25 September, 2022

Interview with Brian Jones

by | 15 March, 2006

By Brad Dupray

Twenty years in ministry have given Brian Jones a unique perspective on life and faith. Brian says, “I want to experience life with a pen in my hand, and allow people to go to school on my experiences.” Those experiences are reflected in Brian’s upcoming book, Second Guessing God: Hanging On When You Can’t See His Plan , published by Standard Publishing. Brian and his wife, Lisa, planted Christ’s Church of the Valley in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, in 2000 and continue to serve in that ministry today.

Why do you think God allows bad things to happen?

I think it is because after we become Christians, God is not done with us. He still wants to do two things: accomplish things through our lives and remake us into the image of Jesus. That mainly happens through trials.

James 1 is like the “Magna Carta” of how to confront hard times “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (v. 2) is it that easy?

No. Not at all. In my experience, when we go through hard times we tend to ask a one word question: why? James forces us to change the question to a “what” or “who.” What is God doing through this trial? Who is this trial intended for? I believe every trial is sent into our lives to help two intended recipients us and someone else through us. When we don’t recognize this we tend to waste the gift that pain brings us.

That sounds like a tough way to receive a gift.

What we must do is redefine what a close relationship with God looks like. Oftentimes we are closest to God when he seems most distant. For me, Malcolm Muggeridge nailed it when he said, “I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned . . . everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness.”

Is American Christianity too transfixed with the pursuit of happiness?

Totally. And I say that from personal experience. The main reason I became a Christian was because I thought the first thing on God’s agenda was making me happy. I was in for a rude awakening.

God didn’t want you to be happy?

Happiness is not a bad thing. It’s just that you can’t count on it. A mentor of mine once said, “Happiness is to be enjoyed like a sunny day.” When we pursue happiness like a child chasing butterflies, we miss the real point of life. God isn’t as concerned with my health, or even with my existence, as I am. He has a much higher purpose. Once I realized that it was liberating.

Why do you think someone would buy this book? Most people would be afraid to “second guess God.”

Because it lets them know they are not alone. Everyone skeptics, inquirers, and devout believers wrestle with pain and doubt in life. Every year I teach a sermon series called “Questions I Want to Ask God.” To prepare, I give everyone an index card and ask them to tell me, “If you could ask God only one question and you knew he would give you an answer, what would you ask?” It’s no exaggeration to say that almost half the cards, every year, ask the same question in some form: where’s God? No matter where you are in your spiritual journey you will ask that question.

Do you think it’s a sin to doubt God?

No. In fact, I think God sometimes puts us into situations to cause us to doubt him. That seems strange because the evangelical Christian subculture has conditioned us to think doubt is bad. Books and tapes abound to eliminate doubt from our hearts. But doubt takes us into desert periods in our lives. In the Bible some of the greatest experiences came in the desert.

How does a pastor face those doubts honestly before his congregation without throwing them into serious doubt?

Ultimately, you have to make the decision based on one thing: be real. I used to think people would high five me after a sermon when I gave them absolute certainty about their faith. I’ve discovered, however, that I actually get the best response from people when I get to a story in the Bible and say, “I’m really wrestling with this.”

Brad Dupray is director of public relations and advertising with Provision Ministry Group, Irvine, California. “

Christian Standard

Contact us at cs@christianstandardmedia.com


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