Under Pressure

Only a couple of years ago, at just 15, Coby James started writing songs every day. He’d played guitar all his life, but this creative growth spurt was different. ‘I think a girl broke my heart or something,’ he said, ‘and I just wanted to find a way to express it.’

‘They were just like pop songs,’ he said, ‘kind of dumb. They weren’t good by any means.’ But Coby’s dad knew they could be, if he had something bigger to write about. He suggested Coby try giving his songs to God. ‘From then on I started writing Christian music. And I never looked back.’

His dad was right. Influenced by John Mayer and Shawn Mendez, Coby’s nimble guitar work offered something the Christian music industry had been missing, and he quickly drew attention from people in high places. ‘I was going to all these record labels, talking to all these people. I felt like a little fish in a big pond. I wasn’t ready for any of this.’

‘I found myself being the youngest person in any room that I’d walk in, ever, especially now. One of my best friends is 40 years old, and has a wife and kids, and he’s my producer.’ On the last day of his first week writing songs in Nashville, Coby took inspiration from the weight of expectation on him. ‘Pressure’s a really universal feeling. Everybody’s felt pressure in their life. Everybody’s gone through that. And so I just wanted to vocalise that. And I think as an artist, you’re supposed to put emotions and feelings into words in ways that some people can’t.’

You can’t escape the pressure, but you don’t have to be alone either, if you’re playing on a team with God

But more than the feeling itself, Coby wanted to remind us how we get through it. You can’t escape the pressure, but you don’t have to be alone either, if you’re playing on a team with God. ‘You give me all I need to prove who I am and what we can do,’ he sings, in a catchy single that showed that, young as he was, he was more than ready for the challenges of the music business.

Coby had grown up performing in Church, but the pressure was on again when he found himself opening for Danny Gokey, playing for thousands of people. Armed with just his acoustic guitar, the first few nights he was shocked by how anxious he felt. ‘By the second week, you get out there, you do your thing, you feel the crowd out. I just love entertaining. I think it’s one of my favourite parts about this.’

With COVID-19 putting tours on hold, Coby has been missing those crowds. But he’s been using time at home to write dozens of new tunes. ‘I’ve written so many songs, I’ll probably never get to release all of them in my lifetime. But I’m really, really excited about a handful of them.’

We’ve been playing a few of those tracks on 180, and of course we’re just as excited to hear what Coby James brings next. The pressure’s moving in, but we think he’ll be all right.

Listen to more Coby below. 

Retrain Your Mind

‘Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ Romans 12:2 NIV

The habits and the patterns of your thought life put you on autopilot. That means that, when specific situations arise, you’re pre-programmed to respond in a certain way. Sometimes that’s a good thing, like automatically distancing yourself from danger. Other times, you need to interrupt your autopilot function and stop your mind from rushing off in the wrong direction.

For example, maybe for years people have put you down or treated you like you’re invisible. After a while you expect people to overlook you or say nasty things. You start believing that you’re not good enough for anyone (including God) and you start trying to earn love and acceptance from everyone (including God).

The Bible says: ‘Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ Rather than reacting to the programming, we need to renew our minds by replacing negative thought patterns with God’s truth. To do that we need to know what God’s Word tells us about who we are, and who He is. But if we don’t take time to read and learn the truth, we won’t easily recognise the thoughts that are lies. The Bible says: ‘Set your minds on things above.’ (Colossians 3:2 NIV) By doing that, we’ll be able to recognise when the enemy is trying to make us believe a lie. We need to uproot the wrong thought patterns in our lives, and instead cultivate healthy, godly ones.

So, instead of reacting to the first thoughts that cross your mind, retrain your mind, one thought at a time, to think differently. It takes a little work, but when you think God’s thoughts, He becomes your partner in accomplishing your life’s calling.

SoulFood: 1 Chr 3–5, John 9:1–12, Ps 15, Pro 25:21–22

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2020

Today’s Readings

1 Chronicles 3–5 ()

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3:1 These are the sons of David who were born to him in Hebron: the firstborn, Amnon, by Ahinoam the Jezreelite; the second, Daniel, by Abigail the Carmelite, the third, Absalom, whose mother was Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; the fourth, Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah, by Abital; the sixth, Ithream, by his wife Eglah; six were born to him in Hebron, where he reigned for seven years and six months. And he reigned thirty-three years in Jerusalem. These were born to him in Jerusalem: Shimea, Shobab, Nathan and Solomon, four by Bath-shua, the daughter of Ammiel; then Ibhar, Elishama, Eliphelet, Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet, nine. All these were David’s sons, besides the sons of the concubines, and Tamar was their sister.

10 The son of Solomon was Rehoboam, Abijah his son, Asa his son, Jehoshaphat his son, 11 Joram his son, Ahaziah his son, Joash his son, 12 Amaziah his son, Azariah his son, Jotham his son, 13 Ahaz his son, Hezekiah his son, Manasseh his son, 14 Amon his son, Josiah his son. 15 The sons of Josiah: Johanan the firstborn, the second Jehoiakim, the third Zedekiah, the fourth Shallum. 16 The descendants of Jehoiakim: Jeconiah his son, Zedekiah his son; 17 and the sons of Jeconiah, the captive: Shealtiel his son, 18 Malchiram, Pedaiah, Shenazzar, Jekamiah, Hoshama and Nedabiah; 19 and the sons of Pedaiah: Zerubbabel and Shimei; and the sons of Zerubbabel: Meshullam and Hananiah, and Shelomith was their sister; 20 and Hashubah, Ohel, Berechiah, Hasadiah, and Jushab-hesed, five. 21 The sons of Hananiah: Pelatiah and Jeshaiah, his son Rephaiah, his son Arnan, his son Obadiah, his son Shecaniah. 22 The son of Shecaniah: Shemaiah. And the sons of Shemaiah: Hattush, Igal, Bariah, Neariah, and Shaphat, six. 23 The sons of Neariah: Elioenai, Hizkiah, and Azrikam, three. 24 The sons of Elioenai: Hodaviah, Eliashib, Pelaiah, Akkub, Johanan, Delaiah, and Anani, seven.

4:1 The sons of Judah: Perez, Hezron, Carmi, Hur, and Shobal. Reaiah the son of Shobal fathered Jahath, and Jahath fathered Ahumai and Lahad. These were the clans of the Zorathites. These were the sons of Etam: Jezreel, Ishma, and Idbash; and the name of their sister was Hazzelelponi, and Penuel fathered Gedor, and Ezer fathered Hushah. These were the sons of Hur, the firstborn of Ephrathah, the father of Bethlehem. Ashhur, the father of Tekoa, had two wives, Helah and Naarah; Naarah bore him Ahuzzam, Hepher, Temeni, and Haahashtari. These were the sons of Naarah. The sons of Helah: Zereth, Izhar, and Ethnan. Koz fathered Anub, Zobebah, and the clans of Aharhel, the son of Harum. Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” 10 Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked. 11 Chelub, the brother of Shuhah, fathered Mehir, who fathered Eshton. 12 Eshton fathered Beth-rapha, Paseah, and Tehinnah, the father of Ir-nahash. These are the men of Recah. 13 The sons of Kenaz: Othniel and Seraiah; and the sons of Othniel: Hathath and Meonothai. 14 Meonothai fathered Ophrah; and Seraiah fathered Joab, the father of Ge-harashim, so-called because they were craftsmen. 15 The sons of Caleb the son of Jephunneh: Iru, Elah, and Naam; and the son of Elah: Kenaz. 16 The sons of Jehallelel: Ziph, Ziphah, Tiria, and Asarel. 17 The sons of Ezrah: Jether, Mered, Epher, and Jalon. These are the sons of Bithiah, the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Mered married; and she conceived and bore Miriam, Shammai, and Ishbah, the father of Eshtemoa. 18 And his Judahite wife bore Jered the father of Gedor, Heber the father of Soco, and Jekuthiel the father of Zanoah. 19 The sons of the wife of Hodiah, the sister of Naham, were the fathers of Keilah the Garmite and Eshtemoa the Maacathite. 20 The sons of Shimon: Amnon, Rinnah, Ben-hanan, and Tilon. The sons of Ishi: Zoheth and Ben-zoheth. 21 The sons of Shelah the son of Judah: Er the father of Lecah, Laadah the father of Mareshah, and the clans of the house of linen workers at Beth-ashbea; 22 and Jokim, and the men of Cozeba, and Joash, and Saraph, who ruled in Moab and returned to Lehem (now the records are ancient). 23 These were the potters who were inhabitants of Netaim and Gederah. They lived there in the king’s service.

24 The sons of Simeon: Nemuel, Jamin, Jarib, Zerah, Shaul; 25 Shallum was his son, Mibsam his son, Mishma his son. 26 The sons of Mishma: Hammuel his son, Zaccur his son, Shimei his son. 27 Shimei had sixteen sons and six daughters; but his brothers did not have many children, nor did all their clan multiply like the men of Judah. 28 They lived in Beersheba, Moladah, Hazar-shual, 29 Bilhah, Ezem, Tolad, 30 Bethuel, Hormah, Ziklag, 31 Beth-marcaboth, Hazar-susim, Beth-biri, and Shaaraim. These were their cities until David reigned. 32 And their villages were Etam, Ain, Rimmon, Tochen, and Ashan, five cities, 33 along with all their villages that were around these cities as far as Baal. These were their settlements, and they kept a genealogical record.

34 Meshobab, Jamlech, Joshah the son of Amaziah, 35 Joel, Jehu the son of Joshibiah, son of Seraiah, son of Asiel, 36 Elioenai, Jaakobah, Jeshohaiah, Asaiah, Adiel, Jesimiel, Benaiah, 37 Ziza the son of Shiphi, son of Allon, son of Jedaiah, son of Shimri, son of Shemaiah—38 these mentioned by name were princes in their clans, and their fathers’ houses increased greatly. 39 They journeyed to the entrance of Gedor, to the east side of the valley, to seek pasture for their flocks, 40 where they found rich, good pasture, and the land was very broad, quiet, and peaceful, for the former inhabitants there belonged to Ham. 41 These, registered by name, came in the days of Hezekiah, king of Judah, and destroyed their tents and the Meunites who were found there, and marked them for destruction to this day, and settled in their place, because there was pasture there for their flocks. 42 And some of them, five hundred men of the Simeonites, went to Mount Seir, having as their leaders Pelatiah, Neariah, Rephaiah, and Uzziel, the sons of Ishi. 43 And they defeated the remnant of the Amalekites who had escaped, and they have lived there to this day.

5:1 The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s couch, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel, so that he could not be enrolled as the oldest son; though Judah became strong among his brothers and a chief came from him, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph), the sons of Reuben, the firstborn of Israel: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. The sons of Joel: Shemaiah his son, Gog his son, Shimei his son, Micah his son, Reaiah his son, Baal his son, Beerah his son, whom Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria carried away into exile; he was a chief of the Reubenites. And his kinsmen by their clans, when the genealogy of their generations was recorded: the chief, Jeiel, and Zechariah, and Bela the son of Azaz, son of Shema, son of Joel, who lived in Aroer, as far as Nebo and Baal-meon. He also lived to the east as far as the entrance of the desert this side of the Euphrates, because their livestock had multiplied in the land of Gilead. 10 And in the days of Saul they waged war against the Hagrites, who fell into their hand. And they lived in their tents throughout all the region east of Gilead.

11 The sons of Gad lived over against them in the land of Bashan as far as Salecah: 12 Joel the chief, Shapham the second, Janai, and Shaphat in Bashan. 13 And their kinsmen according to their fathers’ houses: Michael, Meshullam, Sheba, Jorai, Jacan, Zia and Eber, seven. 14 These were the sons of Abihail the son of Huri, son of Jaroah, son of Gilead, son of Michael, son of Jeshishai, son of Jahdo, son of Buz. 15 Ahi the son of Abdiel, son of Guni, was chief in their fathers’ houses, 16 and they lived in Gilead, in Bashan and in its towns, and in all the pasturelands of Sharon to their limits. 17 All of these were recorded in genealogies in the days of Jotham king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam king of Israel.

18 The Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had valiant men who carried shield and sword, and drew the bow, expert in war, 44,760, able to go to war. 19 They waged war against the Hagrites, Jetur, Naphish, and Nodab. 20 And when they prevailed over them, the Hagrites and all who were with them were given into their hands, for they cried out to God in the battle, and he granted their urgent plea because they trusted in him. 21 They carried off their livestock: 50,000 of their camels, 250,000 sheep, 2,000 donkeys, and 100,000 men alive. 22 For many fell, because the war was of God. And they lived in their place until the exile.

23 The members of the half-tribe of Manasseh lived in the land. They were very numerous from Bashan to Baal-hermon, Senir, and Mount Hermon. 24 These were the heads of their fathers’ houses: Epher, Ishi, Eliel, Azriel, Jeremiah, Hodaviah, and Jahdiel, mighty warriors, famous men, heads of their fathers’ houses. 25 But they broke faith with the God of their fathers, and whored after the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them. 26 So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, the spirit of Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and he took them into exile, namely, the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and brought them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river Gozan, to this day.

John 9:1–12 ()

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9:1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

Psalm 15 ()

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A Psalm of David.

15:1   O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent?
    Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
  He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
    and speaks truth in his heart;
  who does not slander with his tongue
    and does no evil to his neighbor,
    nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
  in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
    but who honors those who fear the LORD;
  who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
  who does not put out his money at interest
    and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
  He who does these things shall never be moved.

Proverbs 25:21–22 ()

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21   If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat,
    and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
22   for you will heap burning coals on his head,
    and the LORD will reward you.

Sat 07 November, 2020


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