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: love

{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?

{Five Minute Friday | Breathe}

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 {BREATHE}.

Ready? GO.

Just. Breathe.

It’s a signal to pause, to wait, to focus. It seems like there’s not a lot of space to breathe these days. Everywhere you turn, seems like people are reacting quickly, impulsively, irrationally. Perhaps it’s because fewer and fewer people have a built in pause button. Culture doesn’t glamorize thoughtfulness. Oh no. Culture says throw thoughtfulness and careful consideration out the window, feelings and emotions, those rule. We don’t value sound judgment. Instead, we base our ideas on things as flaky as the weather and as untrustworthy as the media. We don’t value absolute truth. Instead, we push relative truth, which is no kind of truth at all. We don’t value human life or human rights. Our fellow man, if he disagrees with us, makes an enemy of us. At least that’s what it looks like some days.

And the church? We need to take a collective time-out, a deep breath.  We need to be thoughtful. We need to respond to the goings-on around us rather than react from a place of fear, offense, frustration, or disgust. There's a difference, you know. Here’s the thing: The church keeps looking outside of herself for solutions rather than taking advantage of the opportunity to rise above the noise and move toward people and engage them with love and truth and hope. Always love and always truth. Not either/or, but both. And always grace.

Just. Breathe. Saturate your heart with God's love, truth, goodness, and grace. Then, go and do and be a representative of those things. We just have to. What’s happening is not ok.

Come on then, let’s do it together. Ready? 1 - 2 - 3 and BREATHE.

Now, what’s one thing you can do today to push back against all the chaos with love and truth? Do you have an idea? Well, then, do that.


{3 Things About Love}

I've been thinking a lot about love lately. There are all kinds of things that get mistaken and misrepresented as love. Some are way off base; while others are close representations, subtle perversions, making them especially dangerous. That's a topic for another conversation, really. For now, let's just say culture has made a mess of love. What about the Christians? How are we doing? I suppose we've all had someone say they love us in one breath while their behavior tells a different story. Paul offered a precise and pointed description of love in his letter to the church in Corinth. It's a beautiful passage, really, but does anyone else find it's also remarkably hard?  

Here are just a few of the ways love behaves according to Apostle Paul:

Love is patient and kind. It is not jealous, boastful, proud, or rude (or unmannerly). Love does not insist on its rights or demand its way. It is not irritable and keeps no record of being wronged. It tells the truth. It never loses faith. Should I go on? For heaven's sake, he lost me at the word "patient" and "is not irritable."  Anyone else feeling like you fall incredibly short? I do. Especially when no one wants to sleep in on Monday morning after a super-long, über-exhausting weekend.

But, wait. Just about the time we want to bury our heads in the sand for fear of never measuring up, there's sweet grace. Thank goodness, we can breathe a sigh of relief. See, God doesn't expect us to measure up to His standard by our own efforts and in our strength. We simply can't. When we follow His lead, though, well, that's a different story. One of the distinguishing characteristics of a Jesus-follower is love. It's the thing that makes us different. The world should be able to identify us because of our extravagant love for God and for others. Here are a few things He's been teaching me about the tricky business of love.

1. On our own, we will never have the capability to love others well. Yeah, this one hits home for me. I know what it's like to lack compassion and genuine love for others when I'm stuck in my own pit of despair, concerned only with myself. Love doesn't do that, does it? Love is most concerned with others. Thankfully, Scripture says God is working in us giving us the power to do what pleases Him. It also says that we love because He loves. See, it's His love perfected in us and flowing through us. Once we experience the depths of His love for us and rest in that love, we can love others and love them well.

2. It's not just about the correct behavior; it's about the attitude and heart behind the action. You can say the right thing and even do the right thing without being motivated by love. For example, you can volunteer to serve in the children's ministry or on the cleaning team for your local church. No one would argue that's a good thing! However, you can't do the good thing and then complain because you have to do it! Chances are there's something besides love motivating you. It's just like when I look at my sweet, rock-star husband and say, "But, I want you to want to do the laundry." When love motivates you, you don't complain and do the good thing with resentment. Love and resentment can't exist in the same space.

3. If we believe God loves us, and we love Him, it will change the way we live. Here's the thing: Love needs to be expressed. It demands it. The most lavish expression of love known to man was carried out when God sent Jesus to die for our sins. And so, I want to do the same. I want God's love to compel me to action. I want everything I do to be a reflection of that love. Your heart will always give you away. And so, I pray that our hearts will be fixed on Him. That we love Him wholeheartedly, and that we remember how great His love is for us. It's the only way.

Be encouraged, sweet friends. He loves you so. Believe it. Know it. Then, love Him back with all you've got.