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!

{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. 


{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.

{Five Minute Friday | Purpose}

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 {PURPOSE}.

Ready? GO.

Finding purpose is a game changer. And, every person walking the planet has a purpose pre-determined and assigned by the Creator before birth. I love that. We all have gifts; we all have purpose.

I've been studying 2 Timothy. It was the last letter written by the apostle Paul. There are a lot of things happening in this letter, and I love it! One of the things I relish most in Paul's writing to Timothy is the charge Paul issues. He's reminding Timothy of his purpose and challenging him to finish well. He says "fulfill your ministry." (2 Tim. 4:5) Because sometimes we get sidetracked, or afraid, or preoccupied with other things. But Paul's words jump off the page and plead with us to do whatever it takes. It doesn't just happen. It requires endurance, perseverance, intentionality. It means walking and living in the power of the Spirit. It's hard. But, Jesus is so worth it. The Gospel is so worth it. Through Christ, God entrusted us (revealed to us) the single, most powerful and life-changing truth in all of history.  That's something we all, as believers in Christ, have in common. We share a common purpose in that our priority is the spreading of the gospel. Our lives were meant to point back to the One who created us. That's purpose.

May I encourage you today? There is no higher purpose than this. What's God asking you to do with your gifts? Here's the thing: No one else can do what God has asked of you the same way that you can do it. He created you and gifted you precisely for what He's asking of you.

What if we, the church, responded to Paul's exhortation to fan into flames our God-given gifts and go with boldness, in love and truth, proclaiming the hope found in Jesus? Yeah, what if we did that.


{The Hard Stuff}

Confession: I am brokenhearted. Desperate. Needy. I've been looking in the wrong place for the remedy, thinking if I can just wrap my words around what's happened in my church life over the last 18 months, I can help put it to bed. There's nothing I want more than to be free of it. It's like a terrible break-up. Do you know what I mean?  

It's like what happens when you watch a scary movie, and you get spooked. Then your house comes alive with eerie noises and shifty shadows that linger long after the show is over. The only fix when that happens to me is my favorite sitcom. I have to replace the old picture with a new one.

It's not that I'm sitting around feeling needy and brokenhearted all the time. That's not who I am. But, when something comes up that points backward, that's what bubbles up in my soul. Confession 2: I haven't fully and honestly dealt with it. Mostly because I still feel stunned when I recount some of it. Then disappointed. I opted for a move forward and never look back approach, which served me well in the immediate weeks following, but now the Lord is saying, "Hey, let's redeem that for good. Let me at your heart."  

 I'm three weeks into a new Bible study (it's called Seeking Him, if you're wondering), and it's abundantly clear: what I need is a revival. Renewal. Refreshing. How about you? How's your heart? How's your soul? How are you doing, for real? It's okay to fess up and own our imperfections. If I've learned anything at all, it's that I'm not the only person walking the planet with this kind of struggle. This is the hard stuff, and none of us are exempt.

Want to come along over next twelve weeks for some real talk, to process through some hard stuff? (Yay! A new blog series!) I'd love that. There's something beautiful that happens when we can come along side each other and say, "Hey, me too." So, what do you say?

I'm starting here:
Teach me Your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart that I may fear Your name. I will praise You, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify Your name forever. For great is Your love toward me; You have delivered me from the depths of the grave.(Psalm 86:11-13)

That's what I want. An undivided heart.

Can I encourage you today, sweet friends? God is infinitely good and deeply concerned for your heart. Invite Him into the hard stuff. It becomes something beautiful when we put it into His hands.