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JFH Staff Blog | Jarrod Jones

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Brad Pitt vs. Jarrod Jones

I dig Brad Pitt. In my opinion, he’s a phenomenal actor. And from what I’ve learned about him, I think he’s good guy. He's a cool dude. He’s down to earth. He pranks and can take a prank. He loves his kids (and I would say his wife, but he and Jolie aren't married.  Which hurts his dudeness). He drinks untainted black coffee and even rides a motorcycle (which fits well into my personal definition of “dude”). Nevermind that our culture worships him as a “beautiful” man, and a “cinema god.”

He recently appeared on the cover of W Magazine’s February ‘09 issue. He did the photo shoot on one condition—that artist Chuck Close, known for his super detailed portraits that reveal every skin flaw, do the shots. Pitt would wear no make-up and there would be no airbrushing of the years of wear on his face.

I saw the magazine in the airport. Sure enough you could see lines, wrinkles, crow’s feet, and all. He looked more like his 45 years of age rather than how the magazines and movies usually portray him. And he wanted it that way. Click here to see article.

I must admit that I felt pretty good about myself when I saw that photo. I just wish he was going bald too. Maybe include a slight pooch at the midsection . That would’ve helped my feelings even more. But I’ll take what I can get.

“Beauty and Bodies” are worshiped in our culture. And we just can’t help but compare ourselves. We can always find something wrong with us—too tall, short, chubby, skinny, acne, acne scars, flaky skin, thin lips, thick ankles, mid-section spare tire, hump-shouldered, stretch marks, crooked teeth (or tanned teeth), big feet, hairy back, flat butt, big butt, no butt, uni brow, bushy brows, bad nails, frizzy hair, oily hair, thin hair, flat hair, missing hair, skinny calves, white skin, leather skin, wrinkled face, and on and on and on and on.

(By the way, if you don’t find yourself in any of the above, your day is coming. Just ask Brad Pitt (okay, maybe ask him in another 5 years)).

“All flesh is like grass…it withers away,” says the Psalmist.  So why do we do it? Why do we torture ourselves?  Agreed that a person can also compare himself or herself in such a way that it makes him or her prideful.  But one, I would argue that is not the norm. Two, I’d bet there’s also a lurking insecurity too. Thus the comparison.

Is it cliche’ to say God looks at the heart… the inside of us? After all that is what Scripture says. I know, I know. To point us to this truth is kind of like the friend saying about the guy you haven’t met, “well, he has a great personality.”

But God is “other-than” us. Indeed opposite in his attraction to us. He woos our hearts in Christ.  And our hearts woo him. Not our bodies. . Could it be that He joyfully let’s our bodies droop in hope that our hearts would find their value, worth, and joy in Him? Does he allow it to remind us of what He finds beautiful?  Self-worth and self-peace are found in the God who dotes over our hearts.  As we admire and marvel at the outside without much thought to the inside, God loves us from the inside out.

So today I am thankful for balding head. I’m thankful for my crooked bottom teeth. And I can say with a straight face that I’m thankful I don’t look like Brad Pitt. I’m so grateful that God loves me from the inside out. What a relief. And what joy.  God dotes over my heart. And in this moment I dote over His.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Keeping God Absent

I want more of God's presence.  But how? What do I need to do?  Where do I need to go?  How do I need to pray? On what Scriptures must I meditate? What books do I read?  What Christian band must I follow? What preacher do I follow? What conference must I attend?  What Church must I join? What type music must I listen to? To what podcasts must I subscribe?  How do I get more of God's presence into my life?

My struggles. You? 

I'm still learning that God does His own thing. The Psalmist put it this way, He "does whatever pleases Him."  This sets the terms of my relationship with God. He is not my personal assistant. He doesn't grace me with His presence at my every beck and call. Though I wish He would. Faith would be easier then.

God intervenes when He wants to intervene. He moves when He wants to move. He provides on the timetable in which He wants to provide, according to His glory and for my greater good, not for my comfort and convenience.

I like C.S. Lewis' approach.  But he reveals the best way to assure God's absence. "Avoid silence, avoid solitude, avoid any train of thought that leads off the beaten track. Concentrate on money, sex, status, health and (above all) on your own grievances.  Keep the radio on [and TV, and Computer, and Ipod, and Iphone]. Live in a crowd Use plenty of sedation.  If you must read books, select them carefully. But you'd be safer to stick to the papers.  You'll find the advertisements helpful; especially those with a sexy or snobbish appeal."

Touché.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lessons from a Posion-Ivy t-shirt

Throw it off

I spoke at a retreat in Texas last weekend.  I shared how when I helped my pastor clear some brush from his land I came in contact with Poison Ivy.  Two hours into our work he said, “Don’t touch any plants with three leaves.”  He was a tad late.  Every plant I saw had three leaves.  Not good.

The right side of my upper body broke out in the Poison Ivy rash. Also, I learned that poison ivy oils remain on your shirt.  And if the shirt rubs against you, you can get the Poison Ivy rash also.

I had a shirt with me in a Wal-Mart bag. I told them it was the shirt I wore when I got Poison Ivy.  I shared how they could get Poison Ivy from the shirt.  I asked, “Who is allergic to Poison Ivy?” Many people raised their hands.  So I tossed the t-shirt into the crowd. There were yelps, screams (probably curse words), arms flailing, glances of rage at me, and a mad scramble to avoid the t-shirt (After a minute or so I let them off the hook and told them that in fact it wasn’t the shirt I wore and that it was clean anyway).

My point was and is this:  In Colossians 3:8, Paul says to “Put off [throw off]” some things:
-    Anger- a festering, seething, underlying, boiling anger (anger fantasies).
-    Wrath-  A boiling over or explosion of anger.
-    Malice- Planning and acting to harm someone
-    Slander- Words that will injure someone’s reputation
-    Obscene talk
-    Lying

Paul says to treat these like a Poison Ivy t-shirt.  In other words, you don’t want these anywhere near you.  When the temptation comes to think upon or act on any of these, we are to flail, scramble, fight off, and avoid them like a poisoned t-shirt. We do this by God’s grace, for God’s glory, and for our good.
 

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Take it on the chin

Many years ago I was within two weeks of proposing to a girl.  Long story short the relationship went bust. She left me for another dude. Yes, therapy was needed. Seriously, I was devastated. And I needed closure.  So I did the manly thing and threw everything she’d given me into the trash.  Notes, cards, stuffed animals…. Ladies, I never understood why you give stuffed animals to us. It’s not like we’re hanging with our boys and say, “hey man, check out my Rifle… and my Tickle-Me-Elmo.”  I digress…. (No offense girls, I like Tickle-Me-Elmo). 

As my self-pity was unfolding before my dad he came to me and said, “Son, let me tell you something.  You got burned.” To which I wanted to say, “I love you too, dad.” He continued, “Take this on the chin like a man and move on with your life.”

 I carry those words with me to this day. I don’t know if you’ve noticed lately but life is hard.  Adversity pounds us. Relationships bust, sickness lurks, opportunities vanish, transmissions fail, friends betray, and moms and dads divorce.

 I ran across this verse yesterday that got me thinking about this: “If you faint in the day of adversity your strength is small” (Proverbs 24:10).  So how do we find the strength to take life and adversity on the chin? 

There’s one greater who took it on the chin for us.  Jesus. Actually, he took on infinitely more. He took it in his hands and feet with nails that pinned Him to the Cross. He took on the wrath of God and died for our sin.  But He conquered death and sin by rising on the third day.  And we have His Spirit within us to “take it on the chin” because we are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37).  

What are you dealing with right now?  Take it on the chin and move on in the strength of the one who took it on the chin for you.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

JESUS AUGUSTUS?

“Now in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that a census be taken . . . .”  Luke 2:1

Caesar Augustus was the Roman Emperor at the time of Jesus’ birth.  The Latin meaning for Augustus is “exalted one.”  Literally his name was “Caesar the exalted one.” 

A few verses back an angel declared to Mary that she would name her son, Jesus.  Just Jesus... not Jesus Augustus, or even Jesus “the exalted One," although He is the exalted and most High Savior and Lord.  I thought that was interesting. Jesus, God, the babe, not the Exalted one.

But I, we, know that Caesar “the exalted one” doesn’t take center stage at Christmas.  We don’t sing Caesar carols, or say “Merry Caesar-mas.”  But my Christmas’ do tend to lean in the direction of Target-mas, or Gap-mas, or Wii-mas, instead of CHRISTmas?  I catch myself wondering if I'm really focused on Jesus Christ or Stressed Augustus?  Know what I'm saying?

Just pondering....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

THE SNOW GLOBE LIFE

The previous blog that mentioned Relient K's "Let it Snow Baby... Let it Reindeer" inspired me to post this blog.

A while back I was taking a walk down a street by my house (yes walking, not running or jogging in any form, shape, or fashion) reflecting on snow globes. I’m serious. Snow globes with no swirling snow are just boring. To give them life you gotta shake up’em up a bit.  I thought of how my life, particularly my walk with Jesus, gets a lot like a boring, snowless snow globe. I get lazy, detached, and complacent.  My prayers get shallow and monotonous. My walk with Jesus becomes routine and religious. Worship becomes a duty instead of a delight. My joy, my peace, my passion for Christ just sort of settles to the bottom, if you know what I mean.

Then God comes along and sees my snow-globe life.  A life that has settled for attending Church, golf-clapping the birth of Jesus, cheering for my presents, keeping my quiet times, praying on the run, and not cussing.  It's a life that hasn't been stirred up in a while. Bored, and boring to God.  

So God takes my life and shakes it up a bit  (sometimes a shake, other times a jolt).  He does it through a crisis, a challenge, a concern, or a miracle.  And just as a snow-globe becomes alive inside when shaken, so do I.  Boredom becomes passion again.  Prayers become pleas again.  Laziness becomes neediness again. Worship becomes WORSHIP again.  Jesus becomes relationship instead of religion again. The adventure, beauty, and joy of our salvation is best seen before God and others when things get shaky and we trust the One doing the shaking.

So let it snow baby!

FYI: Sometimes I post the same blogs on JFH as I do on my personal site. Sometimes I don't. I share more personal stories and experiences on my personal site (such as having violent hiccups, the art of splitting wood, traumatizing my four year old's pre-kindergarten class, and so forth). These stories and experiences are usually weird and funny (at least that's what I'm told). Would love for you to check it out.  www.jarrodjones.com

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Performing for God

I lived so many years in religious chains. I lived mainly a "sin-avoidance" gospel. In other words, my Christian walk was mainly about not sinning (no cussing, no lying, no drinking, and so forth), doing Christian duties to keep me from sinning (Church, Bible, Prayer, Bible Studies), and finding Christian techniques to help me avoid sinning (wear Christian T-shirts, listen to Michael W. Smith, and wear a Cross necklace).
I also viewed God as a Daddy who was hard to please.  I always had to prove to myself, and to God, that I really loved Him. My thinking was like this:  "I'm going to change my life.  I'm going to quit cussing. I'm going to quit looking at porn. I'm going to read my Bible more, pray more, put the Fish on my car, and get a Christian tattoo).  I failed to truly believe and rest in the reality that in Christ I am completely accepted and loved. The Apostle John said, "This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sin" (1 John 4:10).  He also wrote, "We love because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). God loved when I didn't love Him. He sent His son even while I flipped Him off.  He first loved me and then i loved Him. But still I had it all wrong. I was living as if He loved me because i first loved Him. I didn't get it. I was chained to religion.
I realized that religion is performance.  Religion is living for God's acceptance and love. Relationship is living from his acceptance and love. Religion is trying to get God to respond in love. Relationship is living in response to God's love.  And with that I learned that I don't obey God to get accepted. Rather I obey because I'm already accepted by God. I don't serve Christ to get loved, I serve Christ because I'm loved. See it?
Spoke at a conference a couple of years ago. In the front row, to my right, was a girl who looked like she hated being there and hated me (or the message, or both).  After the second day, and the third and last session, a lady approached me with tears in her eyes. She said, "I brought a group of girls here this weekend. They are from a foster home. They are hardened, bitter, and angry. Well, one of those girls gave her life to Jesus. She was sitting in the seats in front of you yesterday."  It was that same girl.  The lady continued, "Her heart broke for Christ because of something you said. She heard you say, 'God loves you.'  It was the first time she ever heard a male say that God loved her.'"
"God loves you." I'm sure you've heard those words before from many people. Those three jaw-dropping words are so cliche' now.  They make for cute coffee mugs and colorful calendars. But have you truly paused, opened your Bible to 1 John 4:10 & 1 John 4:19, Romans 8:14-16, and savored that   G-O-D  L-O-V-E-S  YOU!
Staggering.
Are you living a "sin-avoidance" gospel? Is your walk with Christ more about modifying your behavior to look more Christian? Or do you believe with all of your DNA that you are ferociously loved by God, and because of that love you want to live for His glory? His first love for you changes everything. Who wants to be religious with a ruthlessly loving God who wants relationship?  This God, our God, who would give His Son so that we might have that relationship.  Stop living for His love. Start living from His love.  Don't obey so that you might feel accepted and loved by God. Obey because you are accepted and loved by God. 
Chains be gone! Be free.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Part 2- Paying through the Nose (FRIENDSHIPS)

"Casual neglect leads to catastrophic loss." I read this out of Ken Gire's book Window's of the Soul years ago. I haven't forgotten it.
King Solomon says it this way, "I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down.  Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction.  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will come upon you like a robber and want like an armed man" (Proverbs 24:30-34).
Got any friendships that you've been neglecting?  Has the passage of time and lack of attention brought thorns and overgrowth of nettles and broke down walls in those relationships? Casual neglect can lead to catastrophic loss. Outside of Christ I can think of no other gift to the soul than family and friends. For now, let's go with friends. This is what I tend to neglect the most. I tend devote so much time, energy, anxiety, and resources toward people or groups of people whom a year or ten years from now I will never see or hear from again. But who will really matter when the lights go off in my world, sickness slams into my life, and the years creep up and over into my life? What about you?  Who will matter then? Who will look out for you? Provide for you? Care for you? Will your Degree matter? Your career? Your sport? Your TV? Your music? Your Wii? Your ministry? No. I'll tell you who will matter: Your family and true friends will matter then. But do they truly matter to you now? Why should we commit and devote more elsewhere than to those to whom we really matter and who really deep down matter to us?
I can do so much better as a friend.  I was convicted about this over Thanksgiving.  I deeply love my friends.  If I was truly thankful for my friends and loved them as deeply as I say, it would be revealed by how much I invest time and energy in them. I have allowed the walls to crack and nettles and thorns to grow between us. And when I say "friends" I'm not talking about Facebook or Myspace friends. I'm talking about those few friends that you do life with, whether in the everyday or by long distance. 
 
I'm sure you've heard of Mr. Bill O'Reilly. Fan or not, his words concerning friendships ring true to me. I read them years ago in his book, The O'Reilly Factor: The Good, the Bad, and the Completely Ridiculous in American Life.  Here 'tis:
"I make demands on my friends. I insist that my friends be loyal and keep their promises. I work hard to show that I am loyal to my friends, and I keep promises to them. If they think I let them down, I want to hear about it.  And vice-a-versa.  I expect friends to be friends and keep the friendship energy up---even when their circumstances change and their attention goes elsewhere. . . .  {W]e all need good friends.  Not people who supply with cocaine, or tell you what you only want to hear, or are interested in what you HAVE. No, you need people who are responsible, loyal, caring, and who are available and interested in what you are going through.  Such people are rare, and like all they rest of us they have their downsides.  But if you find a friend who earns your trust, hold on forever. Your life will be richer." (My emphasis) To have a close friend I have to be a close friend. I've realized lately that I'm investing more time and energy in things that truly don't matter as much as those whom I love, who love me, and who are committed to me to the end.  I want to be a better friend. What about you?
 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Paying through the nose (Part 1)-- The body

There are things we unintentionally and casually neglect in the now that we may pay through the nose for later. I remember when I was younger---teen and twenty-something---I didn't really get this.  I had an underlying "Immortality of youth" belief. In other words, I never paused to consider how habits, behaviors, and actions would affect my body, mind, opportunities, relationships, and Spirit, later on in life. I still have a hard time doing so in many instances.   
In terms of my body, when younger, I was a partier. I abused alcohol and smoked cigarettes. I ate a lot of pizza and Krystal burgers. I exercised by default because I was an athlete. But I didn't get enough sleep, ever. Now, I've struggled with overeating, eating/drinking too much sugar, drinking too much caffeine, not getting enough sleep. Exercise is a battle too.  As a result I have had issues physically and mentally. My habits and behavior have affected my energy, mood, thinking, emotions, and perspective of life and even God. At times, I get cravings for nicotine and alcohol and a lot of sugar---mostly when I'm down or overwhelmed and want to escape it all. 
My wife has helped me tremendously in these areas. She is very holistically health conscious. Her motto is "everything in moderation." I try to eat until just a little over satisfied (yeah, I'm working on this one). I might drink a soda once a week. I rarely eat sugar except on special occasions, or when out with friends, or at parties. Cigarettes now make me sick (thank goodness). I'll have a glass of wine maybe once a month (Jesus turned water into wine, not kool-aid). I eat a lot of fish. I take a lot of vitamins. 
The Apostle Paul says, "You may say, 'I am allowed to do anything.' But I reply, 'Not everything is good for you.' And even though 'I am allowed to do anything,' I must not become a slave to anything.  You say, 'Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food.' This is true, thought someday God will do away with the both of them. . . . [Our bodies] were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares for our bodies" (1 Corinthians 6:12-13).
That's huge. Christ cares not only for our souls but also our bodies. He died to redeem our souls, minds, wills, and bodies. I have sought to dedicate and commit my body---and the habits and behaviors that affect it---to Christ.  I want Christ to be all, even in my body.  He is the only hope for my body, and the strength comes from Him to honor Him with my body. 
What are you doing with your body. Better yet, what could you be doing to your body? How have you been affected? How are you seeking to honor God with your body in these areas? 
I'd love to know a bit of your experience in this area. 
 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sabbath Fear

I’m not any busier than anyone else. It’s just that I am afraid. I’m afraid of resting. I lack courage to rest. Things are never done. I never feel any closure nor do I ever feel caught up.

Odd that rest takes courage. Courage to walk away with things undone.  Courage to risk not being prepared for something.  Courage to frustrate or offend people because you are not available.   Courage to face the mounds of “to-do’s” the day after. Courage to just be alone with God… and yourself.

You need courage?  Me too. I risked and took a day of rest yesterday. I had to fight pre-occupation with all of my undone stuff, projects that screamed for attention, events calling for further prep, possible missed calls, and so forth.  I had to fight fear.  

Is it just me? Why are we so afraid to rest? I’m a little baffled at myself. I guess if we don’t act like we’re busy, or keep ourselves busy, we worry what people might think of us. Like we have the good life or something if we rest. Or if we don’t keep ourselves busy, we might not like what we find about ourselves, or what God might have to say to us.

Still God commands us to rest. We don’t have to be afraid. It’s just right. It’s healthy–physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. God rested on the 7th day too. 

Get creative. Take a day. And just be. And just be with Him. It takes courage. But even more so, it takes trust. It takes trust in the Lord of the Sabbath to take care of things left undone.  Takes trust in the Lord to have you prepared for the project ahead. Takes trust in the Lord to take care of the frustrated people you didn’t call back. Takes trust in the Lord to deal with the people who may judge your rest. If God says we can rest then that is enough.    

Take courage! Go get some rest.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lumpy Underoos

Josiah, my oldest boy of three years, was almost potty trained. But we were leaving chick-fil-a the other day and he started whining as he reached behind himself to grab his hiney. i know that reach. i recognize those eyes. I’m familiar with that vein in the forehead. so we bolted for the bathroom. we entered into the bathroom stall to do the deed.
Funny thing . . . I don’t remember the back of his spidey-underoos having a lump.
Josiah was whining and near tears. I was whining and near tears. he was circling around the stall like a nervous chihuahua while I was chasing him and trying to take care of his business. It was not a pretty sight. I had to have him assume the position and clean him up. it was beautifully disgusting.
Then i started laughing. Josiah started laughing. There we were, spidey-underoos at his ankles, daddy with toilet paper in one hand and covering his nose with the other just. . . laughing. Poopy before us, beneath us, above us, around us, and we’re laughing. He said, “dadddddddyyyyyy. it funny, it’nt daddy. it funnnnnyyyy.”   it was a holy moment. i’m not kidding. a holy moment. my son and i. Just him and me.  In the mess. Poopy, tears, and joy. 
Messes, tears, and joy–sounds a lot like a life with Jesus. 
I'm a mess inside. I've made messes of my life.. I've caused messes in people's lives. I still make messes. I  just mask it better. You?
But God enters into my mess and messes. And He always will.  Same with you.
Tears come... and they go. His joy never ends. Same for you.
i told a friend about this worship moment i had with Josiah. He looked at me as if i’d told him i was a chicken nugget. I don’t expect him to understand, really. nor can anyone understand the love of a God to become man and enter into . . .our mess. 
i will tuck that moment with Josiah into a special place within me.  Not sure you can really relate to that or not. That's okay. But for what it’s worth I’ll give you this little jewel to pocket away until needed:

Beware of lumpy underoos. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

With love to our Warriors

To our Veterans... Thank you for your sacrifice to preserve our freedoms and protect our families, friends, indeed all Americans.  May the Lord shine His joy upon you this day as we give thanks for you.

                                                                                                       

Pearl Harbor survivor Houston James of Dallas embraced Marine Staff Sgt. Mark Graunke Jr. during a Veterans Day Commemoration. Graunke lost a hand, a leg and an eye when he defused a bomb in Iraq last year.

(Click here for picture source).

Thursday, November 06, 2008

AIRPORT ANGER FANTASIES and UMPIRE JESUS

I was at the airport counter a few months ago.  As usual I arrived 3 hours early (I'm anal like that). There was a line of 25 people checking in at the Kiosk (an electronic personal check-in hickamadooger that looks like an ATM machine).  A school sports team of some sort.  A customer service agent was working the counter to confirm check-in and tag bags.  Beside the agent was an open counter. I figured the agent would see me with my one measly bag and squeeze me in so I could be on my way. Would have taken all of about 58 seconds, if that.

I walked up to the open counter and stood there. And stood there. And stood there.  I watched all 25 people check-in. The agent never even acknowledged my existence. And it’s not like I wasn’t seen. I’m 6’7 for crying out loud.

In the meantime a gentleman had walked up with his briefcase in hand.  After the last person of the posse of 25 dragged their bag off, the gentleman looked at the agent, and then over to me and said, "Go ahead, man." To which the agent said to the gentleman, "Sir, I'll take you right here."

My eyes glazed over white with anger. Sweat beaded on my forehead. My breath shortened. “Unprofitable” words filled my mind---words that might’ve made a gangster-rapper blush. I almost wasn’t a Christian anymore.

To show you the gravity of this moment I’ll tell you what I’ve told some friends of mine in the past couple of years: "If you ever hear a rumor that I was arrested in an airport, it's true."

Two other people had lined up behind the gentleman. Against my pride, I walked over to stand behind them. By now I'd been there around 30 minutes and counting. I seethed. Mentally I explored scenarios of what I would say and do when I got to the counter—--what words I’d bark out, what stare I’d give, how I’d swear to never fly the airline again.  

I stepped to the counter cocked and ready.   The agent looked at me and talked to me as if I was a waste of time. I was handed my ticket and tagged bag.  Then I did the most terrible thing ever.  I’m ashamed to even say. You ready to hear it? Brace yourself. 

I didn’t say thank you.  And felt good about it. 

Horrific, I know. 
 
Ironically, or actually by God’s sovereignty, I came across a text in Colossians written by the Apostle Paul. He said to set our affection on “things above” (Christ), and to “put away: anger [and] wrath…”.   Anger Biblically defined is an abiding and festering agitation that has in its sights revenge---Anger fantasy. Wrath Biblically defined is that agitation reaching the boiling point and blowing up. It’s a sudden burst of anger---Anger Fantasy gone public.
 
On the other hand, Paul says, “Let the peace of Christ rule your hearts . . .” (Col 3:15). The literal translation of “rule” is “umpire.” How do we deal with anger & wrath when they flare up within us? We pray for Christ to bring peace into the game and eject anger and wrath out of the park.
 
I learned a few of things that day at the airport.
1) I have issues.

2) Anger fantasies are dangerous (and a waste of time).

3) Those kinds of situations test and expose the true state of our souls. Those moments reveal where our affections are (for ourselves or Christ) and what truly rules our hearts. 

 

Darkness was revealed in my heart that day. What's disturbing is that I thought my heart was good. But God never lets us settle with such a thought.  We constantly need Jesus.

 When you read my story did you put yourself in my place? Did you feel yourself flaring up? What does that reveal about the state of your soul? Is Christ ruling and umpiring your heart or does anger easily take over?  The Lord is working on me. And I need a lot of work. Because if the airport thing happened again I’m still not sure I’d say thank you. 

Help me Umpire Jesus.

 

Friday, October 31, 2008

Street Sex

I was cutting the grass a couple of summers ago and got the scare of my life. at the time the yard of my house looked like a swamp area. my shrubs looked like they had afros. my oldest son was two years old at the time (he's four now). josiah dragged his little plastic lawnmower into the yard and was cutting the grass alongside daddy. then he abandoned it to head for the street in front of our house.

josiah and i have had the talk. i’ve gotten on a knee, looked him in the eye, pointed to the street and tapped it with my finger. i’ve warned him of the dangers of it. i’ve done that countless number of times. i’ve gently cupped his face in my hands, propped his head in front of mine, told him to look daddy in the eye, and said, “buddy, never, ever, ever, ever, ever get near this street. it can give you bad boo-boos and hurt you. it will make daddy sad and upset if you get near the street. I care about you so much. I love you enough that I will spank you in order to keep you out of the street.”

he still didn’t get it though. he didn’t buy into my facts about the danger of the street. so he ventured up to the street and walked alongside it. it’s like he wanted to test what i told him. he wanted to see (experience) for himself. at the same time an suv was driving toward him. christie went running after him. i shut the lawnmower off and began shouting and running after him too. but there was no urgency for him to run. he just looked at us like we were clueless. he wasn’t so sure he bought into the fact that the street could cost him his life.

i think of proverbs 7 which deals with sexual sin. being on the road so much, sexual temptation and opportunites abound. ministers have crashed and burned due to travel temptations. just this past weekend i got news of another youth pastor crashing and burning due to adultery with an intern.

for you out there in jesusfreak land, know this. you don’t have to travel far for these opportunities to seduce you. the opportunities lurk in bible studies and church congregations.

Solomon said to the young men (it applies to young women too), “Listen to me, my sons (and daughters), and pay attention to my words. Don’t let your hearts stray toward her (or him, or porn, or fantasy). Don’t wander down her wayward paths. For she has been the ruin of many; numerous men have been her victims. Her house is the road to the grave. Her bedroom is the den of death.” Proverbs 7:24-27; NLV

Fact:: If you venture into the street of sexual sin you can ruin your life, your mind, your soul. Sexual sin (this includes porn) has been the ruin of many. Few, very few, are the exception. The odds are you won't be either. Sexual sin is the road to the grave. The den of death. These are the facts.

Stay out of the street.

www.jarrodjones.com 

 

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hot Tub Christianity and Spiritual Conversations

When was the last time you had a spiritual conversation with someone outside the faith? It had been a while for me too.  I was mostly  consumed by perfecting my Christian "duties" and trying not to sin.   If that sounds shallow, it is.  And it's not the fullness of living the gospel. I was self absorbed spiritually. I found myself in the hot-tub of Christian subculture.   Been there?

Then I took a look at Jesus. Jesus was completely un-self absorbed.  He didn't soak in the hot tub of religious subculture. He entered and waded through the mess of people's lives, pain, and sin. He came to seek and save that which was lost. His life was on mission. Crooks, drunks, prostitutes, and the average "Joe six-pack" (sorry, I couldn't help myself) never rolled their eyes at Jesus, shook their heads, and walked out of the room. In front of Jesus these people told off-color jokes, I'm sure. They cussed. They drank too much. But they felt comfortable with Jesus and enjoyed His company.  Could this be said of me? Of you?

There was no such thing as busyness or distraction with Jesus.  Even when Jesus was worn-out and hungry he never turned inward, moody, or bitter. He was on mission to have conversations to bring people into repentance, belief in the gospel, and joining him in the kingdom movement.  This was his DNA. Funny what wears me out is the opposite. It's all the Christian things I do and Christian venues I attend that saps my drive and drains my energy...just like what happens to your body when in the hot tub too long. The Christian subculture easily becomes my life. Then places and opportunities outside of it are what become distractions, obstacles, a fear of potential temptations to sin, and a burden.  

But Jesus got into the thick of it. He looked for every possible way to have spiritual conversations. He picked up on vines, fig trees, bread, fish, religion, work, wine, parties, tragedy, death, sickness, coins, sheep, birds, flowers, weeds, spices, family, friendship, water, light, wind, fire, evil, children, spirituality, sex, war, taxes, and so forth. Jesus watched for opportunities, created opportunities, and embraced opportunities to have spiritual conversations.  He made some people think, some he gave hope, some he told to repent, some he called them to sacrifice, some he condemned for their self-righteousness.  Everything was spiritual to Jesus. Conversations couldn't help but follow.

Jesus knew nothing of a 4 week program to learn how to have a spiritual conversation. He taught and led his disciples in the context of everyday life. Ministry wasn't relegated to Sundays.. It was a way of life. It was His DNA.  Spiritual conversations isn't something you do once a week on Tuesday nights.  Nor is it yelling at people leaving the Katy Perry concert. Jesus didn't leave a gospel tract on water wells after he took a sip.  He engaged. He ministered. He loved. He conversed. And he looked for any open door, indeed even pushed the door open himself at times, to take the conversation into the kingdom realm.  

Likewise, Jesus didn't do what many do. He didn't pull out his "compassion, love, and evangelism" game card and polish it off on a mission trip to Samaria or the inner city. And He didn't term ministry as only serving the  poor, downcast, and homeless.  Although this was of monumental importance, it was not the "end all, be all" of His life. Jesus' life was on mission to people deep in sin, the average wage-earner, and His followers. Not just the poor.  The everyday is where and the every person is whom Jesus impacted powerfully too.  

This is the journey I'm on right now. Getting out of the hot tub and living everyday life as a mission and ministry. It's watching for opportunities, creating opportunities, and embracing opportunities for spiritual conversations as a way of life so that people might come from outside faith in Jesus and into faith in Jesus.  It's  a mission to have spiritual conversations with the Baristas at the coffee shop, the neighbors across the street, the co-worker on the other side of the cubicle, the dude on the bar stool, the riders at the Harley gathering.

Thoughts? I hope you'll check back soon. Thanks for reading.
 

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Finger In The Chest

Just hit me with it.  If you have something to say don’t dance around the subject.  Just come out with it.  Look me in the eye, don’t mince words, and let me have it.

Confront me.  I don’t need to be “talked to” about it.  I live in an age where sexual temptation and sexual sin is all up in my business.  But no one is in my face calling me out to flee it, fight it, fess it, and repent of it.  So come with it.  Hurt my feelings and tick me off.  I need it.

It’s time for men to be men.  We need repentant men who are repeat champions over sexual sin.  And we need these men to grab others by the collar, look them in the eye, call their sin out, and demand they not ruin their life.

And I’m not talking accountability.  Accountability is often overstressed and overrated.  Think about it: A couple of guys chat over coffee and dreadfully approach the topic of, say, porn.  Following then is the most common response in all of Christendom: “I’m still struggling.”

That little phrase is ultimately a cop out, particularly on the heels of weeks of accountability.  Where’s the dude who’ll say, “What do you mean you’re still struggling?  Quit being a pervert.  Be a freakin’ man.  Tell me three things you are going to do this week to flee it and fight it?  And do not just say ‘pray.’ “

Porn and other sexual sin will ruin a man’s Christian testimony, mind, relationships, and indeed his whole life.  If that doesn’t warrant getting in a guy’s face to save him from himself then what will?  “The wounds of a friend can be trusted,” says Solomon (Proverbs 27:6).

When I was a college basketball player I can vividly remember my coach in my face with his finger in my chest calling out my mistakes, my laziness, my lack of execution, and my excuses.  He’d have my full attention.  I’d then be resolved to carry out his instruction.  My motivation was a mix of obedience, fear, and passion to succeed.  He was pushing me to compete at a level above my potential.  I guarantee that if he only took me out for coffee, listened with gentle nodding and understanding as I rambled about my “struggling,” and then placed his hand on my shoulder and prayed for me, I would not have achieved anything.  Sometimes, it takes “man-talk” to get the attention of man’s mind and heart.  When it comes to sexual sin I want to, no, I need to be talked to like a man, not a puppy.

The heart is the main issue, no doubt.  But to just pray with and encourage the man who continues in his sinful “I’m still struggling” pattern will not cut it.  He doesn’t need a hug.  He needs to be shaken.  He doesn’t need a pat on the back.  He needs a finger in the chest.

Where are these men?

-Jarrod

If you would like to learn more about how to wage war against pornography and other types of sexual sin, my new book, 13 Ways To Ruin Your Life, is now available for free download at www.13waystoruinyourlife.com.

 


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