"I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands." - Psalm 143:5

Friday, July 10, 2015

Core Mission




One of my core missions in life is to encourage men and help them see the Father as I have come to know Him. This mission is a passion of mine and I love sharing the message of sonship wherever I can, conferences, men's groups, social media and even better, one-on-one over some really great coffee. To be used by the Father this way is powerfully rewarding and equally as humbling.

Sometimes you get instant feedback, men sharing what God has done by revealing who He is to them, those are precious moments and ones I'm grateful for. However, most of the time you give/share/reveal and pray that men see the Father and the love He has for them...and you wonder...did your words have any impact.

For a guy who loves feedback and visible indicators that something I shared from Father's heart made a difference in your life, not hearing feedback can discourage my heart. I have learned (almost) that you never know the how far the reach, the influence and the sway you have when you yield your life to Him.

But...every once and a while, Father gives you a peek.

A year ago I commented on an excellent post by Morgan Snyder called Stranded with Flip Flops – A Case for a Generalist (you can read it here)

Below is my comment in case you don't have time to click and read Morgan's post (although I think you'll be blessed and will put my musing in context)

Such a powerful post and I loved it, the images of this mountain man coming to the rescue is inspiring. I do have some other thoughts and I believe they fit.
I consider myself a "generalist" a "jack of all trades" type of guy. Yet, I don't hunt, my home repair skills are suspect and if I judge myself against a list of "manly things" I may not qualify for a mancard anymore. At least that's what my dad thought...and for years I suffered from that failure to live up to his version of manhood. 
Thankfully Father God changed all that. He alone defines my masculinity and it is OK not to be good at any of those things...it really is. I don't feel castrated because I can't fix something or track down a wild animal in the deep woods. No, I a man because the Father says so...because He made me a son.
My older brother is one of the toughest men I know. An ex-Marine, can build anything, can hunt down (and has) anything, knows every construction tool and its use...but has two failed marriages and left a minefield of busted relationships along the way. 
Men are not defined but what they can and cannot do...they are defined by their Father and what He says about them. I am reminded about something my wife wrote about a few years ago. I was clearing out some old paperwork and came across a letter that my she wrote to honor me on one of my birthdays. I won’t bore you with the whole letter but there was this one section that grabbed me by the throat. (BTW…it still does) 
“Some men build massive skyscrapers, awesome bridges, complex computers, things which can be destroyed. My man builds lives.” 
His life, His power, His Spirit…through us…brings life. This is the rescue mission I am sent on everyday. Anyways, just a few thoughts from a 57 year-old father of seven, who has been married for 31 years and following Christ for 50...and who is still in process of becoming more like a son every day! God Bless ya!
Yesterday sitting in my church office I received an instant message from someone I didn't know inquiring about something I wrote. After some investigation and a few more text messages I found the above comment and forwarded to this brother, asking if this was what he was talking about...here is his reply:

"Men are not defined but what they can and cannot do...they are defined by their Father and what He says about them." THIS is what changed my life!! 

My heart was overwhelmed with thankfulness to my Father, that He spoke so clearly to this man's heart and impacted him so deeply. I share this to encourage you that your story matters, how the Father rescued you matters, spread this message whenever you can and wherever you go...you never know how Father will use what He has done in you!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Affliction



I am sharing a movie my son Joshua made on Lamentations 3. One of his favorite passages in Scriptures.
There's a powerful message in this...I hope it ministers to you.




Friday, June 5, 2015

What Life Does





Its funny what life does to a man’s heart, the twists and turns of living on this planet places you in jeopardy by asking a simple question.

Why am I here?

The answer—not simple at all—challenges me on a daily basis, causing moments of deep panic because I have no response and then intoxicating me with thrilling moments when I “get” the intent of the question.

The question is an invitation

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Following Messiah helps me with the “why am I here” question and the light of life He provides helps me see where I must invest my heart, changing the question into a proclamation.

Here’s why I’m here

For 33 years (55.93% of my life) I have walked with the most captivating heart I have ever known, my wife Christine. The God ordained, planned rescue of my heart involves being one with my bride, and learning how to love her as Christ loved the church.

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”-Mignon McLaughlin

Our marriage being the message, the song, the declaration that covenant love flows through us from Father’s heart. An anniversary celebration is only a momentary display of what a daily life of covenant love produces… the ability to fall in love over and over.

What life does then is stretch me to uncomfortable and seemingly impossible limits and present opportunities of giving myself away. Each stretch offers me a life moment, a window, a gift of time, allowing me to devote my heart to my bride, making us more one than the moment before.

I am here to love this precious heart… that’s what life does.





Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Big Question





I've share my testimony in blog posts, sermons, men's events and one-on-one counseling sessions... it is time for something new.

At the encouragement of my wife and much prayer, I started a new writing project. "My Story of Freedom: Forgiveness and Letting Go" is the story/testimony of how God transformed my life. How does one recover from growing up in an abusive home? This book will chronicle all the life events that Father God used to set me free and help answer that question.

And it's a big question.

Approximately 1.8 million adolescents in the United States have been the victims of sexual assault. These are the reported or discovered ones... each number a person... each one a story of pain. I see such overwhelming stats my heart spins and I wonder if my story will make a difference in theirs. Perhaps if I was a famous athlete, actor, rock star, or politician, my reach would go further... impact more.

But because I am free... I must share His work of freedom.
"God's work is freedom. Freedom is dear to his heart. He wishes to make man's will free, and at the same time wishes it to be pure, majestic, and holy." - E. H. CHAPIN, Living Words
The cover is a pre-design to just keep me motivated. Please pray for me as I work hard to complete this project and hopefully help others with my story!

I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free. Psalm 119:32 (NIV)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Gain of Losing


 

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For over a month now my spirit seems unsettled and living on the edge of something I can't quite understand. This particular discomfort is like looking over your shoulder and expecting something or someone to be behind you but finding only your imagination at work. Not creepy but puzzling just the same. It seems to be a mixture of anticipation and uncertainty... throwing in a dash of curiosity and you have a hint of what I'm feeling lately. Not "bad" but uncomfortable, not anxious but so "not sure" of why I'm feeling this way.

And I'm OK with that.

It could be connected to being husband, father, brother, pastor and the array of different responsibilities they all contain. Combine responsibilities with difficulties, struggles and worries and you might just have the right cocktail mix to intoxicate a spirit with un-ease.

Yet, I don't think so... it's deeper than that... maybe I'm just disturbed.

I feel dragged in a different direction than what I'm accustomed to, pulled away from the mechanical and self-driven pistoned responses (the things that revolve around me) to life. These eroding forces combine their efforts to expose the deepest part of who I am... quite effectively I may add.

Say what?

When God messes with me, He reveals stuff! This may not be good for keeping my ego intact but it's crucial for growing as a human being and more importantly, growing closer to Him.

A covenant relationship with God requires disclosure, a transparency that He is already acquainted with, since He knows my frame. The disclosure is for my sake, I need to see through myself and allow the Holy Spirit to lead me in that discovery. This disturbance pilgrimage yields hidden places that need surrender, a holy sacrifice offering my heart up in new ways. His love purifies and refines my heart and helps me re-find the lost treasure my heart is.

Finding my heart again is one reason I believe God messes with me. My heart is valuable to Father God, He fought for it, and He redeemed it and made it alive again. This search and rescue mission proves the value of my heart and helps make sense of the time when I feel so restless.

My heart is restless because it is hungry. I am losing (thankfully) my grip on the things that cause my heart to drift and lose it's appetite for more of God. The disruption of my life by a Holy God, messes with me... this shaking, a sacred disturbance of what I thought was important only to discover the shallowness of that mindset. When my "normal" is challenged by the Father, the false harmony of my life is revealed, the tune unrecognizable from the arrangement God had intended my life to sound like.

We have a God who grants us independence —free will— but asks and desires that we depend on Him, so that we can experience life with Him. For me, restlessness is a craving for His order in my life, a hunger for more of Him and for my Father to re-tune my heart to resonant with His. It's this huge opportunity to lose myself in the wonder of His love and gain the freedom my soul desperately needs to.

This is what we gain by losing.

Jesus has a different vision of maturity: It is the ability and willingness to be led where you would rather not go. - Henri Nouwen

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?
Matthew 16:26

I wonder…what do you think we gain by losing?

 

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Unrecognizable?

 

Unrecognizable_thumb[4] This is a post from last year but I felt I should share it again, it helped me refocus on the power and the and severity of the story of our Messiah. I hope it touches you. – Jay Cookingham

Unrecognizable?

My neighbors shouted for me to hurry, to drop what I was doing and follow them. They ran ahead, their excited voices forcibly joining the crowd we were running towards. The last thing I heard clearly was…

He was coming.

The air was filled with dust and anger, and in fear, I almost turned back. Instead, I jostled for position against the mob that lined the street. I flexed my broad shoulders and squeezed my way to the front, not caring about the bruises I gave or received by doing so. I wiped my eyes, trying to free them from the dust assaulting them. I wanted to hush the people around me, gather my bearings and find him in the crowd. I followed their pointed fingers and their jeers to the person walking down the street… he was coming.

My neighbors lied…this couldn’t be him…it was hardly a man. This was a walking, bloody mass of sorrow. Who could do that to such a man like him? It just couldn’t be him!

I followed, weaving through the families, the merchants and soldiers, struggling to keep pace with a man weighed down by a tree. The pointed fingers turned to clenched fists and the anger grew into hatred, cold and brutal, such like I’ve never witnessed before. The grotesqueness of the crowd mirrored this man’s wounds… raw and unforgiving. They eagerly spewed insults and spit with vicious accuracy. I wondered what hurt the man more, these vile words, or the punishment covering his body.

No way would they do this to…HIM! This can’t be him. Could it?

I lost count how many times he fell hard on the street of stones. The blood, the pain and the weight of his burden, all conspiring to trip him. The forced march continued only after the soldiers made a man, randomly plucked from the crowd, carry the heavy load.

My Tears became a guttural sob, the tension ramming grief down my throat. I almost turned back, wanting to run away from the figure struggling to walk, even without the tree to carry. The mocking crowd shouted curses mixed with the name of Jesus…trying to blend them into one.

It just couldn’t be him…why would he let them do this to him?

On the mountain of skulls they nailed this battered pulp of a man to a cross. He looked un-human, torn, battered…and finished. He was unrecognizable…until I heard him speak.

“Father forgive them…they know not what they do!”

I was wrong all along…he was recognizable…

HE was Jesus.

© Jay Cookingham

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Father's Plan


 

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I like to share some quick stories about some men I recently met.

One man has been dealing with abandonment issues for most of his life...he is now 75 years old.

One man grew up in a worse abuse situation than I did (if you know my story (Freedom Story) that's saying something!

One young man described himself as "Boring Brian", he struggles with self-worth.

One young man desperately wants an older man to help "father" him on his journey and walk with Jesus

They all came (along with about 40 others) to hear me speak about "Manhunt: God's Search for Sons" at my seminar at the Iron Sharpens Iron Conference in Carlise, PA (March 14th). The father wound is real, I've experienced first-hand and seen it revealed in the eyes of many brothers. When I start to share about how God wants to be their Father, no matter their age, I see a whole range of emotions cover their faces. Some wipe their eyes, some stare down at the floor with one hand wrestling for control of the other, and then there are the ones with a look of wonder as if they have heard the best news since they were forgiven of their sins... the smile gives it away.

It is for these faces... these hearts I do this. This is the message, that God is my Father, your Father, their Father, that drives me to speak, to share and to give hope.

“The child asks of the Father whom he knows. Thus, the essence of Christian prayer is not general adoration, but definite, concrete petition. The right way to approach God is to stretch out our hands and ask of One who we know has the heart of a Father.” 
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

To help men stretch out their hands towards Father God is a privilege, to witness the connection happen is a blessing beyond words...even now as I write the emotion of it all swallows me in its richness and my eyes moisten with gratitude.

The stories continue...

The 75 year young brother received confirmation about a life-changing decision. He and his wife recently applied to become foster parents (at 75!), releasing the champion in them both. He will fight abandonment with acceptance.

The brother with an abuse story worse than my own sat down with me as we shared the restoring power of the love of the Father. We talked for 30 mins (after all had left) marveling about the goodness of God. Further healing was cemented.

I renamed "Boring Brian" to "Bold Brian" reminding him of who he was in Christ and that nothing is boring about a revealed son of the Father. The light in his eyes was priceless.

As for the young man seeking a spiritual dad...he had one of the biggest smiles in the room, he received hope that that man would be stepping up soon in his life. Such is the Father's love.

Fatherlessness is poison, it almost consumed me with its devastation, but the love of the Father pulled me out of darkness into His marvelous light.

I want to help Him do the same for others…to follow His plan.

His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:5

 

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