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

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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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Freelance Knight

 

 

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Iron In a few days I'll be heading to Carlisle PA to speak at the Iron Sharpens Iron Men's Conference. This will be my second round of ISI conferences (I spoke at 2 last year) and each one is an awesome and humbling event. The fact that I am invited surprises me when you considered the heavy hitters of men ministry that are usually gathered there. As a speaker I pay my own way there (thankfully my church covers all costs) so in some ways, I feel like a freelance knight.

A lightweight spear is also called a lance. In the middle ages, a knight who could be hired to fight in different battles was referred to as a free lance. Later this word play came to mean anyone who did work for hire.

The “Iron Sharpening Iron” process is indeed the work of knights in the service of the King, I am "hired" by the Father and sent on a mission to help rescue the hearts of men. I am a FREE lance knight...freed by the sacrifice of my King to become a son.

"But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God' John 1:12,13

Everyday the Father is asking us to do the same...be His FREE agents and introduce lost sons to the Messiah…it’s our Father’s will.

I'll be speaking Saturday afternoon around 1:00 PM. Please pray that men's hearts are touch by the Father as I share His heart with them.

 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Braveheart


 

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The bravest person I know entered my life Thirty-five years ago. March 16 started out as a snowy day, a winter mix that almost kept us from meeting, but the snow stopped and the sun melted what was left and I was on my way to Valhalla (New York that is, not the enormous hall of heroes located in Asgard). Although I am sharing a story about a hero, it is not the Norse kind.

When I first saw this person it was in the middle of a crowd, one that was there to meet an unassuming Christian rock band schedule to sing at their church that weekend. As I got off the bus the band traveled in, this person seemed to stand out from all the rest. Although surrounded by many people, it appeared she was singled out for me to notice her. This moment hung in the crisp air inviting me with a warmth and urgency I never felt before. Today two strangers would meet and only one was aware of the story playing out before his eyes. My Father chooses this moment to speak promise deep inside of me and give me a taste of what forever looks like.

I could not imagine the deep work that was unfolding before me, it seemed too neat, too orchestrated but I have long accepted the fact that God has a far larger imagination than mine. Still, this revelation unnerved me and took my breath away… it left me without words and I’m sure God was chuckling at that particular miracle. I was seeing past, present and future collide and all of the pieces falling unnoticed by the people around me. It was a private showing of a scene, a frame by frame exposure of rescue plan played out in my Heavenly Father’s heart. It was a love story that only He could have written.

He was asking this person of interest to embark on a crazy adventure. This journey would be life changing for them as well, for He was introducing them to the challenge of loving me, every part of me. There would be no off-limits place, no secrets, everything would be exposed and bared for their eyes only. They would see the man as he is and have the privilege, if they dared, to see him as the Father saw him. This wonderful brave heart not only agreed but embraced the challenge, giving all to the journey Father God had laid out for them. In a small church parking lot, in a little hamlet in New York, I met the braveheart that would become my wife.

Three decades and a half ago I would come face-to-face with the person God would use to rescue my heart. The intricate weave of a story that mended the torn and ragged fabric of my life. This beauty would rescue the prince and help vanquish the beast within forever. Dramatic? Yes of course, everything the Father does is full of the power of who He is. His storytelling is full of drama because He’s full of life and He lavished life on me when He introduced me to Christine.

The courtship was an acceptance of a story far greater than who we were and the acknowledgement that this path was good and perfect for us. Here we saw the sacred and were invited into the Holy place, where two became one, never to be separated.

I love this woman…I always will.

"But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." Mark 10:6-9

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Review...I Believe

 

 

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Believe, NIV: Living the Story of the Bible to Become Like Jesus and it's companion book, Think, Act, Be Like Jesus (both by Pastor and author Randy Frazee) are two new discipleship tools that some churches may want to use to help new followers of Jesus to deepen their walk.

Believe, NIV is divided into 30 chapter readings that address one of the following three questions: “What do I believe?”, “What should I do?” and “Who am I becoming?” and is read more like a story than a typical Bible. I would suggest using it along with a tradition translation so that context connections can be made. Still,this can help someone who has had no previous exposure to the Bible gain a solid understanding of what a walk with Jesus is all about. The book is divided into three ten-week sections that are divided as follows:

10 Key Beliefs of Christian Faith (What Do I Believe?)
10 Key Practices of a Follower of Jesus (What Should I Do?)
10 Key Virtues that Assist in Becoming More Like Jesus
(Who Am I Becoming?)

The Companion book, Think, Act, Be Like Jesus works hand-in-hand with the Believe, NIV . It includes the same key verse and key idea as Believe, NIV. But Think, Act, Be Like Jesus also includes a key question and key application for each subject.

For instance, the key question in the chapter “God” is “Who is God?”

The key application is “What difference does this make in the
way I live?”

I think using both of these resources together, reading one chapter in one and the corresponding chapter in the other, will effectively challenge and educate the reader. The goal is to engage the reader and encourage thought and prayer about these key elements...extremely important for all disciples of Christ, new or otherwise.

Good tools, good resource...you should check them out.

Jay Cookingham

I receive these book from Zondervan, a world-leading Bible publisher and provider of Christian communications. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Leap of Faith


 

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For the past two Sunday’s at BBCC I've shared on “A Leap of Faith: Where Fear and Faith Collide”. The subject of faith is a lifelong study I believe…one that continues to become clearer as we walk closer to our Messiah.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • When we think of the word collide, words like….crash, violent, conflict, pain come to mind. A collision will shape you or misshape you…possibly both. No doubt, you will feel the impact and be changed. Our response to a collision between faith and fear can reveal our heart…our fault lines and our view of Father God. That revelation can free us or freeze us.
  • I believe this because faith and fear both require a choice, a buy in into the power of each. The question is what we will choose to believe? Faith helps us stick the landing…the other sticks it to us.
  • In the collision between faith and fear…faith steps out and lands on God. Faith is active…it pursues the Father’s heart and plan with fierce loyalty. It sees the path and it hears the Master’s voice saying this is the way and it leaps, confident it’s landing just where God wants it to.
  • Having faith does not mean you have no fear….It means you deal with fear with the truth of who God is. You surrender to God, not the fear.
  • God is faith, just like He is love…faithfulness that encourages us to be the same .
  • Faith is not based on what God might do... It based on who he is!

The two sermons include physics, Impalas, Jonathan and his armor bearer and much more! If you would like to hear more, listen here

God bless you all!

 

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Monday, December 22, 2014

A Man of Hope

 

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To understand hope is to capture a vision of how God sees life.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

I do believe that hope is oxygen for our souls… it breathes life into the empty part of our souls. Hope makes you believe redemption is possible.

I recently taught on hope (you can here it here, just look on the episodes menu for HOPE), but I am so aware how much I need to learn about abounding in hope. Part of it is how I choose to remember, how I choose to worship and how I choose to trust. Hope grows in a grateful heart, hope thrives in a heart that worships the Father and hope abounds in the heart where He lives.

I want to be a man of hope

It is important to me to live like there is a God of hope inside of me. Does that mean that it always looks like I have my act together? That I never doubt, waver or melt under the weight of circumstances beyond my control? No…it means my life points to a God of hope in the middle of all life, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Abounding with hope means there is heaps of hope to share, gallons of hope to ooze out of my life and saturate those around me. There is a generous God of hope living in us filling us with the life the world so desperately needs.

Let’s be people of hope.

Wet with Hope

I have touched life with handfuls of hope
Letting it run through my fingers
Soaking all I wear
Wetting my pathway

I take my still wet hands to my face
and wipe it clean
My eyes clear once more
I see the place where I’m standing
It’s wet with hope
Uplifting my position

Jay Cookingham © December 16, 2002

 

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