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

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Are you Game?


Growing up I was exposed to rare culinary…uhm, treats. Since we were quite poor, my father would hunt for meat, for small game, deer, whatever he could shoot. One of the more common entrées was the fuzzy gray speed bump known as “the squirrel”. My father hunted them often, which never seemed much of a challenge to me. Our cat seemed to have no problem catching one in our backyard.  However, my father would come back from hunting with a few and act like it was from some dangerous safari expedition. Complete with tall tales of stalking his prey, militant squirrels and the like. Our cat would just drop one at the front door and be done with it, all the while looking at my father with pity. No, eating them would prove to be a far greater challenge.

Squirrel graced our table frequently, and there might be a way to cook squirrel and have it taste good, but my mom did not know that way. My mom was a horrible cook, how bad you say? She had a hard time with making toast. She would make squirrel stew an adventure in eating. The stew took on the characteristics of the squirrel itself…it would turn grey, all except for the peas, which I hate.

I remember one Thanksgiving, there simply was no money for anything close to a traditional turkey feast, and we were going to have to eat whatever was still frozen in our freezer for our meal. Fresh squirrel stew is one thing, squirrel stew that has been frozen for months is ungodly, squirrel stew does not age well, but that is all we had.

There was a knock at the door and when my mom answered, there was a man carrying a huge box. We let him in and he placed the box on our dining room table. Wishing us a happy Thanksgiving, he left as soon as he came. Inside the box were all the fixings for a hearty meal, including an already cooked turkey. I never did learn where that man came from, but I was so thankful he came that night.

Believe it or not, I look back at those times with fondness, (now that the squirrel stew nightmares have ended). They are memories of the faithfulness of our Father’s care. I really don’t remember the taste of squirrel, (someone say Hallelujah!), but I recall the provision He made for us during those times.

Those memories have taught me that, whatever our state, whatever our position, we need to be thankful to our God.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18


Have a blessed Thanksgiving all!

(You can listen to rest of my thoughts on the sermon player on the right)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Morning Prayer - The Breastplate of St Patrick


I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, his might to stay
His ear to hearken to my need
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, his shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in mouth of friend or stranger.
I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One, the One in Three,
Of whom all nature hath creation;
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word,
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

As You Go

Just wanted to share a poem about my kids today. They continue to show me the Father's goodness and the wonder of His creation. I hope you enjoy! Blessings, Jay









As You Go


You step into my
imaginings
a fledgling finding
their way
without caution
As you go
I wander with you
picking dreams
chasing stars
dusting off
the weary places
with joy
A grown man
reduced to boyness
as you go

Jay Cookingham © 2003

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It’s Who you Know


In an episode of Star Trek, The Next Generation, two of my favorite characters had a great conservation about fathers. Data (the android) and Worf (the Klingon, a great candidate for a church elder I think) were discussing a “dream” Data had about his creator. Since this was a first (a dream; that is) for Data and for androids in general he sought out Worf. Dreams and visions are big in Klingon culture, as their relationships with their fathers are. Here’s the conversation starting after Data asking Worf what he should do about the dream concerning his father (creator).

WORF:

If it has anything to do with your father, you must learn all you can about it. In the Klingon MajQa ritual, there is nothing more important than receiving a revelation about your father.

As Worf gives advice to Data, he suddenly realizes he's talking to himself as well...

WORF (continuing)
Your father is part of you...always. Learning about him tells you about yourself...That is why, no matter where he is... or what he's done... you must find him.

Data looks puzzled.

DATA
But I am not looking for my father.

Worf looks at him.

WORF
Yes, of course...

Worf's next words are meant just as much for him, as they are for Data.

WORF (continuing)
Do not stop until you have the answer.

At the risk of boring you with my passion of Star Trek adventures, I wanted to share with you this episode (called Birthright). I think Worf has hit on something—the need to receive a revelation of our Father—to know ABBA in a deeper way. The MajQa ritual Worf speaks of involves prayers, solitude and fasting and the intent is to understand one’s place and purpose.

We need those moments of reflection for knowing the Father changes everything. I mean, “knowing” the Father, the way He thinks, moves, and feels. Knowing more about God changes the data we have collected on Him but revelation of whom He is impacts us far greater. Knowing Him is a lifelong pursuit, a journey of relational exploration.

This journey challenges us as providers, in the way we lead, and the manner in which we care for those in our lives. It probes and tests us daily as men of action and as men of faith. There is great need to believe more fervently in what the Father says and obey Him with the tenacity of devoted sons.  As Worf said…do not stop until you have the answer. The passion of pursuing a deeper relationship with the Father is in us all. We can try to push it aside or ignore it but the longing to know and be known will never be silent in our souls.

As a father I want to love my children as they need to be loved, just like the Father loves me. I desire to be like Him, drawing my own children to me and allowing them to “know” me. This passion must overwhelm me; I must find Him daily, and in this position—one of total sold-out commitment—that we find our fathering stronger than ever before.



Blessings,
Jay

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Flirting with God

Do you ever have strange talks with God? I do, and I had one such talk with God on my way to work one day. I was pouring out my heart, telling Him how tired I was, how frustrated I was, trying my best to get a little love and comfort. (Yes, I was whining). Know what the Father said? “Stop flirting with me.”

I said, “What are you talking about? Flirting? Who’s flirting? (Insert huge mental picture of me back peddling here) I'm always trying to stay in contact with you” He replied, “Contact yes, committed on all levels...no.”

Bam! I felt like I’ve been punched in the gut. Father God had just rebuked me of “service innuendos”, those coy attempts of intimacy with Him. You see, the Father doesn't want mere contact, but deep continuous relational commitment from His sons. Flirtation is all about the surface, never intending to go deeper. This quote says it all for me.

 “Flirtation is attention without intention.” Max O'Rell


I realized that I sometimes dance around relational commitment with God as if it was a trap set for me. Not trusting Him for fear of falling through some hidden opening leading to my rejection. It’s the selfish need is to stay just close enough to be “safe” but not diving in without reservation. It is like the quote above, “Flirtation is attention without intention.”  That is, to talk or act devotedly, but without seriously backing up those words or actions with commitment.

In my heart, I don’t want a mere love affair with God; an affair implies a temporary fling, a tryst needing no commitment on my part. No, this life with Him needs covenant commitment, passionately following Him and leaving nothing in reserve. I don’t want to flirt or “hit” on God, treating Him like some prize to win. That would cheapen the price He paid for us to have a close and deep relationship with Him.

What does this relational commitment look like? It has the stamp of Christ all over it, the passion He put into serving the Father. Loving, putting others first, the tangible actions of self-control fleshed-out through the relationship between Father and Son on earth. That is what I'm hungry for...how about you?

Peace,
Jay