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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Yes Man

It’s time for another small snippet (aren’t they all small?) form my book RETOOLED: Shaping Your Fathering From The Inside Out. It’s from the chapter on faithfulness, I hope it speaks to you today. Blessings, Jay

yesmanposter Yes Man

(28) But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work today in my vineyard.

(29) He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.

(30) And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.      Matthew 21:28-32

The two sons represent the two kinds of people Jesus is using this parable to address, those who obey God and those who do not. This is a story of two sons who are two radically different types of Yes Men. Or those who say yes with their heart compared with those who say yes with their head. It is a parable about words, about authority, and about faithful obedience.

With 6 kids playing baseball this summer, I am sometimes asked to help coach someone’s team, but guess what? The manager of the Mets never calls on me to help him manage his team or even to fill out the lineup card. Imagine that!

I don’t play golf but I’m a terror on a miniature golf course but surprising enough, Tiger Woods never seeks me out for putting tips. Why? Well, besides the obvious answer of being totally unable to help either one of them, they don’t know me from Adam (or any Biblical character of your choice). They don’t have a relationship with me so there’s no the desire to take advantage of my abilities (however lame they may be!).

Yet Father God calls on me all the time to do His work, creating wonderful opportunities to partner with Him. What a trip! God, the creator of all, has work in the vineyard for me and it is this partnering that makes me more like Him. It’s a relational connection, born out of knowing the Father’s heart.

“Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” 1 John 3:2

Our response to the Word of the Lord is a telling one. There is the bogus yes of the head or the true yes of the heart displayed by the first son. The second son in the parable did not do as he promised; his yes he easily tossed aside. Obedience places a high value on relationship; the first son chose faithfulness with his heart change. This parable also teaches that repentance is a form of obedience. The first son’s response, but afterward he repented; echoes loud in this verse found in the book of Acts.

In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. Acts 17:30

So, how does this affect my own fathering? 

I need this submission to His will, letting it root deep in my heart, not allowing anything to hinder following the Master’s command. A deep faithfulness retooling that changes the path I walk, the choices I make and the life I live in front of my sons and daughters. That is the kind of yes man I want to be!

 

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Friendship Fuel

fireheart I just couldn’t hold them back any longer. For the third time that day I closed the door to my office, placed my head in my hands and sobbed uncontrollably. The grief was overwhelming, the pain of lost so deep that it made breathing seem difficult. I was lost in my sorrow and unsure of what to do next.

That was the scene several years ago when my wife and I went through probably the darkest time our marriage ever has faced. In April and again in September of 1995 my wife miscarried; losing those babies felt like someone was taking a sledgehammer to our hearts—everyday—for months on end. The first miscarriage came as a complete shock, my bride had always conceived, carried and delivered beautifully, we already had four healthy children and expected her next pregnancy to be more of the same. It was not to be, after the hospital stay, we went home to explain to our kids and the other people in our lives. We weren’t very good at it, explaining that is, we stumbled over words, cried a lot but managed to talk about it pretty openly. We named the baby Hope, held a memorial service and tried to return to the “normal” activities of life. When we found out that my wife was again pregnant again, we were thrilled and more that a little afraid. The recent loss had blown our normal security right out of the water and every doctor’s visit was
of great trepidation.

Sadly, my wife suffered another miscarriage and we were devastated. The emotional storm that followed ripped away perspective and challenged our faith in God. We named this child Samuel, believing all the while that naming our lost children would be of some comfort to us. While it did provide some closure, we were deeply hurting all the same. There were many dark days, ones when communication with God, each other and others seemed fruitless and cold.

We continued to press in though, to the Father, to each other and the strengths of our marriage began to help us to heal. One of the strengths that helped us through it all was our friendship with each other, and this scripture took on new meaning.

“If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:10

The dictionary defines friend as like this: Friend (friend) noun.

1. A person whom one knows, likes and trusts.
2. A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; comrade.
3. One who supports, sympathizes with, or patronizes a group.
4. An acquaintance.

Hopefully Webster won’t mind but I would like to add one more to the list,
ready for this?

5. A fuel source.

You see, to me friendship is the fuel for the fire of one’s love, the combustible agent that gives spark to ignite one’s passion for covenant relationship. The best friend status I enjoy with my wife has been with us through some difficult times with many victorious results. It is has kept us close, enabled us to continue on, and extended grace to help one understand the other. Our friendship was needed more than ever during this time of grief.

When my bride encountered a cold snap of disappointment, I would throw a log of encouragement on the fire and stoke up her faith. When I was racked with feelings of loss my wife would place on a log of comfort and embers of relief would flame up. Our friendship, strengthen by the Father’s hand, helped us to grieve and to heal. That is why I am committed to guard that friendship, to make sure that my wife understands and knows that she is my best friend. Friendship fuel keeps us going.

Along with the great love I feel towards my wife, I also like her, I like the person she is. When I convey this to her, along with my commitment of love, I am making a bonfire of trust piled high. This “bestfriendness”, this fuel source, will help us finish our race together and ignite the seeds of friendship in our children’s lives. This is one fire you can stand close to for a long time to come.

“Friendship that flows from the heart cannot be frozen by adversity, as the water that flows from the spring cannot congeal in winter.”
- James Fenimore Cooper

My post is part of the One Word at a Time blog carnival: Strength. For more great stories about Strength, please visit Bridget Chumbley at One Word At A Time.
It’s actually a sequel to an earlier post of mine entitled,
Life is a Memorial.
Speaking of sequels, my friend Jason has this great post submission to the same carnival, read it here:
GOD MAKES GREAT SEQUELS.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Bad Sheep Time – A Cup of Joe

Well, it’s Monday and there’s so much on my mind that I needed a diversion, so the Bad Boys of Wool are back with a much needed detour. I have been living without coffee for about a week now (trying to heal my stomach and reduce the acid baths it takes) so I thought I post about coffee…which BTW, I love to drink. I also include an old Top Ten List titled: The Charismatic's Version of: You Know You Drink Too Much Coffee When...So I hope you enjoy and have a fantastic Monday! Blessings, Jay

bad sheep no. 13

The Charismatic's Version of:
You Know You Drink Too Much Coffee When...
 
1.You have to fight the urge to tithe to Starbucks.

2.You start to speak in tongues but only in a Columbian accent.

3.Coffee jingles start to replace your favorite worship tapes.

4.You mistake the coffee jitters for the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

5.You rebuke decaffeinated coffee because it’s of the devil.

6.After a pot of coffee the Charismatic Movement takes
on a whole new meaning for you.

7.You get slain in the spirit when the waitress says “More coffee hon?”

8.During a testimony you mention how Juan Valdez changed your life.

9.You want to go on “mission” trips to coffee plantations

10.You think after church coffee hours should last 40 days and 40 nights.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

God Has Your Number

Just wanted to share some thoughts I pulled from my sermon from Father’s Day (you can listen to it on the right on my sermon gadget thingy) I pray that these simple thoughts will be a blessing. - Jay

stars

“As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured; so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me.” Jeremiah 33:22

“How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! (18) If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: When I awake, I am still with thee.” Psalm 139:17-18

 

sand Scientist have guessimated that there is 7.5 billion, billion grains of sand in the world…BTW, half of that ended up in my van during this past vacation.

God knows how many grains of sand there are on this planet and wherever it may exist in the universe. He knows the history of each grain, what rock it is made from, what conditions led to its sand nature. He knows where it began and where it’s going…amazing isn’t it?

Let’s talk about stars for a moment…there are about 100 thousand million stars in the Milky Way alone…and we can see only around 3,000 of them with the naked eye.

“He appoints the number of the stars; He calls them all by their names.”
Psalm 147:

God has your number and He knows your 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

There are 6.6 billion people on the face of this planet and you are one of those numbers but you are more than a number to Him. You may be 4,731 but you are Jim, you are Dusty, Ginny…He knows your name, your history….where you been, where you’re going. The storms that have shaped and molded you…He know what you’re made of.

God know just how many stars there ought to be and he has named them all! His creation is very personal to God. If Father God knows the name of the stars in every corner of the universe. If He knows the history of every grain of sand…in all the deserts, on all the beaches, in every sandbox. If these parts of His creation are so important to Him that takes such inventory…do you realize just how valuable you are to Him?

Do you?

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Random is as Random Does

A online friend Duane Scott has started a feature on his blog called Pleasantly Disturbed Thursdays, in which he spews out a bunch of random thoughts. So I thought I join the fun. Blessings, Jay

funny-pictures-seal-penguins-phone-network

I think meatloaf (my wife’s, it’s that good) with garlic mashed potatoes, and apple pie for dessert (again, my wife’s) should be named as the National meal. It should be a required meal for every President to eat before the State of the Union address…simply because it would leave them speechless.

I think Klingons would make really good pastors. Just think of the board meetings! Can somebody say Qapla'! (KAHPLAH' The Klingon word for success).

Speaking of Klingons, I own a Batleth….now that’s a sword!

My college roommate and I confiscated every roll of toilet paper in our college dorm storerooms (3 floors) and filled our entire bathroom with them…made the school newspaper…and the Dean very unhappy. Kinda difficult to actually use our bathroom I recall.

I really like penguins.

If I meet you in person and we become friends, I will probably call you bro’, dude or studhead…provided you’re a male that is.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bad Sheep Time – Team USA Tribute

Well, it's my second post of the day because the Bad Boys of Wool convinced
me to pay a tribute to Team USA. I have to admit that I don't like soccer (huge baseball fan, Lets Go Mets) but that was an impressive win by the USA. So here is Bad Sheep's tribute...blessings, Jay

bad sheep no. 12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s a Dad Life

Saw this today at Greg Atkinson’s blog http://gregatkinson.com/
A funny rap video of some really cool dads! Check it out yo!

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Called to Live in Light

Mari-Anna Frangén Stålnacke, who writes and hosts the excellent blog; FLOWING FAITH. Ponderings of an Almond Tree in Bloom graciously wrote this post for Soulfari. Mari-Anna’s Scriptural insight and timely posts always encourage me, so I suggest you make visiting her blog a daily pilgrimage.
Thank you Mari-Anna!

Blessings,
Jay

followjc      Photo courtesy of Susan Helmuth

Called to Live in Light by Mari-Anna Frangén Stålnacke

What does following Jesus really mean? Sure, it means we’re saved by
grace through faith in Jesus Christ and for that we give thanks to
God! But how is God calling you to follow?

Because God loves and calls each and everyone of use uniquely, taking
into consideration our personality and life experiences. We are not
just a bunch of people to God. We are individuals with needs, desires
and dreams. We are God’s children with whom he wants to communicate on
a daily basis. God even wants to live within us. Not as a result of a
mandate from him but an eager invitation from us.

I’ve laid down my life to Jesus and asked what he wants me to do with
my life. I’ve come to understand that my calling is to blossom and
bear fruit by talking of God so that everyone might know the love of
God, receive the grace of Christ, and live in the presence of the Holy
Spirit. How this calling will be lived out each day/month/year of my
life differs, that’s why I need to be in this ongoing conversation
with God. I’ve been sent to teach overseas and I’ve been called to
take care of our children right at home. Now I am urged to write more
and God knows where I will be sent in the future.

God has more to offer us than we can ever imagine. There will be
plenty of light to live in as Jesus promised: "I am the world's Light.
No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide
plenty of light to live in."(John 8:12, MSG) God will provide us
whatever it is we need. God will send us out uniquely equipped to
serve him in unique ways in unique places.

Even when we have found our calling we need once in awhile to have
reality checks. Am I faithful in my following? Am I somehow sabotaging
my work? Do I entertain doubts? Do I surrender my feelings of
inadequacy to Jesus? Do I first and foremost love Jesus or my work?
Whom am I serving? Like someone has said “Ultimately you are doing
what you do for one of two reasons: to serve oneself or to serve God”.

On the road someone asked [Jesus] if he could go along. "I'll go with
you, wherever," he said. Jesus was curt: "Are you ready to rough it?
We're not staying in the best inns, you know." Jesus said to another,
"Follow me." He said, "Certainly, but first excuse me for a couple of
days, please. I have to make arrangements for my father's funeral."
Jesus refused. “First things first. Your business is life, not death.
And life is urgent: Announce God's kingdom!" Then another said, "I'm
ready to follow you, Master, but first excuse me while I get things
straightened out at home." Jesus said, "No procrastination. No
backward looks. You can't put God's kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize
the day." (Luke, 9:55-62, MSG)

When Jesus asks you to follow him…Do you offer him excuses or are you
ready to serve? Do you procrastinate or do you ask him to help you?
Following Jesus is putting our faith into practice day by day by day.
And see, there is no more stumbling in darkness. Jesus provides plenty
of light to live in! Let’s not put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow!
Let’s seize the day!

Gracious God,
Thank you for loving us individually and wanting to know us personally.
Thank you for calling each & every one of us to follow you.
Help us to let go of excuses.
Help us to seize the day.
Show for each one of us how to follow you.
Ready us to love and serve you with everything we have.
Give us clear guidance & plenty of your light to live in.
Because you are everything to us!
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Bad Sheep Time – The Day After

I had a great Father’s Day and I would like to share some reflections on the day but I’m going to wait until tomorrow’s post to do so. Besides, the Bad Boys of Wool have pushed their way to the front and here they are…enjoy! Blessings, Jay

bad sheep no. 11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Family Resemblance

I’m continuing the father theme posting today with a small section from my upcoming book (RETOOLED). I hope it encourages you and gives you yet another peek into my journey as a dad. Blessings, Jay

Family Resemblance

I had just arrived home late from work and was feeling sick and bone weary. My spirit was past spent and I wanted to plop down somewhere and ignore everything and everyone. But my day wasn’t through—I needed to make my “rounds,” checking in with my kids and asking how their day had gone. Sarah, my oldest daughter, had her feelings hurt at dance class earlier that afternoon, so she was first on my list. Walking into her room, I put my arms around her as she began to cry. In between sobs, she shared about how the other girls acted really mean towards her, and all she wanted was to be friends. My head was throbbing and my eyes were nearly shut by the pain, but I managed to listen closely to all the details. I can barely remember what advice I gave on how to handle disappointment, but as we prayed together, I felt some solace in knowing that she had been able to release her worries and sadness to God. After some prayer and “daddy” time, Sarah felt better, and I moved on to catch up with the rest of the crew. Dinnertime, story time, and then the kids’ bedtime came in rapid succession.

Afterwards, I went downstairs to the family room to channel surf myself numb. For weeks I had been feeling unworthy of the adoration I saw in my children’s eyes. Sitting alone now, doubts about my fathering skills kept nagging at me—the same doubts about the impact I was having on their young lives that had been keeping me awake lately. I worried that I wasn’t quite the hero my daughter had pictured in her mind, that I wasn’t the man my sons believed me to be. As I tried to lose myself in cable land, those uncertainties kept fighting for my attention—what makes you think you’re a good father? The lies kept coming, and my aching spirit felt worse than my throbbing head.

After a short while, my wife came in, hugged me from behind, and told me something that would lift my spirits and encourage my heart. As she was saying goodnight to my daughter, Sarah had told her, “Mom, Daddy is the one person that shows me Jesus the best.” How I needed to hear those words! They were the tonic I needed to ease the despair that was killing me. As my tears flowed, I realized that my daughter noticed that Daddy wasn’t feeling well, yet took the time to listen to her heart. She saw a picture of Christ’s character fleshed out in me when I was willing to put her needs above my own. The family resemblance displayed before her young eyes was that of the Heavenly Father, who enabled me to “look like Jesus” to my daughter. That, thanks to God, was kindness in action.

Men, I need to speak further about our daughters for a moment. Our relationship with our daughter is a tender and wonderful connection. You are the first man in your daughter’s life. All other male relationships are measured and compared against the one you share with her. You are the one she will look up to and catch a vision, through your character and kindness, of what Father God is like. Trust is a big ingredient for the feminine spirit; kindness fortifies trust deep down in your daughter’s life. It will speak loudly for generations.

“He will turn the hearts of the fathers toward their children, and the hearts of the children towards their fathers...” Malachi 4:6

Friday, June 18, 2010

Life is an Memorial

I am the father of seven wonderful kids, they have shaped the father I am today. Each one of them has stretched my faith and filled me with joy. What many of you reading this may not know is that I have two other kids, Hope and Samuel, they just don’t live with us…they live with their heavenly Father in heaven.

hope  Today’s post is about Hope…in all it’s facets. I’m including
   my notes from an memorial service we held for baby Hope,
   a child my wife lost in a miscarriage in 1995. Prior to losing 
  her my wife had perfect pregnancies and deliveries…we
  were shocked and devastated. It was an hard time but God used it and I’m a stronger dad today because of it. So, I’m continuing my theme on fathering and I’m really not trying to be downer, I just feel it’s important to share. Blessings, Jay

“Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God.” Numbers10:10

“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Psalm 127.3

Life is an Memorial - 1995

More than marking a loss today, we chose instead to celebrate life. For no matter how brief, life is a cherished gift. We also chose to embrace all of what God offers for us to walk through, understanding that His ways are not our own, and His purposes go beyond what we comprehend. We acknowledge the purity of His plan for us and welcome the grace He gives to endure the sorrow of this time of our lives.

When a child enters your life, it is a cause for celebration, a time to rejoice that should not be measured by the passage of time but rather by the goodness of God’s sovereignty.

We were excited about all the possibilities that a new child would add to our family, the flavor that would be blended with the rest of us. We anticipated the faithfulness of the Lord in preparation and provision for this blessing, knowing that He had chosen us for something special in the gift of our child. Then, without any indication of something wrong, we lost the baby...and for awhile our perspective. Did we do something? What could we have done differently? Those and much deeper questions ran through the corridors of our minds, and we wondered about the faithfulness of the Lord.

Through the gloom, one thing became increasing clear, the need to celebrate the gift of a child and in the faithfulness of Jesus, despite the full understanding of the loss of life. We weren’t able to hold this little one, but we will, someday. There won’t be any full baby books, but our hearts will be full knowing Baby Hope is with Him. That is what this time is all about, setting a memorial before God, knowing all our lives are in His hands and His hands alone. We thank you all, friends and family, who have chosen to be with us today and throughout this ordeal. Thank you for allowing us time to mourn and for giving of your time to support and pray, for this is difficult to walk through. As a father, I have been undone by this, my response has been at times victorious and at other times less so.

I am comforted by the fact that God is not threatened by my inability to be at peace at all times. As I embrace the fullness of Him, peace comes. Do I forget...no, should I forget...no, but peace comes. God’s peace is not hindered by our tears, nor by the numbness of our heart when it grows weary of feeling the pain of loss. It is the perfect peace, a healing peace, a permeating force that put us securely in the arms of our Lord. Thank you Jesus.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Where I Came From – Journey to Wholeness

I’m continuing the father theme today with more of my testimony. I have some video of my testimony (here) on this site but I wanted share from my upcoming book (RETOOLED) a snippet where I go into more details of my journey. It’s from a chapter on kindness. It’s a bit long (I apologize) but I felt it necessary to share it in totality…I hope you won’t mind.

My path to wholeness includes me becoming a dad…at first my strongest desire to be a great father was because I wanted to be different than my dad. Now, years later my desire is fueled by knowing it honors and mirrors my heavenly Father’s heart. Blessings, Jay

“Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

Heart Exchange

-forgiveness-stone Kindness impacts lives and unfortunately, so does unkindness. I grew up in an abusive home; my father’s cruelty was part of everyday life. He never spoke a kind word and his voice always carried vile threats towards me. His words and name-calling crushed my spirit, for years the verbal abuse continued, it stunted my emotional growth and I grew callous and hard. When I turned twelve, another darker form of abuse started, my dad began sexually assaulting me. It was all I could handle, I felt ashamed, hurt and betrayed. Somehow, I began to think it all had to be my fault. I turned to drinking and drugs, trying to dull the pain and the guilt I held inside.

This sick pattern continued until I was 17 and able physically to stand up to my father. The physical and sexual abuse stopped but not the verbal cruelty. However, because of the damage done, I was through with caring. One day I made a suicide tape recording, left it in my room, grabbed my hunting knife and went alone into the woods. I found a secluded spot where it would be difficult to find me. After getting high on pot, I put the knife to my wrist, paused and wondered if anyone who miss me.

Then out of nowhere I heard a small still voice say “NO”.

Quickly putting the knife down I looked around and found no one there, too shaken to continue, I went home and destroyed the tape.

Several months later, in the same woods, my friends and I were having a beer blast. Having already consumed too much alcohol, I raced one of my friends in a drinking contest. I downed 6 beers in a minute and won. Some victory, I then took two steps and fell flat on my face. My wasted friends, thinking I had passed out, picked me up and on a cot to sleep it off. However, I was awake, although unable to talk or move. Alone in the cabin I started to feel the life leave my body, first the feet, then the knees, the waist and then my chest. When it got to my chest he heard a familiar still voice.

“Is this the way you want it to end?”

I knew I was dying and time was short, I pleaded, “No Father, no.”

Then everything went black. When I awoke the next morning my mind was clear and I felt free. I looked at my still asleep friends, packed up my sleeping bag and went home. It was Sunday and I decided to attend church with my neighbors. The sermon that day was about the prodigal son. Moved to tears, I answered the call and gave my life back to Father God.

Up to this point, my dad dominated my life, and he was an oppressor. His presence occupied my life with cruelty and pain. That oppression left deep wounds that inhibited my growth as a young man. It left me with a spiritual lameness and a desire for death. I needed someone to overthrow that dictatorship and restore freedom; I needed the loving-kindness of Father God. The Heavenly Father forever changed my life. Through His kindness, He healed me and melted my cold stony heart. Unlike my dad, God was understanding, kind, and approachable. For the first time in my life I found the hope and acceptance I longed for. Father God knew I needed a heart transplant and He describes a potent one in the book of Ezekiel.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” Ezekiel 36:26

And one in the Book of Psalms!

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” Psalm 51:10

The Father wants to transform us, not only creating a new heart but a right spirit as well. What is a right spirit? I believe it is humility before God and confidence in God. Renew is the word chadas (khaw-dash) which means to rebuild or repair (dare I say…retool?) Also, the Hebrew word for right is kun (koon), which mean to stand erect or straight. Because we have clean hearts and retooled spirits we can stand up straight and humbly follow His ways. He also creates opportunities and experiences designed to draw us closer to Him. Knowing that Father God does this with kindness changes the way we view those opportunities. It alters the decisions we make, the attitudes we have and the path we choose.

The path to choose for me was forgiveness; I had to forgive my father. To stop being a victim I needed to forgive him, it matter not that he deserved forgiveness or didn’t deserve it. What mattered to God was my freedom and healing. Freedom from the prison of wounds and the poison of abuse took one brave step, the choice to forgive. I didn’t feel like forgiving and didn’t want to forgive but the Father convinced me that was the only way to be free of the pain. When I forgave my dad, the healing of my heart began. I was no longer bound to the vile words spoken to me as a child or the wounds they caused. Forgiveness cleared out the gunk and I could clearly hear what my Heavenly Father thought about me.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

Forgiveness is necessary for freedom; I know it to be true in my life. Forgiveness is true kindness in action.

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:14

We become stronger fathers when we receive a heart transplant enabling us to be kind to others. Especially during times of mistreatment, mistakes, and disobedience, brothers that’s when we need it the most. We show the same kindness extended to us by Father God, and that action retools our hearts to beat like His! Because of that retooling, we discover that kindness is not a virtue that’s developed alone. The best expression of kindness is through relationships; that’s where the strength of this fruit grows. For this fruit to spread, it needs fathers fully engaged in the lives of their children, planting seeds of kindness. Cultivating those seeds when we train, when we discipline, when we play, and in every opportunity of family life. If we want our children to be close to us we need to remember that kindness attracts, unkindness repels and always far, faraway.

“I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note--torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one.” - Henry Ward Beecher

 

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bad Sheep Time – A Father’s Day Gift?

I haven’t been feeling too well the past few days so the Bad Sheep fellas came by to cheer me up…I’m not sure its working. Anyways, I think the next few posts will be dedicated to Father’s Day here at Soulfari, I hope you come back and see what I’m up to.
Blessings, Jay

bad sheep no. 10

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Responding to Compassion

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 1 Peter 3:8 (NIV)

When I think of compassion I see a picture of passion saturated by love…I see the Father. This emotional, relational force that God loves us with disrupts every other force that attempts to dictate who we are. Compassion redirects, refocuses and changes our lives as it washes over us. Compassion draws us to Him; it whispers our name, reminding us of a better place to dwell in.

My response…is surrender. How else can I accept something so rich…something so undeserving? I need to bend my knees and worship…that is the essence of surrender, worshipping the God who showers compassion on me daily.

I made this short video from clips of our vacation in Hatteras, NC. My daughter Sarah was worshipping and dancing Oceanside and to me this captures what I’m trying to say about compassion. Sarah has the right response.

The song is called “Sarah’s Prayer” by Eden’s Bridge.

Blessings,
Jay

Sarah’s Prayer

Look upon my face O Father
I have come to seek You in this place
For I long to give reflection
To the awesome glory of Your grace

Search my soul and heart to see
Traces of my Lord in me

But the blemishes of ages
Fall across my eyes as though a veil
As I stumble back and turn
I realize I could not bear Your gaze

Therein lies the stain of sin
Bowed and broken child within

If I close my eyes completely
Maybe I will see me as You do
Not a broken child, but precious
Someone that You long to be with too

As the truth brings me to tears
Precious Father, hold me here near

This post is part of the blog carnival on Compassion, hosted by Bridget Chumbley. To read more, please visit her site.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Faith Heroes - A Classroom with Heart

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“The greatest of all miracles is that we need not be tomorrow what we are today, but we can improve if we make use of the potential implanted in us by God.” - Rabbi Samuel M. Silver

He was a fifth grade teacher with an unusual last name who taught in a small middle school in upstate New York. I was a fifth grade student also with an unusual last name who somehow landed in his class. I’m not sure if it was our “special names” that drew us together but we hit it off from the very first day of school. Mr. Coffee was one of those teachers whose charm was in the way he picked on you, never with malice but in a way that made you feel unique. Growing up my last name—Cookingham—was the source of many funny culinary comments (it still is to this day). When he found out my name he decided to give me an entire new nom de plume. I became the Baron Von Burnt Bacon and I wore that title with a grin and pride.

Mr. Coffee learned of my family background and the poverty I was living in and for reasons unknown to me, he became my quiet benefactor. Soon I found myself being invited into his home, sharing meals and playtimes with his children. On certain weekends I slept over and often would go home with more clothes packed in my suitcase than what I came with. While being cheered on by his family I learned to ride a bike at his house, on his son’s bike! My first favorite football team was the Dallas Cowboys, just because I watched the games on TV with him. That summer he convinced me to let him sign me up for summer school just so I could go on all the special field trips he had planned, knowing full well it might be my only opportunity to see places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He knew I loved art and wanted me to see the Masters first hand and possibly catch a vision for something greater for myself.

This kind man brought to our classroom an energy his name would suggest. I remember wanting to push myself to please him, to conquer each subject to try to measure up to the title of Baron in his eyes. What I didn’t realize at first was that I already had his approval; the real education was to prove to myself the potential I held inside. In that way he was a releaser of dreams, an advocate of pursuing those dreams and I began to believe he was right. I was too young to fully understand just was happening but God was using a certain fifth grade teacher to change my life. God used a secular environment to teach me more about His kingdom and my place in it. Although Mr. Coffee never mentioned the name of God, he showed the Father’s love just the same. The manner in which he communicated values flowed through his gift as teacher, and his life as a man.

God used that “classroom” to set a few points on my moral compass. This man’s example helped establish bearings on those points in life that God deems important; hard work, honesty and caring for those around you. Mr. Coffee seemed to realize the greater lessons in life are taught from the heart not from books. His whole life was his classroom not four walls inside a building. His example was not so much being a great teacher (he was) but being a great person when he taught. God was teaching and reaching through this humble spirit and that made a huge difference in the life of a boy he nicknamed the Baron.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)

Blessings,
Jay

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Promise, Promises

“Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace.” Psalm 144:12

KIDSBEACH 2010 
These wonderful people above (yes, my small nation) are the reason for the promises below. I pray constantly that Father God will help me keep them and give me strength to be the father they need.

Seven Promises from Your Dad

  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 all 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.

What about you…have you made vows, promises to you children?
Are they known by your kids? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Faith Heroes - The Passing of Greatness

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From time to time I want to share about my personal heroes, people who have impacted me in a life changing manner. They are not famous (except to me and the Father) but they are noteworthy in my journey. Some have passed on to glory, some are still living…all are heroes to me.

In this post I would like to start with a dedication to a woman who was a spiritual mom to me. Mary Bonsignore passed away in February 2007 but her legacy lives on in my family. I wrote this after attending her memorial service.

The Passing of Greatness

True greatness, first of all, is a thing of the heart. It is all alive with robust and generous sympathies. It is neither behind its age, nor too far before it. It is up with its age, and ahead of it only just so far as to be able to lead its march. It cannot slumber, for activity is a necessity of its existence. It is no reservoir, but a fountain. - Roswell Dwight Hitchcock

“It's not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. (27) Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.” - Matthew 20:2-27 Message Bible

 

A few hours ago I was at the memorial service of Mary Bonsignore, the mother of my friend Kevin. It was a celebration of a great life, a great woman and a great example of God’s grace. I realize that this newsletter is normally geared towards men and fathering but let me brag about a woman who taught me more about the Father’s gift of grace that anybody I know.

When I became Kevin’s friend I also gained a family, one who welcomed me into the big “warm and fuzzy” place that they called home. In many ways I was the anti-Kevin, the complete opposite of him. He was tall, dark and handsome and I was…well, not so tall, definitely not dark and at least it didn’t cause pain to look at me. He was smooth and confident and I was loud and cocky, but we connected and became deep friends. None of the differences between Mrs. B’s son and me mattered to her, she accepted me exactly as I was. Yet, over the years she encouraged me to grow, seeing more for me in the process. She saw greater things in me than I dared to believe and that vision lifted my own.

Mrs. B was a great woman. The scripture in Matthew above reminds me of her. Not that she desired to be great but that she became so because of her servant’s heart. The Greek word for great used here is “megas” as in our word mega, of course meaning big or large.

She was a megas-mom, a megas-wife and megas-picture of the Father’s heart. The last few years of Mrs. B’s life was challenging, she suffered with many physical attacks on her body. Through it all she remained megas-confident of her Lord’s love for here. Her example of grace in suffering spoke volumes of her trust in the Father’s goodness; it is one of the great thing things she passes on to all of us.

That is what I mean by the title, the Passing of Greatness. Mary saw the “great” in people. She recognized the fingerprints of the Father on people’s lives and pointed it out consistently and graciously. Mrs. B’s 71 years of weaving grace in the fabric of her family and friends impacts generations yet to come. She passes on the vision of a great God who can and will do great things through his people.

How has this affected my own fathering? One of the rules in my house is simple, whoever walks through our door is someone we love or someone we need to love. That way of loving, I learned from Mrs. B and her family. I am a stronger father because of a woman who wasn’t my mom but treated me like a son.

Webster describes greatness this way; a person who has achieved importance or distinction in a field. In the field of loving her husband, loving her children, loving all the people God brought into her world and loving her Lord, Mary Bonsignore fulfilled her call. Thanks Mrs. B…you did great!

“Grace isn't a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It's a way to live.”
-Jackie Windspear

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Totally Random Tuesday

Well…I guess I’m still on Island time, so here is some randomness for ya!hero-1 copy

coming_soon Coming soon to Soulfari a series of post about the heroes in my life called Faith Hero…BTW do you like the logo?

                               Yes, I designed it

 

 

Here is an uncut/unedited version of my testimony…called SCARS.


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Lately I feel like a Major league baseball slugger stuck on 299 home runs. I’ve designed over 400 book covers but the latest one has me swinging and missing.

 

paul

 

 

My friend Paul has this really cool ministry called Hope$Change you should check it out. Click Here!

 

 

aaaand, just for fun!

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Bad Sheep Time – Back from Da Beach

It was sad to leave Cape Hatteras, NC and we hit the ground running when we got back. My wife and I celebrated our 28th Anniversary, my father in-law’s birthday, started the graduation party circuit, numerous baseball games…whew…I think I need another vacation! Anyways, the Bad Sheep boys have something to say today…enjoy!

Peace,
Jay

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Friday, June 4, 2010

Dreams Do Come True

You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams. - Dr. Seuss

108 On June 5, 1982, all my dreams came true. In my story my princess did come, for twenty-eight years ago I married Christine Marie Breden, the truelove of my life. I can’t think of a person I enjoy more than my bride, whose gift of love has brought me to life many times over. The Father continually uses Christine to heal my wounded spirit, encourage my heart and adjust my vision.

This landslide of love is the key to our marriage, which flows down to our kids and others in our life. I thank Father God for this awesome adventure called matrimony; it has made me more like Him in the process. I enjoy being married to my best friend; going on this journey together is a powerful source of strength. Our story is still being written; we still have issues to work on…areas of our lives that need His healing. I have discovered that romance is more than flowing words and lighted candles. Romance is pursuit…the passionate and pure pursuit of my wife’s heart. That’s where relational discovery is made and wounds are healed. It’s also where the cementing of our commitment to each other is affirmed and valued.

The seasons of marriage stretch us and after 28 years I KNOW that to be true. Yet, it is a good stretch, a positive growth and one that powers intimacy. Yes, my dream did come true and I’m going to live it large everyday God gives us.

Below is a poem I wrote for my wife a few years ago…

Blessings,
Jay

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Love Sonnet for One

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