What's your why?  Every motivational leadership guru will tell you.  If you don't have a, "why" you'll never know your how.  In other words.  If you don't understand why you're doing what you are doing, then how do you know if you're doing the right thing?  Confused?  Let me clarify.

Clarity is a BIG key to success.  Your "why" helps you to see what you are supposed to be doing and when you've accomplished it.

Yogi Berra, Hall of Fame player and  New York Yankees manager, was the champion of muddled conversation. For example, he said, "We lost because we made too many wrong mistakes." "A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore." "Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical." "You got to be careful if you don't know where you're going because you might not get there."

Fortunately for us, we have Isaiah 30:21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

God is a God of clarity.  He doesn't confuse, He leads.  So where is He leading you? 

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, show me my why.  AMEN  

Family Means So Much

I've shared a few stories about Betty.  But believe me, I haven't always been the easiest person to live with.  I know, shocker - right?  We've had some fights that were epic.  We've been in some situations that were downright awful.  We didn't know how we were going to recover.  But in the end, a family was what meant so much to us.

Now after Betty and I moved to Florida, that meant her family was around 1,500 miles away, and mine was about 3,000 miles away.  We didn't have anyone to run to in a moments notice.  But with time, our church became family to us.  Over the years we have built relationships that have pulled us through some tough times.  There have been a few that wounded us too.

But that happens with family, doesn't it?

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

The church is a family.  We are all part of the Kingdom of God, but more importantly, we are to love one another.  Encourage each other.  Help carry each other's burdens.  Now there are no perfect churches.  Each church cannot meet every need - but they are not supposed to.  Here are a few things you and I need to remember. 

Jesus saves - not the church.  If you are looking for a church to save you, they can't do it.  But they can support you and introduce you to the One who can. 

Happiness is fluid, joy is constant.  If you are looking for a church to make you happy, you'll end up ruining it.  No, you're not a bad person.  Your happiness and its needs change from day to day.  What makes you happy today may not make you happy tomorrow.  Joy is a constant because its source is Jesus.  Jesus never changes. 

PRAY:  Der Jesus, help me to be the best part of my church family today.  AMEN 

P.S. Tomorrow the Stevens Family will be at FFWC.  You are going to enjoy a fantastic concert of encouraging music that builds up you and your family. 

The Day After Valentines

A single person sat down in my office yesterday (Valentines Day) and said.  "Today is National Don't Go On Facebook Day."  I looked at them with a bit of confusion, and then it hit me.  All the Valentines Day posts.  I get it.

Love is a beautiful thing.  It can cause a lot of pain too.  We love each other, but when we betray that love - it hurts.  Stupid decisions can cause a lot of heartaches.

When we got married, I learned that you shouldn't assume anything.  Because I had seen my future wife in the kitchen and because some delicious food came out of that kitchen, I thought she could cook.  It wasn't until after we were married that I discovered that her dad was the one doing all the cooking.  The cooking gene skipped her.

I knew this after she confused pork sausage stuffing with hamburger and tried to cook me a burger.  That was different.

Or when she put BBQ sauce on the spaghetti because she forgot to get some pasta sauce.  (She really didn't think I would notice.)  

She has burned water.  Technically she has destroyed a few saucepans by boiling water and forgetting to follow up with whatever she wanted to cook.  But still, there was smoke and a fire alarm.

At first, I was a bit upset.  Starvation wasn't how I pictured marriage.  But then adaptation set in.  Thank God for microwaves.  Simple recipes books (A Man, A Can, and A Microwave) and McDonald's.

Now I only mention this because of a simple truth.  Marriage will never make you happy.  But you can find happiness in a marriage.

Ephesians 4:2-3: “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

30 some odd years later did Betty learn how to cook?  Nope. 

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, help me to be the spouse you want me to be.  AMEN  

Happy Valentines Day

At the age of 16, I was a freshman in Bible College.  On the day of our orientation, we were assigned a number and told to get in line according to our number.  I was one of the last on the list, and because of that, I knew that I was going to get a horrible class schedule.  (I did.)  

As we lined up on the front steps of the library, there were students, parents, and friends all there to assist.  It was a hot August day in the Ozarks, and the northerners were not handling the heat well.  Tempers, even for a group of Christians, was beginning to get short.  

A mother and daughter were standing in front of me.  Their conversation was getting louder and louder.  The mother was trying to build her daughters' freshman schedule. However, she had no idea what she was doing.  About 50 other people and I couldn't help but overhear the growing argument.  

Finally, the mother said, "What don't you take Greek?"  I snapped.  I said something like, "Are you nuts?  That's a seniors class.  She'll get killed in there!"  To which the mother said, "Well, do you think that you can do better?"  I then showed her how to read the college catalog.  The code before each class title would tell her which classes were for a freshman.  I said, "Just stick to those."  

Betty will tell you to this day, "That's the day I fell in love with my husband.  Because he told my mother off."   If you're single, lesson #1.  Be careful who you yell at.  You might end up in the family.

Betty was as wild as they come.  I had no interest whatsoever in dating her.  But we were friends.  She would call me after one of her dates and tell me all about it.  I would call her after, wait, I didn't date. Nevermind.  

But by our sophomore year, I was sick of hearing about her dates, so I took her out on one.  Lesson #2.  Be careful who your friends are.  You'll probably end up dating them.  

She was a cheerleader, but by now she was singing in the college choir.  I was, well, in the library.  Any forays into social settings for me were painful and less than stellar.  So I would go listen to her sing, and she would come and watch me study.  Is it any wonder I proposed to her in the library?  (Nope, not a romantic place.)  Lesson #3.  You will get engaged to who you date.  

After we announced our engagement, things changed.  Not our love for each other.  But people treated us differently.  We had a great support system, and we had a group of haters.  I'm not going to name names because I'm still two dead people away from a great novel.  But I learned lesson #4.  Date more and be engaged less.  The stress almost destroyed us.  We got married between our junior and senior years, and the rest is history.  

Now I let Betty read this up to this point.  She said, "Very nice."  But here is the rest of the story.  

Love is a wonderful thing.  There have been a number of times in our life when all we had was our love for each other.  We've been married over three decades now and I can tell you, I still don't understand why she loves me so much.  

But I can tell you that she is my heart and soul.  I love her with all of my heart.  I want to protect her, support her, and encourage her.  I want her to know how great of a mom she is.  How I couldn't pastor this church without her.  How wonderful of a wife she is and how she is my best friend in the whole wide world.  Oh, lesson # 5.  When you say, "I do," they are now your best friend - forever.  Never ever let anyone be more important to you.  

I love you Betty Lynn Engstrom Jones.  Don't you forget it!   

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
PRAY for your spouse.  Pray for your family.  If you are single and looking.  Pray for God's will to be done in your life.  

Thinking Faith

Yesterday I asked you what you were thinking about.

Today I want you to think about faith.

Philippians 4:8  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

We live in a world that goes to extremes to be positive and good.  Considering all the evil and bad that there is out there, I don't blame them.  But just thinking good thoughts will never get you what you are looking for.  Because eventually you just run out of good.  

You need a deeper well. 

As a kid growing up in Arkansas, we went through droughts like every other part of the country.  But one summer I remember it was terrible.  Wells, which was the primary source of water of most of my family, were drying up.  Not good.  But my grandmother, who lived at the bottom of a deep valley, had a 200+ ft. Well. More in-depth than most in the area.  After wells starting drying up, people wanted to come with jugs and buckets to get some water.  

Now here's how the conversation went.  

These people need water!  But what if our well runs dry?  Then we will dig a deeper well.  

We watched and waited for the well to run dry.  Times didn't get better, but worse.  Through all of it that well never ran dry.

Being good and positive is great.  But what is your source for goodness and positivity?  Where is your well that will never run dry?

Here is what you should focus on today.  Truth not fake stuff.  Honor not disgrace.  Just not opinionated. Pure, not lewd.  Lovely, not hateful. Commendable, not corrupt.  Excellent, not lazy.  If all else fails to work, look for something to praise and not complain about.  

Get A Grip

Emotions are a beautiful thing.  Emotions are a terrible thing.  I feel good, no bad, no good, no bad. Ahhhh!

It is no wonder that so many prescription drugs are prescribed to people just so they can, "Get a grip"?

Now I have nothing against medical intervention.  Believe me, I can understand the need for it.  But all drugs do is shut emotions off.  You feel better, but then again, you don't feel.

1 Peter 5:7  casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Now someone is probably shouting at me.  "Easier said than done!"  Maybe, but you've got to do it.  What's your other choice?

If your emotions are getting the best of you, here are a few things you probably need to do.

Place your faith in Christ.  I'm not saying that you don't believe in Him, but chances are you've not released this problem(s) to Him.

Cast.  Peter was a fisherman.  Casting nets was something that he understood.  Throw your worries at Christ as hard as you can and as far as possible.  What's the point here?  Surrender your control and trust Him.

Believe that He cares.  As long as you carry the worry you are declaring, "God doesn't love me."  He cares for you and wants to intercede in your life.  The key here is to follow His will instead of trying to get Him to bless your mess.

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, here's my stuff.  I can't deal with it anymore.  Teach me what to do.  AMEN