GregoryCooper's Blog

thoughts from a Christ follower

Transformation – change starts with God

As we begin a new year many of us are thinking about the changes that we would like to see in our lives.  We often make resolutions or set goals, but soon find that our enthusiasm fades as we find ourselves doing the same old things.  I have been praying through this and I believe that God wants us to consider transformation by renewing our minds through His truth.

In Romans 12, we find a powerful command about transformation: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,  but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…  We see here that transformation comes with looking at life through the right lens, God’s mercy.  As we read through the previous 11 chapters of Romans we find that God has been mercifully working on our behalf all along.

  • When we were lost, wandering around in sin and only seeking whatever we thought would bring us the “good life”, He sought us out by sending Jesus.
  • Once we respond to him in faith, believing in Jesus _ he continues to transform our lives, working everything together for our good.
  • He leads us through His Spirit and allows us to become more than conquerors through His love.

We can find great encouragement in knowing that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.  Even though we may fail, God is still working on us.  We can experience real transformation if we will trust in his power and remember to look for his merciful presence.  So as we seek to have a “better year” or just to “do better”, whatever the change is that we seek, lets keep God’s mercy in view and renew our minds through His truth instead of being conformed by the world around us, and experience real transformation.

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January 5, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A message to my kids

I was thinking about you today and praying that God would draw you very close to him and guide your steps.  While I was praying I began to think and pray about your future…thinking about your hopes and dreams.  I found myself wondering if you think that you are getting closer to achieving them or if they seem to be slipping away.  Again praying that you can find your way and realize that God knows the best way to a hope – filled future.

It wasn’t long ago, well maybe a few years ago now, that I was where you are –  Wandering through life and wondering where I would end up…thinking that I was going in the right direction while at the same time questioning if I was doing anything right or at least anything that was going to amount to anything. Many times I remember just sitting and wondering what I should be doing with my life and thinking that I must be missing something because everything is so uncertain.  Other times I did what I thought was right only to later find out that it wasn’t the best idea.

So what’s a person to do?  How do you know what to do with your life so that you can find hope and a positive futue?  Seek God and His direction. Think through the verse that is on the wall in our house: Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. This is part of a passage of Scripture where God is speaking to his people after they had wandered off in their own ways and found themselves experiencing the consequences of their choices  and then wondering what to do next.  God told them that He would listen to their prayers and that if they would seek him with all of their heart, that they would find him.  Even though they took some steps in the wrong direction God said that there was still hope if they turned to Him and sought Him. He said that he had a plan to give them a hope – filled future.

I have had to learn the hard way to many times…now I am trying to learn to seek God first, asking Him about what to do and how to do it.  I am trying to put him first and offering my life to him so that I can enjoy His hope and the future He has planned for me.  I love you all more than words can express, and I am praying that you will follow my advice and seek God with all of your heart so that you might find your way.   I don’t have it all figured out, but I am asking God to guide me and you in steps that lead to a hope – filled future and life.

December 8, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Inspiring Truth

Yesterday I preached from Acts 2:42-47.  As I spoke to others I heard God speaking to me.  I hope that this is awe inspiring truth for you.  Ask yourself, are you in awe of God? Read this passage about the early church, reflect upon the truth, and interact with the Spirit of God.

The text speaks of authentic community…telling the story of the early church gathering, partnering, cooperating together, learning, loving, and celebrating Jesus.  In order to be His church each individual was all – in, giving themselves fully to the teaching of the apostles and to fellowship (doing the christian life together).  They were in awe of God’s work in and around them,  praying and praising God for all that He had done and was doing.  The most amazing thing – God was continually adding to the church as people from their community were putting their faith in Jesus and being saved from spiritual death.

As I reflect upon their story and look at our own story here at Brightside as we try to become His church, I am trying to listen for God’s voice, asking Him to help me hear what He is saying.  I believe that this is what I am hearing…

Do what you can and trust me to do the rest.  I have created you, called you into a relationship with me and into leading others as you follow Jesus.  You are not alone, I am still a God of wonders…Stand in awe of me and worship.  Give your life to me, surrendering each day to use the breath that I give you and the things that I have blessed you with to serve me.  Learn from the truth of my Word – devote yourself to study it and yield to my Spirit as He leads you.  Gather with others who are in awe of me and join with them to carry on my work.  Show others the grace that I have shown to you, loving them sacrificially just as I have loved you.  Pray as if I am your only hope and praise me for my presence and provision.  Continue to share the truth of Christ’s death and resurrection…I will add to the church.

Father God, help me to live each day in awe of You.

November 17, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Mind Is A Battlefield 2

The battle continues – when we focus our thoughts on God and the promises of His faithfulness we begin experiencing small victories but then come the crushing blows of doubt and difficulty.  Yesterday I encouraged you to join me in praying through Psalm 23.  We took on verse one – asking God to protect and provide for us as our shepherd, and to lead us to contentment in His constant care.   We find solace and security there but soon our minds can wander off and become easily overwhelmed by all that is before us.  Sometimes we just don’t know what to do, other times we are just worn out by the constant grind, left wondering if we can continue to press on.

That brings us to another point of decision…dwell on thoughts that will drain us or find rest and refreshment by choosing to think on God’s provision of rest.  In verse 2 of Psalm 23 we see that as our shepherd, God is leading us to rest in His care.  Sometimes we are so busy and occupied with life that we miss all that God is doing around us…we need to slow down and take notice of His provision.  So here is a prayer through this second verse:  God thank you for being my shepherd, help me to actually lie down in your presence and find rest in your provision.  It is so easy to get caught up in thinking that it all depends upon me instead help me to rest as I trust that you are providing all that is needed.  Lead me to those still waters when it feels as if the waves are crashing all around me and about to sink my ship.

November 5, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The mind is a battlefield

What are you thinking or what were you thinking? This is a question that we often pose to someone who is doing something strange or out of place. But I am learning that it is a question that we should ask more of ourselves. Frankly the answer to that question sometimes scares me…the thoughts that are in my head are often surprising. Thoughts that are obviously not from God but from my own sinfulness or from the sinful world in which we live. Thoughts that weigh me down and leave me discouraged. How can these thoughts exist in the same place with thoughts that are clearly from God? The answer, the mind is a battlefield…our own flesh, the influence of the world, and the devil are at war with the Spirit of God fighting for the space in my head.

So what can we do about it…Ask God to renew our minds. Acknowledge the Holy Spirit and ask him to transform our minds through His Word. This is a daily process…I have found that I can choose which thoughts to focus or meditate on.

One way is praying and meditating on Scripture. This week I am doing this with Psalm 23. I am going to take a verse each day, turn it into a prayer, think on it throughout the day, and try to memorize it. The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

Lord God my Father, you are the caretaker of my soul, my shepherd. I am a sheep of your pasture. Lead me to the nourishment that I need. Protect me from the wolves (discouraging thoughts) that are out to devour me. God help me to find my hope, my help, and my contentment in you. Thank you for your constant care.

What are you thinking? Think about our shepherd, The LORD. He cares for you and me. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3  

Remember that Jesus is our great shepherd and came to give us abundant life, but the theif comes to kill, to steal, and destroy.  John 10:10

November 4, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Worry wears me out

What if? These are two words that will literally wear us out. Those of us that worry, find ourselves asking them throughout our day. What if there is another way to live? Instead of spending so much energy on anxiety why not be energized by giving all of our “what if” scenarios to God in prayer.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭6-7‬ MSG)

What if we could just learn that God is with us, each step of the way. Our lives are in His hands. Here is the problem with worries, they don’t just leave us emotionally and physically exhausted, they exhaust our spiritual energy as well because they distract us from realizing God’s presence and activity. So let’s choose to pray about everything, fully trusting that God is good and has a plan for us. What if we let it go, trusting everything to Him?

Here is a simple prayer that I am praying…God you are good. You sent Jesus to die so I could live, you bought me back from a life of sin. Help me to not be consumed with what if, but instead to be aware of your presence. Help me to be in awe of you and not in awe of my circumstance. As I give you my worries fill my life with your peace. My life is in your hands.

October 27, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Monday Motivation

Mondays can be tough days to find motivation.  For some people, its because the weekend is gone and that means back to the “grindstone”.  For others it means more of the mundane, wishing away the week in hopes of a fun filled and or restful weekend.  As a pastor I find that Mondays are often a day of recovery…pouring out my heart on Sunday takes a lot of energy and Monday means that Sunday is coming again and I have to do it all over.  There is a common thread for all of us – it is Monday and that means we have the whole week ahead of us… it is necessary to recharge and make the most of our week.  Let’s live with anticipation of all that we can accomplish, but how can we find that motivation?  God 

Look to God in prayer, share your feelings and fears as well as your hopes and dreams.  Listen to God’s voice speak truth into your chaos of the voices in your head that would discourage you…find motivation through the principles and the promises of the Scriptures.  Here are a couple that may help you today:

  • God is at work in your life – assurance of his presence and activity will change your perspective and will inspire you to live in the moment, even if it is Monday.  I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.  Philippians 1:6 
  • God will enable you to do it – even when you are ready to give up remember that He has called you to life in Christ and isn’t going to give up on you.  For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.  Philippians 2:13
  • Sometimes you have to step out or press on in faith and do your part and trust that God will do his.  It just may be that He is already working “upstream” – step into the water and trust Him.  (check out the story in Joshua 3)

I also found motivation in reading these two blogs today so I thought that I would share them with you.

http://wendybender.blogspot.com/2011/01/step-into-water.html

http://www.johnmaxwell.com/blog/stopping-the-dream-from-slipping-through-your-grasp

So join me in finding motivation on this Monday to press on and do the work that God has called us to.  

September 29, 2014 Posted by | hope | , | Leave a comment

The Path- where is it leading me?

Last night I was reminded of an important principle…direction, not intention, determines our destination. I was at a friend’s house for a Monday Night Football Men’s group and we were watching Andy Stanley teach from Proverbs 7.

Here is the gist of what I learned:

The paths that I am taking today determine whether I reach the destinations that I am hoping to reach in the future. No matter where I intend to go, if I am on a path that leads somewhere else I cannot possibly reach the destination that I intended to reach.

I need to look to those who have been down the paths before for guidance, their wisdom can help me to avoid a disastrous destination.

The reason that we get so enamored with the wrong path is because we are emotionally attached to whatever is leading us down this path…it has me so focused on the immediate that I can’t see the danger and if I don’t get off of this path it will cause me to miss the ultimate.

Each of us must honestly consider the direction that we are going and ask ourselves if we are headed towards the destination that we want to reach. Is this path leading me to where I want to end up?

My prayer – God show me the truth of where this path is leading me? Give me the wisdom to choose the right paths and the courage to take a different one if I am on the wrong one.  Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.  Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.  Psalm 25: 4,5

September 16, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I believe because of God’s Word

Often times I am asked, why do you believe in God? One reason is because of His Word, the Bible.

It has shown itself to be reliable as a historical document through textual criticism because of God’s divine preservation. There is more support for it than many other widely accepted historical works.

It has shown itself to be a reliable source of God’s revelation through prophecy…there are many prophecies that were written several years before they were later fulfilled, just as the Bible said. The ones that are most interesting to me are those about Jesus. His conception, birth, death, and resurrection were all prophesied just as they later happened.

While these things require some study to learn there is another reason that the Bible is a reason to believe in God – its relevancy to life. 2 Timothy 3:16,17 I have learned who God is, how to get right with Him, and how to live from the Bible. I have witnessed it’s transforming power over the last 35 years. Hebrews 4:12 It speaks to the issues of life, gives people successful principles to live by, and is a source of encouragement and strength as we learn about God through it.

The Bible truly is History and His story…it is God’s way of communicating with us and He is rewriting our own stories as we are transformed by its life-giving truth.

August 26, 2014 Posted by | discipleship, hope, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Why would God save me?

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 1:9 NLT)

First, what is being saved? It is moving from an object of God’s wrath because of sin to becoming God’s child through faith in Jesus. (John3:16, Romans 5). When we realize that we have really messed up and have done a lot of things wrong (sin) we often find ourselves asking, Why would God save me? This is a question that often intrigues me, how about you? Ever wonder, “why would God give up Jesus to save me?” Here in 2 Timothy the Bible says that it was His plan all along. Ephesians 1:1-14 and Titus 3:5 tell us that God had planned for our salvation from the very start and it was all because of His grace not because we deserved it. This is important because sometimes our struggle to draw close to God is hindered by our lack of understanding that God wants to draw close to us. (James 4:8)

He gave Jesus to save us because He loved us. If we can be assured that He loves us we can then begin to love Him back. As we learn to love Him back we begin to pursue the purpose for which He saved us. In Ephesians 2:8-10, we learn that while our salvation is dependent upon God’s grace, and not our work, he saved us to join Him in his work. He is at work in us to enable us to do the work he has prepared for us. Ultimately sharing the hope of His salvation with others. God wants to love others through us and wants us to not only be the recipients of that love but also the givers of that love to those who are not yet saved.

August 26, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment