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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Filtering by Tag: God

{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.


{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.

{Sky | Day 12 of 31}

Ready? GO.

I love looking up at the sky. The clouds. The sun. The stunning shades of blue. And, the night sky is equally as beautiful. Sunset is my favorite, though. I traveled down to the St. Simon’s Island area this summer and went down to the beach several nights to watch the sunset. It was breathtaking, truly. Just as sure as I was that it couldn’t get more beautiful, the clouds would shift as the sun dipped a bit lower and the most beautiful shade of something painted the horizon. Just wow. Do you know what I mean? Have you ever looked up at the sky during sunset and thought what color IS that?  I’d go back night after night, and without fail, the sky was gorgeous. Always. Then it struck me, that it’s always beautiful but it’s never the same. That says something to me about our Creator. About the depth of His beauty and the grandeur of His majesty. There is no end to Him. We could spend all the days of our life seeking after Him knowing there is no limit to His goodness, faithfulness, love, and power. His glory knows no limit. I love that.  

The psalmist put it this way: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (Psalm 19:1)

And this: For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. (Psalm 57:10)

May I encourage you today if the world is weighing heavy on your shoulders, look up. He’s there. Full of infinite power and faithfulness. And, He’s SO much bigger than we can begin to fathom. He loves you so. Rest in that. 


{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. 

{Five Minute Friday | Haven}

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 {HAVEN}. I am a day late to the party, but I made it. Woo!

Ready? GO.

Haven. A place of refuge and shelter where you feel protected. It's some place you return to at the end of a long, weary day or during a particularly difficult season. It's quiet, perhaps, and offers a place to rest. When one seeks cover in her haven, she leaves feeling refreshed and encouraged, comforted. There's only one place like this for me.

Psalm 91 explains it perfectly. "Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him."

Yes. Just, yes.

And, though there is nothing wrong with my initial explanation, over time, I've changed my mind about something. Do you see it, there in verse one? One four-letter-word. Live. See, God isn't someone I merely return to at the end of the day or when I find myself in a pinch. He's much more than that. My place with God -- it's where I live. Where I abide, dwell, stay, exist. With Him, in Him.

May I encourage you, sweet friends? We don't have to take a step without Him. Not one. He will never leave you without cover, without refuge, without the protection of His shadow. He is faithful. In Him, we have all that we need.