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

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Lingo of Love

It time for another small excerpt from “RETOOLED: Shaping Your Fathering from the Inside Out”. The book centers on how the Fruit of the Spirit empowers our fathering skills. This snippet is from the chapter on love entitled “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”. I appreciate any comments and feedback. God Bless, Jay

The Lingo of Love

Different languages are cool and I am considered a linguistic marvel in i_love_youmy house. Those who know me personally (after reading this) are laughing right now, and that’s fine, because I’m also big on forgiveness! The laughter might something to do with my talent of inventing new words, I’m not sure. It could also be the amount of words I use, although I describe myself as a man of few words, my son Matt reminds me with “yes Dad, but with really long sentences.”

None of this discourages me for I speak seven different languages, all with varying degrees of expertise and fluency. Still, I often find that I need to brush up on one or more those languages. A while back I learned a valuable lesson in this area. You see, although I had studied this particular dialect for eight years, there were several phrases I couldn’t grasp. Consulting my Heavenly language instructor helped, He reminded me the best way to learn any language was to immerse myself in the culture of the lingo that I’m trying to learn. Father God said simply “You have to take the time to know how your son speaks”

So I left the culture of “JAY” and moved to the couch of our family room, sat down with my then eight-year-old son and conversed in the language of “Matthew”. There was one area in Matt’s life that needed adjustment and to this point I had not been fluent enough in Matthew-ese to help him make that change. Over the course of the next hour, through the help of the Father, I was able to pick up some much-needed phrases and connected with my son. When I saw in his eyes that he knew that I fully understood him, it was remarkable. The floodgates opened, he released his spirit and we cried together for some time. We had bridged a gap together, and it took his father though a journey of self-discovery as well. That is the fruit of love, and it speaks volumes.

Strategic fathering is a purposeful, planned and practical incursion into the lives of our children. It’s actively seeking and wanting a potent relationship with them. It’s more than raising “kids” it is a focused journey alongside them. There is a culture to discover deep within each of our children, that culture has a language to learn and customs to observe. A language is best learned by total immersion, by listening closely to the dialect and the flavor of speech. It’s the lingo of love.

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him” 1 John 4:16


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Friday, February 26, 2010

Seven Promises from Your Dad

I wrote this a few years ago for my kids, something I try to live up to everyday. It’s also one of the seminars I’m developing for a men’s retreat. So, what do you think? Have you made similar commitments/promises to your kids?


  1. I am committed to love you always.  
  1. I am committed to display my love for you and openly show my favor with words and deeds.
  1. I am committed to lead by example and help you grow in the character of Christ.
  1. I am committed to help prepare you to be a person of purity in heart, body and soul.
  1. I am committed to know you, your dreams, gifts, and help you explore your God given abilities.
  1. I am committed to help you confront and conquer your fears and weaknesses.
  1. I am committed to love and honor your mom all the days of my life.

© 2010 Jay Cookingham

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rules of Engagement

This is a small excerpt form my upcoming book RETOOLED: Shaping Our Fathering From the Inside Out. Hope you enjoy it…please leave a comment, I would appreciate the feedback. - Jay

patton_flag The situation was tense; on one side was an angry civilian, on the other side a senior officer with superior firepower behind him. There was shouting; threats and soon the senior officer let his anger get the best of him, forgetting the rules of engagement he spoke and acted unkindly. The civilian reacted with his own angry conduct and the circumstances boiled over and I (the senior officer) had blown it—I had provoked my son to anger. A silly argument escalated into a near brawl.

It all started when I asked my then ten-year old son Mike if he had finished his chores. I knew that he left them half finished and now was distracted by video games. When he answered my inquiry with a humdrum “I don’t know,” the battle lines were drawn.

Excuse me? I asked, “You don’t know if you finished you chores? Just who would know that information then?

Shrugging his shoulders, his eyes wandered to avoid mine and the tension grew between us. “I guess I’m finished…Besides it was my turn to play and I wanted to play” Mike replied sharply.

“So, playing video games became more important than answering me honestly? Is that true? I asked, my voice now growing louder.

Mike became very quiet.

Well Mike…is it? I’m waiting for an answer! My voice louder still.

Mike was still quiet, but now glaring at me. Communication was rapidly breaking down but instead of calling for a translator (my wife) I started to read him the riot act! I was yelling now and telling how disrespectful he was being and how dare he and who did he think he was…on and on I went. I had lost containment and was having a warp core breech.

After a few minutes of ranting, I finally asked him “Well, do you have anything to say?

With an exasperated voice Mike replied, “Not when you’re yelling at me I don’t!”

He was angry and that is when I realized that I had caused my son to sin.

So, I had to repent, I went to Mike and asked his forgiveness. In my own anger I had caused my son to break the fifth commandment: honoring your mother and father. I had misused my own authority in a very un-gentle display of “I’ll show you who’s the boss,” causing him to get angry. For a moment I had completely disregarded the Father’s SROE for my life.

In the military, Standing Rules of Engagement, SROE for short are define as follows:

SROE are directives that define the circumstances and limits under which U.S. forces initiate and/or continue engagement with belligerent forces, and define when and how force may be used.

In short, SROE define the structure for actions and attitudes of solders during critical operations. I believe the Fruits of the Spirit are the Father’s Standing Rules of Engagement; they epitomize the way the Father relates to His children. One of the greatest characteristics of God is his gentleness; it’s His standard to follow, especially in training our children.

“Nothing is so strong as gentleness; nothing so gentle as real strength.”
- St. Francis de Sales

“And now a word to you fathers. Don't make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

One Greek word for gentleness is praiotes, meaning mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness. The trait is not indicative of weakness in any way, although not usually thought as a manly term. For example, all those Marine commercials mention the few, the proud, strength, power and even honor, but never gentleness.

Still, this SROE provides strength for handling difficult circumstances, enabling us to be firm, but not callous, candid if necessary, but never mean-spirited. When this fruit retools us, its effect is that we can be angry and yet not sin—this fruit controls the passionate part of our nature. When we obey this SROE it calms tense times, produces an opportunity for peace to reign in communication struggles.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath” Proverbs 15:1

More importantly, it turns their hearts back towards me when I engage my children in this manner. It may take a while to work through but our Father’s own gentleness towards us makes all the difference. How do I know this? When my son forgave me I felt the strength of our relationship grow and the distance between us fade away.

That’s significant gentleness retooling!


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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

You know you need help with computers when you think…

1. Booting up means putting on winter footwear. Buisinesswoman screaming at her lap top

2. Cursors are the people who use really bad language at work.

3. FTP has something to do with sending flowers.

4. The term “regular backup” has you reaching for the ex-lax.

5. A Nanochip is some kind of low-fat snack.

6. Megahertz is a really large rental car place.

7. Shotgun debugging is a really intense method of pest control.

8. A semiconductor is a part time railroad employee.

9. A mother board is what your mom used to spank you with.

10. A java ring is a coffee stain on your favorite mug.

Jay Cookingham © 2003

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Call Me

rotary-cell-phone “Yes, the Lord hears the good man when he calls to Him for help, and saves him out of all his troubles. The Lord is close to those whose heart is breaking; He rescues those who are humbly sorry for their sins. The good man does not escape all troubles - he has them, too. But the Lord helps him in each and every one.” Psalms 34:17-19

This past weekend I gave up…

On a long walk in the woods near my home, I poured out my heart to God and asked hard, serious questions. For many years I have felt that I was called to write, speak and do whatever to encourage men to be stronger husbands and dads. Lately I have been concerned about the impact of that calling…wondering if I was making any at all. The personal price seemed out of proportion compared to results or effectiveness and I was growing weary of it.

So, it was decided…I would tell God it was over…that I was done. I wouldn’t write anymore, I would turn down the speaking engagements…see ya later dream! Then I slowed down my pace (I was stomping before this) and fell silent. In the silence I heard God ask me this question.

What do you need?

Without hesitation (surprising myself in the process) I said out loud that I would need to someone to call me TODAY and tell me not to quit…not to give up. That will do for me, I added.

The rest of the walk was finished in silence and I returned home to pay bills…always a sure fired pick me up! It wasn’t long (about 30 min) that I receive a phone call from a dear friend and brother. He felt that God wanted him to call me, to encourage me not to give up on what God asking me to do. His words were profound, penetrating and full of kindness. I so appreciated his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s push to call me, it was an amazing God moment. My friend went on to affirm the details of that call but honestly…I didn’t need those words (it was still nice to hear them though!). I knew in my spirit when the phone rang that God had already answered my need.

So, I am going forward, trying to keep my eyes on the Master and not the results beyond my control any way. He knew what I needed before I asked…but He asked anyway…that’s the way He loves.

He’s asking you too… What do you need?


“Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.” - C.S. Lewis

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Put Me in Coach

baseball_glove_lg_wht “You gotta be a man to play baseball for a living, but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you too.” - Roy Campanella

The moment I discovered baseball, I was smitten, head over heels in love. There are so many parts of this game that just amaze me. For instance, a major league pitcher can throw a baseball up to 95 miles per hour — some can chuck it even faster. At this speed it takes about four-tenths of a second for the ball to travel the 60 feet, 6 inches from the pitcher's mound to home plate. The batter, with a round bat, waits for the precise moment to swing at a round ball. A hitter has to adjust his swing as the ball is heading towards the batter’s box. A few thousandths of a second error in timing or bat position can result in a foul ball, fly ball or a grounder. This game is played at the limits of our genetic reflexes (and way beyond mine!).

The love for this game came to a turning point for me in my junior year of high school. That year was one of backsliding for me, heavily into partying; I was running hard away from the Lord. Then baseball season came and I decided to try to make the varsity team. I cleaned up my act and dove into training and workouts and when tryouts came, I was ready. From the first day I out hustled just about everyone, the coach even had me run extra wind sprints against his “stars” to push them harder. After practice these stars would come to me to “encourage” me to quit, saying that I was just a show off and I would never make the team anyway. The next day I would just run faster and work harder just to prove them wrong.

On the last day before the first cut the coach called me into his office. Nervously I entered his office expecting to hear the worse, but to my surprise he started to praise the effort I was making on the field. He told that he was proud of my hustle; it was the kind he wanted his team to have and he thanked me for showing the example to all the ballplayers. Man, I left his office strutting, I was so sure I had hustled myself on to that varsity squad. The next morning I went to check out the cut list hanging on the window outside the coach’s office. There on the first line was my name; I had not made the varsity squad. Devastated, mad and confused all at once, I went to empty my locker. Oh, I had made the JV team, but that was not good enough for me. Although my friends tried to convince me not to, I just quit. I never made the adjustment at the plate. The game had thrown me a curveball, I swung and missed. Instead of digging in at the plate and see what God had planned for me, I took myself out of the game. It was a decision that affected me spiritually, I still had some at bats left, and instead I opted for the parking lot. I went back to my partying ways, I did play summer league ball but it wasn’t the same.

The disappointment I felt moved me to quit, but only because I allowed it to do so. Baseball at the time was the Father’s “appointment” for me. It had helped me to clean up my act and focus on more positive values. He was like a third base coach flashing me the signs but instead of taking the pitch, I swung away, struck out and went my own way. That was the summer I almost my playing career permanently, nearly killing my self with alcohol. When I returned to my senses and repented, God put me back into the started lineup. I’m digging in against some tough pitchers and paying close attention to the third base coach. Like the game of baseball, the game of life will humble you. How I pick myself up from being dusted (falling down from a pitch high and tight) or from striking out, reflects on my “at bat”. I think the following story explains this point well.

One of the most memorable at bats for me as a young ballplayer didn’t result in a base hit. It was late in the game and we were being dominated by the opposing pitcher. I came up with the bases loaded and quickly fell behind in the count 0 and 2. Having already struck out my previous three times at bat, I dug in to prevent my fourth. I managed to foul off several balls, almost hitting one out (a home run) down the right field line, and worked the count to full, 3 and 2. Then on a nasty pitch in the dirt, I swung and missed. Walking back to the bench I received many “gimmie fives” (high fives weren’t invented yet). I did strike out but battled and made the pitcher work extra hard during my at bat. Our next batter hit a clean single up the middle off a now arm weary hurler and we won the game. My coach called it a “quality at bat” and a key to our victory. Real success comes in the number of quality of “at bats” we get in, how we respond to the strikeouts and setbacks in life. Will we give up or go wait in the on deck circle, rubbing pine tar on our bat just dying to take our hacks.

Paul called struggles “momentary light afflictions” (Hmmm, He never sat through a Met Loss did he?).

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” - 2 Corinthians 4:17.

The average lifespan of a major league baseball is 1- 7 pitches, that’s it. They are loss to game by foul balls, scuff marks, homeruns or a souvenir handed to a fan. When Paul says his afflictions are light, he does not mean a walk in the park. He means that compared to what is coming they are as nothing. Like the lifespan of a baseball, our disappointments, our strikeouts, however painful, are soon “out of play” in our lives. The gain is far greater, more eternal, according to Paul.

“Eye has not seen nor ear heard what God has prepared for those who love him.”
- 1 Corinthians 2:9.

Just like the adjustments a batter makes at the plate, we need to adjust our vision and perspective. Hardship and trials will not have the last say in my life as long as my eyes remain on the Father.



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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Reflections on Lent

I write poetry, although I don’t consider myself a poet, I just enjoy the therapeutic effect on the crazy part of me. As I approach this season of reflection I'm amazed of how much the Lord's suffering and death is affecting me...even after over 40 years of following Him. That stirring...is a good thing. The following poem, that I wrote today, is from that stirring...I hope it moves you as well.


ash_2 Pilgrimage

I bow my head in reverence,
not in shame.

I kneel humbly in homage,
not in fear.

What I give up in surrender
is small.

What I gain in surrender
is without measure.

Repentance sorrow is
met with mercy.

A heavy heart is caressed
with hope.

More than need or want,
is the desire for redemption

That makes an everyday pilgrimage
real in my heart.

Jay Cookingham 2010 ©

“But thou, O LORD, art a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.”
Psalm 3:3

Friday, February 12, 2010

Love Story

On February 16 I will be celebrating meeting my wife 30 years ago. It was a day that change my life and I am forever grateful to God. Below is one of the poems that I have written over the years…it is a sonnet to the most wonderful woman on the face of the planet…my wife, Christine.


Love Sonnet for Onething-called-love

I could seek out a thousand blossoms,
inhaling none like the aroma of your love.

Countless sunrises could fill my horizon and
not brighten my day more than your smile.
The moon jealously guards her sky,
knowing your rising during the night
would outshine her glow.

The air tingles with excitement on touching
your cheek as you pass by.
Sound itself, hushes to take in the melody
of your voice.

Rainbows swirl with mere color while your
eyes captures them all.
Beauty is not a grand enough word to
fill the picture of you.

Such is your grace,
where flowers bathed by the sunrise,
given rest by moonlight, pale in your company.
Where dreams and elements seem less
than all you are.

I am a castaway on the shores of your heart.
No desire of rescue is found within me.
I find myself lost in your pleasant walkways
seeking more.

Jay Cookingham, September 18, 2002 ©
Dedicated to my wife Christine

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Great Way to Spend 40 Days

Review for:
Living Life in the Zone
A 40-Day Spiritual Gameplan for Men_140_245_Book.118.cover
By Kyle Rote and Joe Pettigrew

Over the 40 years I have walked with Christ I have read many men centered devotional books. Some have impressed and have remained on my book shelf for future use; others have been long forgotten. Living Life in the Zone by Kyle Rote and Joe Pettigrew will have a long shelf life in my home.

This study is by far one the best men devotional books I have ever studied. Each chapter is broken down into easily assimilated sections covering the issues (Coach’s Corner), with Scriptural references (Game Plan), real life examples (Playmakers), insightful questions to ponder (Time Out) and real life application (Today’s Assignment). The chapters are geared around the different relationships in a man’s life and the roles of husband, father, friend and co-worker.

I really enjoyed how the authors connected the real life stories and Scriptures to the particular chapter issue being discussed. Kyle and Joe’s up close and personal view into the lives of many famous sport figures were fascinating and powerful. Those stories and observations added weight to the point being driven home (no sport pun intended). The questions at the end of each chapter would be great in a small group to stimulate discussion. That is why I recommend taking this 40 day journey with a few close brothers. If you have older sons, it would be a great discipleship tool to go through with them. Overall I found this study challenging, well thought out and enjoyable to read.



King_Crown_2My sermon for this Sunday (which happens to be Valentines Day) is titled “Spoken For”. I hope to convey through that sermon how we are Spoken For by Father God, how His words impact our lives. It should be posted here a few days after this Sunday. I wrote this poem a few years ago and it seems to fit the theme of the talk.


I walk across a bridge of sighs
It seems a joyless journey
Faith in past stories produces
a gift of change
Like antique jewelry
with future value
I am adorned, crowned
I cross again
Laying it all down
at the feet of the One
Who made me


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Friday, February 5, 2010

There is…Hope for Change

pg Had lunch with a long time friend today, a wonderful time to connect and catch up with each other. My friend Paul Grimsland and I have been friends for over 35 years and it has been a wonderful journey together. (That’s him making funny faces in the picture on the left) One of the things that impress me about Paul (besides his crazy sense of humor, we once embarrassed Tony Bennett in a diner…long story, but funny!) is his willingness to do difficult things. For 20 years he has been traveling to the Philippines to minister to the poorest of the poor in Manila.

The extent of the poverty there has not stopped Paul to try to make a difference. His focus (much like Christ’s) has been to give hope to one person atH4CLOGO a time, knowing that generations are changed
by that touch.

I like to introduce you to the organization that Paul and some other good friends have begun…Hope4Change. Please visit the site,
poke around, watch the videos and pray. Perhaps there is something God will move on your heart to contribute…I know it would bless Paul. Just click on the toleno, hannah E3banner or the links below and thank you!

“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in.”
Matthew 25:35

God Bless!



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Wednesday, February 3, 2010


The folks over at http://blog.breakthroughalaska.com/ are giving away a free book! Check it out and see if you can be a winner, well you’re already a winner to me but you could get a free book! Read more below.

mad church diseaseMad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic. This book digs into the causes, symptoms, and solutions for the challenges of church work and the tendency for burnout. Anne grew up as a pastor’s kid who also came to work in churches. You can read lots more about it if you like.  It will be great for anyone currently in ministry or those who just want to understand or know how to pray for those who lead the Church. Click on the link.



Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Beyond the shadow of a doubt

groundhog1 One February my local Christian radio station covered live the events unfolding in the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. In fact, since 1887, Punxsutawney has been the host for rodent worship, attracting many visitors from all over the world. Well, maybe not worship, but Groundhog Day is huge in this small town of just over 6,100 and Phil is top dog, uh, I mean, hog. This groundhog has it going on, he has his own handler (and friend, according to his groundhog web site), who holds the record for kissing a groundhog more times than any other human being. A record I’m sure he’ll probably keep. Phil even has his own fan base, which seems to be quite…“devoted”. One out-of-town visitor who traveled from California said:

“I’ve always dreamed of coming to see Punxsutawney Phil,” she added. “It’s in my genes. I have just always wanted to do this.”

The trip was a birthday gift from her husband…yep, he got off real easy!

This yearly Phil frenzy has its roots in an old German tradition who believed that if a hibernating animal casts a shadow Feb. 2 — the Christian holiday of Candlemas (the annual blessing of candles used in Mass) — winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow is seen, spring will come early. The old German saying goes something like this.

“When the bear sees his shadow at Candlemas, he will crawl back into his hole for another six weeks.”

Let’ see, legend has shadow forecasting starting off with a bear and moving on to the humble groundhog. Could it be because a groundhog is lot easier (and safer) to pull out of his home then a bear would be? No doubt much easier to kiss too. All this got me thinking (you knew it would) about shadows, yep, shadows. The kind we cast over all the relationships in our lives.

“How precious is your loving kindness, God! The children of men take refuge under the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 36:7

Under the shadow of the Father we find shelter, protection, rest and encouragement. It’s the best sun block available, shading us from the harmful rays of despair and fear. The Hebrew word for shadow expresses a feeling of “hovering over” a covering that invites us in, not just for protection, but also for relationship. Like the Father, we need to be like the shadow of a great rock. Look at this verse in Isaiah 32:2.

“And a man shall be a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the tempest, as streams of water in a dry place; like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”

That Scripture in Isaiah reminds me of this quote, see if this resonates in you.

“Great men are not the whole of life; but they are the condition of all the rest; if it were not for the big men, the little ones could scarcely live…In the East…where the desert touches a river-valley or oasis, the sand is in a continual state of drift from the wind…which is the real cause of the barrenness of such portions of the desert at least as abut upon the fertile land…But set down a rock on the sand, and see the difference its presence makes. After a few showers, to the leeward side of this some blades will spring up; if you have patience, you will see in time a garden. How has the boulder produced this? Simply by arresting the drift.

Now this is exactly how great men benefit human life. A great man serves his generation, serves the whole race, by arresting the drift.” - George Adam Smith

Isaiah mentions three difficult parts about the weary land, first the wind, then the tempest and finally, the dry place. He also tells how a man can be a hiding place, a shelter, streams and a rock in that hard place. I think he’s giving some great coaching for dads, here’s why.

Shalom fathers give perspective in times of change (wind), provide a safe place to question in the storms of life (tempest) and supply refreshment in a season of doubt (dry place). We can be that rock (Hebrew word means, fortress, or stronghold) that arrest drift in the lives of our love ones. Shalom shadows are good places for getting close, for growing relationships and developing character. Here we can help define faith, purpose and favor, all wonderful and powerful shadows. Dads, we can forecast a future of promise for our children, all without kissing one single groundhog.

To that we say…Come Jehovah-Shalom, the Lord our peace.



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