Valerie Jones

{Live with Purpose. Lead with Passion.}

I am a blogger, worship leader, and speaker who helps worship leaders and team members connect with purpose and passion in life and leadership by offering encouragement, community, and practical resources so that they can thrive in life and leadership, both on and off the platform.

Thanks for stopping by!

{Unyielding Love}

Goodness, it's been a while. I'm knee-deep in all kinds of stuff over here - some good stuff and some hard stuff, but I've missed sitting and writing. Life is moving at lightening speed. A little too fast for my taste.  Confession: Easter snuck up on me. It's my favorite holiday, and I was so disappointed in myself for that. I was sitting on the edge of my bed the Thursday evening before when it dawned on me that the next day was Good Friday. You guys. Just no. It's given me a reason to pause, to just stop.

When something like this happens, my default to revisit the immediate past and question everything. I find myself saying "was that best thing there?" or "could I have done better here?" or "maybe I shouldn't have said that." If I'm not careful, my mind wanders down the rocky path of "what-if, " and my perspective gets all jumbled up. Yeah, sometimes that happens. There's never a day when I get it all right. But, I am so thankful for a God who loves me fiercely and pursues me relentlessly. His love is like no other. That's what the cross demonstrates.

Before I was born, He loved me.
Before I uttered a word, He loved me.
Before I attended my first church service, He loved me.
Before I sang the first worship song, He loved me.
Before I had the capacity to understand, He loved me.
He. Loved. Me.

And, there's more.

He loved me even before I loved Him back.
He loved me even when I've been angry with Him.
He loved me even when I've run from Him.
He loved me even when I was a total mess.

He meets every imperfection, every flaw, every weakness with perfect, strong, steady love. It's an unyielding love. And grace, sweet grace. It becomes even sweeter in light of His perfect holiness. It blows me away every time. Here's the thing: There's never been a moment when He hasn't loved me. There will never be a moment when He doesn't love me. The same goes for you.

If you're feeling a bit frantic and busy, pause and let this truth settle deep in your soul and bring with it a sigh of relief. There. That feels better, doesn't it?


{Undivided Heart and Repentance}

 

There he stood on the crowded sidewalk proudly wearing his not-so-cool sandwich board sign. He was handing out pamphlets and shouting at the top of his voice, "Repent!! Avoid Hell! Repent!" I happened to be in New York City when I saw this fellow, but I'm sure many of you could describe a similar scene. I applaud his boldness, I think. But, my heart sank because, well . . . The approach is, without argument, lacking in too many ways to list.  I could never imagine.  But, repentance? He was right about that at least. It is certainly necessary for unbelievers and also for believers.

So far we've talked humility and honesty; this week we worked through repentance. Notice the progression because it isn't accidental or inconsequential. A couple of things landed on my heart this week as weighty reminders as I studied repentance. Are you ready?

1. As followers of Jesus, a repentant heart is crucial to our daily lives. Until Heaven, we are susceptible to sin. We cannot deny that reality. Likewise, we cannot escape taking responsibility for our sin. And you guessed it! Humility and honesty are required. I've been asking the Lord to help me respond quickly to the voice of the Holy Spirit when He reveals sin in my life.

2. Repentance is more than a confession. True repentance requires the laying down of something and a refusal to pick it back up. The study explained the Greek word translated repentance means that our minds change or we think differently about something. Do you know what that means? It means a change of behavior follows repentance. I'm not saying we get it 100% right every time after, but there is definite, measurable movement in a new direction. It means obedience in whatever the Lord is asking of us in a particular situation.

Here's the thing: our hearts and minds are limited; there is a finite amount of space for things to settle. How often do sinful attitudes and behaviors move in and make themselves at home?  Repentance, in it's truest form, means clearing out space for the Lord to fill. And, through grace and the Holy Spirit at work in us, He fills us with godly character so that we are beautiful reflections of Jesus. Isn't that what we all want? It's absolutely what I want. But, on my own, it's impossible. I need Him. So, I do not want any unconfessed sin or an unrepentant heart to keep me from Him.

What's something you need to confess? Is the Holy Spirit calling you to repentance in any area of your life? May I encourage you today, sweet friends? Don't delay. He is faithful to extend forgiveness, and "he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities."  Because, love. Because, grace. Because, Jesus.

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{Five Minute Friday | Friend}

It's Five Minute Friday. That means unplanned, unedited, straight-from-the-heart-to-the-paper writing. Yep, you just write whatever comes out based on a word you're given. If you have five minutes, you should give it a try!  Find out how here.

This week the prompt is {FRIEND}.

Ready? Go.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the prompt. See, the Lord and I have been talking a lot about this. It seems over the last several months, many people I called friend have wandered away or become somehow unavailable, several of them without explanation or conversation. I'm relieved to see some of them go if I'm honest. But, with others, there's a certain sense of loss. Confession: I'm quite needy these days, craving connection with particular people face-to-face. But, I'm not great at making time for that outside of my daily grind. And, the sting of rejection is a very real thing to sort through when you reach out with no reply. That's where the Lord and I have been sorting some stuff out. See, the thing is, some people make you better and others, not so much. I want the former to be true of me. So, I'm asking Him to teach me how to be a friend who is an honest and lovely representation of Jesus. I'm also asking Him to show me where to invest and where to let go. That's a hard process.

There's another piece, though. I found myself again looking to people to satisfy some deep thing in me rather than to Jesus. And, y'all, it's just not possible. Goodness, at some point, it seems I could check that box. But now and then, I find that I slip back into old patterns of people-pleasing because my soul is longing for something that only Jesus can give me. In seasons of transition, it's especially easy to slip back. I am oh so thankful that God continually pursues us.

Here's the thing: Jesus is enough. I know, that seems shallow and cliche. But it comes from a belief deep in my soul, anchored firmly in His unwavering love. Nothing else will ever be enough, especially when I neglect the most important One. Sometimes we do that you know? We overfill our lives, our hearts, and minds until we don't have much room left for Him. And though we're busy or living "full" lives, something is missing. Even if we can say we have everything we want, apart from Him, it's all meaningless. When I find myself in a spot where I'm missing something or someone, He's always the remedy. May I encourage you today sweet friends if you are struggling with feeling alone and isolated? He's our most constant companion, a friend that sticks closer than any other. Start with Him. He is enough. Let Him be the One we think of first. Yes, always Jesus.

Stop.


{Undivided Heart and Honesty}

Honesty. It's essential. We all know that. In this week of study, honesty is a prerequisite to humility and intimate relationship with God.

I'm not sure I realized how easy dishonesty is for us. With others, with ourselves, with God. See, dishonesty isn't just about telling a blatant lie. It can be about concealment, covering up, leaving out various details about ourselves or a situation, or failing to take personal responsibility in a situation or circumstance. You know, being silent instead of speaking up. I've had much to confess to God over these last few weeks.

I think sometimes we're honest about our shortcomings and character flaws, but we stop short of actually acknowledging, when necessary, those things as sin and dealing accordingly through confession and repentance. Instead, we say things like, "No one is perfect. We are all sinners. I'm just authentic and real." And, yes, we are all sinners, and none of us are perfect, but in failing to deal with our sin honestly, we sabotage our efforts at authenticity and realness. We must learn to acknowledge the truth about ourselves and our sin lest our hearts be hardened, and the Holy Spirit grieved. Scripture tells us, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (1 John 1:8)

For me, my prayers had become a bit lop-sided lacking confession and repentance. I don't make a habit of keeping a running list of all the ways I mess up in a day. That's not what I'm saying. But, what I do want to do is make an intentional effort to ask the Lord to reveal hidden sin in my life. And I also want to listen actively for and respond more quickly to the Holy Spirit as He convicts me. Because intimacy with God is what my soul craves, I don't want anything in my life to unnecessarily create barriers or limit my closeness to Him. I want Him to clean out everything that doesn't belong, anything that offends Him so that He has free reign in my heart. My undivided, completely yielded to Him, heart. This week, I had to ask myself: Do I trust Him enough to do that? Because here's the thing: Honesty requires vulnerability. When I willingly lay bare the vulnerable places of my heart before the Father, I am demonstrating my trust in Him. He, in turn, shows His unfailing love and faithfulness, His grace and mercy.  It's a beautiful, wonderful thing.

And, yes, I do trust Him. God is trustworthy.

May we never miss an opportunity to be vulnerable and honest at the feet of our Savior. May I encourage you in that today, sweet friends? God doesn't deal with us harshly, as our sins deserve, because, Jesus.


{Five Minute Friday | Abandon}

It's Five Minute Friday. That means unplanned, unedited, straight-from-the-heart-to-the-paper writing. Yep, you just write whatever comes out based on a word you're given. If you have five minutes, you should give it a try!  Find out how here.

This week the prompt is {ABANDON}.

Ready? GO.

After Hailey died, I would not go back to the apartment. I just couldn't. The nursery area was set up and ready; all the beautiful, tiny baby girl clothes were tucked neatly in the wardrobe. But, Hailey wouldn't be coming home with me, and I didn't want to walk back into a something that reminded me of her death and reinforced the pain. I was terribly angry with God. I begged and pleaded with Him for months to save her, heal her tiny heart. I reasoned with Him that because I'd already suffered the loss of my baby son, He owed me this. Never mind how messed up that was! I know. (That's a story for another day.) When He didn't come through for me, it sent me into a spiritual tailspin. I felt abandoned. Lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, the feeling settled deep into my soul. One minute I would weep bitterly and the next I would be filled with a kind of quiet rage. But God saved me. He reached down into the dark pit and pulled me out into the light. His light.

Guess what I was failing to realize during my time in the pit? That truth is always truth despite my feelings. I felt abandoned. But the truth found in Scripture says He never leaves us or forsakes us.  I felt as if He'd turned His back on me and was unconcerned with my heartbreak. The truth is He would stop at nothing to heal the brokenness in my soul and heart. I know that now. I believe it.

That's what faith does. Faith always declares the truth in the face of insurmountable circumstance. In those weeks and months following that loss, I failed to let my faith go to work and instead let my feelings determine what I believed to be true. Here's the thing: What God says about any given situation matters infinitely more than what I think about it.

The truth won in my heart and life. God never abandons us. Instead, He pursues us, draws us close to His heart. May I encourage you today, sweet friends? God knows precisely where you are, and He knows even the tiniest detail of your situation. Look for Him. Listen for Him. You are sure to find Him. 

STOP.