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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Live Like You Were Dying

retooled cvr final[6] It’s time once again for a small excerpt from my upcoming book “RETOOLED: Shaping Our Fathering From The Inside Out”. This is from the introduction and I think it fits for a post during Holy Week. Once again, I appreciate any comments! 
– Jay

And he said some day I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying – Country song by Tim McGraw

“For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba, Father!” Romans 8:15

The calling to be dad is an awesome one and make no mistake, it is a calling. This call to fathering is simply following the example of Father God fleshed out in the life of Jesus. The power of this calling is born in the spirit of adoption, the extreme makeover of people into sons and daughters. The flow of the Holy Spirit through our lives is essential, not just as fathers of course, but as followers of Christ. The love of God, the example of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit are the building blocks for a strong father.

It is here our journey begins but it does require an unusual first step to be a more effective dad and a greater influence on all those in your care. This one step is a powerful, revolutionary difference maker. It will set you on a challenging course; and begin a journey of unbelievable adventure. It will change your life in ways that perhaps, you did not think possible.

goldfinger1 What to know the one thing, the one step? Well, here’s a scene from one of my favorite Bond movies that might give you a hint to the answer. In the movie Goldfinger this small exchange talks place between Bond, super-cool spy guy, who is tied to a table, and the bad guy pointing a nasty laser device towards 007.

Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!

That’s it, that’s the one step. Lao Tzu, once said, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. “ I say it begins with, “Are we there yet?”, at least, when it concerns the family vacation! When we talk about the journey with God, the Father does expect the “old self” to die to allow real life (His) to emerge in all we do. The wonderful gift of Salvation guarantees a new life from a lost one. He states it over and over throughout the Word.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20

“For you died, and your life has been hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3

“I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service.”  Romans 12:1

The New Testament is full of “new life” instruction that involve living like you were dying moments. The process of dying to self is the deep purging of all the barriers that block our growth as Christ followers. This spiritual power wash enables us to discover more about ourselves, and not just our weaknesses and our strengths. It gives us insight to see who we really are. Allowing this Holy Spirit retooling frees us to see the man we can become in Him. So what does dying to self look like? I believe it looks like Christ who modeled selfless living faithfully. If Jesus had a motto for this retooling life style, I think it would be the following.

"Greater love hath no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

Here’s the buy in for us…

"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25

Denying oneself is a powerful agent of change. The Greek word for deny in Matthew 16:24 is a strong one, it’s the word aparneomai (ap-ar-neh'-om-ahee) and basically means to disown oneself. So, denying “me” is fully accepting the fact that I am no longer the center of my world. In my own journey with Christ, I’m discovering more and more that fatherhood is so NOT about me!

What is it about then? Sacrifice? Surrender? Yes, but it’s much more than a willingness to give up stuff, more than just being obedient. This retooling of the Holy Spirit is relational and deeply personal. God is imparting something deeper than a set of instructions and a list of rules. He’s calling us to a life changing journey with Him and He calls us by name!

“But now so says Jehovah who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel; Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.” Isaiah 43:1

Here the Hebrew word for called is qara' (kaw-raw') which means; to call out, recite, read, cry out, or proclaim. The picture is of a proud Father calling His children by name, reminding them of their security, their protection, and their value to Him. The Father makes this moment a declaration, a heavenly proclamation of distinct identification of us and with us.

Throughout scripture He speaks of a global positioning with Him, the creator of the universe. This is the nature of God—to be intimate with His kids—on a first name basis with all of us. Drawing us to Him, calling our name, grafting us onto the family tree and declaring universally, “you are mine”. As we walk in relationship with Him, He rubs off on us and our desire for living like our Daddy becomes alive and passionate. The focus changes from “what must I do to be good?” to “how can I be more like my Father?”

That’s all for now! God Bless…Jay

Monday, March 29, 2010

My Passion for the Christ

Christ During this past weekend’s prayer retreat God spoke clearly about reaching those who do not know Him…the lost, the hurting, and the searching. I pulled this out of my archives for this Easter season because reading it again moved me deeply. It describes what I’m meditating on and praying for. – JC

On February the 24th, 2004, I saw an advance screening of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” and I was stunned to say the least. For months the movie has been touted by many Christian Leaders as a wonderful evangelistic tool, I admit to wondering just what would its evangelical effect be on me. What would I be drawn to? What would it do to my own heart?

What I experienced went far deeper than I imagined, for this was much more than a collection of violent colloid images on a screen…it was a vision. I’m not saying it is a perfect or complete one; still the graphic imagery ripped away at the notion of “Jesus, meek and mild.” Here was a Savior whose very presence commanded attention—who without defending himself defended us all for eternity sake. This film like the Scripture shows a strong man, standing alone after all have deserted him, but he’s not wavering. Mostly silent, yet fighting with all he has, not for his own life but for ours.

The Romans used crucifixion as a political and military punishment, pouring out their cruelty on the lowest rungs of society—slaves, violent criminals and whoever stood against Rome. Some scholars believe that Jesus spent 6 hours on hanging on the cross, this after some of the most torturous beatings anyone has ever had to endure. Here, a supreme battle took place as He took on the sins of the world. In the film, one of the thieves cries out to Jesus, “Why do you embrace your cross?” He embraced the cross and His Father’s will for our sake, for that battle and our freedom.

To me the Passio—the suffering of our Lord—intense as it was, didn’t over shadow the passion he showed for humanity. All through the scourging, the beatings, the insults and the desertions, he continues to look on them with compassion and love. Although his right eye is closed shut due to the severe beatings, he keeps scanning the crowd of accusers, loved ones and bystanders, powerfully demonstrating how the eye of the lord is always on our redemption. When the movie shows Jesus repeatedly falling down, it shows it from the viewpoint of Jesus, often viewing their feet as he lands on the ground. Our Savior was and is concerned for our walk, where we’re going and the burden we carry with us.

Despite many reviews to the contrary, this is not a finger pointing film. No, this is an anti-sin film, a story about Father God who so loves His creation, is so against sin, that He births His divinity into the world to redeem it. If one views this film simply as a means to evangelize one’s neighbor or sees it strictly as propaganda, they will miss a great treasure. This is a visual representation of the greatest love story ever told, it reveals the heart of God towards us and the truth of who really “killed” Christ…no one, for He purposely gave up His life. Yes, it was my sin that nailed Him to the cross but it was His love for me that drove Him there. This is the Gospel, the Good News, all wrapped up in a declaration of…”Father forgive them, they know not what they do!”

My passion for the Christ must try to reach the level of my Saviors love for me. The feeble attempts at such an intensity of love needs to end, it can’t stay ordinary, safe and measured. This passion must overwhelm me, drawing me deeper into Him, His Passio made it possible for me to live my life out in this manner. As a father I want to love my children so much, so well, so completely, just like the Father loves me. I want to be like Him, unafraid to send His own into a dark place to bring life and light.

“He was bruised for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Blessings,
Jay

 

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Falling in love

praying-to-god “True prayer is not gritting our teeth but falling in love.” - Richard Foster

Tonight until sometime Saturday afternoon I will be at  Mt. Saint Alphonsus on a prayer retreat with four other men that comprise our board of directors for the Sound of Life Radio station. While we are gathering for the purpose of praying for direction and wisdom…we have decided against a set agenda other than falling on our faces before Him. That’s why the above quote from Richard Foster is so heavy on my spirit…I want to fall in love again…I want a passion that overflows with gratefulness towards Him. I have this great need of….Him.

Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; and let those who love Your salvation say without ending, Let God be magnified. (5) But I am poor and needy; make haste to me, O God; You are my help and my deliverer; O Jehovah, wait no longer! Psalm 70: 4-5

Total dependence on the Father is the answer for all our needs. Psalm 70 is first a declaration of who He is. Then it’s a shout of desperation, a cry for rescue and then declaring His ability to meet that desperation…it’s all about seeking HIM first. That’s how we fall in love.

“True prayer is not gritting our teeth but falling in love…

So, here is how I’m approaching this weekend, with the attitude of this ancient prayer by St. Ignatius and not so ancient poem (by yours truly).

Peace,
Jay

Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty,
my memory, my understanding and my whole will.
All that I am and all that I possess You have given me.
I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will.
Give me only Your love and Your grace;
with these I will be rich enough,
and will desire nothing more.
                  - St. Ignatius - 16th century

A Passion for Purity
A passion for purity
burns away the dross
All the loss is gain
Through the fire I become
more than a casting
a crucible refined
The reflection of His glory
                  - Jay Cookingham - November 6, 2003

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Show Me What You Got

It’s time for another small sample of my soon to be released book “RETOOLED: Shaping our Fathering from the Inside Out”. This one is from the chapter on goodness, I hope you enjoy! Please leave feedback…I love it!

One warm summer afternoon, I was having this great Nerf battle with my tnerf (1)hen six-year-old son Matthew. Armed with the latest Nerf technology, we chased each other around the yard and in and out of the house. I was in hot pursuit of him when he exhausted his supply of soft, plastic arrows. Ducking inside the house he ran up the first flight of steps and onto the first landing. That’s where I caught and cornered him. Assured of my successful victory, I said to my diminutive captive; “Well, what are gonna do now kid?” Without skipping a beat he said; “Dis!” He preceded to whap me across the head with his hard, plastic weaponry. The surprise blow sent his former captor down the stairs, landing in a humble heap with a cut across his nose. Matt and I shared a laugh and the small Nerf conflict came to a close. Except for the “war stories” told by my son to the rest of the family! What does this have to do with goodness? Well, this “show me what you got moment” left a significant mark (a really “good” one) on his Dad and got me to thinking.

Goodness fruit understand that my every word leaves a mark and every action an impact. Everyday my kids measure out the steps of my leadership. Does my stride allow for their stride, their ability to stretch out their walk? Or will my pace frustrate them as I worry over my personal comfort? I think they should be like these fathering steps in Proverbs.

 

(10 “Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of your life shall be many.

(11) I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in the right paths.

(12) When you go, your steps shall not be narrowed, and when you run, you shall not stumble.” Proverbs 4:10-12)

The truth is simple brothers, our lives produce ripples, and from the moment our eyes open in the morning, what we focus on our children will see reflected in our life. Goodness retooling concentrates on our personal journey with God first, giving us the strength we need. A father must lead the way of relationships; modeling solid, healthy and life-giving connections between God and family members.

The point is that Father God (because He’s good) redeemed us. He restores us for relationships even to the point where he desires intimate friendship with us. God's acceptance has nothing to do with what we have done or who we are. It has everything to do with who God is! The journey with God imbeds us in a relationship that will change us and benefit the world around us.

 

“He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Micah 6:8

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their afflictions, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” James 1:27

 

The impact, the ripples on the pond of life are far-reaching when we honor Him by living out these Scriptures. The Father’s goodness inspires me, He shows me what is good and then I can show my children. There are two relational rules in my house; they’re called relational rules because…well, they help promote relationships. Here they are:

1. Nothing is more important than loving each other

2. The people that walk through our door are either someone we love
or someone who needs to be loved.

These simple rules help connect my family with God and His goodness. When we commit to retooling our goodness we gain so much more than we give. You see, He offers sonship, fellowship, friendship…that’s a whole fleet of relational and personal involvement in our lives.

Peace,
Jay

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Faithfully Yours

“His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.” Song of Solomon 5:16

“His words are kisses, his kisses words. Everything about him delights me, thrills me through and through! That's my lover, that's my man, dear Jerusalem sisters.”The Message Bible

I love that Scripture! Who wouldn’t love to hear his wife talk about him that faithfulway? Brothers, we need to “talk up” our marriage (and marriage in general). Speak well of its virtues, its power to complete and transform who we are. Making your marriage a priority displays faithfulness to your wife, your kids and anyone else who may be watching.

“Kindness and faithfulness keep a king safe, through kindness his throne is made secure.” Proverbs 20:28

That’s how we should secure our homes. Faithfully loving our brides like Christ loved the Church will keep our families safe and our marriages strong. To me faithfulness involves the “Wantability Factor.” Wantability (WA for short) is how I describe the mixture of the desire to obey the Father and the complete surrender to Him. Choice and decision wrapped together, that’s Wantability. Jesus had gallons of that stuff, sloshing around inside, spilling over and pouring out. With every step closer to the cross He changed lives.

Wanting to be, choosing to be, allowing the Lord to be all we need in our fathering, these are all the elements of Wantability. Together they form a commitment born straight from the heart of the Heavenly Father. To me, that’s the spirit of adoption, the willingness to give all unconditionally to point His children to Him. What I have discovered about fathering is just how far reaching WA is. Every WA immersion has tremendous ripple effects, not only in me but also in the lives of my family.

Father, your faithfulness is amazing, it overwhelms me. I desire to show that same faithfulness in my marriage and towards my children. Help me to choose that path to love and lead faithfully. – Amen

Monday, March 22, 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fabulous Link Friday!

the-links Not sausage links, not the missing link but it's FABULOUS LINK FRIDAY!
Ok, it's not really a cool name but I hope you'll enjoy the ride around the
internet with these links!

3 REASONS TO EMBRACE THE UNCOMFORTABLE
http://blog.breakthroughalaska.com/
Jason Stasyszen asks "Do you agree that the uncomfortable in our lives shows us what we’re made of?"

Over at incourage they are celebrating Easter
http://www.incourage.me/2010/03/five-ways-for-a-family-to-celebrate-easter.html

It's Complicated wants you to look at the empty tomb in a frsh way.
http://www.garymo.com/2010/03/easter-please-connect-truth-and-hope/

That's my King!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KB2_iszbvUQ

Perry Noble has a Few Things You Should Read.
http://www.perrynoble.com/2010/03/18/a-few-things-you-should-read/

God Bless!
Jay

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fan of Freedom

_225_350_Book.124.cover  My review of : Free Book By: Brian Tome
  Thomas Nelson / 2010 / Paperback

 

 

 

 

I am a fanatic about freedom. I'm tired of seeing people beaten down by the world's systems and by religion. God's offering real freedom. Get yours. ~ Brian Tome

Are you living a life of freedom? That's the question at the heart of pastor & author Brian Tome's latest, FREE BOOK. Tome’s book is a full-frontal attack on bondage—spiritual, physical—whatever is keeping people prisoners, he hates. I found the tone and pace a little unsettling at first, but as I read on I felt more at ease. Brian does hit hard on the things he does not like and for some that may seem arrogant and self righteous but I believe if you stay with the book you’ll find some helpful application. His thoughts are raw, humorous and…well, real.

This is not a book full of pastor-speak, in fact, much of might offend because it isn’t such. For all the rawness (which may seem overdone to some) I believe it’s straight from Tome’s heart and I found myself reading it like a Psalm of David (without the Scriptural authority of course). Brian’s passion for freedom is poured out on the pages of this book and sometimes that passion may get a little sloppy (like David’s)…but it’s real. Here is some of that passion.

"I am a fanatic about freedom. And I'm fanatical about coming at you hard in this book.

Maybe you're not as free as you think you are. Even worse, you may have been duped into believing that a "balanced" life is the key to happiness (it isn't) or that a relationship with God is about layering on rules and restrictions (nope).

Whether it’s media-fueled fear, something a parent or teacher said that you just can’t shake, or even the reality of dark spiritual forces bent on keeping you down, something is holding you back from the full-on freedom God intends for you.

The Bible says, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." Not fear. Not guilt. Not morality. Freedom. You can have the sort of joy you thought only kids could have. The day of freedom is here.” Brian Tome

So for me it was a good, not great read…simply because I have experienced the personal freedom he mentions in his book and found nothing new to discover in its pages. For the burned-out Christian, this may be a helpful book to read and pray through…the sections on strongholds are very good. You may or may not like the honesty and the in your face mentality of FREE BOOK, but it might just push you hard enough to desire true freedom in Christ.

Peace,
Jay

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. 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.”

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Family Service

My pastor Tim Millard (Bridge Builders Community Church) is a brave man or perhaps a crazy man depending on your point of view. He had this wild, outrageous idea for a church gathering…hmmm; maybe God was speaking to him. Anyways, he wondered what church would look like if a whole family was in charge of the church gathering. So, as the first guinea pigs chosen, my whole clan (yes, all nine of us) led the service this past Sunday. It was a blast! As we were adjusting microphones to start worship someone yelled from the congregation…"that's not a worship team, that's a worship worship hands1army!" It felt that way to me, seeing my youngest (7) to my oldest (21) leading worship together was awesome tonic for a daddy’s heart.

DanielandtheLionsDenFigurineSet When worship was over we quickly went into a small skit about Daniel and the Lion’s den (Becky’s, my seven-year old, contribution) which brought laughter from what seemed a weary gathering just moments before. After an encore bow for Becky, Sarah (19) my oldest daughter took the stand and delivered her gift for the church family. She shared about how at some parties, showers and special occasions, there would be a seat with a card taped underneath naming the “sitee” a winner of a special prize. It was always amazing to her that only one person would get that special something. After relating this story she asked everybody to check underneath their seat to see who won today’s prize. Imagine the commotion when everybody discovered an index card taped to their chair!

Sarah had the wonderful idea of writing down promises from Scripture on indexindex cards and taping to every seat in the church (around 50). Her efforts in praying over each seat, trusting the Holy Spirit to guide people to their promised seats was quickly rewarded. Many people started crying when they read their promise and it was wonderful to see God move on their hearts.

chocolate-cookie-dough-450x382 Josh my oldest son delivered the message, (his first sermon) titled “Conflict is in the cookie dough”. A phrase from one of his college professors describing how conflict in a story is what keeps us interested and coming back for more. In other words, conflict is a much needed ingredient for a good story. Yet, in real life, we don’t want conflict, we want safety and comfort. Josh weaved humor, Scripture and his own story in an encouraging talk on how God uses conflict to mold and refine us.

“The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” Psalm 12:6

The theme we (my family) discovered in all this was God’s faithfulness. In the midst of a lion’s den full of conflict and fear…He is faithful. His promises are like silver, pure and proven. That was the message of the day and for this father, it was a breath of fresh air. To see and hear my children worship Father God with their gifts and abilities filled me with joy. As for me and my house…we will serve the Lord.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”
3 John 1:4

Peace,
Jay

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Zeal of Approval

I found some old notes from a book I read a few years back and it got me thinking about passion and zeal. Take a look and let me know what you think…how’s your zeal lately?

In “Never Beyond Hope” by J.I. Packer, there is a chapter about Nehemiah and dimmer the zeal he had for God. Nehemiah’s name means the comfort or encouragement from God, so his very name is an ordained mission statement for his life. The people of Israel had broken covenant with God and God was going to use Nehemiah to “encourage” them back into the fold, which he does very zealously! Packer makes a point of Nehemiah being in essence, the second founder of Israel, with Moses being the first. Both leaders had zeal for their calling but also for the people they were chosen to lead.

This chapter really hit me hard and convicted me to some well-needed repentance. As I thought about my own zeal God showed me the picture of a dimmer switch. All too often there’s waning going on, a strobe light effect of inconsistency that leaves me falling short of Paul’s admonishment in Romans 12:11, “Never be lacking in zeal.” The Father showed me how it was turned up nice and bright for special areas of my life that I was already pumped about. However for connections that I had no desire to pursue, the zeal level wasn’t as intense. My hand on the dimmer switch dictated the power flow and that was not a “bright” idea on my part.

I was reminded of the true power source of my “dimmer switch”, the love affair I have with Jesus. How the passion for Him is the electricity that juices my life. How the Holy Spirit current flows through our spiritual veins, lighting us up with zeal to follow the Jesus with all we have. The Greek word for zeal means “to boil” and what better to have boiling inside then a love relationship with Jesus.

That burning, that passion; comes from a daily connection with a living passionate God. We can work it up in our strength for a while but it soon wanes and goes dim. When our covenant relationship with Him drives us and consumes us, it produces a zeal that is enduring. As we throw caution and appearance on the crucible of His love, we can burn with true zeal for His kingdom rule in our lives. Our prayers become infused with passion, walls are rebuilt, and the way of the Lord is renewed daily in our lives. Purpose is revealed, direction shown and like with Nehemiah, authority given to accomplish the will of God in our lives. Our covenant relationship with God is our zeal producing power source.

 

“Command Aaron and his sons, saying, this is the law of the burnt offering: It is the burnt offering, because of the burning upon the altar all night unto the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be burning in it. The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out. Leviticus 6:9-13

Blessings, Jay

 

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

You Send Me…honest you do.

My apologies to Sam Cooke…. and yes it’s another small excerpt from “RETOOLED: Shaping your fathering from the inside out”. Love to hear your comments!

suitcase Josh, my oldest son, turned 21 on March 7th. With that milestone came the realization that his journey away from home and towards his life adventure is close. The passage from a boy to young man was only the first leg of that voyage. As I was meditating about that mission I thought of the following scripture.

“Then Jesus said to them again, Peace to you. As My Father has sent Me, even so I send you.” John 20:21

Apostello, the Greek word for sent in this verse, pairs up interestingly with Pempo, the Greek word for send. Pembo describes the action to thrust or insert one thing into another. Thrusting and inserting, sounds painful doesn’t it? As I apostello my son into the world, I marvel at the strength it takes. My role as father takes on new dimensions on how to protect, how to cover, and more importantly, how to release. Not always easy and not without its share of pain.

You see, more that I care to admit, I still try (sometimes really hard) to decide and think for Josh. That’s not sending…that’s keeping! In all of this I found out that release is a matter of trust. Not just the decisions of my son Joshua but trusting in the ones of Father God. All these years I knew that Josh belonged to the Father, that I was a temporary steward of God’s choosing. Yet, being at the edge of that thrust into his mission is more of a question of faith for me than my son. What fuels that faith? How about many years of groundwork and foundation building, like the one described in Deuteronomy 6:5-7.

 

(5) “Love GOD, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that's in you, love him with all you've got!”

(6) “ Write these commandments that I've given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you.”

(7) “and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night.”

What you build into your children will last, that’s the promise of these Scripture and the one in Proverbs 22.

“Point your kids in the right direction-- when they're old they
won't be lost”

As His sons, we can know Him deeply, allowing the Holy Spirit to flow into and through our fathering. Embedded in the mission plan Father God has given us are the tools to know our children, to be able to speak their language. So when the moment of apostello releasing comes it’s a generational one. There is a supernatural release of power, purpose and passion. Dreams gain permission to cut loose and develop into all the Father desires. This release empowers the dad as well, taking our fathering skills to another level. Part of our makeup, our fathering DNA is to release our children into their journey. Like our Father God, sending them out to fulfill purpose gives strength to walk out all God has for them.

Just because God was…well, God. I don’t think it was any easier to apostello Jesus into the darkness of humanity. Driven by love, the Father thrusts His son into our world to deliver us from that darkness. He makes known that same fatherly love into our lives for sending our own children on a similar mission. This step of release is never easy for a parent but it is one step closer to having a heart like our Heavenly Father.

“My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes watch my ways”
Proverbs 23:26

Peace,
Jay

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Waiting Game

retooled cvr final

It’s another snippet  from “RETOOLED: Shaping our Fathering from the Inside Out”. This time from the chapter on patience and I would love you “hear” your thoughts! Peace, Jay

 

 

 

Can you hear me now?masi-oka-get-smarter-070420-big (1)

I am in a unique position as a dad; I call it a patience position. Patiently listening is part of our relational journey with the Father. The still small voice of God is often missed because of busyness or, soul clutter, as I like to call it. Soul clutter is any distraction that pushes the Kingdom out of our lives…its loud and demanding. We need to take on this patient position often, carving out time to spend listening to the Father, so when we do speak we have His words. Just like Jesus did.

“Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” John 14:10

Soul clutter will rob us of patience (and joy, peace…you get the idea) and leave us vulnerable to missing relational refreshment. Waiting on the Lord is the extreme patience position and the one we need to assume. Here the Father speaks to His sons and daughters, renewing them as they wait patiently on Him.

“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart”.  Psalm 27:14

God is always talking; the question to ask is “are we listening?” Are we taking the time to patiently sit before Him just being quiet? Stillness is a spiritual pose as well as a physical one. It’s not a restriction of movement but curbing the soul clutter in our lives. When we make room for God to speak our priorities will change. The focus is upward and off ourselves.

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be praised among the nations, I will be praised in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

The word still in Hebrew is râphâh (raw-faw') is translated “to slacken or drop” which is great advice. In this case it’s good to be a slacker, dropping the soul clutter and positioning ourselves to hear clearer.

Waiting on God Hearing aids:

  • Listen Closely

“And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
Mark 4:9

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:”
John 10:27

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:” James 1:19

  • Discern Quickly

“Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?1 Kings 3:9

“So that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless
until the day of Christ.” Philippians 1:10

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5

  • Submit Fully

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22

“Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Hebrews 12:9

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

With an age range from 7 to 20, my small nation is sometimes a difficult terrain to navigate. For instance, having tea with my seven-year-old daughter is far different from having tea with my older daughter, who is nineteen. The time spent is equally important but the topics covered around the table are worlds apart. Five boys and two girls make up my small nation and although they carry many of same traits found in their parental units, each of them speak with their own distinctive style. Their similarities connect them to the Cookingham clan but their differences bring strength and vitality to our family. Still, the constant change of dialects makes for interesting connectivity issues. It may seem like the Tower of Babel at times, but successful communication does happen. It works best when the audio receiving units on each side of my face (Hint, Hint…my ears!) are in proper working order. In other words, when I am listening, active, determined listening. Patience retooling is mission critical in this arena.

Dads, I know we have important information to pass on. We have rules, instructions, teachings, and responsibilities to talk about. Still, since we have two ears and only one mouth, tell me what you think the Father considers important. Listening closely picks up on the subtle heartbeats (their thoughts, dreams and concerns) of our children and guides us deeper into their lives. This skill detects the most potent moment for instruction and we identify how to communicate as well as what to communicate. Listening communicates patience, and the wonderful by-product is healthier relationships.

“The first duty of love is to listen.” Paul Tillich

Sometimes when you’re listening closely you may (and you will) hear something you don’t like. If that something offends us, our attitudes and pride will try to derail that moment of connection. That’s when we need to adjust the empathy setting on the listening units on both sides of our face. A decision, which says:

“I want to understand how you feel. Even if I think what I am hearing is incredibly wrong or mixed up, I will be patient and listen. Even if what I am hearing makes me angry, I will think about what you are saying, not about what I am going to say in return afterward.”

This choice lets my children know that I’m going to be listening to them, not just gathering information to argue about. That’s why patience is so huge, it’s the staying power needed to reach one another.

 

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Stepping into Beauty

Beauty: the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind

“In every man's heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty.” ~ Christopher Morley

Meeting my wife at a local flower show today, I stepped out of a cold drizzle wedding_rings into a chorus of color. I was walking out of dull grayness and stepping into beauty. Seeing my wife among all those flowers reminded me that marriage is all about beauty, the adventurous, passionate beauty of two people becoming one. Men need that beauty, that sense of wonder; it answers a longing deep within us. That secret nerve vibrates with a desire that can only sync with a heart made to beat for us, a woman’s heart.

I sometimes think that we (men) are afraid of beauty, thinking it makes us soft and “girly”. The truth is that appreciating beauty does not make us soft; it helps us understand softness. Part of my wife’s beauty, her strength and what makes her captivating is her softness. Beauty doesn’t tame me but it does calm me and fosters growth in my marriage.

Beauty connects me with my wife and that is a good thing.

“Whosoever findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.” Proverbs 18:22

Now that’s beautiful…

Peace,
Jay

 

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Joy Stealers

It’s another quick peek into “RETOOLED: Shaping our Fathering from the Inside Out”. The book shows how the Fruit of the Spirit can work through us and impact our fathering skills. Today a small sample from the Chapter “Joy Ride” 

Peace,
Jay

Joy Stealersburglar

I know it’s hard to be a father, it requires all we are and more. Constantly  focusing on the needs of others and planning how to meet them is a daunting pursuit. It also carries with it a potentially dangerous relational problem. Focusing on the need and forgetting to notice the person is a possible setup for relational breakdowns. Connecting with the people we love can take on a vending machine quality and our hearts can become distant and callous. Function takes the place of caring and giving of ourselves becomes a matter of distribution not connection.

We might feel undervalued, unappreciated and that can lead to feeling taken advantage of. We begin to view our role as providers as some cold stoic duty and miss the joy of serving others. It can suck the life out of any man when he thinks he’s underappreciated ore respected for his efforts. Simply put, it can rob our joy and quickly dampen our spirits.

Dampening fields forever?

What is a dampening field? It has nothing to do with a poor draining septic field like the one in my backyard. In the Star Trek universe the crew would setup a dampening field to restrict something or someone from getting close to another someone or something. It’s an energy field that interferes with power emissions; a dampening filed can drain an area of power. In effect, it would block the influence of one force over another. In the same manner, spiritual dampening fields hinder the growth of joy in our lives. Now before you dismiss me as a Trekie nutcase I believe this can help us understand this form of joy stealer technology. Spiritual dampening fields can rob the power of healthy relationships, canceling any positive influence. These relationships become routine, lifeless and eventually powerless to grow.

Some Dampening Fields that steal joy:

  • Worry
  • Stress
  • Fear
  • Apathy
  • Ingratitude
  • Regret
  • Circumstancial Evidence – letting the circumstances control your joy

When I struggle with this issue, I find myself questioning the value of what I’m doing and give in to feelings of anger and resentment. This falls right into the enemy’s plan for us! He wants to wear us down by stealing our joy; leaving us vulnerable to accept pleasure and relief as substitutes for joy. Like chugging down some energy drink designed for our spirit, we settle for an occasional pleasure boost or a quick pick-me-up. Some pleasures are not wrong but because they are so short lived; they are a poor substitute for joy. Read this quote and see if it speaks to you like it does to me.

“Do not look for rest in any pleasure, because you were not created for pleasure: you were created for joy. And if you do not know the difference between pleasure and spiritual joy you have not yet begun to live.”
-Thomas Merton

Dads, remember? God wants us alive, fully alive! He wants to overtake us with joy and gladness, a very nice combo if I must say myself!

“Therefore the redeemed of Jehovah shall return and come with singing into Zion; and everlasting joy shall be on their head. Gladness and joy shall overtake them; sorrow and mourning shall flee away”.
Isaiah 51:11 (NKJV)

I know this Scripture in Isaiah is speaking about the future but I know joy is not a far away place. Joy does make sorrow flee away; it has to flee, because joy is stronger!

“Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 (NKJV)

The Hebrew word for strength means a fortified place, a fortress! Joy is more than a feeling; it’s a safe place that God has provided for us. I’m not sure how to break down a dampening field in Star Trek lingo but here are some ways that work in real life. First, trust in God’s goodness, by understanding that He is in control. It also helps to know the joy stealers of worry, stress, and fear cannot keep God from completing His work in you.

“He who has begun a good work in you will complete it.” Philippians 1:6

Second, we can break down a spiritual dampening field by cultivating a deep daily relationship with Father God. Diving into His presence fills us with joy power.

“For thou makest him most blessed for ever: Thou makest him glad with joy in thy presence” Psalm 21:6

Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God.
- Robert Schuller

The third way we can limit the power of a dampening field by being grateful. A thankful heart makes way for a joy retooling.

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.” Psalm 28:7

“Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: and upon the harp will I praise thee, O God, my God.” Psalm 43:4

Joy helps us realize that we are more than “need fillers”, just like our Heavenly Father is so much more. Our Heavenly Father knows our needs but He sees the person behind the need first. God can easily meet all our needs. What He desires is to meet with us and deal with them in the flow of relationship. Needs are often just the surface reflections of our life. We sometimes present them as excuses and reasons of why we are the way we are. Thankfully, Father God is not a God of just the surface area; He is a God of the depths. He wants a deep bond with us, strengthening our hearts with joy.

 

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