Jason Paredes is the Lead Pastor of Fielder Church, a multi-campus church in the middle of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex with a growing congregation and a God-sized vision to serve the community and beyond. Ever since I first heard him preach, I’ve wanted to find out more from him about praying and fasting, which is such an integral part of his Gospel-centered ministry. Jason is also a husband and father (of six!) expectantly waiting to hear from God as he leads his family and church through 2020. He’s got some great insight and wisdom to share with us today!
During this episode we discuss:
Jason Paredes: 25 seconds away from running up to my front, and I haven’t heard a word from the Lord, like nothing, and I’m going well, that just wasted my whole run. I could have been listening to my music, could have been enjoying myself. And right, literally about five seconds before I run up to my driveway. I felt like the Lord rushed upon me. And He said, Jason, I just wanted you to long to hear My voice.
Jake Enriquez: Oh man! How many of us can honestly say that we’re longing to hear God’s voice? Join me now in this episode, episode number 82 with Pastor Jason Paredes, “Waiting on God.” Ooh, let’s go!
Jake Enriquez: Welcome back to Press and Reach. My name is Jake Enriquez, your host. You know, we’re just out here walking out our faith and encouraging others along the way to do the same. So get up in this beautiful morning and let’s go walk this thing out.
Jake Enriquez: Welcome back to Press and Reach. My name’s Jake Enriquez, your host. What a joy it is to be with you again in this beautiful morning. And, today we do have a special guest friend who’s come in to, to just share a little time with us and man, we’re so thankful pastor Jason Paredes. Did I say that right? [You did good] all right. So pastor Jason, Hey man, welcome to the show. [Glad to be here] All right. Hey, listen, man. I know you’re a busy guy. You’re always out there, working in the vineyard, you know, and we’re thankful for that.
Jake Enriquez: And just so grateful that you would just come and hang out with us for a little while. Okay. [Pleasure to be here] So man, just kick back and relax. We’re just going to have a conversation. Is that all right? [That’s perfect] All right. Man, listen, let’s just get straight into it. You know, today I’m thinking about 2020, you know, when we started, this year, I remember hearing some guys’, preachers, messages. I hear all this stuff about, you know, 2020 the year. This is the year man. That clear cut vision. Right I hear so many people talking about this is their year and all that good stuff, but here we are, man. It just don’t look the same as what people were describing in the beginning, you know?
Jason Paredes: Yeah, the great irony, right? The year that should be the clearest is the foggiest it’s ever been.
Jake Enriquez: I’m telling you, it really is man. And you know, as I think about it and I think about some of my friends and some of my family members and people that get to spend time with, and man, I tell you we’re tired. Oh brother, we’re tired. Wore out, tried to do way too much. I think about, you know, not only the, the business world, cause you know, it’s affected everybody out here, you know, not only I see a lot of small businesses really struggling, man, we see major companies really folding up shop, you know, and not only that, the social unrest that comes with it, man, there’s just so much, you know, and I’m just going to ask you, you know, just to start us off in that, man, what would you say? What would you say to the, to the family, the church family out here today, just to start it off, to encourage them during this time? What would you say just to encourage us in this time right now?
Jason Paredes: I think, I think perspective is everything. So I’m one of those preachers, that the beginning of the year said, man, I, I have high expectations and I, I just felt it from, for me 2019 was a tough year. We had a lot of death around, and when we lost one of the pastors on our staff, another one of the leading pastors lost a spouse, another one of the staff members lost their spouse and just, actually we had three staff members lose their spouses and one staff member pass. And as the shepherd of the flock, that was heavy. You know, I carry that with me and it was, it was a draining year and there’s a part where toward the end of it, I felt like I was just limping and waiting for 2020, you know, this, this new time to come.
Jason Paredes: And at the end of the year, I just felt the Lord say, fairly frequently in prayer times, “Be expectant. Be expectant for 2020.” And so I entered the year going all right, it’s a new year. I’m ready to see You move God. But that’s driven my perspective during the entire year. So COVID hits and that doesn’t undo what the Lord said – Be expectant. I’m doing something, be ready. And so I think there’s one of two ways you can look at COVID. You could look at it as like, holy cow, you’ve just disrupted all my plans. Everything I was going to try to do is now impossible. Business is shifting. Church is shifting. The tectonic plates of life are shifting, and that can feel very unsettling. And “woe is me, why is this happening?” Or, you can say God’s up to something, ’cause He doesn’t shift plates unless He’s about to open up new doors and just because of that word that I got early on from the year I’ve approached this whole time going, “all right, this is now the season of opportunity.”
Jason Paredes: God is opening up doors that I never would have been able to open on my own before that. God is creating opportunity. God is going to stretch us and move us, and enter us in to new places that my brain never would have gotten there because we’re kind of always doing the same old, same old. And I mean, even in our church, I’ve seen, I’ve seen some phenomenal things take place. We have multiplied our online presence exponentially because we were forced to, we were forced to give energy and attention to online services and do it completely differently. Think outside the box, we never would have had margin to give that to it. And our, our virtual presence has, it has exponentially increased, which is now reaping some of the rewards we’re gathering back together. Plenty of people who are going, wow, I never knew about you, but we just tuned in a and now we’ve come to join together with your body. We have people who, during the whole COVID season, they started watching online service. They came to faith in Christ Jesus. They started joining a discipleship group. They were just baptized a week and a half ago at our baptism celebration. And the first time they ever even set foot in any one of our buildings was like a week or two ago. I mean, it just, it’s crazy to see what God’s done, we never would have reached these people.
Jason Paredes: It’s forced us to think differently about how we staff, about where we give energy and attention to. About how we identify, “What does it mean to be the church?” What does it mean to be, to do our work the way that we do it? And so I think as a, as anybody would be listening to this, your perspective will determine everything. You can take an optimistic or pessimistic approach to it. The optimistic approach is, “God’s always up to something good.” He’s, He’s moving. God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. And that’s not all things, minus a pandemic. I mean, it’s ALL things He works together for. Good. And so if that’s true, then God is using this for good. What’s the good? I gotta have my eyes open for it.
Jason Paredes: The pessimistic approach is, “All my plans are ruined, wrecked.” You know, I got nothing. You start withering up, you stop being creative, you stop innovating because you’re starting to, starting to self-protect. And so I’m in the mindset of, be expectant. God’s doing something in all this. He’s not wasting this pandemic at all. He’s multiplying things. And that goes for business. It goes for church. It goes for faith. I’ve had more gospel opportunities in conversations with my neighbors because they’re just out more and they’re, they don’t have the same, busy-ness they used to have. And so just look, look for these opportunities, look for these doors, look for these things. Optimistic approach, because of what our faith drives us to believe. I think it will serve all of us well.
Jake Enriquez: And you know, I hear you say that pastor, and in all fairness, you’re a pastor and your job is to feed the flock, right, and lead people, you know. And when I think about guys in the, in the business world, I know I already know – ’cause I, you know, I hang with a bunch of guys that might be, I could just hear them now say, “It’s easy for Pastor Jason to say that. He, you know, he’s, you know, all he has to do is work on Sunday, you know Or, “He doesn’t have to get out here like me” and do this, or do that. Whether it’s the business world, whether whatever that might be – sales, putting up with customers, dealing with customers, making those things go forward. But I’m going to help. I want to help that out just a minute, because I want to, I want to help you, get to touch the people real quick. You are not only the pastor, but you’re a married man, right? [Mhm] So you, you’re a dad also to kiddos. How many kids you have?
Jason Paredes: I’ve got six kiddos.
Jake Enriquez: Six kiddos! So here’s a man. Not only is he a pastor, but he’s a married man. He’s a dad. How many hours a day do you think you work?
Jason Paredes: A day? You know, 10 to 12.
Jake Enriquez: 10, 12 hours. Okay. So you’re right in the mix with anybody and everybody and your message, you know, I hear you saying to remain optimistic and look for the good, and that could be a hard thing. You know, especially if somebody just lost, you know, their business. You were talking about a loss earlier – about family, talking about friends, church. So, but I want people to know right now that there is no, there is no pass. Nobody gets a pass because you’re a pastor or something. So you kind of said it earlier, you gotta practice what you preach. Yeah. Right. So how does one get to hearing that, believing in that, understanding that optimism when they’re sitting in the middle of something so rough? Because you know, like we say, there’s a saying that says, Hey man, it’s hard, you know, to sell the dream when you’re sitting in the middle of a nightmare. So how does someone come to that, you know?
Jason Paredes: Yeah. And I think it’s a, it’s a valid question people would have because you know, you see what you see and Hey, you’re still doing your church thing. You got your virtual services and all, but, yeah. Ministry is just like any other it’s, there’s a, there’s a business aspect to everything that we do. I have employees I want to keep employed. Our whole funding is through people who work and choose to give to the church. So if they’re not working, they’re not giving. So, just like every business, the church as well takes a hit in these kinds of times. And you know, we have, we have stressful meetings. What are we going to do? What are we going to give our finances toward? Do we have to restructure? Are all the present staff that we have the ones we need for the future?
Jason Paredes: And those are hard – these are people, and we’re in the people business, like any other business that’s out there. And so, and you know, I mean, honestly, you should do a study right now, if anyone is, wondering whether this affects the church the same way it does other businesses. How many, literally, how many pastors are suicidal right now? How many are ready to leave their church because they feel so discouraged? They feel so overwhelmed. They’re, they don’t even know what success looks like anymore. And it’s a, it’s a difficult season. That’s kind of my point is, in, in any given business or entity or work, whether it’s for profit or nonprofit, whatever it may be, we can come to it and we can focus in on all the things that we’ve lost or we can focus in on all the opportunities we’ve been given.
Jason Paredes: And that’s a choice that we make. And I think about, you know, right now as a church, we’re going through a sermon series about Joseph in the book of Genesis. And you know, I think about Joseph rotting away in a prison cell after he’s been falsely accused of propositioning Potiphar’s wife, when she was the one who propositioned him. And, after that, he was before that he was sold into slavery from his own brothers, because they were jealous about the coat he had and the position he had and the love he had from his father. Here he is. And he could wallow in self pity. And woe is me. I don’t deserve any of this. Look, I’m staring down prison cells. Or he could say, God, I’ll remain faithful to you. And I’ll look for opportunities. And here comes some dreams. Well, I know my God’s big.
Jason Paredes: So maybe this is the door He’s opening up. He interprets the cup bearer’s dream. It’s right. He gets completely forgotten for two more years. And yet he does not grow discouraged. He says, “God, You’re with me. And You’re here.” And then Pharaoh comes up and he immediately says, I can interpret it. I got it. I got God with me. And that’s how God liberates him because he’s constantly looking for opportunity. He’s not saying, “Woe is me, forget it. I’m not going before Pharaoh, man. I’m just, it’ll end up the same way. I’ll be stuck here in this prison cell. And look is my life. This is, I guess, where I’m going to be for the rest of it.”
Jason Paredes: No! He didn’t do any of that stuff. The worst possible situation and he’s still looking for the optimistic side. Where’s the opportunity? It’s Pharaoh? I’m in. [Yeah] Put me before him. I’ll interpret his dreams. I’ll tell him how he should run his country, and God blesses it. Why? Because he believes his God has the power to do it. So it doesn’t matter what business we’re in. We can still believe our God is supernaturally powerful. And that’s what gives us our optimism.
Jake Enriquez: All right. That’s awesome! So, so we have a choice. Everybody has a choice, right? Right. And to be responsible for that, as a matter of fact, you know, and you talking about Joseph, man, I love that brother, man, that story is a beautiful story. You know, you always see that same theme – “and God was with Joseph.” And if we see that in the Word for Joseph, we can remember that for us. “And God was with Jason”. “and God was with Jake”. God is always with us.
Jason Paredes: Even the name, “Emmanuel – God with us”, our God is here, present. That’s what Christ is.
Jake Enriquez: Amen, amen. So as we move in that, and I think about, you know, guys that are moving forward because you know what, man, it’s not everybody just giving up. No, there are a lot of people pressing through, going through remembering, you know, that God is with us as we walk through it. But at this time also, man, you know, some of the things that I say, you know, we gotta be responsible for our own actions. You talk about choice when things like this happen and the pressure comes, you know, they say “pressure busts pipes,” right? But here it is.
Jake Enriquez: And I see a lot of times on social media, when people start getting involved in the arguments, right? Now, this comes from believers. Yeah. And we’re, you know, when I look at like, Oh, my thing is, Hey man, you know, what is the old saying about when, what Moms said, if you don’t have nothing nice to say, don’t say nothing at all. ‘Cause you know, when you put stuff out there, it just stays out there and it causes more and more division. And the enemy starts winning those things because he loves division. He loves discord, but God hates discord. [right] Can’t stand it. Right? But easily we get swayed. And then people start engaging in that. What would be something we would say to somebody right now who feels just that he’s got to respond or they got to respond to something that somebody just said and they find themselves getting engulfed in that? What would you say to them right there?
Jason Paredes: You know, man, it is probably – as devastating as this has been on people’s employment and business and economy and all – the division has been the one that’s been the deepest scarring, I think in our country right now. And, and I, and I think you said something a second ago, you know, pressure burst pipes. It also launches rockets. Pressure is what creates the movement for the future. And I think again, going, going back, broken horseshoe, but I, I really feel like the same truth holds true here. You, how you approach even conflict, even discord and disunity. Do we approach it as an opportunity or as a disaster?
Jason Paredes: Because I look at our own church and within our own church and you – you’re familiar with this – and we’ve had hard conversations about race and reconciliation and what, what are the opportunities that God is bringing to us? And, and what are the dangers? And the, you know, it’s exacerbated by the political environment that we have and the upcoming election. And, and we’ve, we’ve had some tough conversations even with the division in our own congregation, as people have very different opinions about it. And I think if, if every single one of us individuals can look at this and say, okay, but what’s the opportunity God is bringing us here? He’s forcing us to talk about things that we might not ever talk about before. Now, we can all get along if we just keep our politics to the side and keep our view of race and religion to the side; you know, we’re just going to, we’re going to be light and fluffy and shallow people and never get into that hard stuff.
Jason Paredes: Yeah, we might, we might be amicable. We might get along, but we don’t know each other. We’re not really brothers and sisters in Christ at that moment. This is forcing that place of conversation. And I told our church this, and I preached a sermon about this particular issue about, gospel and racial reconciliation. and I just said, you know, at first I was really troubled by this. I’m looking over social media, my congregation, and I’m going, holy cow! I mean, I’ve never seen such polarized views in my life. What is wrong with our people?! And then it dawned on me, we’ve been praying that we would be a radically diverse church and that we would have unity in the midst of diversity. And if we really have radical diversity, we’re going to have different opinions. If we all have the exact same opinion, that means we’re all the same kind of person.
Jason Paredes: That’s not displaying the splendor of God. We should have Republicans and Democrats. We should have black, white, Hispanic, Asian, we should have all. And they’re all gonna have very different views about things. And that’s something, if we look at it, right, it’s something to celebrate. And so when I see my brother, my sister, who has a very different view than me, my immediate response doesn’t have to be hatred or “you’re wrong”. It’s “Hey, praise God,” here’s a brother or sister who’s got a different view than me, which shows me we can both be followers of Jesus. Now, I got to hear, because this is my brother and my sister here. What are they saying? What don’t I know? And I’m just listening and absorbing and I want to make sure I have a really broad view.
Jason Paredes: And then I’m going to earn the right, if I’m really listening – and Jake, you have a different view, Jake, maybe than I do about something. I don’t know. And you, you share that view. If I’m really listening, and I love you as a brother. Okay. Praise God. And you got a different view than me. We, we’re part of one body, one church. All right, well, I want to hear you. When you realize I’m listening, genuinely listening, you’re going to go, “Well Jason, tell me, what do you think about that? And it creates now a conversation where I’m able to express, but I’m not forcing my opinion down your throat, because I’m really listening. And so I’d say to anybody who is right there going, I got to type out that, that Facebook post, I got to put that tweet out there. No, stop. Listen. Do the job of listening, especially if it’s coming from another brother or sister in Christ. And if it’s coming from the world, always ensure that you take that with the right perspective. The world’s going to be the world. And they may, may or may not come with, and likely will not come with, a gospel perspective. But when you hear it from the church, that’s a brother or sister. Now they could be wrong, but at least you should listen. And when you listen first, then you’re going to be able to respond with love.
Jake Enriquez: Yeah. I like that, man. Yeah. And listening, by the way, takes, takes discipline and self control. Self control, by the way. That’s what we’re going to talk about next, but I’ll tell you what, man, we’re going to take a really quick break and we’ll be right back.
Jake Enriquez: Hey guys, it’s Jake. Hey, I just want to remind you to go back to iTunes, subscribe, rate, and review. Would you do me a favor? Go write a review on iTunes. I would love to hear from you. This is what helps me in order to hear from you to know how we’re doing, what we could do more of to make your experience here better. You can always go back to Press and Reach dot com as well, sign up for the newsletter. Because once again, I just want to hear from you. Now may the good Lord bless you and keep you as you go.
Jake Enriquez: Welcome back from the break. We’re just talking to Pastor Jason. He was talking about listening to others, and we’re talking about the differences in each other, you know, taking the time to hear each other out and what a beautiful thing it is, man, as a matter of fact, just to be in conversation with others, because as much as we all want to see things our own way, we didn’t come up in each other’s own house. Right. It’s somebody else’s house. We didn’t come up the same way. So, you know, just taking the time to listen to others, but you’re talking about listening. So I’m going to take us down this next, this next little path, and those are spiritual disciplines. And so what would you say are some of the spiritual disciplines that you would encourage people, you know, to, to engage in? You know, man, we’re not so good at some of these spiritual disciplines and we should invite more of them into our lives. But what would you say to start with?
Jason Paredes: You know, I think, this is something that the Lord constantly reveals to me, who I listened to and what I listened to matter immensely. Okay. Cause just listening, doesn’t always do the good that we need it to do. So, you know, I I’m, especially in this season of political and racial division that we have, oftentimes we have one news outlet that we listen to and that’s the only source of news. And when we do that, we get very myopic in our view of things. And so narrow-minded, we have blinders on and we can’t see anyone else’s opinion. That’s where so much of the division comes from. You must be wrong, because you don’t think the way that I think and the way I think, it makes total sense because everyone that I listened to is saying the same thing.
Jason Paredes: And so I challenged our people, you know, just make sure you listen to the Word of God as much as if not more than any other individual source, you know, it, it should be what paints your perspective of life. You should be listening to God speak. And that, that comes through reading the scriptures. It comes through praying. It comes through listening and so much of prayer. And I try, I try to help people with this praying is supposed to be just as much listening as it is talking. A lot of times we think prayer before God means I tell God all my needs. Yeah. And that’s, that’s a very anemic view of prayer, at least biblically. So much of prayer should be, “God, speak. Your servant is listening. I want to hear from You, so I’m going to be still and I’m going to let Your spirit speak to me.” And are You gonna speak to me in Your Word?
Jason Paredes: You’re going to bring God’s word. You’re going to speak to me about a situation. And I’m listening. I’m journaling thoughts. I’m, I’m taking all that stuff in, because I’m letting You speak to me. And when you let God speak to you through His word through times of meditation and prayer and seeking God and fasting – when He, when He fills you in, He gives you a broad enough perspective that you can handle all these other news outlets coming in and all these other perspectives from people, because it’s all framed within a biblical and scriptural mindset versus trying to fit the scriptural mindset into a worldview that’s handed to you by CNN or by Fox news or by some other outlet that’s kind of controlling every bit of how you view life. And so I think who you listen to is very, very important.
Jake Enriquez: Who we listen to, and taking in the word of God. Okay Pastor, when I, when I started, I don’t know, just studying the word of God, just reading the word of God…long time ago, man. I was like, man, you know, and I know some of the guys are like this now – “I’m not a reader.” I fold it up. Or I used to tell people, man, if I couldn’t sleep, all I had to do was open up the Bible. I go straight to sleep, man. You know, just boom. And buddy of mine told me, he said, “Man, Jake, you gotta, you gotta pray, man, before you, before you go through there reading the Word.” Man, he, and you know, he helped me and walked with me a little bit and he said, man, ask God for it, ask God to show you these things. And so you just said something a while ago, you said journaling your thoughts.
Jake Enriquez: So when I started reading, in the word of God, I would see some of these verses, I don’t know what they mean, but I know they stood out to me. You know, they stood out to me. So I would take a little index card, write them down. I don’t know anything about meditating at the time. I don’t know what any of that means. I’m just, you know, taking it and, and throughout my day I would think about that one verse, what does that mean? What does it say? What is God trying to say through that verse? And you know, I’d be on a break or something. I’d take that card out and look at it. And next thing you know, you know, you just kind of memorize it because you look at it so much, but you know, I might be on that one card for a week.
Jake Enriquez: When I learned it, it was, you know, for me, the first one I ever for me was just Proverbs 4:23, probably because I was such an angry dude, you know, “Guard your heart, Jake, with all vigilance for from it flow the Springs of life.” And what does that mean? But then I started looking at that, you know, when I’d be upset about stuff, man, don’t let that stuff get to you. You know, the Springs of life come from our spirit, our heart, you know. And what do we want that to look like? I’m just using that verse for a second there. But when we talk about reading the word of God, and if you could encourage somebody who doesn’t really read the word of God? Hey, he’ll come to church every Sunday, maybe serve, what’s it like to really get into the meat of it, and how does somebody get there though, you know? What would you say?
Jason Paredes: Man, that’s a great question! I remember the first time I read, I was a youth pastor at a church and we had a board game and one of the questions was, “Find somebody..” it was like one of those bingo games. You gotta find people who have green eyes, you know, whatever, find somebody who’s read the Bible all the way through. Of course I’m the youth pastor. So everybody comes to me and I’m like, I got to confess, I’ve never read the Bible all the way through. And the reason was the same thing. I tried, man, but I got to Leviticus and I died! I couldn’t, I couldn’t get past it. And you know, get to the minor prophets and you’re like, I don’t know what you guys are saying. You’re smoking something! But you know, you, you get through it.
Jason Paredes: It’s just so hard to understand sometimes. And so we dismiss it and we miss the reality that God’s word isn’t just a book. And that’s where I think, you know, you’re, you’re touching on that thing too, you know. Hebrews 4 talks about the word of God is living and active and it’s sharper than any double edged sword, able to divide soul and spirit, bone and marrow. And so there’s a living side to God’s word that it, it grabs us and speaks to us, but we got to let, we got to let it be living and active in us. And so we treat it differently than we treat another. It’s not a novel that you just read through and, “All right, I did it. I read the Bible.”
Jason Paredes: You got to stop and ask the same, same types of questions. What is this trying to say to me? I was a missionary in Argentina for a couple of years. And one of the things that we would do is we would start Bible study groups in homes. Okay. And these people, the majority of them, had, and these were minority groups in around Buenos Aires, Argentina, who didn’t have any access to God’s word, any history with it. You know, we’d just given them a Bible and they’re trying to interpret it. So they’re reading it. Same thing. Like I don’t, I don’t, I didn’t even know there was a dude named Amos or Hosea or whatever. And so you read a passage and then you just stop and ask, you know – a small passage. Don’t try to take the whole thing. Just a small passage, and ask basic questions.
Jason Paredes: Like, what do you think this is saying? You may be right. You may be wrong. What do you, what don’t you understand about this? Well, there’s a whole lot I don’t understand about it, but you’re starting to kind of think through it. What does this teach you about humanity? What does this teach you about God? What should you do differently because of the verse that you just read or the passage you just read? It just forces you to think about the scriptures differently. You would never do that reading a novel. It’s not like you’re reading “The Chronicles of Narnia” and you’re gonna stop and go, “What should I do? What is this teaching me about…?” You know, you don’t, you don’t read the novel that way, but the Bible, because it’s living and active, you approach it differently. And there are times too, when you’re just, over the course of seasons of reading the Bible that way slowly and meticulously, you start seeing connection points.
Jason Paredes: “Okay. Oh, yeah yeah!” I remember I read something, in Hosea, but it was referring back to something in Moses and, “Okay, now I remember reading about that,” and yeah, you do it again and again and again and again, and all of a sudden the connection points start to happen and you know, it makes more sense. And so I’ve, I’ve read the Bible through dozens of times, and I have a yearly “read through the Bible” plan that I do. And I’m a pastor. I’m seminary trained. I’ve read through it a number of times, and I still get something new every single time I read through the Bible. Cause I’m like, Whoa, dude, I never saw that in there. I’ve read it 14 times. I’ve never seen that in there until this morning. God revealed it to me. Yeah. But that’s what it means that it’s living and active.
Jake Enriquez: Sure, sure. So the more, the more word that we get, the better off it’s going to be. So I think that, one of the, one of the first spiritual disciplines is finding a way to get to that Word. You know, finding a way to make the word so much more a part of our lives and you know, a little bit at a time, a little bit at a time and you can’t beat anybody up, rush anybody. “Hey man, you gotta…” No, man, you gotta take it a little bit at a time. But you know, I often hear you talk about praying and fasting and if we’re going to be honest, man, I don’t believe that our prayer life is where it should be. I know I speak for me. I should say my prayer life’s not where it needs to be, man.
Jake Enriquez: So how do we, as a, as brothers and sisters out here find more way. ‘Cause you were talking about praying is not just talking, it’s listening. And when I hear that and I’m like, okay, so how does somebody listen for God And you say through his word through meditation, like we were talking about earlier, but I think sometimes people expect something different. Like God’s going to just show them everything – “Here it is.” I think as people today, we would rather God just give it to us in a text: “Go do this.”
Jason Paredes: I’m still waiting for that text. I would love it!
Jake Enriquez: It’d be a lot easier! So those spiritual disciplines of praying and fasting that I hear you talk about. Tell me what that does for us, and how does that get us out of the stuff we started with, which is that big, noisy environment out here. Talk about the praying and fasting part.
Jason Paredes: You know, I think this is some – and thank you for asking by the way – some huge in my life. It’s something the Lord has been revealing to me over the decades of following Him.
Jason Paredes: I remember God, He showed me what, what the heartbeat behind it all is through this weird incident that happened to me. So I, I like to go running in the mornings and I I’ll go out and do you know, three to five mile run or something. And so this particular morning I was about to go for about a 40 minute run. And I had my earphones in my, my headset in, my earbuds in, and I was about to go for a run. I had my music going, I was going to be listening to some Lecrae just going to be running and it was gonna be great. And I felt like the Lord before I went out to run say, “Nope, don’t, don’t take your music. I want to speak to you today.” And it was just like, it was as a small, subtle like, “Is that really You, God, or is it just some weird feeling I have right now? What is that?”
Jason Paredes: And so I said, all right, I’ll, I’ll do it. I took them out and I started for my jog and you know, it’s, that can be kind of boring. So then you’re just running out there and I’m 10 minutes into my run and I’m going all right, I’m ready. God, speak to me. Yeah, nothing. I’m still running 20 minutes in. It’s time to turn around and like, all right, God, I’m waiting. What You got? Nothing. [Yeah] 30 minutes. I, you know, I’m halfway back home now, nothing. 35 minutes, 38 minutes, 39 minutes. Now I’m about 25 seconds away from running up to my front, and I haven’t heard a word from the Lord, like, nothing. And I’m going well, that just wasted my whole run.
Jason Paredes: I could have been listening to my music, could have been enjoying myself. And right, literally about five seconds before I run into my driveway, I felt like the Lord rush upon me. And He said, “Jason, I just wanted you to long to hear My voice.” [Oh man, yeah.] And it was, it was as if He was just pressing to say, “I want you to be hungry for Me. I want you to long to hear My voice. That’s all I need from you. Because when you long to hear My voice, I’ll speak to you.” [Wow!] And it was, it was something about that that just kind of seared in this idea that God moves in our lives in ways that force us to long to hear His voice, where he creates an appetite for us to hear his voice. That incident drove my understanding of fasting and praying.
Jason Paredes: So again, we approach prayer oftentimes of God, I’m going to tell you what I need, which is in so much arrogance when you frame it that way, right? But it’s generally how we practice. Right? God, I need You to do this, and I need You do this. It’d be really nice if You did this. All right. Done. I put in my request and gave You my Christmas list. Now we’re good. When really God is saying, I want you to…My greatest gift for you, child, is Me. I want to give Myself to you, but you gotta long for Me, you gotta long for My voice. So there has to be this hunger to say, God, I want to hear from You. Not just tell You what You need to hear from me. God, I want to hear from You. Fasting – what I’ve discovered – is really just about creating a longing to hear from God.
Jason Paredes: So we most hear from God typically during hard times, during crisis, during difficult moments. If you look at most people over the course of their life, when they have the greatest epiphanies, it was in their darkest moments. They lost a loved one. They were going through a divorce. They lost their job. Something tragic happened to them. Just something, in a bout of depression, something like that, where there was a breakthrough in that moment because they were desperate to hear from God, just because of the crisis. Well, fasting is about creating suffering for the sake of hearing God. It’s about saying, I’m not gonna wait for a moment of suffering to come to my life. I’m going to create suffering because I know for whatever reason that I can’t comprehend, I listen better when I’m suffering. I’m more desperate. And so you go, especially in multi-day fast where you’re creating suffering and desperation to say, God, I want to hear from you.
Jason Paredes: And if this is the avenue to do so, I’m going to go through that. And here’s the, probably the, the biggest, “aha” I’ve had during our seasons. And I typically, my pattern is I have a, a season of fasting, usually in preparation for Easter, like during the Lenten season, where one day a week I’ll do a 24-hour fast. And then, which is usually a “water only” fast where I just go 24 hours, and pray. And then during that season, we typically have a “staff fast”, where we go for three days where we just, you know, it’s just water, Bible, journal, maybe a guitar, and we just – we’re alone with the Lord. That’s usually somewhere in March.
Jason Paredes: And in the summertime, our lead team gets away for anywhere between a four to five day fast where it’s same thing. We’re just listening to the Lord. And when we get away somewhere else and we’re able to just be silent, we shut off phones. We have no internet access, no communication with our family, nothing. It’s just us and the Lord. And what I’ve discovered in those seasons is that God has been speaking to me this whole time. I just could never hear his voice until I shut everything out. It’s kind of like, if you’re, if you’re driving down the road and you got your radio on, but you got the windows down and there’s just a lot, or you’re going down the highway, you can’t hear the radio on, because all the other noise is drowning it out.
Jason Paredes: But if you come to a stop and all that wind noise dies and like, Oh look, my radio’s on. You hear it. It’s been, it’s been on the whole time. You just couldn’t hear it. There was too much noise around. And so you get to these fascinating retreats, you shut out all the rest of the noise and it’s almost like God is in mid-sentence. Like, you know, holy cow, He’s talking to me. I should be writing this stuff down. He’s been talking the whole time. We just haven’t had ears to hear it until we stopped. And so when you fast, you’re creating this suffering moment where your ears now are shutting everything else out. And you’re saying, “God, You alone, I’m desperate to hear from You.” And then you realize – He’s speaking, He’s been speaking. [Wow] And you just, now you have ears to hear it. So that’s where fasting has been the, the most, ear-opening to receive what God’s been saying to me. That’s why it’s been so formative for my life.
Jake Enriquez: Wow. I like that, man. You know, when you were talking about the run, brother, you just don’t know. You just, you were all in my, in my mail, man. Because, every time I take a run, I go out there, I always take my… do you know how many times, I know I’ve been nudged to leave that stuff at home, and I don’t? I’m just going to be honest with you, I never have. I never have left it there. Man, I gotta try it. I don’t know why it is we don’t try to follow what we’re being prompted to do.
Jake Enriquez: But, you know, you’re talking about creating a longing to hear God’s voice, and I think that’s beautiful. I really do, because you’re right. When we are going through something we really want to hear from God, don’t we? So if we were to put ourselves in that, cause you know, to be honest with you, we’re hungry, brother. You know, we want something else. You know, I like barbecue. Guys out here today, you know, we’re in the middle of, say, a busy workday. Nobody wants to pass up on lunch, man. You know, brother’s hungry, he’s gotta go to work. You know, but I heard one guy, you know, a friend of mine, his name was Kevin, Kevin Pace. He said, you know, when it comes to fasting, he said, you wanna teach people a little bit of time. He said, can you give up lunch today? Can you just do that, hang out? Hey. You know, I think that’s probably a, a way that we just bring people into it. And I’ve never been a, big anything on fasting like that. Until I got around you guys, you know, I was like, man, those guys always talk about praying and fasting. I said, if anything, you know, if nothing else I’ve lost 40 pounds, you know, coming to Fielder. But it’s been good to me, you know, and putting it away, you know, trying a little bit at a time.
Jason Paredes: I highly recommend for people, if they want to experiment with it, they do what would be a typical Jewish fast. So it’s sundown to sundown. So you eat dinner the night before, just before the sun goes down, and then you don’t eat again until dinner the next night, after the sun goes down. So you’re only skipping breakfast and lunch. So you’re getting dinner, and getting dinner. But there’s something about that 24 hour period that it forces you long enough that you can’t ignore it. Sometimes you can, you can be busy enough that you can skip lunch and like barely even notice it. But you know, I mean, if you’re going 24 hours, you’re feeling it. Your stomach’s going, “I’m ticked at you right now. Where’s my barbecue?”
Jason Paredes: And it forces you to stop. And every time you have a hunger pang, you go, “Okay, reminder. I need to pray right now. This is my chance to listen. God, what are You trying to speak to me right now?” And then I tell people all the time, whatever you were going to do for lunch, if you can do both breakfast and lunch, that, that time you would have spent, whether that’s 30 minutes, an hour, whatever it is – take that, close your door, get away somewhere else, go walk outside and just pray. And feast on the Lord instead of on your food. And it’s amazing.
Jason Paredes: It’s the same thing. I just, we’re all busy people. We don’t have, we don’t have time for this. Well, this is your normal time. I normally spend 30 minutes every Wednesday, eating lunch anyway. So if I, if I’m not eating lunch, I could spend that 30 minutes praying. I haven’t added anything extra to my schedule, but now I’m hearing from God and it may be small, subtle things, but I’m, I’m developing the practice. And the more I do it, the more I can hear God’s voice speak to me. So I think you can start off that way. Anyone could start off that way and make it happen.
Jake Enriquez: Sure. That’s awesome. You know, when I think of these, these things, the spiritual disciplines I also think about, and you know, you, you said it a while ago, who we listening to? What’s coming in? You know, what about the reading part? I know you’re an avid reader. How many books do you think you read a year?
Jason Paredes: It’s probably about 25-ish.
Jake Enriquez: Okay. So what are we reading? Because I hear some guys say, ” Jake, I’m not a reader.” And I’m like, Hey, you don’t know what you’re missing. You know, when I, when I think about, you know, books, I’m always getting these books, you know, but I think – this book. Some guy or some gal put their thoughts on paper, man, listen, this is someone’s life experience. It’s coming from the heart. It’s great stuff. Maybe it’s their experiences with God. All these things they put on paper, man, you get to read! Do you understand, that’s an open door kind of thing, you know, to go in there and take a look and what that does for us? But you know, when, when it comes to reading, what would you say to guys that – I’m talking to the fellas right now – the guys that always say, man, Jake, I’m not a reader. What do you say to them guys? Man, go on and give it to them!
Jason Paredes: So I got, I got a couple thoughts. I’m about to say something that’s just the worst thing ever to say on any recording thing, go and play it. you can, any guy can read a dozen books a year. Now hear me when I say this, and you gotta track with me here. I teach this to all my staff. By utilizing time when you’re sitting on the john, you’re just, you’re sitting there. Most people are on their phone, just wasting their time away. If you keep a book somewhere remotely close, pull that down, just read and reading five minutes a day, something like that, you will, you will go through…I’m a slow reader, but every morning I do my business and I read my book while I’m doing my business and I’ll go through 20 plus, the vast majority of the books I read are right there.
Jason Paredes: I’m just, what I’m doing is I’m leveraging every second I have. Yeah. And like you said, you know, I mean, some books are engaging, some are dry and you know, if there’s a book that I don’t like, I’ll give up on it and go, it’s not worth my time, and I’ll find something else that is. But I’m just leveraging every moment. I’m on a plane going somewhere, I’m reading a book. Instead of watching a TV show, I mean, I could, or I can read a book and get further along. So, I’m in a car, and you know, and someone’s driving, it’s a long trip or something like that. Or you can do an audio book, you know, like I’m driving the car and just, you know, audio book listen to it. It’s not like you get bonus points in heaven because you read it versus listen to it.
Jason Paredes: But, going for a jog – audio book. I mean, you can, you can find all these ways. It’s just about intentionality and leveraging every moment. And I will say one of the things that I do is I ask people all the time, Hey man, whatcha reading? What’s been meaningful to you? And I, I get some great books that way. People go, man, this book changed my life and I’ll read it and I’ll go, wow! No wonder it changed your life! I never would’ve known about the book if I hadn’t asked you what you’re reading. And so, especially when I meet people who are leaders in business, in church, in community, I’m always asking, “What are you reading?” because I want to know, I want to know what’s influencing you because I want, I want to hear that point of view.
Jason Paredes: And so you can get some great books that way. Get them in any form or fashion that you can. Don’t feel like you gotta read 12 hours on Saturday or whatever, you know. Just little micro moments throughout the day.
Jake Enriquez: Take it all in, a little bit of time. So I have to ask you this question, and I appreciate you sharing that about the reading. You’re a pastor, you’re a leader, but at some point in time, I do know that every man needs encouragement. Who encourages the encourager? Man, where do you go? How do you, how do you get guys around you that you can, you can pull from them and be encouraged?
Jason Paredes: Yeah. Well, I tell you, I, I’m spoiled rotten, first of all, because Fielder is just the most encouraging church I have ever been around. I get, I get 10 to one emails, positive versus negative. So many people take the time to write and say, man, your sermon really spoke this way into me, or just appreciate your leadership during the season. I’m unworthy of all the encouragement that I get from the church body. So I’m not, I know not every pastor has that gift and I, I hold that with a great appreciation and gratitude knowing I don’t deserve it. And you know, and I, that’s a form of encouragement that I hold dearly.
Jason Paredes: I know though there are, people that I need in my life that know who I really am. And so, Gary Smith, the former pastor of Fielder, modeled this well for me. He had , they called a “fearsome foursome”, three other guys, all of them pastors, that they would go on annual retreats together and just confess here’s where I’m at in life. And, here’s what I’m struggling with. And here are the warts and pimples and the brothers who love him and go, Gary, you’re still amazing. We love you. We’re praying for you. We’re beside you. You’re going to get through this. And so you need, you need a bit of both. And so I’ve got right now, I’ve got two other pastors. We’re looking for the third one in it, but it’s all churches that are similar sized churches, so large churches. We’re all in similar age demographic.
Jason Paredes: And we get together, at least once a year, and then we call each other and one of them is local here. And so we get together for coffee from time to time and we just go here’s, here’s where I’m encouraged. Here’s where I’m discouraged. And we pray for each other and we hold each other accountable and just go, man, I got, I got your back. I’m on before you and I’m with you. And so having that tight knit group of people who, who really know what it means to be a pastor of a church and know what the ups and downs are of it, who can call us out when there’s sin, but encourage us to say we’ll make it through those types of things. Those have been really, really meaningful. So that’s where I get the majority of that for me.
Jake Enriquez: Your own D group.
Jason Paredes: Yeah, absolutely. And I have my church D group and they’re, they’re phenomenal as well. Yeah. But you know, as the pastor of the church, there are certain things that they just, they won’t comprehend just like I won’t, I won’t necessarily comprehend everything about their work environment or whatever. [Sure I get it.] And so I have this group that’s just been, they, they know what it means to be a pastor. And so they can speak really pointedly and really encouragingly to the exact same environment.
Jake Enriquez: Yeah, that’s good stuff. I greatly appreciate that. You know, the scripture says, you know, not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. So what are some of the things, other than things you’ve mentioned, what are some things maybe people don’t know about you, that you do to transform your mind? What would they be, you think?
Jason Paredes: You know, I think, is some sick, twisted, side-eye running is one of the ways that I, I get out and I, my mind just opens up. and I’m actually, since that moment, when I had that run, I don’t, I rarely listen to music when I go run. And mainly it’s because it’s when God clears my mind and He gives me thoughts, or it’s just idle. And it, my mind is always on the go and to have something where it’s not, not doing that, refreshes me immensely. I’m a, a do-it-yourself kind of guy. And so, you know, building a deck, I’m mowing the lawn, I’m fixing something. I like working with my hands. Most people don’t know I was an electrician for a while. So I got, I have a great joy in just doing something, because the ministry is so, intangible, you know, like you don’t have anything to show for it when you’re done. When I build a deck, here’s my deck. When I mow my lawn, here’s my manicured lawn. And so having those moments where I can just release and do something, and I think the whole time I’m talking to God during that time. And I, I just get a renewal of finding ways in who God designed me to be, where I can give myself to it and feel refreshed by it and you know, be ready for work.
Jake Enriquez: That’s good stuff! Man, you’re just an everyday brother, right? Man, praise God.
Jason Paredes: Absolutely! More every day than, than everyone else.
Jake Enriquez: That’s good stuff, man. Hey, thank you so much for coming and hanging out with us and encouraging us and sharing with us, man. We appreciate you sharing parts of your life with us, man. I’m going to ask you now, if you will, just to close us out in prayer, Pastor.
Jason Paredes: I’d love to. God, we are so unworthy of Your grace and yet You lavish it upon us and God. There is not a person listening to this, not a person in this world that You have not given an immeasurable grace to. And that would overwhelm us if we could really comprehend the magnitude of that grace. And God I pray in the name of Jesus, You would open up our minds and our hearts to hear Your voice, to recognize Your love for us to understand Your grace.
Jason Paredes: And I pray God that it would fuel us to want to tell the good news of the gospel of Jesus, to everyone else around us. People who work by us, who live by us. People who, who, parent other kids who play on our kids’ sports teams. God, however you want us to get out there I just pray that we’d be so overwhelmed by your grace, that we couldn’t help it. We got to tell the world about it. Lord, you are a God who is right here with us. You speak to us, you move on our behalf. You leverage every single moment, including a pandemic, for your glory and for our good. God open up our eyes to see it. I pray that we would never grow pessimistic as the church, but we would always know that You cause all things to work together for the good of those who love You and are called according to Your purpose. God we trust in that and we look to You to fulfill that and we hope in You until one day Christ returns. God, we love You. And we pray that You’re glorified by our lives. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
Jake Enriquez: Amen. Amen. I appreciate you man.
Jason Paredes: Thanks brother.
Jake Enriquez: Hey, it’s been a joy hanging out with you once again. Please remember. As you go out in this day that you are not walking out your faith alone. Keep pressing, keep reaching, and remember, we sure do love you!