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!

{Five Minute Friday | Team}

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 {TEAM}.

Ready? GO.

The people around you matter. I can’t think of another nugget of truth that so profoundly affects you from the outside in. Those people surrounding you and your relationships with them matter. Have you ever aligned yourself with the wrong people? I have. The effects can haunt you for days, months, even years. Then, there are people who, without a doubt, are God-sent. People who make life a little sweeter. Yeah, those folks are like treasure.

One thing I’ve recognized over the last few weeks is this: I need my team to share the same crazy-love for Jesus. I need my team to pray for me, to challenge me, to hold me accountable to the truth of Scripture. I need my team to be striving and working toward the same thing — chasing God wholeheartedly, knowing Him and doing what God has put in their hands to do to bring Him glory and make Him known. Something beautiful happens when we gather around Jesus. Something crazy-good. 

I know what you might be thinking. Why in the world would you only want to be with like-minded people? But, that’s not what I’m talking about. I have no desire to hole up in my living room and spend all my time with “just my people.” My team, though, they are home-base. People who launch and propel me forward and out into the purposes of God. Yeah, that’s what we do for each other. Not everyone gets to be on that team. Not everyone has permission to speak into and over my life. It’s a big deal, and I would be foolish NOT to guard my heart in that way. 

I am so thankful that God has placed people around me who love Him like crazy. I love how our stories tie together. I love what He’s doing in our lives, both individually and collectively. Sometimes, we laugh together, or cry together, or just have all kinds of fun together. Conversation flows. Sometimes, it's easy, sometimes deep, and other times it's hard. But, it's always ok. There is always love and trust, camraderie. All of these things matter. Godly friendships can't be underestimated. Even in our relationships, we can be about making Jesus known. Even our team can be about kingdom business.

Who’s on your team? May I encourage you today? Speak life. Encourage. Love. Pray for each other. Believe in each other. We are better together. 

STOP.

{Five Minute Friday | Hidden}

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 {HIDDEN}.

Ready? GO.

Hidden. Goodness, that word stirs something deep in me. I'm not exactly certain why - maybe because it contradicts my daily, ongoing struggle for control.  Perhaps, it reminds me of those moments I searched with all my might for answers when there were none. Yeah.

During that season, God taught me something. Sometimes, the answers are hidden. Sometimes, the path isn't clear. But, He remains. Unhidden. Accessible. Available. Present. In those moments I'm searching for something that seems hidden, the reminder always comes. "I know what you're looking for, but do you see Me? I am what you need. Fix your eyes on Me."

And, He is everything.  Jeremiah, the Old Testament prophet put it this way: "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord."

He. Will. Be. Found. That's the power of the gospel. 

Stop.

{Confessions of a Strong-Willed Christian}

Sometimes, it’s hard, you know? This thing called following Jesus. You follow Him down a path you would never wander down on your own. But there you are, putting one foot in front of the other, following Him where ever because you adore Him. You believe Him. You know Him.

Notice I didn’t say that you believe in Him or know about Him. There’s a difference. I’ve been there. I believed in God more than I believed Him. I knew about God more than I knew Him. Was I a Christian? Yes. I suppose I was still at stage one. You know, one can spend a lot of years going through the motions without seeing real spiritual growth. The difference for me was that my heart was not fully engaged - it was divided. My comfort, sense of stability, and need for control were my idols. Thankfully, the Lord was patient and kind. He always is, you know. In my weakness and faithlessness, He pursued and corrected because He loves me. Here are some things He taught me.

1. I had the gift of compartmentalization. Yeah, that’s not a spiritual gift. God’s plan for us covers everything, and He would very much like an open invitation to invade every area of our lives. He wants to be the ONE THING that matters the most all of the time. But, I only invited Him into certain situations, into the big stuff. Here’s the thing: our relationship with God shouldn't be limited to Sunday morning church and Wednesday night Bible study. He wants an invitation into the tiniest of details, into our daily routines. I was trying to build my life around something other than Him and squeeze Him into the leftover space. It doesn't work. 


2. Scripture didn't always apply to me. I knew a lot of scripture, but I couldn’t seem to implement the truths in my situation. Yeah, I had the Bible in 4 or 5 different translations, loads of commentary, and could quote Scripture like a pro. But, I wasn’t allowing Scripture to go to work in my heart and mind. You read it differently when you believe it’s living and active. You read it differently when you understand it’s the breath of God on a page. I say it all the time, but it bears repeating. When you read Scripture and then live like you believe what it says, it changes everything. You have to engage your heart and mind and ask the Holy Spirit to bring understanding. Scripture had to become something that informed the way I lived. 


3. Staying busy doing ministry meant I was ok. So, I worked and worked. Eventually, I was working for Him more than I was spending time with Him. I think sometimes we get ahead of ourselves here. We forget a vital truth: God calls us to be His - to belong completely to Him heart and soul - before He calls us to do something for Him. Sometimes, we do a lot of things for Him without fully surrendering to Him. Or, we might busy ourselves doing so much for Him, that our relationship with Him gets pushed aside. It doesn’t work well. Lean in here because what I'm about to say is big. He is most concerned with the condition of our heart, with who we are on the inside, and how we relate to Him. Why? Because everything we do flows from who we are and what we believe. And ultimately, our assignment is to carry the name of Jesus to the world. To be light. To break through the brokenness and chaos with the message of hope. Yeah, that’s what He wants from us. We will never do that effectively apart from a vibrant relationship with Him. 

My ability to trust God was tied to everything but God himself. My circumstances, my ability to control the situation, my capability to work my way through whatever was in front of me. See, I was guilty of making plans and asking God to endorse those plans, rather than asking, “What do you want here, God?” I’ve learned there is power in praying not my will, but Your’s. See, I think sometimes, we try to separate God’s purpose from God’s power. What I mean to say is we try to carry out the purpose without accessing the power available to us through the Spirit. We try to impose our will, our timing. We power through. And that’s not at all what He’s asking of us. So, I started asking for His help in the form of this prayer, lifted from the pages of Scripture (Psalm 86).

Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth. Grant me an undivided heart so I can worship You. I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all that I am. I will glorify Your name forever. For great is Your love toward me; You have delivered me from the depths of the grave.

Here’s the thing: He was waiting for me to take my hands off. He wanted me to say, “Help me. I can’t do any of this without You.” And, then whispered, “You don’t have to.” Oh, but that's scary for a strong-willed, control-freak, kind of girl. Scary, yes. But, do it afraid. 

I promise He's right there. He's more than able and more than willing. And, He's good.