From Pastor Jackson's own words and some of my editing: "As I look back, being raised in the parsonage, living under the scrutiny of a watchful church, life was not always sunshine and roses. In those days, holy living was more judgmental. The church appeared more interested in what we did outwardly rather than what our internal relationship with Christ was.
At the age of eight, I had an experience with Christ. I asked for forgiveness of my sins, although my knowledge of such was very limited, and I wondered why there was such a fuss. Just accept Christ and let His love come in and serve Him and follow Him, I thought.
As my teen years unfolded, two things happened that would almost cost me the experience of holiness in later life. First, I did not pay attention to what the writer to the Hebrew wrote in Hebrews 12:2, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith….” Because of what I had been taught about this set of strict rules, I began to encounter attacks from the Devil, and to question the rules. I didn’t pay attention, as Hebrews 2:1-2 admonishes, and began to drift away, making excuses and blaming others.
I rebelled from God, the church, and religious people. Many experiences happened after that which further drove me away. At that time the Korean War was raging. I enlisted in the United States Navy. Forgetting many of the holy ways of living, I entered boot camp and from there was sent to a ship embarking for Korea. I began a further gradual slide away from holiness. During the war, hate and apprehension set in. I started to indulge in things that I do not care to mention here. Playing music every night with cigarettes, and booze, my Christian experience went down and down.
I re-enlisted in the Navy over and over, and found myself on an aircraft carrier entering the Vietnam War in the early 1960s. I was selected to be a CWO (Chief Warrant Officer). Then, in 1970, I was transferred to a billet in the country of Vietnam. My official duty was finally assigned, and I became the assistant repair officer of a repair base servicing PCF’s, Whec Junks, and other diesel boats.
Various reasons caused me to further abandon my childhood religious beliefs. (It is remarkable, when you begin to drift, how far down you can go.) Looking back, I believe because I had a praying father, mother, and wife who prayed to God for my well-being, God heard their prayers.
As I was preparing to leave Vietnam, two things happened that some how, some way, had a bearing on my road back to Christ. First, I was taking my luggage to Saigon to be shipped home. Another sailor and I were driving down the road toward Saigon when a firefight ensued off to our right. We accelerated and off we went. All the time, I was praying, “Lord, help me get out of here and I will serve you”. I was thinking, “I have been here a year and am ready to go home, and now I get killed!” Second, Our flight back to the United States was greatly challenged. As we taxied out to the main runway, a mortar attack began on the base. The pilot came on the intercom and said, “Hang on guys, we’re going straight up out of here. I’m going to floor-board it.” As we flew down the runway, we could see the mortar rounds hitting off to the right. Up, up, up, we went in a hurry. The engines were screaming and straining as we soared into the sky. (My thought all the time was: “I’m leaving Vietnam and now they’re going to get me before we get off the ground.”) I was released from the United States Navy and would stay in a ready status, until 1981 when I was completely discharged with a combined total of 30 years service.
After returning from Vietnam, I took a position as Chief Engineer of a hospital in Idaho. The personnel director who hired me was a lady, and my wife and I became good friends with her and her husband. He was a pilot who flew a single engine plane. One day, he returned to the airport, stopped the plane, put the nozzle of the fuel hose in the tank and fell over dead. This would not have any significance to many people, but to me, it had great impact. You see, on a lonely road in Vietnam, with bullets flying all around me, I told God “if You will get me out of here, I will serve you.” When this man fell over dead, God said to me, “This could have been you.” What an impact that had on me. After almost 27 years of running and turning from God, the fact that He would even speak to me was overwhelming.
On a certain Sunday in a Baptist Church, I accepted Christ into my life, knowing little at that time about what was in store for me. The job at the hospital was very stressful. Things were not going well for my family, and I was ready to give up, when a still, small voice said, “College, Christian Service.” My first reaction was, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” My age, my family, my… but God said “Go!” So I went. I enrolled in Northwest Nazarene College expecting only to get an Associate Arts degree in some area of Christian service. However, in conference with Dr. Laursten DeBois, my mind was stimulated and I stayed 3 ½ years, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Christian Education." (Later, Pastor Jackson earned his Doctorate in Theology!)
"One morning as I was reading the Bible, as clear as a bell, the words of John 21:15-18 jumped off the page to me. “Feed my lambs.” “Take care of my sheep.” “Feed my sheep.” These words gave me the direction that I sought. I knew they were real, because within three weeks, I had a call to three different churches (one of which was in another denomination). What do I do now?
You must realize that I was a pastor, saved, sanctified (spirit filled). Yet I felt I should confess to Christ that I wasn’t exactly where I should be. What an awakening. My mind began to wander---(I’m sure the Devil helped out). Was I really Spirit filled---could I be backslidden? Deep down, though, I knew that His Spirit witnessed with my spirit (Rom. 8:16) that I was a child of God.
All of a sudden the scripture in 1 John 1:9—2:1 came to me. “My little children---do not sin---but if you do sin you have immediate access to the Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ” (my translation). Great confusion began to come in. My mind fogged over. Is it possible for a sanctified (Spirit filled) individual to sin? I know what the theologians write in their big books. Although never a stated doctrine, a person was somehow led to believe that Spirit filled people didn’t sin. They just made mistakes, had infirmities, or some other excuse. After many hours of study in God’s Word, prayer and in consultation with other learned Bible students, I have come to believe that we can be filled with the Spirit of God, and that His Spirit will lead and guide us in our lives every moment of every day.
Yet, often Spirit filled people who classify their actions as mistakes or excuses, appear not to be responsible for their actions. The mind is often engaged without the spiritual heart being involved. With these thoughts in mind, I wrote a book about a way to be responsible in every action of life. I call this The Confessional Life of a Spirit-filled Believer.”
Together Place Church
3860 Flowerfield Road
Blaine, MN 55014-3724
North Presbyterian Church
2675 East Highway 36
North St. Paul, MN 55109