Pastors, how do we keep people close to Jesus when there are so many alternatives in the world? Some people try to build fences made of rules and standards that keep the “good” people in and the “bad” people out. The other option is to dig wells. What will you do?

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Here’s a parable I borrowed from Deb Hirsch,

(It takes place)…between a farmer and a Japanese tourist in the Australian outback. The tourist is taken aback with the sheer vastness of the outback and comments to the farmer that as far as he can see, he can’t see any fences. The tourist asks the farmer how he can possibly keep his sheep in without fences. The farmer replies that they don’t need to build fences, they just dig wells and the sheep don’t wander very far. (Redeeming Sex: Naked Conversations About Sexuality and Spirituality)

There’s never been a greater need for followers of Jesus to dig wells with the true Gospel of Jesus.  It’s the only thing that will quench the thirst of the people in our city.

If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. – Jesus (John 7:37)

…whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. – Jesus (John 4:14)

This week’s Supreme Court decision that redefines marriage has stirred up quite a response.  It ranges from outrage to sheer jubilation.  One thing is for sure, although the Court has ruled, the water is still murky and many are wondering how to respond.  Because I am a Christian and a pastor, my heart goes out to the many people who are still trying to wrap their heart around the implications of what is happening and how they should respond to a culture that is rapidly changing.

 

Here are 7 things I encourage you to do today:
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1. Remember Who God Is
Nothing that happens within culture catches God off guard.  The God of the Bible is not wringing His hands in fear because of decisions made in the courtrooms of man.  God’s nature and character are unchanging – in every circumstance: God is great— so we do not have to be in control, God is glorious— so we do not have to fear others, God is good— so we do not have to look elsewhere and God is gracious— so we do not have to prove ourselves (credit: Tim Chester).

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5 Rhythms:

The rhythms of being a Great Commission follower of Jesus, are not one-size-fits-all prescriptions. These are rhythms that you can begin to move within, and when you form habits out of those rhythms, it’s going to look different for you than it does for me. That’s the genius of God, because He’s created us all unique. We’re not cookie-cutter individuals; therefore, the way that we walk out the Great Commission looks a little different in everybody’s life.

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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.

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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…