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!

Filtering by Category: Christian Living

{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.

{Story | Day 1 of 31}

The Five Minute Friday community is the best! I love the spending five minutes just writing. I joined the 31 Day Writing Challenge two years ago, and I decided to participate again this year. When I started a new teaching job last year, my time to write seemed to vanish. Instead, there were lesson plans, parent emails, and all the things that go with being a teacher. And, that's ok. But I miss writing. If you aren't familiar with Five Minute Friday, here's the scoop. FMF means unedited, straight-from-the-heart-to-the-paper writing. Yep, you write whatever comes out based on a given prompt in five minutes flat. So . . . Here's to the Write 31 Days challenge, five-minute Friday style! I'm excited, and I'm glad you stopped by. I hope that at the end of 31 days, you find a collection of posts that encourage you and maybe even stir something deep inside your soul. At the very least, perhaps we can be reminded that we aren't alone and that there is always hope.

Day 1 {Story}

Go.

I love a good story. Don't you? I appreciate words, so it's no surprise, I suppose, that a well-written story is one of my favorite things. In any good story, there's usually something that you can follow beginning to end. You know, like a thread that ties it all together. In Scripture, that's Jesus. In my life, let that be Jesus. We all have a story to tell. We're living it every day. I used to be very protective of & private about my story. A certain amount of vulnerability is inevitable when you talk about your life. Vulnerability is uncomfortable. And, then there’s this need for control. I tell you the story — but I can’t determine how it lands with you. I used to worry and then worry some more about what people might say or think. But, not anymore. The Lord corrected me. He changed my heart and mind and reminded me that this story, my story, is His. He's already written it, and He knows how it ends. My story is His because my life is His. My priority is always to aim people in the right direction—away from me and toward Him—in everything I do. Here's the thing: my story paints a picture of God's relentless love and unfathomable grace, redemption, and hope. Because, Jesus. That's the story I want my life to tell. I want my life to point people toward Jesus. I don't want it to be about me. It's not about me. It's about Jesus. Always.

Jesus. Changes. Everything. Yeah, He does. Grab hold of Him today, friends. Look for Him. Listen for Him. Let Him tell His story through your life. He's perfectly faithful, and He knows what He's doing.

Stop.

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{Five Minute Friday | Loved}

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 {LOVED}.

Ready? Go.

I'm sitting here in a hotel lobby just thinking. We have a big, hard day ahead of us and I'm feeling...well, I cannot quite wrap my words around it just yet.

But that's ok.  Why? It's ok because I am loved. 

I am loved by the Creator of the Universe -- the God in whom all things hold together. And, that's what He's doing for me in this moment, holding everything together. That's what He always does, after all. That reality is enough to take my breath away and fill my heart with gratitude. He loves us with lavish, reckless, unfailing love. And because of that, we can live our lives loving others well.

My Papaw did that, you know. He loved others well. He was kind and generous. Always. He was also honest. Sometimes, he loved you well by telling you a hard truth. I appreciated that about him. I am thankful for his life, one that was well-lived. Yeah, he lived well because he loved well. That's the kind of girl I want to be. Because here's the thing: when you belong to Jesus, that's what you do. You love others well. You love others BIG. Because that's how you've been loved. Jesus changes everything. His love compels. That's the story I want my life to tell. 

Stop. 

{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 is 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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