Author: J.J. Cole

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 …

The Good Shepherd In Your Darkest Hours

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields near by, guarding their flocks of sheep. – Luke 2:8 I’ve been thinking about these shepherds lately and finding myself identifying with them. I picture them awake and alert, in the dark of night, guarding. Why are they awake and doing this when the rest of the world sleeps? Because they understood what lurked in the dark. They understood predators exist and danger is much closer then the sheep realize. Make no mistake, the reality of what the shepherd was is much different than what is portrayed in stained glass. They were rough, vigilant, capable of violence, and realists. To them, Christmas Eve was just another dark night.   I worked night shift as a police officer for a little over nine years straight, 6:00 PM – 6:00 AM.  The night shift has a way of sharpening you, for a variety of reasons. But there is also something about that “late” night hour; the period of time way after midnight and well before dawn.  It seems to …

Taming the Destructive Fire of Your Tongue

A single wooden match weighs .15 grams. It is so light, that its weight cannot even be felt. It produces a small spark and flame, that can easily be pinched out with our fingers.  Nevertheless, when not respected, it can produce a monster that will destroy and even take human life. In 2016 a single spark resulted in 14 lives lost and 10,000 acres of the Great Smoky Mountains to be engulfed in flames, including significant portions of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.  A place with several decades of investment and effort that so many of us have visited laid in waste.  But, thanks to resilience placed in the human heart by God, rebuilding is happening. James 3:6 tells us that “the tongue is a flame of fire.” It goes on to explain in descriptive detail that it can “set your whole life on fire.” Basically, James 3:3-10 sternly warns us to respect the tongue, for at its core it is a match. Today, James may have included our fingertips as we text and update our …

Love Does Alongside the Greatest Visionary

Some believe that it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found.  I’ve found it’s the small things.  Everyday deeds by ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay. – Gandalf, Lord of the Rings Earlier this weekend Christine and I did a family devotional with the kids titled “Sandcastles & Monuments.” We decorated rocks with markers, depicting how God has shown Himself to us in our lives.  Gabby drew a rainbow on one rock and waters parting on another.  Tyler drew a fireball coming down from the sky (go figure) and the Cross. It struck me how the kids so easily reached for these “monuments” in history where God acted, where God demonstrated that love does. The rainbow – His promise to Noah The Red Sea parting – His deliverance of the Israelites The fireball from heaven – His support of Elijah The Cross – His willingness to go any length to save us Throughout the Bible, we see God works through and alongside people. …