Archives For #tc

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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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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Open-Handed Living

Jon Cobler —  December 17, 2014 — Leave a comment

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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…

The Gospel of Good Behavior

Pastor Jon —  August 13, 2014 — 1 Comment

In the last generation of Christians in America, on the heels of a time of great hunger and thirst for God, many churches, pastors, and leaders began to give people what I call the “gospel of good behavior”.

If you look back over the last 50 years, you’ll see this arc of messaging growing in popularity. The formula for success that many of these places began to ascribe to, was a focus on a “gospel” of how you need to behave, deriving prescriptive formulas for life like, “if you would behave this way, then your life would go well,” or “here’s three steps to thinking right, three steps to finding your purpose, four steps to having a good marriage, and five habits that’ll make you a happy person.” In general, the world began to watch as this “gospel of good behavior” began to take root. We found ourselves with big name spokesmen, and the Moral Majority, that began to gain popularity and platform to tell people that, you know, “We Christians believe there’s a right and a wrong, and if you don’t get on the right, you’re going to be left behind.”

“We Christians believe there’s a right and a wrong, and if you don’t get on the right, you’re going to be left behind.”

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This could save your life.  If your clothes catch on fire you stop, drop, and roll, right? But what do you do when “fiery darts” start coming at you?  It may be people, it may be bills, it may be medical reports, it may be your picture of what your marriage is going to look like – what do you do when those fiery darts come at you?  Here is the thing that just might save your life in that scenario. If you learn to do this, it can change everything about what your future will look like. This isn’t stop, drop, and roll. This is stop, drop, and worship.

David had no idea how his story would end. We know from historical accounts and the Psalms he wrote that he was persecuted and lied about. He was pursued, sometimes relentlessly, by the “fiery darts” of his enemies, and yet he came day after day to a place where he would surrender himself before the Lord and say, “God, although I don’t see how this could ever turn out the way you promised, I choose to worship you above all else.”  And there’s something about worship that aligns your heart with the rhythm of Heaven.  There’s something about worship that begins to sync up your soul with the words that are being recited around the throne of God from ages to ages, that refrain, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.”  It may not change your circumstances, but it will change your heart.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! (‭Psalm‬ ‭57‬:‭5‬ ESV)

What’s more, worship invites the presence of God into your situation. You need to know that, above all other things, the presence of God changes everything. The “deserts” and the “fiery darts” in life may be unavoidable, but you don’t have to stay there forever, because one thing you can choose to do when chaos and confusion comes your way, instead of fighting back, or making your own path, learn to build altars where you remember the faithfulness of God. Where before you start fighting, you start worshiping; before you start figuring it out, you worship; and before you take matters into your own hands, you build an altar where you remember God’s faithfulness, and you confess with your mouth what’s true about him. And I promise you this – that if you learn the habit of worship, when deserts come, you will find that the your faith, which will carry you through, is not far away.

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Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. – Philippians 2:4

If you want relationships to thrive, act like Jesus.  Covenant community is built on trust in Jesus, and not people.  I had a dear friend who played a significant role in the Foursquare denomination for many years. I met with him one time and he said something which took me by surprise.  He said, “Jon, here’s the thing that I’ve learned about relationships that has helped me more than anything else. I’ve learned that I don’t trust anybody.”  And I said, “That sounds like an issue to me.”  And this is what he said, “I’ve learned that the minute I make somebody the source of my hope, or my peace, or my security, and put all of my trust in them, inevitably, they’re imperfect. But if I put all my trust in Jesus; my hope, my sense of peace and security, and find my identity in Jesus first and foremost, then I will not be sucking the life out of people, but I can be pouring life into people.  And when they fail, which they inevitably will, and so will I, my foundation isn’t rocked, because it’s built on Jesus and not them.”

Some of us are stuck in a free-fall emotionally, because somebody has left us or abandoned us or filed for divorce, or a friend has abandoned us, or we moved and now we don’t know anybody, or our boss promised us a promotion, and now we don’t even have a job.  I want to lovingly suggest that , if you find yourself in that place, had we not put so much stock, so much trust, so much faith in a person to “save” us, when they turned out not to be Jesus Christ, our world might not feel so much like it is falling apart.  Please know that, when we face abandonment and betrayal, we have to mourn.  That’s painful.  But if we can’t ever begin to climb out of that free-fall, we need to stop and say, “Am I trying to hold somebody in the position of savior, knowing full well, only Jesus can be that for me?”  If that’s the case, we have to start by repenting and recognizing there’s been an idol in our lives. Remember, idols always over-promise and under-deliver.  It doesn’t matter how far  or how long you’ve been free-falling – you may have jumped out of that plane at 30,000 feet, and you’re like 5 feet from the ground – the moment you call on the name of Jesus, it is never too late for him to save you.

Listen to the Spirit

Pastor Jon —  July 17, 2014 — Leave a comment

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith, another gifts of healing, another working of miracles, another prophecy, another discernment, another various kinds of tongues, another interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

The Bible says that the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of everybody; for the common good. If we want more of the Holy Spirit in our lives, then we need to be prepared to be more about others than we’ve been before.

This is the genius of how God works through the Holy Spirit. When God wants to do a work in Steven’s life, and he wants to give Steven a gift like wisdom that he doesn’t have, or understanding that he doesn’t have, or a word of encouragement or exhortation that he needs, but he doesn’t have, God could just bypass everybody and show up and send Steven a private Facebook message from heaven. That would be one way to give Steven the gifts he needs and desires. But God is so brilliant; God says, “If I want to build Steven up through the Holy Spirit, then I’m going to use Jon,” or “I’m going to use Bill,” or “I’m going to use Rob, and I’m going to give them a gift that I want to be delivered to Steven, so when that process is complete, Steven is encouraged.” But so is Bob or Bill or whoever got to be the delivery boy or delivery girl for the Holy Spirit.

A beautiful benefit to this is that relationship is built, and two people’s faith rise. That’s why I pray, that when you come to church, and maybe you come down for somebody to pray for you, or you go to your life group, or sit around the table at Living Water Discipleship, that you don’t just come and check off boxes on your spiritual scorecard and go on with the day. But I pray you take time to listen for the Spirit, because the Spirit wants to speak to you and through you for the benefit of you and the benefit of others. We need each other, because God uses us to minister to one another. Parents, God wants to speak to you by the Holy Spirit to help you parent your children. Business owners, God wants to speak to you, and give you the Spiritual Gifts to help you be the business owner and leader that will extend God’s kingdom. It doesn’t matter what sphere you operate in – if you listen for the Spirit, he will speak to you.

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”   Luke 6:46

The thing that Jesus is driving at here is that we have a choice about what will use as the foundation to build a life. There’s something about a person whose life has been established on truth and not whim.

What will we lean into when times get difficult?  How will we establish the parameters of what we believe about who we really are?  About what it means to be in relationship with other people – what the meaning of life is all about?  We all believe something about those things.  Are you like somebody who says, “Jesus, you’re the Lord,” but then builds life on other ideals, on other beliefs? There are people that have all of the outward signs of a good or a religious person, but eventually what’s in the heart will always be exposed. Continue Reading…

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And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the idols from among you and direct your heart to the LORD and serve him – I Samuel 7:3

God is very interested in keeping his promises, and God is also very interested in the disposition of your heart.  When God made promises with the nation of Israel, He said, “You are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”  What God is saying to Israel is, “If you’ll do that – if you’ll put Me first in everything you do – if you’ll put Me first when you bring in crops, and you put Me first when your livestock multiplies.  If you’ll put Me first when you have children, if you’ll put Me first when you go to battle.”  God said, “If you put Me first in just the smallest ways – if you’ll put Me first in your life, I will multiply blessing upon blessing behind you, as long as I’m first.”

All throughout history, God has always called his people to make a decision about who’s going to be first in their life.  One of the problems that we find was happening in the nation of Israel is that they were in no way, shape, or form putting God first in their life.  What they did think was that they could put God in a box and take him out whenever they needed him to benefit their own agenda.  They began this pattern of thinking that, “Well, listen.  God’s in a box in the ark.  I’m gonna go do whatever I wanna do, and then when we need God, we can bring God in a box, and take God out of the box, and then God will do whatever we need Him to do.”  How many of you know you can’t keep God in a box?  We know we can’t do that, but I think maybe sometimes today we still try to put God in a box.

We probably would never articulate it that way.  And we may not even realize we are doing it, but how many of us have made decisions and choices to do life our way, and then when things crash and burn, we say, “God, where are you?”  Without making a conscious choice to do so, we seek to put God in this box of religious activities, then when we need Him to save us, we can pull Him out and ask for His help and blessing.

the Bible makes it really clear that there will always be competing desires in our heart.  The desire isn’t the issue; it’s what you decide to do that makes a difference.  Honor is a decision, not a desire.  A lot of people say that they want to do something, but they never do it.  A lot of people say they want to stop something, but they never stop it.  A lot of people say, “I wish,” but they never do.  The things you choose to honor are the things which will carry the most weight in your life.  The things you honor are the things in your life that you value, or consider important.  Choosing to love God first and highest in your life will inevitably demand that we make other things second.

You may find yourself at a crossroad, faced with a decision on any number of things; family, relationships, money. What you honor first demonstrates what you love the most. If you love God with all of our heart and soul and strength, it will be reflected by the choices that you make.

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And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind.

– 1 Samuel 2:35

God recognized that what was in Eli’s heart was a deviatation from being faithful to God. God was not looking for a superstar. He was not looking for somebody who had great oratory skills, or the highest level of education. He was simply looking for somebody who would be faithful to do what was in God’s heart and in God’s mind. If you question, “Can God do that through me? Can God’s kingdom be established through my life?” The answer is this: will you be faithful to do what’s in God’s heart, and in God’s mind? Continue Reading…