Nick Jones

God, Life, Religion

I’m Thankful

As I was doing some last minute reading over my sermon this morning, I took a short break to read a few articles at RELEVANT Magazine. Their headline article hit me hard: “11 Stats That Will Change the Way You Think About Consumerism.” As I was preaching a sermon on being thankful I found the article very appropriate for the topic.

Have you noticed how Thanksgiving has turned from a holiday spent with family and reminiscing on the things we are grateful for to a holiday all about stuff? You may think, “Come on Nick, getting presents for Christmas for people during a sale is good budgeting.” That may be true, but the question that I bring up is whether or not it’s a good idea to allow consumerism to sneak into a time which in the past has been dedicated to family and friends.

If you don’t have a problem with consumerism (which can be defined as ‘the preoccupation of society with the acquisition of consumer goods’) then maybe some of these statistics from the article might change your mind (link to the original article):

The amount Americans spend in a single weekend is more than half of the total they give to churches in an entire year.

Last year, Americans spent $57.4 billon on Black Friday Weekend alone. They gave $103 billion to churches over the course of the whole year.

Enough K-Cups were thrown out in 2014 to encircle the earth 12 times.

According to their creator, K-Cups are almost impossible to recycle.

Nearly 40% of Food in America goes to waste.

Americans allow $165 billion of food to be wasted every year. Globally, stunting due to malnutrition and lack of food affects 161 million children around the world every year.

In America, more money is spent on fashion accessories than college tuition.

The amount spent on shoes, watches and jewelry alone totals $100 billion

Wealthy nations waste almost as much food is produced in all of sub-Saharan Africa.

Food wasted in developed countries every year: 222 million tons; Annual net food production in sub-Saharan Africa: 230 million tons.

Nearly half the world’s toys are in America.

Despite making up just over 3 percent of the global population of children, American kids consume 40 percent of the world’s toys.

The average American household has more than $7,500 in consumer debt.

The medium annual household income for the global population is just of $9,700.

America creates more electronic waste than any other nation on earth.

Despite being less than a quarter the size of China, Americans throughout more than 1 million tons more electronic devices than the country. Relatively little of it is recycled.

Homes in the U.S. contain more TVs than they do people.

On average, houses in the U.S. have three working television sets.

12% of the population does more than half of the spending.

Despite being just 12 percent of the global population, the U.S. and Western Europe account for 60 percent of private consumption spending.

Plastic kills 1 million seabirds every single year.

Americans use 100 billion plastic bags annually.

When I read that this morning I realized that I live in amazing luxury. I have more than most of the world. I have a lot to be thankful for. I don’t need the latest and greatest. I have enough.

So, how do you feel after reading that? Let’s dialogue. Go ahead and leave a comment.

The Story

The Story

“But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.” –1 Peter 3:15

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Just recently I ran across an iPhone app called TheStory. I’m always trying to find different and new ways of sharing Jesus with people and this looked interesting. So I downloaded it, opened it up and realized I had to sign up for access. Usually when this happens it causes me pause, and this was no different. A lot of times when apps ask me to sign up to use them, I either delete them immediately or let them sit on my phone for awhile until I can do a little more research.

I’m glad I let this one sit. Just the other day I got around to checking it out and it’s an amazing tool in sharing the Gospel with someone. Through a six minute video (which you can watch here), the viewer is introduced to the purpose of Jesus Christ. The app also includes a way to do a short Bible study through the message starting with Creation, moving to the Fall, then introducing Jesus, and then looking at what happens in the end.

When you sign up for the app you are given your own “webpage” to send people through social media, text messages, email, etc… so that they can watch the video as well. It then keeps track of how many times the video has been watched, or how many times you have talked someone through the presentation if you use that portion of the app on your smartphone or tablet.

It’s a well done video and a well done app. I’m still working on how I can utilize it well. One idea I had which I’ve already set up is to embed the video on a page here on my blog. I’ve linked to it earlier in the post. I would encourage you to take a look. It’s a beautifully done video with a lot of thought put into what the narrator would say.

Now why bring this up? I mentioned in my last post (here) that a couple of themes have been coming up in the last year of my reading and study: Apologetics and Righteousness by Faith. So I’m going to be spending quite a bit of time on both in the coming months in my blog posts.

1 Peter 3:15 is a text that most Christian Apologetics point to as the basis for their purpose in defending Christianity:

“But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.” –1 Peter 3:15 NET

The phrase here in the New English Translation which reads “give an answer” is the Greek word apologia which literally means “to defend oneself.” This is why we call the defense of Christianity “Apologetics.” Peter is encouraging his readers to make sure they know Christ and can give an answer to whoever asks about the hope that they have. When you meet someone who truly knows Jesus there is something different about them, and many times people question that because they see it.

Now it’s important to note the difference between an apology (expression of regret) verse an apology (defense of belief or doctrine). Apology can mean both. Christian Apologetics is the study and defense of the Christian faith. There are Atheist Apologists, Muslim Apologists, Buddhist Apologists, and the list could go on. But because I am a Christian, I will be focusing on Christian Apologetics.

I’m looking forward to the conversations we will have. You don’t have to agree with me to engage in dialogue. I will respect your beliefs and arguments, and hopefully you’ll do the same. Am I an expert on this? No way! I’m still working through many of these arguments and ideas and I want to journey with others who may have the same questions. So, here’s to the journey!

A New Move


The winds, they are changing, at least that’s what it feels like. After five years of ministry in Southern Oregon I have accepted a call to pastor the Sandy Seventh-day Adventist church in Sandy, Oregon. I have learned a lot during my five years here. Just over two of them spent as the youth pastor of the Medford Seventh-day Adventist Church and Lead Pastor of Sonrise Christian Fellowship. And it’s been almost three years that I’ve been the lead pastor of Gateway Seventh-day Adventist Church and Sonrise Christian Fellowship.

Pastoring two churches is one of the hardest things I’ve done. There are some very unique challenges that one is presented with when pastoring two churches. At this point in time I am definitely looking forward to focusing all my attention and energy with one church family. Pastoring two churches has been a good learning experience as I have been able to solidify what I believe and stand for, and I am excited to see what God does as I join with the Sandy Church in doing ministry in Northern Oregon.

This move takes my family out of Southern Oregon and back up to the Portland area. Sandy is a smallish town on Hwy 26 heading out towards Mt. Hood. Their motto is “Gateway to Mount Hood.” As someone who loves mountains I’m excited. I have driven through Sandy several times and have always mentioned that it would be a neat town to live in. Here I actually get the chance!

So what will my focus be on the blog now that I am moving to a new area and my cancer ordeal is somewhat in the rear view mirror? That is a good question. There are a few things that I have been studying and reading about lately and I am thinking about using those as opportunities to begin discussion here. Two of the major things I’ve been looking into are apologetics and righteousness by faith. I’m sure that these two topics alone will create some very interesting commenting.

In the meantime, packing is taking priority as we must pack up an entire house (which now has much more stuff due to having a one-year-old). But I’m hoping to have a more regular posting schedule (I think I’ve said that before) once the move is done.

Kick Cancer in the Teeth

remissionOne year ago today I posted this picture with this blog post: Cancer in Remission. A few weeks ago I posted that it has been one year since I rang the bell and ended chemo. Today, officially, it has been one year since I was declared cancer free. You may not understand how significant that milestone is to me. Let me share with you why that is the case.

After I had the orchiectomy I was told that I was cancer free. We had expected that I would no longer need to worry about cancer and that I would be able to go on with my life. And so I did. I continued training for a triathlon, my wife and I got pregnant, life went on. Until less than six months later we found out that the cancer wasn’t actually gone, it had actually spread (read that post here).

At the six month mark after chemo both Julie and I were worried. Last time I didn’t make it past the six month mark. So when I did this time, there was celebration. And now I’ve made it to the one year mark. One year I have officially been in remission.

Now the statistics are in my favor (click here for a more in depth article about Testicular Cancer survival rates). Evidently the survival rate for someone like me with a regional cancer summary stage (meaning that the cancer had spread to nearby lymph nodes or tissues) is 96% after 5 years. That’s a good number. That number encourages me. If I’ve made it one year without a reoccurrence, then I’m looking good.

It’s been a journey, one that isn’t finished. I’m definitely looking forward to the many years I have ahead of me.

One Year Later

One year ago, this happened (sorry for the video quality).

September 19, 2014 was my last day of chemotherapy. One year ago today I finished one of the toughest and most challenging journey’s in my life. Three months of essentially killing my body and then bringing it back again was an insane way to spend my summer. But I’m thankful that a year later I am still cancer free.

My journey isn’t finished. I still have regular checkups, chest x-rays, blood work, still working out the anemia thing (which by the way is looking better). But I’m thankful that I’ve made it a year without having to even consider doing chemo again.

Thank you again for all the prayers and well wishes. I know that updating this blog hasn’t been on my radar recently. I’m hoping in the near future to change that. I’ll explain that in a different blog post.

Until then, enjoy the celebration!

Banner of Love

banquet“He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.”
-Bride, Song of Solomon 2:4

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 Whenever I read this, I’m reminded of a song I grew up singing:

He brought me to His banqueting table, his banner over me is love.
He brought me to His banqueting table, his banner over me is love.
He brought me to His banqueting table, his banner over me is love.
His banner over me is love!

Maybe you’ve sung the song as well and as you read the words of the song find yourself humming along.

When I read this, I found myself questioning God, “When did I stop remembering You are Love?” It’s easy to go through life forgetting that God actually loves me. When I’m faced with adversity, I end up questioning God’s love. When I’m faced with pain, I question God’s love. When I’m faced with conflict, I question God’s love.

The love of God is one of those things we take for granted. I would say it’s because we don’t see God, face to face,  on a regular basis. However, we even take the love of people we see face to face for granted. So that can’t be the reason.

I think the reason we forget the love of God is because we lack that same love. When we have a conflict with someone, it’s very difficult to love them. When we find ourselves in pain because of something someone else did, we struggle to love them. Our inability to love others in hard times inhibits our ability to recognize God’s love in hard times.

So the question then becomes, how do we remember the love of God in those times? In a simple word, obedience. I know, tough word to swallow. Who really likes obedience? But here’s the thing; obedience to God reminds us of His love. Think about it, if we are in a conflict with another person and Matthew 5:23-24 comes to mind:

Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

Then do it. In the process of working out the conflict we realize that God loves and cares for us because He cares about our earthly relationships. When I forget God’s love, that’s the time I need to obey.

Anemia – Part 2


Last week I mentioned that when I had my blood work done things were a bit weird. Just to update everyone, late last week my doctor called me in regards to my second blood draw to let me know how it looked. He told me that my blood was still off, but (sometimes I love that word!), the numbers are heading back in the right direction indicating that I was fighting a virus.

This is good news, however he said I’m still anemic, but he did tell me my hemoglobin is heading back in the right direction. So now I continue the mental battle: is my tiredness due to the anemia or have I been pushing myself? With my triathlon coming up in little less than a week, we shall see what happens.

Enjoying Adversity


“The only thing that will enable me to enjoy adversity is the acute sense of eagerness of allowing the life of the Son of God to evidence itself in me. No matter how difficult something may be, I must say, ‘Lord, I am delighted to obey You in this.’ Instantly, the Son of God will move to the forefront of my life, and will manifest in my body that which glorifies Him.” – Oswald Chambers

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What is adversity? Merriam-Webster defines adversity as “a difficult situation or condition : misfortune or tragedy.” In other words, it’s a tough situation that we may find ourselves in. When I read this the other day, it hit me pretty hard. As a pastor I deal with adversity all the time.

If you have a pastor in your life, ask them about adversity. You’ll find that most pastors deal with adversity in their churches. People pick apart their sermons, chastise their decisions, ignore their needs, and expect them to be at their beckoning call. Adversity comes with the territory.

Yet, here Chambers is saying that I need rejoice in adversity. I reminded what Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:16:

Rejoice always.

Rejoice when I face adversity because it means I  must fall on my knees and beg God for strength. Rejoice when someone chastises me because it means I must lean on Jesus for encouragement. Rejoice in all adversity because it sends me to Jesus.



It’s been awhile since I updated this blog. I haven’t even thought of it since January. It’s been a rough few months still adjusting to a baby in the house, finishing up an evangelistic series, and training for a triathlon. The blog fell by the wayside. But now, well, I have some news. I’m anemic.

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“Are you fighting a virus?” The words popped out of my oncologists as he entered the room. I was slightly caught off guard. I had been feeling just fine, just had a little runny nose which I figured was due to the pollen in the air (it is spring after all). He must have seen my questioning look and continued, “You’re blood work is a little wonky. A couple of the areas are flipped that shouldn’t be.” At the same time I found out that my kidney function isn’t exactly working properly, “You need to stop drinking,” he quipped (he knows I don’t drink).

I thought back and realized my daughter has been dealing with some sort of sickness for the last week. Coughing, runny nose, you know, cold stuff. I mentioned that to him and he said that this was probably the problem and that I was fighting a virus. So he scheduled a blood draw for the following week (which was yesterday).

But that wasn’t all the news. He also informed me that I am anemic. Not slightly anemic, not just barely anemic, but anemic. Enough so that he informed me that I needed to get more Iron in my diet ASAP. Everything started to click in my mind and things started falling into place. Over the last few months I’ve been trying to get back in shape to be ready for the Onion Man Triathlon at the end of May. Yet I have been struggling with my breathing quite a bit. I always seem to be out of breath, and I have been tired a lot. It was if a light turned on.

Of course he had some recommendations for me. His usual recommendation for people is meat. As well as knowing that I don’t drink, he also knows I’m a vegetarian, so he had two suggestions: over-the-counter iron supplement, cast-iron skillet. I’ve been clamoring to buy a cast-iron skillet for years, and now I had the prescription to do so, “Oh Julie. My Doctor says I need a cast-iron skillet” (I’ve been waiting years to say something like that).

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What is a anemia? Well you can see from the definition in the picture above that it is a condition where there is either a reduction of red blood cells or reduction in size of hemoglobin. Simply put, the red blood cells and hemoglobin carry oxygen to the various parts of the body that needs it. It’s extremely important for athletes to have larger red blood cells because they will carry more oxygen to the parts of the body that need it during exercise.

(Side note: this is why some cyclists in the past have done blood transfusions during a cycling race. The blood was taken while they had been training at altitude and the red blood cells could hold more oxygen and was put on ice until it was needed. During the race in one of the evenings between stages they would do a transfusion so the cyclists would be ready for the next stage.)

Anemia is not cool. There are many people that deal with anemia, and quite a few of them are vegetarians. It’s harder to get the iron in your blood on a vegetarian diet if you don’t know what to eat. Legumes (lentils, kidney beans), Grains (quinoa, oatmeal), Vegetables (collard greens, swiss chard) are all excellent carriers of iron (Here is a great site by the way dealing with iron for vegetarians).

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Being an athlete and loving triathlons, this was discouraging news. However, I felt as if there was hope. I would start the iron supplement, get the cast-iron skillet, add more foods with iron to my diet and be back to normal by the triathlon. My doctor looked at me and said, “Don’t expect it to happen that quickly. It could take a little longer than that.”

Translation: Don’t expect to break any records at the triathlon and take it easy. That’s what I’ve been planning to do all along. Now that just got a bit harder. I’m determined to compete, but it’s not going to be at a high level, it’s going to be to finish, and to finish strong. I’m a cancer survivor, I will not let this stand in my way.

Wellness Exam


The church I work for has a wellness incentive. If you exercise (and record it) at least three times a week for 30 minutes each time, fill out a wellness profile annually, and get a physical exam every three years (every year if over 40, I got awhile for that yet) then they will decrease the cost of your health insurance. As an exercise buff it’s pretty easy for me.

Yet, there is this cancer thing hanging over my head. I’ve been off chemo for almost four months and yet I have only lost 2 pounds. It’s rather frustrating because I know it isn’t all muscle. And just as luck would have it this week was time for my physical exam. My doctor puts me through the ringer, checking my lymph nodes, blood pressure, turn and cough, the general physical exam. Then comes time for the blood work.

Thankfully I had thought ahead and remembered that it needed to be a fasting blood draw, so I hadn’t eaten any food that morning. Got the blood work done and the next day received the call. The results: slightly anemic (white blood count down a little bit), good cholesterol down from the last physical, and bad cholesterol up, by quite a bit. Enough that the doctor told me to get plenty of exercise and eat better.

I kind of lost it. Not on the phone, it was after the phone call had ended. What do you think I’ve been doing since getting off chemo? I’ve been exercising 4-5 times a week (cycling, running, swimming), limiting my caloric intact (about 1,900 calories a day), and I still had high cholesterol. Ugh. Not the news I wanted.

My wife finally just told me, “Channel that anger and keep working at it.” And it was then I remembered what my oncologist said, “It will take time. Keep at it, the weight will drop.” So, I’m going to keep at it. I will get back to where I was before cancer took over in 2013. It may take longer than last time, but I am determined.

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