Author: J.J. Cole

Priority One: What’s Important Now?

Over the past week I have been down in Orlando, FL attending a large national training conference based around Police / SWAT leadership & operations. The seminars and topics vary, but throughout, I have noticed it all filters down to the art of this: the ability to interpret rapidly flowing information which can change instantly, make a decision, and act. It has been a blessing to hear from some of the top minds in the nation and listen to wisdom forged in adversity. These men care enough to share their hard gained experiences, including the mistakes, bad decisions, and the hard results that accompany them. What’s painfully clear is the “human factor” always exists, everywhere, with everyone, and in all aspects of life. To a point, we can lessen the gap with training and tools and mindset, but we can never completely close it. Many believe this gap is where “chance” exists… I prefer to believe it’s better suited for grace. Throughout the week, Christ was speaking to me, almost at a whisper, “I am …

Not a River You Can Just Wade In

Wisdom is less like a deep ocean and more like the force of a river. The power of the river is in its ability to adapt to its environment, change its course when necessary, and yet find its way towards its destiny. – Erwin McManus I read these words recently in a book titled The Way of the Warrior. I was immediately taken back a couple of summers ago when we took a trip out to Colorado. The quote evoked a very specific memory I had of a river we stayed near for a night. There are few places in that area of the country that don’t romance the soul. I remember taking the kids down to the rocky bank and deciding to take a swim. The river had some rapids visible upriver and downriver, but the spot we were at appeared deep enough and slow enough to wade in, chill out, and relax a little. After committing to just past knee deep I was suddenly taken aback and surprised by the sheer force of …

You Have Much. Are You Owning It?

Leadership is a stewardship. Its temporary. And your accountable. – Andy Stanley As I read through Micah 3 and digested the harsh language directed towards those who held mantles of leadership in ancient Israel, I arrived at one concept: Ownership. In this particular case, Micah is announcing time has expired, and it is time to be held accountable. But this concept can be found throughout scripture. There is a story Jesus tells, found in Matthew 25:14-30, of a wealthy man who goes away and leaves differing amounts of money to three different servants, to manage it on his behalf. The master eventually returns and each servant is called to give an account of what he had done with what he was given. In the end, it wasn’t about the original amount given to them; it was about the their effort, or lack thereof. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required. Luke 12:48 The truth is we’ve all …

Search For Truth in A Fog of Fatigue

Hell begins the day God grants you the vision to see all that you could have done, should have done, and would have done… but did not do. – Johann Wolfgang Not too long ago I got a new Study Bible; kind of a fresh start and exploring a different translation. At the front, on the first blank white page all Bibles seem to have, I felt prompted to start a list. I wrote at the top of the page “Men After God’s Own Heart.” The first name which belongs on this list is David (see 1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). But he hasn’t made it on there yet, simply because I haven’t made it to his story yet. I wanted to jot the names down as I came to them, recognizing those who stand out in His story as being chasers and seekers of God’s identity and purpose. Men who desire His thoughts, adopt His will as their own, and are in friendship with Him. (I’ve got four names on the list so far.) …

Are You Resolved to Move Forward?

I began 2018 with a goal to thoroughly immerse my time of study in the major prophets of the Old Testament. I had never really spent much intentional time there and had been feeling drawn to them, so I started with Isaiah. The Book of Isaiah was rich in painting the context of the character and intent of God. It taught the honor that comes from being a true message carrier for Him and all that can be done through us, despite circumstances. Then, I moved into Jeremiah, who succeeded Isaiah as God’s primary prophet to Judah. The flavor and tone changed drastically and it was not long before I was tempted, and even looked, to move elsewhere in the Bible. However, I pushed through and as I did so, I grappled with what was bothering me so much in these ancient writings. This was a man, who much like Isaiah, was given the burdensome gift of prophecy and the difficult charge to confront an entire nation, almost always, alone. But there was something different …

A Little Faith and a Full Net

About this time a year ago in my daily reading plan, I got caught up in this small detail in scripture, tucked away in the middle of John 21: “Bring some of the fish you just caught,” Jesus told them. So Simon Peter got up and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish – 153 of them. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. – John 21:10-11, HCSB I recently came upon it again in another reading plan, and I have to say it resonates with me greatly. There is something about this time of year that is prompting the Holy Spirit to lead me to this verse. I believe it has something to do with the “long-stretch” of the year I am in. New Year’s resolutions have pretty much faded and the hot pace of summer life is merging into the grind of early fall, as kids go back to school and I am pretty much living week to week, rolling with the punches as they come. It is …

Are You Tailoring the Message of Jesus to the World?

To the angel of the church of Southern Hills write…. What would Jesus’ next words be to us as a church? I have been challenged by this thought in recent months after reading the book of Revelation. For a book so often thought of for its complexity and shrouded prophecy, I believe we Christ followers may fail to realize the blunt clarity of the first three chapters. We seem to read through them, looking forward to the drama of the later chapters and do not pause to truly consider these chapters which contain the personal letters sent, from Jesus Himself, to seven different churches. What would Jesus write to us specifically at Southern Hills (or fill in any church name)?   In these letters we call the Book of Revelation, Jesus describes Himself differently at each letter’s beginning and the reaction He intends to invoke from each church.  Read for yourself and observe the uniqueness of each letter, but in each one, His intent is crystal clear: the message matters to Christ, and we are …

Are You Rediscovering the Person You Married?

And being apart ain’t easy on this love affair Two strangers learn to fall in love again I get the joy Of rediscovering you Oh girl, you stand by me I’m forever yours, faithfully Hopefully, this song needs no introduction, and if you’re a child of the 80’s and 90’s you have no excuse. Let’s be real, we all transform into our own individual tribute-band when Journey comes up on our playlist. In the many times you may have listened to this song, have you ever caught the story? It’s the words of a husband to his wife in the midst of distance and unmet expectations. The lyrics go on to tell a story of renewed devotion, while not forgetting where they’ve been. The standout line for me has always been “I get the joy of rediscovering you.” Consider it great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. …

Limited Faith in an Unlimited God

Our God is not fickle, forgetful, or fragile in anyway.  He does not make mistakes.  He purposes the gaps.  He allows sacred spaces and blank places.  He leaves room. – Lysa Terkeurst Let’s talk about limited faith. Uncertain faith. Shaken faith. Questioning faith. Undeveloped faith. Challenged faith. For those of us who follow Christ and are growing in Him, the thought of anything other than unwavering, steadfast faith is abrasive. But in complete humility and vulnerableness, at any given time, I can identify at least one of the above descriptions to characterize an aspect of my faith. The story of Gideon is rich in evolving lessons as we follow his adventure. But I want to focus specifically on Judges 6:12-14 when we first meet Gideon. The way I read it, these two verses are key to understanding the rest of the story. They also speak to those of us who, at times, waiver and become shaken in our faith.  Then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: “The Lord is with you, …

Together Let’s Act like the Church

In the midst of a pivotable scene in the famous Mel Gibson movie “The Patriot,” Charlotte tells Benjamin Martin, “You have done nothing to be ashamed of.” Martin’s somber response was, “I have done nothing.  And for that I am ashamed.” I recently read through the book of Acts. So much ground is covered in those 28 chapters as we see the original disciples taking the torch and pressing forward with Jesus’ call “to go.” (see Matthew 28:19) In Acts, we learn of the courage and intentional acts of these men and women. (No wonder the book is called “Acts.”)  Peter and John were called into the streets of Jerusalem and it’s courts.  Stephen was called to stand his ground against the mob. Ananias was called to have compassion on an enemy. Paul was called to boldly take the message of Christ into the outside world, which would be us. It is sobering to contemplate what might be today, had these people not acted on their calling.  The privilege I have of attending and participating …