by Chris Jones
As a culture we so miss the mark, when it comes to living a godly lifestyle. None-the-less, our desires are for God-sized blessings. Perhaps chief among them, for a Christian man, is “a Proverbs 31 woman”. If you haven’t read it recently, take some time to refamiliarize yourself.
It’s quite the mirror to hold before oneself, especially in a culture that so diligently glorifies and objectifies contrasting character. It’s a battle between competing ideologies. For many Christian women, the struggle is all too real.
Men, whether we realize it or not, we cast our vote in this contest, with the decisions we make. What entertainment are we consuming? What products are we purchasing, based on what advertisements? Who gets our attention? How are we treating the woman in our lives? Do we promote an environment where everyone is equally valued?
Take time, today, to stop and notice the role you play. Are you contributing to a culture that compels our daughters to chase fiction, or one that inspires them to become who they’re called to be?
God, help us recognize our need to be part of the solution. Help us find practical and effective answers to the question of how we can change the tide. Allow us to see past all the facades, to the wounded hearts inside. Help us take responsibility to change the game for generations of women to come.
by Chris Jones
Isn’t it strange that Jesus said that the rocks would cry out? The conversation takes place after Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Luke 19:37-40 tells us that the religious leaders told Jesus to rebuke his followers for proclaiming him as King, and equating him with God. Jesus’ reply suggests that, if those people kept their praise to themselves, “the stones along the road would burst into cheers.” (NLT)
When you really think about it, natural objects declaring the majesty of God isn’t a stretch of the imagination. How many times have you heard someone with no faith in Jesus Christ, talk about experiencing God through nature, that the great outdoors is their church? These are fairly common sentiments. Psalm 19:1-4 even says, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.”
It’s important to notice that there’s no inference that the rocks would share the gospel message. There’s no suggestion that the trees would relay a personal testimony of the difference Jesus has made in their lives. The wind and the waves aren’t going to be the body of Christ, ministering love to the people around them. As believers, these are our jobs. These are the roles we play in the Kingdom of God. Among all of his creation, God uniquely designed each of us to testify to his Glory, specifically as it has been revealed through his Son, Jesus Christ, the only way to the Father.
The bad news is that we’re living in a generation in which “the rocks” just might be doing a better job than us, of declaring the splendor of our King. That doesn’t necessarily advance the Kingdom though. It’s our job to point the world to Jesus Christ. All creation resounds in praise, but no rock can take your role.
by Chris Jones
There’s a song many of us sing on Sunday mornings, called “Break Every Chain”. It’s credited to William Reagan of United Pursuit. If you’re not familiar with it, a repeated phrase in that song says, “There is power in the name of Jesus…To break every chain.” Later, this verse changes to say, “There’s an army rising up…To break every chain.” It’s a powerful statement, whether we mean what we’re saying or not.
It makes me think, do we mean what we’re saying? Do we really believe that God is raising an army to break every chain of bondage? If so, do we understand that his plan is for us to be a part of that army?
If your Sunday morning experience is anything like mine, you stand in a sanctuary full of people, where about 90% of those present are singing this confession. However, if your Sunday morning experience is anything like mine, you’re singing this along with a sanctuary full of people who allow 80% of the work in your church to be done by 20% of the people. If your Sunday morning experience is anything like mine, you’re singing this with a sanctuary full of people, where only 10%-12% are consistently making financial contributions to support the work of that local body of believers. If your Sunday morning experience is anything like mine, you may be singing this with a sanctuary full of people who, despite the desperate pleas of their pastor, don’t work to actively take the truth of God’s Word into their communities and schools and workplaces.
Is this what a rising army looks like?
If we’re honest with ourselves, we’d admit that we have a good way to go before we, the global body of believers in Christ, look anything like a unified army of warriors, advancing to break the chains of bondage. What if God’s army doesn’t rise up? Where would we be if it weren’t for those who came before us? Where could we be if more before us were faithful to the call? Where can we be this time next year, if more will answer the call?
Take this moment to allow the Holy Spirit to put in your heart, an image of that army clad in the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). How does this picture compare to or contrast with your life? It should be more than just a line of a song we sing. What is God calling you to do, as part of the army that’s rising up…to break every chain?
by Chris Jones
It’s unfortunate that the majority of fathers have fallen into positions of only managing “dad duties”, rather than truly leading their families. We’ve become referees, chauffeurs, babysitters, coaches, repair men, financial managers, judges and juries, chief TV remote operators, master grillers… the list is endless. It all conjures the image of a father as “King of the Castle”. Take caution though. This is no throne you should wish to usurp.
As leaders of our families, our responsibilities have literal and lasting “Kingdom” implications. Strong families are the backbone of truly successful churches, and effective communities. As a father, if you’re missing these next points, you might be missing what it means to be the leader in your home.
Primarily, a godly father will love his wife. Ephesians 5:25 says “for husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.” I believe the greatest gift a father could ever give his children is to love their mother. The confidence of knowing their home is secure, provides the best foundation for every lesson to follow.
Secondly, Ephesians 6:4 says, “fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord” Warning: this means you need to be there first, under His authority, leading by example. A godly father isn’t going to respond to disobedience as a knee-jerk reaction, born of frustration, as his anger boils over. He’s grounded in the Word, having no need to fish for behavioral guidelines, since they’re clearly provided for us. Trust in God and His Word. Set them as the standard by which you lead your family.
As fathers, God’s blessing is that He allows us to partner with Him in raising the men and women of His Kingdom. On earth, we call them our sons and daughters. Be assured, however, that this is only a temporary relationship. We have a responsibility, and are accountable to God for the warriors our homes produce. What will you do with the gift you’ve been given, the opportunity to lead them?
by Chris Jones
So, let me start with this confession. I’m pretty terrible at Basketball. This is no secret to the guys I play with each week. This small fact, however, didn’t keep me from winning five straight games last Sunday. That’s right. My team was on fire, little thanks to my physical ability. Over that stretch of five games, where the first team to seven wins, I was responsible for only one of the thirty-five points my team scored to earn those victories. Admittedly, it was an off day, even for my standards. Regardless of my lack of relative skill, however, I received every benefit of being on a winning team. I never had to sit on the sideline and watch, waiting for my turn. I didn’t have the bitter experience of being defeated. I got a good physical workout. I was a winner!
It’s like that in God’s Kingdom.
I think about Romans 5:1-2, where it says, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
When will we finally let go of any remaining notion that we have to be someone of significance to be an effective participant in God’s Kingdom? When will we stop holding back our contribution to God’s work on earth, believing we have nothing to offer. In the meantime, we find a certain comfort on the sideline. We grow accustom to our limited victories, almost expecting defeat. We forget the feeling of experiencing a solid spiritual workout, supposing everything would be different if only we had the “skills” and “abilities” to make an impact on the world around us.
Can we finally get to the place where we understand that it’s all about Him? It is He who works through us. It is He who speaks through us. It is His love, His grace, His mercy that draw people and change lives. The only real danger is that we never open ourselves to being used, and get into the game.
by Chris Jones
There’s undeniable evidence of God, for those who’ve experienced his miraculous power, especially when it comes as an answer to our prayers. I asked my friend, JB, if I could share the testimony of her daughter’s healing. This recent miracle is just one example of God at work in her life.
JB’s baby, Charlotte, was born with what her doctor described as a tracheoesophageal fistula, an abnormal connection between the esophagus and the trachea, which results in the aspiration of fluids. This caused her to breathe in milk instead of it traveling down her esophagus to her stomach during feedings. Basically, she was drowning every time she ate. Over time, this could result in chronic fluid in her lungs.
Not willing to wait for the doctors’ suggested plan of action, JB and her husband brought their request to God. They met that Wednesday night before service, for their Pastor and friends to lay hands on baby Charlotte, and “boldly ask the Lord for no sign of a cleft or fistula.” In prayer, Pastor claimed that no abnormalities would be found when she went into surgery.
The next day, they handed Charlotte over to the doctors, believing that the Lord had restored the structure and function of the connection between her esophagus and trachea, and that repair, therapy, feeding tubes etc. would not be a part of their lives, and that the Lord completely restored their baby girl. After some time, the doctor emerged from surgery and said, verbatim, “well, what we saw Tuesday just isn’t there! There are no abnormalities and no further repair or surgery is necessary!”
Before they left, the radiologist asked, “when you talk to the Lord again, could you ask him to help out with a few of my other patients too? You guys get good results!”
Praise the Lord for what he has done, is doing and will do through those who truly believe in him! In an instant, Charlotte was healed and able to breathe and feed without a choking or drowning sensation. Mom and Dad say she’s one happy and alert little girl.
1 John 5:14-15 says, “we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.” Praise God, that his power is at work in our lives today!
by Chris Jones
Has this ever happened to you?
The other day, I walked out to the garage to get something I needed. Thinking I remembered where I left it, I puzzled over why I couldn’t find it quickly. Without wasting too much time, I returned to the house, assuming I’d find it in one of the several places that I typically lay things down (because my wife loves when I do that). Still, nothing. I bounced between the garage and the house a couple of times, before I finally found what I was looking for, laying just inches from where I originally looked.
It made me think, how many times do I miss what’s really happening around me, because I’m so sure of what I think I know. It’s as though we develop blinders of sorts, over the course of our lives. We grow so focused on the “truths” we’ve been delivered, that we lose the ability to see things as they really are, even when the answers are right in front of us.
I believe there’s much God is trying to reveal to His people. If we really take a step back, and ask Him to let us see our world and His Word with a fresh perspective, I think many would be surprised by what social, political, religious and familiar norms are just residue of some well-intentioned but misguided voices we’ve allowed to speak into our lives.
Holy Spirit, help us live with our spiritual and physical eyes wide open. Help us see ourselves as we are, and for who we’re called to be. Allow us to recognize the needs we’ve been designed to meet. Show us what we’re missing, where you’ve placed us. Give us a willingness to let go of the comfortable ideologies that aren’t inspired by the Father. Let your grace and mercy be experienced through our lives, as You empower us to be a demonstration of your love to this world. Amen!
by Chris Jones
Parents, how many times have our reactions to our children been triggered in a moment of our own frustration or anger? I’d guess that, in an easy majority of those instances, we’ve reacted with emotion and consequences that were well disproportionate to the perceived offense. Let it stand as reason enough to live in the power of The Holy Spirit, relying on His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control to rule over the emotions we’d otherwise release.
Ephesians 6:4 says, “And now a word to you fathers. Don’t make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord.
A comment to this verse in my Life Application Study Bible says, “The purpose of parental discipline is to help children grow, not to exasperate and provoke them to anger or discouragement. Parenting is not easy. It takes lots of patience to raise children in a loving, Christ-honoring manner. But frustration and anger should not be causes for discipline. Instead, parents should act in love, treating their children as Jesus treats the people he loves. This is vital to children’s development and to their understanding of what Christ is like.”
I like the way Paul’s letter is interpreted in Colossians 3:21 (NLT), where he warns, “Fathers, don’t aggravate your children. If you do, they will become discouraged and quit trying.”
God, help us to love like you love and discipline like you discipline. Help us to nurture the tender spirits in our children. Help us to always build, and never tear down. Holy Spirit, help us exhibit the image and character of Jesus in our interactions with those over whom we’re in positions of authority. Allow us to clearly see the mercy and grace we’ve been shown by the Father, and dispense guidance and correction accordingly. I pray that your peace and presence will rule in our homes, as we yield ourselves to Your Holy Spirit. Amen.