That if you do share it, people are going to think bad of you. If you share it, somebody might do something with it. And I think that’s a lie.
God is going to do way more good with it than anybody could ever do something bad with it. That’s what I love about The Redeemed. You’ve created the space that a pastor like me can come and say, I’ve been addicted to drugs, I’ve slept on floors in Chattanooga after being in bars all night till four in the morning, I’ve been in relationship with people that I should have never been in a relationship with. I’ve sinned, I’ve lived, I’ve cheated. You name it, I’ve done it.
I can sit here today and have joy in my life. I have peace in my life. I feel like I have God’s calling in my life.
I know you feel the same about this ministry. You get up and you put two feet on the ground and you feel good about it. I think that started at the place of feeling safe enough to tell somebody your story and what you’ve went through. When you share, I think, by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony, God just does something in you. The Holy Spirit inside of you just comes alive because your testimony has the ability to impact people’s lives.
You were made on purpose for a purpose. Nothing you’ve ever done would ever take God’s love away from you. If you’ll get up and you’ll serve some people, and know that God’s grace is sufficient for you, if you’ll tell your story to somebody, if you’ll stay connected to ministries like this to create a safe space for you to listen and learn and to be in a relationship, you’re right around the corner from God using you. You’re right around the corner from redemption. Right around the corner from healthy relationships. You’re right around the corner for making a difference in somebody else’s life. That’s the ultimate place to land as a Christ-follower, to see your life as more than yourself. You see that everything you’ve walked through is meant to be leveraged for other people. When you can figure that out and you can get up every day, no matter what you’ve done, you can at peace in your heart, you can have joy in your faith, you can experience God’s love, and you can make a difference in this community, in your family’s life, your kids’ lives, your friends, other men in our community and around this country.
Jesus, thank you for the opportunity to hang with these men tonight. God, thank you for Paul and his heart. God, to create a ministry like this, that’s a place where we can all come as broken, sinful people, and be able to share our story, to learn from each other, to see that other people are walking through the same things. God, I think one of the greatest things about this ministry is that we can fell on the other side of this computer screen tonight that we’re not alone, that we’re not the only one, that it’s not just us, that it’s all of us.
The God we serve, an incredibly loving grace-filled God, that sent His Son Jesus to die on a cross. Just as we look at that person on the cross and said, he’ll spend an eternity with me in heaven tonight, and He forgave that guy for everything he had ever done and I prayed tonight, but a lot of men on the other side of this computer would receive your forgiveness.
Just pray a simple prayer that says, God I will I forgive myself. We will forgive others, but we just have a hard time forgiving ourself, and I pray right now that I been watching this, but just simply say that. Say, ‘God I forgive myself. I know you’ve forgiven me, but I need to forgive myself.’
God, I pray that men would stay connected to this ministry. I pray that You would bless it. I pray that every man watching right now, would let somebody else know about this for the next webinar, that they would bring a friend. That might be the first place they could make a difference is going, ‘Hey, I’m a part of this, and it’s helping me and I know you’re going through something, I think you should be a part of this, and I think it’ll help you.’
I pray right now that any man that feels guilt or shame for anything they’ve ever done, not anything the enemies tried to lie to them and tell them that they’re not good enough, that they’re not worthy of influence anymore, that God, you’re never going to use them again, I pray right now in the powerful name of Jesus, that you would break those thoughts, that you would break those strong holds in their life, and that they would know that their best days are yet to be.
I pray that everything they put their hands to this week would be blessed, and I pray that you would give them life-given relationships and everything they have in their heart would come to pass and your timing. We pray all this in the mighty name of Jesus, in Jesus’s name. Amen.