What Controls Your Life?

Darryl Jones

3h  · Shared with Public


“Whatever consumes your mind controls your life.”

It could be one of many things…

  • your looks/appearance
  • what others think of you
  • sex (self-gratification)
  • sports
  • your kids
  • your job/career
  • your illness/handicaps
  • money
  • getting married
  • being single
  • your spouse – their flaws or their good qualities
  • your past – abuses and traumas OR “the good ole days”
  • the rest/relaxation/benefits of life you think you’ve earned or deserve
  • the exhaustion, hardships, trials you think you don’t deserve or are unfair

Or it could simply be Jesus.

For too many, we don’t know how to really fix our eyes and our mind on Jesus. If we’re really, really transparently honest – for many of us, Jesus is a religious means to a personal end. The focus is OUR need, OUR convenience and OUR comfort rather than HIS glory, HIS will and HIS Kingdom.

For many of us, Jesus is a religious means to a personal end. The focus is OUR need, OUR convenience and OUR comfort rather than HIS glory, HIS will and HIS Kingdom.

1 Corinthians 2:2 ESV
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Philippians 3:9-10-16 ESV
and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— [10] that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death... [12] Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. [13] Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, [14] I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. [15] Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. [16] Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Hebrews 12:1-3 NASB
Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us, [2] looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. [3] For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

A Day That Belongs To The Lord

If you were an 8-hour sleeper, could you rest in the sanctuary of God’s presence for the other 16 hours of a day and be completely satisfied and content…fulfilled? Would you find this to be a day of abundance?

John 10:9-10 ESV
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. [10] The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

If you didn’t have to go to work and didn’t have to take care of children or others (which CAN BE forms of worship also), could you spend your waking hours of just one day reading His Word, discussing His Word, Worshipping Him in His Word and Praying Through His Word, listening to His Word through sermons, soaking meditating in His Word? Would that bore you or drive you nuts? Would it make you antsy and unproductive?

Keep in mind, this wouldn’t deprive you of exercise, meals, or relationships. It wouldn’t chain you to a specific location. It wouldn’t deprive you of community, music or conversation. It wouldn’t tie your hands from your devices…but could you spend an entire day where your Creator and Savior, His Spirit and His Word are your absolute, complete and only focus – walking with Him, talking with Him, learning of Him, resting in Him and not feeding any fleshly pleasure for more ________, not even one ounce?

Would you be willing to try it? Could you find a day in your life that you could Sabbath with God Himself…a day where you could completely focus your reverent attention on Him, every waking minute for the purpose of spiritual, physical, and emotional rest, replenishment, rejuvenation?
Would this not be what it means to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ?

Romans 8:28-30 ESV
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. [29] For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. [30] And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Who We Are

Church, we’re not committed to being better than someone else…God’s Word tells us that comparing ourselves among ourselves makes us fools.

What we are to compare ourselves to is Jesus and the teachings of His Word and to that comparison, we all fall short. So we’re on a journey together…we’ve made a covenant with God and with one another to be transformed.

What we ARE fully committed to is this — keeping our gaze laser-focused on being conformed to His image and pursuing that with reckless abandon…TOGETHER. We walk in this Blessed Hope TOGETHER…in His Word TOGETHER…in His Spirit TOGETHER…for His Kingdom TOGETHER. You may not be there yet, but to be The Church, you MUST BE committed to the journey:

  • We’re not going to make excuses for our sins and shortcomings.
  • We’re not going to get sidetracked by the trappings of this world.
  • We’re not going to pursue lives of self-indulgence and self-gratification.
  • We’re not going to allow the Gospel-Centered Church of Jesus to be used as merely a religious practice, something used to make ourselves feel better about ourselves when it suits us.
  • We’re not going to allow the Gospel-Centered Church of Jesus to be used as merely a social circle of belonging for those who feel alone. Though it is a warm, friendly and welcoming environment, open to all who are seeking Jesus, the Church is not merely a place like Cheers or the apartment of Friends or Seinfeld. It is soooooo much more.
  • We ARE going to learn to love one another…unconditionally.
  • We ARE going to serve God AND one another with the humble hearts of bond servants.
  • We ARE going to pursue covenant community, responsibility and accountability.
  • We ARE going to declare God’s message of love and forgiveness to all who seek healing from the brokenness of this world.
  • We ARE going to be vessels of God’s Grace, Mercy, Love and Hope to a broken and hopelessly lost world.
  • We ARE going to receive all who come to Jesus and repent of their part in this worlds brokenness.
  • We ARE going to be the image bearers of Jesus’ reconciled, redeemed, and restored Creation to a world that God loves and wants to restore to Himself.

The church is the assembly of the Bride of Jesus Christ — those chosen, called and set apart for God’s pleasure and purpose. We will unashamedly and unrelentingly walk in that mission —so other may hear…AND live!

…helping people find and follow Jesus!

Keep Your Gaze Fixated on the King

As she was giving all she had to live on, the widow wasn’t disappointed that the others were only giving of their scraps…their spillover…their leftovers. When she gave it all, she was fixated on the One to whom she was giving it.

There is no doubt that it is a challenge when…

  • …you are giving yourself completely in your marriage and your spouse treats the marriage like it’s a convenient store
  • …you give your job 110% and your co-workers only engage when the boss is watching
  • …you’re killing yourself to honor and care for your aging parents and your siblings act like it’s your responsibility
  • …you’re fully engaged in the work and support of your local church and others treat it as a hobby that they dabble in when they have time.

Keep your head in the game, your eye on the prize, your gaze fixated on the King.

Mark 12:41-44 ESV
And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. [42] And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. [43] And he called his disciples to him and said to them, "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. [44] For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on."

God Never Wastes a Hurt

Eight years ago, over a period of 6 to 8 months, our church suffered subtle, subversive attacks from multiple angles and agents. It wasn’t the first time and as long as God tarries His return, I’m sure it won’t be the last. But this one was different from the others before it. It literally paralyzed me as a pastor – I had a stroke on stage in the middle of a sermon. My confidence in God’s calling on my life had been weakened. I blamed myself for giving the enemy ground on my watch as the shepherd…and there was certainly some responsibility on my part that I’ve had to deal with. My confidence in God’s voice of direction for our church was shattered. I was unsure about nearly everything. I trusted very few but my own family as the blows of the enemy kept coming.

It decimated our church…we were crippled and curled up in a corner, wondering if we’d ever survive the slaughter. We barely functioned through our numbness and paralysis. After a couple years of that, the Spirit got us to our feet, cleaned us up and we began to see and feel movement again. He slowly nursed us back to health. That took another five years…we were so thankful to still be alive but you could tell, our people were nervous and scared to open up, timid to trust and yet tired of hurting. Sooooo many walls up. Then came a worldwide pandemic…and instead of letting us retreat into fear, panic, obscurity and seclusion, God opened the floodgates of mercy, grace and blessing upon us…He opened our hearts and our minds. He taught us that He’d given us much through years of spiritual, emotional and physical healing and it was time to share that with others who had been battered, abused and led astray.

We’ve just passed a milestone – 22 years since my little family gathered with 3 or 4 other little families for the very first service of Crossroads Church here in Grain Valley, MO. I’m thankful for all of them. I’m thankful for each person whom God used to help us get started, to strengthen our foundation, to serve and love the many who have come through our doors. I’m thankful for those who stayed a short time. I’m thankful for those who have been enduring partners for many, many years. We’ve had heroes who have walked these halls and left an incredible legacy upon our hearts. I’m thankful for each one whom God has used to strengthen my family, those who have poured into us, nurtured us, cared for us, encouraged us and loved us as their Pastor and family. I’m thankful for new life, new family members, fresh vision and spirit of cooperation.

I’m thankful for the challenges and attacks that came in the form of both people and circumstances beyond our control – things that the enemy intended for evil against God, but God meant it for good. We are HIS church…HIS bride. He strengthened us through adversity. He chiseled us through attacks. He tried us through fire. He healed us for His glory and the good of His people. He has released us from the bondage of the past by reminding us of our future.

Odd as it may sound and tragic as it may have been for many, I thank God for this pandemic…for what it has taught us about Him, about His Word, about His Church, and about His Plan. I thank God that for some reason and in His infinite wisdom He has seemingly released us from 10 years of wandering in a cloudy, sometimes dark and frustrating wilderness, knowing that He has never left us nor forsaken us.

To God Be the Glory – #solideogloria
Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us by Your commandments, Who has cleansed us by the blood of Your Son Jesus Christ, Who anoints us with Your Holy Spirit, and Who has kept us alive and preserved us for Your glory and Your purpose. May we never be the same again.

It’s Not Up To Me

I saw this meme today and it really stirred some thoughts in me that I’d like to share with those who are willing to listen.

I don’t want to speak for others, but I CAN speak for me and the Spirit of Christ that indwells me.
Just because I don’t, won’t or can’t support an agenda, an initiative, a cause, a religion or a group that is contrary to the Word and the character of God – that doesn’t mean that I hate or even dislike the people who are involved. That would be nothing short of ignorant and petty and, dare I say, hypocritical.

I’m only capable of love because God my Creator is Love. Loving those whom God loves does not equate with accepting what they want me to accept as holy, and let’s just be honest with ourselves. We have no power or authority to approve or disapprove, to condone or condemn – save the authority given to us by God. It is God’s character and nature that are offended by sin – NOT MINE. What so many want is that we as fellow humans feign God’s approval for what He has already condemned. As His bond-servant, one who has become ONE with Him as Jesus and the Father are ONE, out of surrender, obedience and commitment to Him, I am to love what He loves and to hate what He hates.

It is God’s character and nature that are offended by sin – NOT MINE.

But by the same token, hating what God hates does not equate to failing to continue to love those whom God loves the way God loves them – those for whom Jesus ALSO gave His life a ransom, that they might someday repent of and be rescued from the very social lies and humanistic norms that God hates – loving and praying that they will one day be redeemed and restored and conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. I am not to get passive-aggressive, sarcastic or even defensive with those who walk according to the flesh. I am not to make fun of them or call them names. I am not to speak down to them as if they are lesser than me, simply because I’m a follower of Jesus and their ways do not indicate that they themselves are followers of His ways. BUT, I am not to cower from boldly, confidently and humbly speaking, declaring and living according to THE TRUTH of God – IN LOVE. Not because I’m offended by sin, but because God is offended by sin and God loves the offender and wants them to be exposed to the TRUTH so that they may accept it or reject it. It is not my place to cram it down anyone’s throat. We declare TRUTH to the willing listener and to those over whom God has given us authority (our family, our church, etc.).

It is not that I’m any better than anyone else. My flesh is just as vile, my heart just as corrupt and my spirit was just as dead as anyone else who has walked the face of this earth. The only difference between me and the person that embraces the things that God hates is that I’ve received what He offered to each of us; I’ve repented and surrendered to Jesus as Lord of my life; HE has redeemed me; HE has justified me; HE has restored me; HE is sanctifying me; HIS Spirit lives in me; and HE is conforming me into His image. I am HIS elect. I didn’t deserve it and I still do not. He has done all the work, and I’ve only acknowledged WHO HE IS and accepted WHAT HE’S DONE. My only task is to crucify the flesh and walk in obedience to His Word and in relationship with His Spirit.

Love Rejoices With The Truth

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV says, “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.

Love does not seek to discuss all the things that are wrong in a relationship, but focuses on the things that are right. When God sees us through the righteousness of Christ, that is exactly what He does as well. He chooses to see what is good and through Jesus Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross, has forgiven what is offensive to His nature.

So often, in order to prove that our life or relationship is not perfect (whether with Jesus, our spouse or others) and in order to prove that we are human (like we need to prove that), we feel that we must point out the areas where we fail or have failed. We feel that we must self deprecate (sometimes cloaked in humor) BEFORE the other person starts to point out our flaws or presume we’re arrogant. Other times we feel that we must expose and deal with all the flaws and failures of others that prevent us from loving them. I’m so very glad that God doesn’t play this game with us.

Now, before you jump to conclusions, choosing to focus on and cultivate the healthy, positive steps and qualities of a productive relationship does not equate refusing to acknowledge the negative…an epidemic in the church and in many of our marriages. Once again, Jesus does not do this with us. He openly talks about the willful offenses to His character that impedes His precious Bride from receiving the fullness of His love. But it is by walking in the fullness of the Light, as He is in the Light, that the darkness of our own doing is exposed. And when darkness is exposed against the Light of Jesus, it is easily repented of and forsaken by His Bride for the fruit-bearing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control that we find in the convicting, healing, comforting, sealing, gifting guiding and leading of His Spirit.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. [6] If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. [7] But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. [8] If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. [9] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [10] If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

1 John 1:5-10 ESV

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. [17] For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. [18] But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. [19] Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, [20] idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, [21] envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. [22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [23] gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:16-23 ESV

Give to Caesar What Is Caesar’s…

“We cannot continue to send our children to Caesar for their education and be surprised when they come home as Romans.”

Voddie T. Baucham Jr., Family Driven Faith: Doing What It Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk With God

I love that quote from Baucham. It’s why we did private school for the first few years of our children’s education and homeschooled the rest. Our youngest child went to public school for his last four years. He undoubtedly had an impact for Christ. He had a positive influence on many of his classmates…though we’re unaware of any eternal results that came of it. And I’ll admit, it impacted him in some positive ways. He learned discipline and leadership through his commitment to Marching Band. He met his future bride in high school…such a beautiful, godly young woman. Socially it was pretty much a wash. No real gains…not tremendous losses. Academically it was sub-par to the homeschooling that he got. The commitment expected of him to Marching Band greatly challenged the control of our family calendar and his participation and involvement in his church and personal discipleship. Philosophically, it created a battle in our home that we could have easily lost had God not mercifully intervened. Three years out and on the threshold of marriage, both he and us as parents have some regrets about the decision to let him go to high school, but God is using it for His glory and for our good. It has deeply impacted the way our son plans to parent his own children. #SoliDeoGloria

I’m so thankful for godly teachers and administrators who serve the calling of the most High by serving in the Roman Empire. We have several teachers and school board members in our congregation. I’m so grateful for their testimony and witness. They are truly light in what is an ever darkening world. I’m thankful for holy students who live for Jesus in that environment. What a tremendous testimony!

That however does not discount or negate the effect that Caesar has on children born into a family with a Biblical Worldview. When parents surrender the academic, social and philosophical development of their children to the empire they WILL BE trained for the worldview of the empire. So many say, “My child is going to grow up and function in that world. I don’t want to shelter them in a bubble. They’re going to have to learn to live in that environment sometime.” I find this excuse severely lacking in responsibility and accountability. For my three children, that was OUR job (my wife and I) – teaching them to function in the real world around “real world” people, under OUR care and supervision. It was OUR responsibility.

But for most, public education is just a fact of life…any other way is not on most people’s radar or feasible in their 2 to 4 job per couple schedule and income. It’s just a given and many parents couldn’t fathom educating their children another way. I understand that some just don’t have the means or the ability to home school or do private school (to be honest, I’m about as equally against most private schools as I am education funded by the state). It’s not that sending your children to public school is evil; it’s just incredibly dangerous and as a parent with a Biblical worldview. You must be EVER vigilant and so very, very PRESENT.

For me personally, I’ve not liked the product of any other program designed and governed by “the state” for the welfare of its people. I wasn’t going to trust the formation of my children’s worldview socially or philosophically, mentally or emotionally and very little academically. I’m not going to trust a state institution that is determined to separate God from the institution to teach my children about sexuality, identity and tolerance. God is not going to hold the school responsible. He’s going to hold me responsible.

It makes me sad when I look back as a pastor. I had so many people in my life, while we were raising our children and making these decisions, that made me feel like what we were doing was so arrogant, impractical, elitist and over-protective that I ignorantly felt like I was not qualified to shepherd our congregation in parenting because so many of us were all the same age/had kids the same age. We tried to lead by example but when I talked about parenting, I got ignored or made fun of by our church members who were “peers”. They felt they knew just as much about parenting as I did. I neglected to set the example AND teach the example, to expose the dangers that we saw for what they really were. I neglected the families that would listen because of the loud voices of those who didn’t want to. Though I wish I could have a redo, I’ve been entrusted a voice with a new generation of parents and families. May God continue to have mercy on us all.

Counting Our Blessings

We can spend our time counting our dead or we can spend it counting our blessings.

We can spend our time counting our dead or we can spend it counting our blessings.

About six months ago, I made a personal decision to stop watching pandemic news, Covid death-trackers, debates over shutdowns, mask and vaccine efficacy, etc. (no judgment against those who continue to do so). I clearly remember the day and the people to whom I wrote, letting them know I was done. I could no longer allow anticipation of what an unknown virus MIGHT do in my community to have a greater influence than the anticipation of what a KNOWN God is going to do in me and in my community. He is a God of HOPE in the midst of despair.

I could no longer allow anticipation of what an unknown virus MIGHT do in my community to have a greater influence than the anticipation of what a KNOWN God is going to do in me and in my community. He is a God of HOPE in the midst of despair.

Too many from all walks of life and all perspectives have put life and ministry on a shelf for a year now. But, there’s no pandemic clause in Scripture. As a matter of fact, we learn from world history that it was followers of the ways of Jesus who risked everything to care for the sick and dying in past pandemics while family and friends abandoned them…leaving them to die alone.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10 ESV

Regardless of your current health condition, your age, your politics, your mask or social distancing preferences, your anxiety levels – as a child of God, today you can leverage who you are and what you’ve been given to live out the Gospel, to share and embody the Good News of a Great King, to love others well and to minister to the least of these — so others may hear…AND live!

For some, this might mean being more creative, learning to be more present in a digital environment, doing something that you’re not good at or don’t really like to do. For others, it might just mean getting off your soap box and loving people well in the moment.

Too many people have seen the pandemic as something that has tied their hands or given them an excuse to avoid people. Today, you can see it as an opportunity to exalt Jesus and His message of eternal hope through grace and mercy. In a day where there is no end to the number of ways we can communicate, we really have no excuse for focusing inward, being withdrawn and silent while the enemy propagates a false narrative.

Don’t talk about it…BE about it. Live the Gospel out loud for the whole world to hear. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Don’t talk about it…BE about it.

The Art of Jumping to the Wrong Conclusion

…projecting our own sinful intentions and motivations on the actions of others when there is no evidence of such at all. 

Sometimes we mistakenly assume others are viewing us in the way that we privately view ourselves.

Sometimes we project onto the words or actions of another the thoughts, intentions or motivations that we’re actually feeling about someone else.

Sometimes we just put the words and actions of another through our own filters rather than through their filters.

Love God. Love people. Let God be the mind reader, heart skeptic and judge of motivations.