A New Identity

Jon Cobler —  February 25, 2015 — Leave a comment

“Who do you think you are? You’re not qualified for this. You’re not smart enough for this, and you’re not gifted enough for this.” 

Does this sound like something maybe you’ve thought about yourself at some point? And then, God says to you, “Check, check, check, but none of those things are on My list.” What God wants to know is “Are you available, and obedient, and under authority? Because if you are, then I will anoint you and appoint you to do things that you couldn’t even imagine.

There is a mentality that many of us have which needs to change.  it’s the mentality that I love the idea that Jesus would come and erase some of the problems in my life. If Jesus has come to erase my guilt, and my shame, and my debt, then, “Yes, please” sign me up for that! Just like the Jews thought, during Jesus’ day that the Messiah has come to erase their bondage, erase the consequences of their mistakes, we can be tempted to think that Jesus will erase some things for us too. It’s true that Jesus comes to change things, but it’s not just to erase; it’s to exchange. Continue Reading…

Winning Your Battles

Jon Cobler —  February 18, 2015 — Leave a comment

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ian-w-scott/5767799868/in/photolist-9MFtXj-9xUR9c-5VY6ad-uHCT5-76z7hw-i9tWuN-4BALvM-8Y9Lus-77Nzfx-oeTpxe-oeTcqu-8Sr1Pe-ouLzU2-bitUx-otVAq5-ovTAo1-oesSyC-d5UhxU-9cZacJ-owaNew-kAbp8x-hFa4A-hoeBA9-oeJ1vZ-naKA3D-5M7ifS-5kShxk-9auKzc-jLNet7-8VuwBo-bE12An-fPKNi4-g5Fjzg-4vsvXX-fg2Ush-hoeaKk-e6YDMM-cQiJd9-L5an1-7D97mz-aBHt7P-hoeaSp-oeGwNX-D9pAv-hoeBuY-ouvRY9-biw2r-8fF6ox-683RmR-bg5PPH

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. - Luke 4:1-2

Bad days, lonely days, wilderness days, are not a sign that God has abandoned you, or invalidated what He has said about who you are or what you are called to do. Bad days do not invalidate God’s calling or God’s purpose on your life. In fact, these kinds of days actually serve to strengthen you and empower you, and verify the depth and the significance of what God has said to your life. What we should hear from this account in the Gospel of  Luke, and from the the Holy Spirit,  is that when God speaks, it does not lead us into the easy, but it will always lead us into the powerful. Continue Reading…

What does it look like to be a Great Commission follower of Jesus Christ? It’s probably a lot simpler than you may have thought. We’ve made being a Christian so complicated, when Jesus made it very simple. This is how John articulates what it looked like for Jesus to show up on planet Earth. In John 1:14, the Bible says simply that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Eugene Peterson translates that idea in The Message, like this in John 1:14: The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish. What did Jesus do? He just showed up and moved into the neighborhood, and became one of the people that He came to rescue. I think one of the most profound realities when you look at the life of Jesus Christ is that He lived 30 years, and nobody knew who He was. One theologian has said it’s the greatest compliment to humanity that Jesus could have paid was to show up and be one of everybody else.

For 30 years, He just showed up. He just moved into the neighborhood, and just lived the average life, and yet it’s the testimony of His life that has absolutely reshaped the world. Look at the life that He lived, and think about rhythms of His life. As you read, you will see that these three mindsets, and five rhythms, will help us realize that being a Great Commission follower of Jesus is far less complicated than many have made it.

Continue Reading…

Word for the Year 2015

Jon Cobler —  January 14, 2015 — Leave a comment

We are a Great Commission Church

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:16-20

What does it mean to be a Great Commission church? A Great Commission church recognizes that when it’s people walk out the doors, they don’t stop being the church, because the church isn’t contained by a building. The church is wherever Jesus is, and if he’s in you, then wherever you are, church is about to happen. The beauty of the subversive nature of God’s mission on planet Earth is that He qualified every person who says “yes” to Jesus to be on the front lines of that mission. Before you disqualify yourself, recognize that God doesn’t call the people who are already qualified; He qualifies the people who He calls. If you ask the question so how do I begin to think about the Great Commission, well, think about it like this: the Great Commission is a co-mission with Jesus.

Wherever you go in life, and whatever you do in life, the most important thing that you could ever take with you is the presence of God. When you’re close to Jesus, when you’re close to his presence, then you get to the place where you lack the ability to accomplish something by your own means, you can ask Him, and He can do what you never could. That’s why when we pray we don’t pray in our name; we pray in the name of Jesus. Why? Because we’re praying, when we pray for a miracle or we pray for healing or we pray for a breakthrough, we recognize that I didn’t raise myself up from the dead, but Jesus did.

There’s something that happens inside of you when you begin to recognize that all of the potential of the kingdom of God resides inside of you, because God’s Spirit is in you. Then, you begin to go to about your regular business with the expectation that even though church may not be happening ’cause it’s not Sunday morning, God’s Spirit is in me and I am going with all authority. Because I’m with Jesus, then church isn’t just going to happen to me; it’s going to happen through me, Monday through Friday.

God is Gracious

Jon Cobler —  December 24, 2014 — Leave a comment

Grace can be defined as unconditional acceptance granted to an undeserving person by an unobligated giver.

Tullian Tchividian | Surprised by Grace

we’re conditioned in our culture to prove ourselves in every sphere of society, but a real understanding God’s grace confounds that idea. The minute we think that God’s acceptance is conditional, that somehow we’re deserving, or that God is obligated, we’ve missed the revelation of God’s grace. He wants you to recapture it again today. God’s grace means that I am neither deserving (ouch!) nor disqualified (whew!) from receiving God’s favor and blessing.

The apostle Paul, in Ephesians chapter 2, says “it’s by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is a gift from God.” When the apostle Paul says we’ve been saved by grace through faith, the idea is if faith is what comes from our end, grace is what comes from God’s end. We have to come through grace by faith – those have to meet at some point. The idea that the Scripture should teach us here, is that God’s grace is overwhelming, so that even when our faith is only the size of a mustard seed, there’s still enough to make the connection between you and who God is.

If you’re ever tempted to think that you are disqualified because your faith is small, understand that it’s not just about you gaining more faith. It’s about you embracing and believing and trusting that God’s grace is so amazing and overwhelming that it can make up the difference for a mustard-seed sized faith. God’s grace is sufficient to make a connection between God’s kingdom and your life.

God is the loving Father who is extending grace to you today, so would you trust him? Grace is not earned.  It isn’t merited.  Because you misunderstood grace, maybe you’ve spent lots of time, years maybe, trying to prove yourself to be deserving of something in the future, when God’s been offering it to you all along. It’s not an elevated view of yourself, but an elevated view of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice, that will help you see God’s grace flowing freely in your life. Begin to believe that you are not second class, but you are a child of the King; that’s how the Father wants you to see yourself.

Open-Handed Living

Jon Cobler —  December 17, 2014 — Leave a comment

https://www.flickr.com/photos/christianskoog/3391992700/in/photolist-ysQjk-6ArCvk-7Vaa8x-2wqj4E-pzx9QQ-8Cst9z-pYaih6-nbkftF-c3bTyb-6aJRfL-cR7ZxC-fnSsFJ-6arGaC-f7C8s-81Y554-4f68cj-mvE3J1-79fZy3-6Jxwtm-9bsDY-eiUbCX-8VBhZt-A2hD7-7uEBE1-e66Y33-jGNBfC-pZpgJS-cR2cQG-apoJvb-6Acszs-bdxFB8-eeqJcx-osx9a5-qfZTJ6-7khnSQ-5iRzUP-hRw2EL-e149FA-4bse7A-5ZQ5kx-48FraQ-6TxV4z-kcB1t-7KsHLv-hrdeSa-e8ZEGq-cWZSTE-bJBwu4-78mZzo-5PqgzP

God’s goodness finds its way to those with open hands. The 19th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew says,

Behold, a man came to Jesus, saying “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”

Paraphrasing the rest of the exchange; the young man says to Jesus, “Which ones?” Jesus replies, “Well, don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t bear false witness, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man stands up tall, and says to Jesus, “All of these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Let’s pause this exchange here and recognize this young man identifies that he’s following all the rules, but he also identifies that there’s something missing in his life. Continue Reading…

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I want to tell you little about someone very important to me.  My grandfather on my mother’s side; his name was Conrad Bauer. He was kind of a hulk of a man. He was the first generation of his family born in the United States, raised on a farm. When he was old enough to move out of the house, he started a construction company. He built it with success in Southern California. He later moved back and reestablished the family farm while still maintaining construction business. Everything he did, he worked with his hands. He was 6’7″, and he was the small brother in his family. He weighed 300 pounds. He was the strongest man I’d ever met. And the Con that I knew was a man of great faith and trust in The Lord.

He lost an eye when he was young, so he wore a patch. We called him “Pirate Grandpa.” He passed away two years ago on Christmas Eve. At his memorial, during the reading of his eulogy, I saw another side of my grandfather. There were moments in his life where, as a self-made man, he had struggle to come to grips with an authentic faith which would trust a God that was greater than he was. In his eulogy, my grandma wrote beautifully about the moment in his life where he didn’t just know God, but where he first trusted God with his life. Continue Reading…

Give Thanks

Jon Cobler —  November 27, 2014 — Leave a comment

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mike_leach/6294435495/in/photolist-aAdCnV-7RYqNh-8YEdAq-aCXEwZ-4TfoNX-7sxNbu-4CfWnt-81W4rN-6CqW8S-5zL5RS-cVQLvJ-9qwUcG-4CCjHt-55KACm-oeEAsr-owpRZk-kQLD8x-9nmy5b-oePxoR-ouioBG-4xydxn-7dXWQE-7dU47e-8PbTwN-cVQFVA-cVQHyY-biBk96-ohRe7t-cVQGiC-cYLet-cVQF3N-cVQG5A-ow1KER-aE8dum-cVQJ95-cVQ7g7-cVQHWA-owgHJs-oeN4g3-ow368B-oeNESH-oeNMbU-ouhwTJ-owjb4a-oeNhrR-ougZMq-ow2ozH-owgjJj-oePKqN-ePBbAG

And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. – Luke 12:29-32

Have you noticed that what you long for is sometimes all you can think about? Have you ever woken up in the morning thinking, “I want a cheeseburger?” And you know at 5:00 in the morning you should not have a cheeseburger. You drink a cup of coffee, and it kinda smells like a cheeseburger. And then as you drive to work, all you can think about is a cheeseburger. And as you do your work, you are distracted, looking at the clock, wondering when it will finally be time to eat a cheeseburger.

That’s a silly example, but I’m sure it’s one many of you can relate to. Have you ever fallen in love? You fall head over heels for a person, then you think about them, you dream about them, day and night. If you’re a high school girl, you write your name with their last name over and over again, practicing. You can’t wait to be with them. You can’t wait to call them. You can’t wait to talk to them.

What about a job, what about money? Have you ever been strapped financially and you can barely pay the bills? And have you noticed how when you just wish you had enough money to take care of this stress, that every thought you have is filtered through how much that’s gonna cost me? Because the things that we seek after – the affections, the desires in our life – shape the direction of the compass of our life. Continue Reading…

Last Days Living

Jon Cobler —  November 19, 2014 — Leave a comment

https://www.flickr.com/photos/darvidanoar/5605380977/in/photolist-9xk3tB-9is1sA-b4QL9e-knGoL6-fNibd4-5oNUWX-c28rGA-gVV31z-7ZZfuN-ozqR1S-7otkfT-dK4Rjv-4H57B3-56t3yS-636ojE-3QzB6t-7bc52R-6Rnd2X-kqAgt4-nGHTR8-ghTwf5-oQwqmM-9SohbN-cQtmLY-d781bY-aa2NoX-eY4UhC-7Kwemf-51jfF8-pvj9Lf-6xbF3K-a2Db4q-7QrpXW-dMoEri-e8Uvsu-agtHYB-8r3NKt-6QtTz1-eY62dj-eY5wJE-8P8N9y-deBfRN-92Lwdh-i4Zbyd-nEXkNA-bsPQT6-fs9PMx-pvxSTc-5BmPzm-99dmbC

A lot of people are observing what’s happening in the world around us – in the Middle East, in our own country and in other places around the world – and they’re asking questions. What’s going on in our world today? And when the Bible talks about end times and last days, what does that have to do with what’s happening around the world and what does it have to do with my life?

When the Bible uses this term last days it is referring to a period of time between the first coming of Jesus, when God revealed himself through his son – that’s the beginning of the last days – and the time when we will see Jesus once again – that’s the end of the last days. We live in this in-between time, between the incarnation of Jesus, when God’s redemptive plan for humanity was set in motion, and His second coming, when that redemptive plan will be fully realized for all of the world. With all of that being said, how do we think about the days in which we live, and what should we be looking for in these days?

Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. … Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of your time, because the days that we live in are evil.” – Ephesians 5:8-10, 15-16

I want to admonish you, to exhort you, to ask you to live wholeheartedly before God and people. As you read the Scripture, as you come to the Word of God, let it shine its light on your own lives.

As as we look around and we see the signs of the times in which we live, will Jesus come again to earth in our generation? I don’t know. But should we become numb to the signs, numb to the issues, numb to the realities of what’s happening around us, and just become numb to this world that we’re living in? No – we can’t. There’s too much at stake to just kind of let these things pass us by and roll off our backs. We need to know that when we see these things  these things, it’s time to “turn the lights on,” so to speak, and pay attention.

So I want to ask you, are you living wholeheartedly before God and people? To live wholeheartedly before God and people means that you are letting the light of Jesus shine into every part of your life. When you see the signs of the times that we’re living in, it should call us to attention and say, it’s time to stop keeping secrets. It’s time to stop holding back. It’s time to stop holding things back from the Lord.

It’s time to stop saying, “God, you can have part of my life, but not all my life.” It’s time to stop living with one foot in and one foot out. It’s time to recognize that that cycle of behavior, that cycle of addiction, if you don’t do something different, then that will never change. It’s time to wake up and let the light of life shine into every part of your life, every area of your relationships. Why? Not so that somehow condemnation or guilt comes in, but because God says, “In these days, let the life and the light of Jesus in, so that not you live,not halfheartedly, but wholeheartedly before the Lord.”

Are you living wholeheartedly before God today? Is there anything that you’re holding back? Walk and live as children of the light; no more shadows. It’s time to turn the lights on.

Secondly, here, the apostle Paul says that we should discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Who are you seeking to please every day? What gets you out of bed in the morning? “Discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” What’s going to please the Lord tomorrow? What’s going to please the Lord in your relationship with your spouse? What’s going to please the Lord as you think about the future of your business, or your retirement, or when you think about the influence that you have over your children or your grandchildren?  And in these days that we’re living, I want you to push in that direction.

And then finally, he says this, “Look carefully how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of your time.”  We need to leverage our time for the things that matter.  Whether your current stage of life has you beginning a career, or retiring from it, or doing the day-to-day deeds of work and raising kids, are you going to look at your day-planner for the last six months and say, “Jesus, I’m so proud to show you what I did with my time?” Or are we going to say to the Lord, “Man, I wish you would’ve given me another month, ’cause I was about to change some things?” Make the change today, right now, and let the light of his life come rushing into our lives like never before.

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And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home.And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them.And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.  And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” – Mark 2:1-5

If you can imagine this old town outside of Jerusalem, with just narrow streets, and small houses that are all crammed together. Masses of people have come to hear this teacher, Jesus, and as you get closer, there’s just no way to get through to the house where he is teaching. The way that the houses were built in that town was to provide a place on the roof that could be used as living space, and so the roofs were flat. They were mainly comprised of some beams, that were then covered with branches, that were then covered with maybe rocks and dirt and mud that was all packed together, and sometimes with tiles placed on top, so that you could climb up the stairs on the outside of the house and you could have a picnic on the roof if you wanted to.

And one of the guys had this idea. “Well, since we can’t get through the crowd to get to Jesus, let’s make a way.” I love the very simple reality that these four guys were undeterred. I think that so often we sense the potential for God to do something, but then the moment we hit an adversary or an obstacle, we think, “Oh, it’s a closed door. If God wants it to happen then He’ll open the door.” While it’s true that God opens and closes doors, I’ve seen some pretty amazing miracles on the other side of a door that was not opened – it was kicked in.

This act of faith would not have been a simple process; it would’ve required some effort for them to get through the tile, get through the dirt, get through the branches, and to get to the place where they would have space to lower their man, their friend, down into the center of the crowd. Think about this scenario for a minute. You’re sitting around listening to Jesus, and all of a sudden, it kind of gets dusty in the room. And you’re thinking, “That’s strange – what’s going on up there?” And then light begins to peek through from outside.

It begins to become more obvious what’s happening as the space becomes cleared, and then down comes this man, being lowered on a stretcher and laid at the feet of Jesus. There’s a lesson here. In verse 20, when the man is set before Jesus, it says that He saw their faith. I think that one of the things that we need to draw from the story is that these men brought their friend to Jesus, and Jesus observed their faith. But how did Jesus observe their faith?

I think too often we think about faith as an internal feeling we have which makes us feel confident about something. You’ve heard it said, “I’ve got faith for this.” But I think – and the book of James tells us this over and over again- that faith without action is dead. I think we need to remember that the faith that Jesus saw was not just the existential reality of their belief that Jesus could heal. But the faith that Jesus saw was the sweat on their brow, and the blood on their hands, from digging through the roof. And as we look at the world around us today, all of us have people in our lives that in some way – spiritually, emotionally, physically – are paralytic in their own right, and they’ll never get to Jesus of their own accord.

And as we look at a world filled with people just like this man, the question I want to challenge you with is: would you have the same kind of faith that these guys had, to bring those that are spiritually paralyzed all around us and get them to Jesus? One of the images we have of ourselves as followers of Jesus that needs to be changed, in relationship to the people around us who are far from God, we see ourselves as waiters and waitresses. We wait on them to identify a need, and then we’ll go and we’ll fill up their glass of water, or we’ll answer a question. I think we need to begin to change the paradigm, and see ourselves more like firefighters and paramedics.

And here’s the point: you will hear over and over and over again from preachers and pastors and evangelists that we need to win the world. We need to love people like Jesus loved us. We need to go and save people. But if you’re living in the same world that I’m living in, when I look at the people around me, I’m thinking some of those people are really hard to love. I’m sure you have some people that are hard to love in your life. I’m not just talking about distant people. I’m talking about the people sometimes that we live with; I mean spouses, or ex-spouses, or children, or parents.

We know that there are things in their life that only Jesus can heal, but loving them is like hugging a porcupine. We miss the reality that the thing that ought to motivate us to love others is not a religious obligation; it’s a revelation of God’s love for me. So when I have a revelation of the greatness of God’s love towards me through Christ Jesus, it is out of the overflow of that revelation that I can then love others.

What I believe we need is to have a greater revelation of God’s love for us, and I pray that today, as we would identify those people, that we would be inspired to love then beyond our own capacity to love. If following Jesus is about loving like he loved, and going where he would go, all of a sudden, following Jesus is calling me to live beyond where I’m comfortable. Beyond where I’ve got the capacity to generate it in and of myself; but the beautiful thing about following Jesus is that his miraculous abundance of love and grace and power shows up on the other side of when you run out of you.