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

Monday, January 25, 2016

Grace Redux



Grace is fluid, a dance of mercy, a song of favor…a gift of redemption.
“And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:24
The Greek word for redemption describes the price paid for a prisoner of war…the price is paid and they are set free.

In reality… we are all former POWs.

Grace is liberating, grace ransoms us. Grace is how God greets us and meets us…it releases worship in us. Freedom is God’s breath of Grace in us.
“Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:2
“By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.” - The Message Bible
I love being completely surprised by grace.

Grace is a powerful agent; it breathes life into difficult circumstances. It allows room and space for understanding and forgiveness to enter. That begins the road to restoration, and giving us opportunity to travel together on it.
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that in everything, always having all self-sufficiency, you may abound to every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

Father,
I thank you for grace, I know it’s a gift, something I did not or could not earn. I love the way it frees me to be more yours. I love how it changes me and invites me into your presence. Revive your Spirit of grace within me, release it’s power of life in me. Help me to walk in your grace and give it freely towards others. Amen


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Give Away




This past Sunday was one of those moments when something magical and mysterious happens. The Christmas season makes it happen I believe, the hearts of people encounter the Heart of God and wonder covers us all. The small chapel was filled, a nice treat for a festive day, with a cozy mix of regulars, family and wide-eyed first timers. Our gathering was a Christmas celebration consisting of a worship dance by the young ladies of our church, their youthful expressions of joy deepening wonder in all our hearts. We followed with the carols of the season, the congregation joining voices together in worship… singing “glory to the newborn King” as if we were actually there in a lowly stable watching the story unfold. Each chorus, crystallizing the miracle of new birth in our spirits… yes, something special was in the air.

One of our elders gave a message of hope about our Wonderful Counselor and the power in that title our Lord carries. The message led us to share Communion together; a pause to remember what Jesus came to give away for us. After sharing the Lord’s Table, we closed our gathering with a chorus of Silent Night.

As the service ended I thought about all the wonderful God moments to look back on. It was in the post celebration haze that my wife told me that God was working His wonder on us before the service had begun.

God showed Himself during the excited meet and greet mosh pit of friendly handshakes and hugs that filled our aisles as people were ushered in the sanctuary. In that crowd we saw that some of our neighbors decided to come, prodded on by the friendship between my youngest daughter and theirs, who urged them all to come and see “Becky’s dance”.

Her younger brother came with a different agenda; he came with a wonderful mission to give something away. As my wife greeted him, he held out his small hand and offered a chocolate from his treasure of three to her.
“I bought these in case someone felt stressed.” He said, his eyes displaying the conviction of his quest.
That small gift, which my wife gladly received, was an expression of a heart that came to give. That is the miracle of Christmas, that we understand the blessing we have received and we go on mission to deliver a message of “good tidings of great joy”…and yes, that rescues us from the stress of sin.
Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which he has given you.
Deuteronomy 16:17
God has made giving possible, He so loved…He gave! The blessing of His live through us gives us all “give away” power. My little neighbor came prepared to give…that’s how I want to live my life.


Merry Christmas Everyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Table Setting

 

 

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We opened the doors and they came, nearly 120 of them, entering the brightly lit venue in the small town of Staatsburg, NY. They came for a feast, they came out of curiosity and they came for company, as one lone elderly woman said to my son Isaac as he held the door open for her…

“It will be nice to sit at a table and talk to someone.” She said with a smile on her face.

Some were dressed as if they were dining at a fancy restaurant, others in business casual attire and more people than I could count, in clothes that had seen better days. The beauty of all this was that they came through the same doors and shared dinner at the same tables.

Several local churches, businesses, and civic organizations banded together to serve a Thanksgiving meal to our community. The fact that we all were humble and compassionate enough to drop egos at the door to work alongside each other was the first miracle. The meal itself… well, that was a delight to behold.

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me." Matthew 25:35

The dinner was a sit down meal; the tables (beautifully decorated) had name tags and place settings. Each person was welcomed and escorted to their seats by smiling faces and warm hearts. The seating was prearranged to have a mixture of people; inviting lively conversations among folks who may never had opportunity to talk to each other before. Remember the lady looking for one less lonely night? Well, she got her wish.

The night had the Father’s heart written all over it. One lady told me that prior to this meal, her dinner was going to be a peanut butter sandwich, now her eyes beamed with gratefulness over a plate overflowing with good food. Yet, there was more to it, she was surrounded by community, a community sharing goodness together.

Everybody’s spirit was feasting as well…the Father knows
the power of community.

There are so many enemies to community building, so many foes trying to keep us all apart. When we share our hearts, we share the best part of ourselves, the part the Father has redeemed and set free. Free people have no hesitation opening their heart and sharing because they are imitating their Heavenly Father.

“Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.” Proverbs 22:9

The art of thanksgiving is contagious! What we (all those who volunteered to serve) got to see was the look of blessing on people’s faces. We shared in the stories of hearts willing to express their thankfulness for being treated with special grace and kindness.

That’s quite a powerful table setting!

I will praise the name of God with song, And shall magnify Him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30

Ed. Note

The planning for the first Hyde Park Community Thanksgiving Dinner began many months ago, but you’ll have to ask Kregg Gabor when the vision for this event began in his heart to know the true beginning. Kregg serves as pastor for the Hyde Park Methodist Church, this dinner, this blessed event came from a God birth vision deep inside him, one he was all too happy to include whoever willing to serve the community in on. He will humbly take no credit but he deserves a lot for obeying God and spearheading this event…thanks Kregg!

 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Marriage Encounter

 

 

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This past weekend my son Matthew married his love Samantha, the first nuptials in the Cookingham clan. In the afterglow of a glorious day, I think of the lives connected, how the story mingles the past with the future, engraving its own verses into the narrative. Crossroads, cross sections… the powerful weaving of hearts, flowing with immense beauty and grace.

Such is the strength of marriage, what it adds to the storyline, its flavor, its spark and the complete wonder of oneness. The covenant of marriage dances with our spirit and marinates our heart with total abandonment to love’s call of freedom. It is a song that sings to the deepest part of who we are and woos us to surrender our heart to another.

This encounter, this wonderful exchange of wills, is designed by the Father to set us free. Oneness is not meant to separate us but to complete us and teach us how to love as completely as He does. For God so loved… He gave, and it is this precious gift He imparts into the covenant of marriage.

"Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."
- Mark 10:9

 

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

How Sonship Shapes a Man's Identity


 

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The-Dr.-Vibe-Show-Info-For-Black-Men-And-Those-Who-Love-Them copyHad a great opportunity to be interviewed by my new friend and brother, Dr. Vibe last night on his very popular DR. Vibe Show. You have to check out his site and log on to one of his broadcasts, always engaging and informative and sure to bless.

The subject matter is one I'm passionate about, men discovering their true identity and the threats against them. When a man loses his identity he also loses his sense of purpose, he loses his way and surrenders his heart to lesser things. An orphan slave/mentality will lead us off course; we grow distant from the Father in every way imaginable. Moreover, IF we are distant to the Father’s heart then every heart entrusted to us will feel the same effect.

Father God did not battle for our hearts to turn us into slaves or worker drones. He didn’t leave us as orphans, no He sent Jesus to redeem us and make it possible to have a deep relationship with Him. Jesus shows us how it done…what sonship looks like.

1 John 3:1 says this….

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

What this Scripture says to me is that the world doesn’t have a clue what a son looks like but it doesn’t know the Father. So, it doesn’t matter what the world says, or our past, or the enemy says about our identity…God calls us (not merely a title, but a legal status) His sons!

Sonship continues to be God’s best strategy to rescue our identity.

We need to see ourselves as sons… and to understand the fullness of the love of the Father for us. It’s the transformation of the way we think, the renewing of our mindset and our hearts.

Sonship speaks this into a man… Identity and Purpose

Identity = Significance, value, worth, importance, answers the question of
“Who am I?”

This is the heart of who you are

Sonship solidifies that identity and freedom flows from the relationship we share with Father God.

Purpose = Direction, focus, motivation, design, answers the question
“Why am I here?”

This is the heart of your mission

Sonship corrects and directs the steps of a man; it aligns his spirit with Father God’s and prepares it for action. Sonship convinces a man that he was made for something greater than himself.

Your true identity is not what you project, not what you show off…our manhood, our masculinity is based on who God says we are

These are just some of the thoughts we touched on last night for more watch the replay of last night's Dr.Vibe show with me and cast of characters who love God and helping other men. https://blab.im/jjaylw

Follow Dr.Vibe on Twitter @drvibeshow

 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Accidental Guest

 

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I was recently an "accidental" guest on a video podcast hosted by Dr. Vibe (see here). I was watching online because I'm due to be interviewed by Dr.Vibe this coming Friday and I wanted to check the show out. As I was listening I got invited into the conversation (around the 20 minute mark) about "Men and Power, can they handle it?". I had a blast and was honored that these men allowed me to put some of my thoughts into a fascinating topic.

The surprise invitation made me realize how important it is to be ready to tell your story of redemption...the story of how you came into the greatest story there is.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15

It's amazing how Father God used this "accidental" invite as an opportunity for His name to be gloried and for people to hear the message of hope. For this I am thankful, humbled and reminded to be prepared.

Anyways, if you have an hour plus to kill, check this show out and let me know what you think....bless you all!

 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

From Problem Child To Pastor

 

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This week I was honored to be interview (online) by Rodney Kellum from fatherpreneurship.com. Rodney is a new friend of mine who has a huge heart to see people set free and was kind enough to give me time to tell part of my story of freedom. If you have some time (it's about 45 minutes) and you don't mind the glare of my bald head (also I move around so much you  would think the chair I was sitting on was on fire) you'll get a deeper peek into how God rescued me from the darkness of abuse. Also check out Rodney's site, it's full of great content and he's an awesome dude!

Here's the link to the interview....
http://www.fatherpreneurship.com/from-problem-child-to-pastor-the-story-of-jay-cookingham/

 

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