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.

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{Afraid | Day 2 of 31}

Go.

Day 2 | {Afraid}

I used to be afraid. I'm not talking about the kind of fear you brush aside quickly. No, it was the kind of fear that smothered and crippled. I was afraid of people. I was scared of bad things happening to people I love or to me. I was fearful of the worst-case scenario. I suppose one could boil it down to my need for control. Yeah, that's it. I was afraid of things I couldn't control. My life felt like one, big giant "what if?" Yeah, that's no fun.

But then, I figured out that all the things weren't mine to control in the first place. Somewhere along the way, I had forgotten that God holds the universe in the palm of His hand. And, somehow I had forgotten that circumstance does not determine God's goodness or change what is true about His character. God is who He says He is. Always. Without exception. When you let that truth settle down deep into your soul and change your heart and mind, then fear loses its power. Faith remembers that God is who He says He is, and the what if becomes even if . . .

We do not have to be afraid. We are not alone. Because, Jesus.

Jesus changes everything.

Stop.

{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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{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.


{Undivided Heart and Humility}

I held my new Bible study workbook under my nose and let the pages fan open and then shut while I breathed in a deep breath. The new book smell is my favorite. My anticipation for this study was off the charts. I settled into my favorite spot with a cup of coffee, my Bible, the workbook, my favorite ink pens, and a brand new notebook spread out on the floor around me.

See, for quite some time now, I've been asking the Lord to rekindle a fire in my heart. My prayers have been raw and full of frustration and sometimes forced. Do you know what I mean? It's been a "What in the world is going on? Where are you!?" kind of season in prayer. The timing of this study isn't an accident. So, yes, I was anxious to dig in after the intro. I flipped my book open to Lesson 2: Humility.

While humility has everything to with how we relate and engage our world, I had forgotten that it first starts with how I relate and engage with God. It's perspective. It's not just how you see yourself, though. It's how you see yourself in light of a holy, all-powerful, perfect God who created you, who loves you, and who sent Jesus to die to save you. Here's the thing: we can't see anything clearly until we clearly see Him and know Him. Until we realize the magnitude of His grandeur and majesty, until we are keenly aware of His perfect holiness, we will never have an accurate picture of anything else. That includes our self and our sin and our hell-bent inclination toward pride. When we don't have an accurate picture, we find ourselves underwhelmed by God rather than undone and overwhelmed.

Underwhelmed. By God. Um, just no. But that's what happens when we get wrapped up in self. Self-conscious. Self-reliant. Self-protective. Self-serving. Self-righteous. Before you know it, you're spiritually drowning in an ocean of pride, struggling to keep your head above water and breathe. Never mind trying to see clearly. I can't tell you how many times I closed my study book and walked away because I just couldn't process. It was a hard week of study. But, it's what I need, and God knows that.
 
Lean in for some real talk. It's important. We don't have the right to demand anything of the Lord. Not even the answers we desperately think we need. And this relationship that we've been invited to have with Jesus? It's a privilege, an honor. We are so very undeserving.

Humility isn't about self-deprecation. Humility says: I saw the Lord. I am nothing without Him. I desperately love Him. I realize my utter need for Him. Just, yes. When we see the Lord, He transforms our hearts and our lives. I'm praying still that God will rekindle a fire in me. I've added confession and repentance to that prayer, though. And, I'm praying it from a place of brokenness rather than frustration.

May I encourage you today? He is matchless in glory and beauty. May He continually open the eyes of our hearts and fill us with awe and wonder as He reveals Himself. And, may we be forever changed. He wants nothing more for us than to see Him clearly and know Him deeply.