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

Monday, August 29, 2011

Book Giveaway - The Winners!

 

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As promised it is time to reveal the TWO winners of the God Makes Lemonade book. It took a highly scientific method to randomly pick the contest winners. Watch the exciting video below to see who the lucky winners are!

This is a fantastic collection of faith stories and I'm being blessed by the testimonies. So click on the book and find out how to order one...that is IF you are NOT one of the lucky winners mentioned below.

 

Lucky winners...please email me at jcdude56@gmail.com with your mailing info and I'll get your book out ASAP!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lemonade Stand

 

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"The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." 1 Thessalonians 5:24

Yesterday I came home to find two boxes waiting for me, these boxes contained 20 "God Makes Lemonade" books. Why is this so awesomely cool? Well, I was blessed to have had two of my stories published by these fine folks and now find myself (or rather, my stories) in nine different books (see here for the rest). "God Makes Lemonade" is a collection of inspirational stories that show God's power to change things around, even when they look bleak. I know you will be blessed to read the many accounts of God's faithfulness in the lives of His people.

While I wait on the word from a potential publisher of RETOOLED, these books showing up on my doorstep were a great encouragement to me. They speak to me of His faithfulness to make me a writer...nothing like a pile of books with your work inside to perk you up...if you know what I mean.

So, I would love to give away 2 copies of "God Makes Lemonade" and here's the way to win. Pick one or all…or make one up!

1. Leave a comment on this blog post by 12 p.m. ET on Friday, August 26th. Maybe leave a comment on how God made lemonade out of a sour time in your life.
2. Following me on Twitter. Click the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page. Maybe even Google friend this blog also on right!
3. Retweeting this contest, copy this tweet: Book giveaway! @strategicdad is giving away 2 copies of “God Makes Lemonade” to participants in this contest.

I'll pick the winners over the weekend and let everyone know on Monday the 29th!
Blessings, Jay

 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Warrior Poet Time – My way, His Way

 

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This poem is submitted as part of the Warrior Poet Circle hosted by Jason Stasyszen of Connecting to Impact. Click here (or the logo) to read some mighty fine poetry!

 

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My Way, His Way

I breathe a
pilgrim's prayer
I walk a
pilgrim's path
Devotion songs
Truth words
Line my way with
faithfulness
It is His way
to do so.

Jay Cookingham 8-15-11

 

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Where is He? – A short story

 

Fishers of Men

 

 

 

 

The Gospel of John (Chapter 21) inspired this (very) short story…and the thoughts that followed.

The sea is calm this morning, the sun bright with early rays. It is a beautiful day for sailing, not so much for fishing. I scan the horizon, my hands covering my eyes against the glare from the water. I’m not sure what I’m hoping to see, we are floating on gentle swells but my thoughts are like a storm within me.

“Where did He go? I wonder, half mumbling under my breath. The others with me take notice but offer no questions of their own, at least out loud. I went fishing to clear my head but it seems all I’m doing is fishing for answers. He was with us…reassuring us, allowing Thomas to touch His wounds and then…gone again.

Where did He go? Why was He coming and going like the wind? Is He coming back? I hate doubting like this, but the questions rolling like an angry sea within me need the Master’s touch…need His peace.

Where is He?

My questions are interrupted by faint, familiar voice calling from the shore…

“Children…did you catch anything?”

Many of you reading are very familiar of this story in John (I still encourage you to read it) and the powerful stories contained in this chapter. However, as I read this I was struck with a thought. During those times of appearing and disappearing…I wonder…

Where did Jesus go?

I mean, it seems that Jesus is just randomly popping in and out of the disciple’s lives. He’s there one moment and then…He vanishes…where does He go? Did you ever wonder that? Am I the only strange one who thinks this is a bit particular? I’m thinking the disciples thought so…at least Peter seems to. Perhaps not knowing if he should wait around for the Master, he makes a decision…to go fishing.

He decides to go back to what was comfortable, he finds no comfort.

He decides to go back to what was profitable, he finds no profit

They have come full circle, this is where Jesus first met them and He is going to reaffirm their calling. He helps them finally understand that they can’t return to what was and find what they need. Following Him is the only way now: fishing at His command is the only true method for capturing the souls of a lost world. How does He do that? He starts with feeding them breakfast…He serves them again…showing the way they need to lead.

What does this mean to me? What is Jesus asking on the shores of my heart? I believe the same thing He asked of the disciples.

Come…follow me.

I don’t know where Jesus went in between visits to the disciples but I know there are times I ask the same question that I think Peter might have. Moments when I wonder where He is…or where did He go? The stormy circumstances sometimes make me seek out diversions, distractions or things I think will comfort me. I try the old “in my own strength” thing and find out that it just isn’t worth it.

“Jay…did you catch anything?”

My answer is always no (except for maybe trouble) …then He shows me how it works when I rely on Him…I catch more than I hoped for! The truth is that Jesus doesn’t go anywhere but we do try to sail away at times. I am grateful for a Master who knows where I am, where I need to go and is thrilled to lead me.

Where is He? Right by your side.

“Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Matthew 28:20

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Bad Sheep - Therapy Time

 

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"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Proverbs 17:22

So often we forget to laugh and I know there is so much of life that is simply NOT funny. You take the words relationships, finances, health and I bet each one of us can find a crisis mixed in there...that is the way life is sometimes. So, here is my humble attempt to make to laugh, giggle, smile or perhaps just grin for a moment and in that moment remember...the Father loves to see you laugh. Have a great weekend everyone and God bless you! - Jay

bad sheep no 42

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Measure

 

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“On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.” Psalm 138:3

I wrote this passage in my journal at the beginning of July and I starting wondering about the word measure.

“… my strength of soul you increased.”

I wonder…how do you measure that? How did David know his soul was stronger? Did he feel it? Was it noticeable to others around him…his royal court…his family…the nation of Israel? How do you calculate that inner increase with certainty? Maybe, it’s as simple as this…

That when you feel like you can’t go on…you do, you stand up and move forward.

That when you feel like you can’t love that one person driving you nuts any more…you do, you love more.

That when you feel like quitting, giving up, throwing in the towel, and running away…you don’t…you stay.

The increase is measured not in “feeling” but in being…being His. I encourage you to find ways to be “His” today…it usually starts with surrender.

Father,

We call on you today knowing you will answer us. We declare that the strength of our souls is increased by being with you, we embrace that, we celebrate that and we trust you for that. Let it be measure out in our love and boldness for you! In Jesus name…amen.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dreams – Under Construction




While RETOOLED waits in another publisher's pile of submissions (praying that this experience is better than the last one) I thought I update you all on my dream list. I wrote about dreams quite a bit lately (here and here) so I figured I give you a small peek into what I think God is asking of me. All these "projects" is part of my larger dream of encouraging men in their roles of husband, father and brother. Oh, BTW...this is the short list.
  • Co-writing a book with my wife on marriage called "Spoken For"
  • Finishing up a book called "Passage"
  • Finishing a book called "Strategic Fatherhood"
But wait...there's more..
About a month ago I felt like God was asking me to start a new project. I foolishly asked God if He's taken a look at my list of projects lately...let's just say that I am really blessed that God has a sense of humor. The idea that God gave me was to do a devotional book for men...so I began to muse about the idea and wondering who would want another devotional book...specially one from me?
A few days later I was at a graduation party and a close brother, someone I respect and listen to, (one of my point men) said I should write a devotional book...that was all the confirmation I needed.
The book is called "Journey365: A Strategic Devotional for Men" It will be a journal as well as a devotional and yes...God help me please...365 days of encouragement.
I need your help (prayers) and your feedback. Here is the cover design (yes, I designed it) but I would like to ask a few questions. Would you please comment and give me your opinion...I would appreciate it! Oh, yes this is geared towards men but sisters your opinions are important to me as well.
365-1

1. How do you like the cover?
2. Do you use a devotional book along with the Bible?
3. What would you like to see in a men's devotional?



One more question…any dreams you’re working on that I can pray about?
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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Crazy

 


“We all got pieces of crazy in us, some bigger pieces than others.” - Cowboy Proverb

Crazy (Slang)- an unpredictable, nonconforming person

“For he is rightly instructed; his God teaches him.” Isaiah 28:26

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Do you think I’m crazy?

The verse above (it’s about God teaching a farmer to do farmer things, but I think it applies to me even though I’m not a farmer) and the word crazy have speaking to me the past few days. Add a small case of vertigo and my head is spinning both literally and figuratively…I wonder what God is after?

Am I crazy or am I not crazy enough? Sure it somewhat depends on the definition or perhaps who is doing the defining…maybe it only seems crazy. Maybe I’m crazy as a fox…maybe I’m so unpredictable that I seem unhinged. Or…am I rightly instructed and because of that I appear crazy to the world. This verse in 1st Corinthians 1:18 describes it this way.

“The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out.” 1 Corinthians 1:18 Message Bible

If I’m crazy then it’s “crazy” to…

Follow my God with everything I have

Continue to love my wife as Christ loved the Church

Love my kids as there were designed to be loved

Love the people that God brings in and out of my life

If that’s the definition of crazy…count me in.

What about you…are you crazy?

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Dream Breeze 2

 

blowing-dandelion

“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.” ~Sarah Ban Breathnac

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.”
Proverbs 13:12

I wrote recently about a dream breeze (you can read part 1 here) but I guess the Father wasn’t done with teaching me. These thoughts came from a conversion with a brother at a graduation party and I think they help complete the thoughts I shared earlier. My friend asked “So, what is God speaking to lately?” So I began to share my thoughts and feelings connected to this whole dream thing and after listening for a while he said this.

“You know, sometimes your dreams might be fulfilled by someone else…are you OK with that?

That question was right from God’s heart and over the course of a couple of days it worked on mine. I think it still is but here are some thoughts…

Your dream is not your possession but you have to own it.

This is the realization that the dream is really God’s but our buy in to it is important. Not just for obedience sake but for the relational aspect of it. The dream is given to draw us in closer and participate in a Holy work with the Father. The dream is His and we are part of it…our hold is not on the dream but on Him.

Your dream might be fulfilled by someone else

My friend’s question made me think of my children. I do believe that dreams are in our seed that we pass on in our children. It’s naturally part of the heritage we impart along the journey with them. It may look different…our children look like us, but not exactly. So the dream-vision thing will look similar but not exactly. God will now express it through their character, their personality and their own journey with Him.

BTW…I am more than OK with that.

So, what do you think about these thoughts? I would love your input!

 

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Miracle

 

iworship_praise “Remember the miracles he performed, the amazing things he did, and the judgments he pronounced.” Psalm 105:5

The Father will often impress on me a single word for me to meditate on for the day…today that word was miracle.

It is a miracle Father God loves me…

It is a miracle my wife loves being married to me…

It is a miracle that my kids think I’m a great dad…

It is a miracle that I have totally awesome friends…

These are genuine miracles…things I contribute to, work on, but can not make happen. They are the result of a God who loves me and desires to rock my world with His presence. These miracles are God moments, holy reflections of His grace and purpose for my life. My participation is part wonder and worship…recognizing and acknowledging the personal touch of God.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ~ Albert Einstein

I'm wondering...what miracles do you see?

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Need

 

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What do you think of this statement?

"Often, it is so much easier to do something for God then to simply trust in God."

It’s a point that I once made in a sermon a few years ago and it stirred in my heart once again tonight. Walking with Jesus for 40 plus years I know how to do the “Christian Thing”. It’s like doing the hustle (sorry about the disco reference) but without the strange dance moves. But it is a hustle…it presents the “form” or religion thing and not the relational thing. To journey with God has nothing to do with our natural ability (or lack thereof), it doesn’t matter what we bring to the table or what gifts we possess.

What I need to realize is the fact that it isn’t the strength of my character, my experience or my wonderful grip of the scriptures that wins God over. It was simply my need…the need to have Him enter my life. We don’t obey rules and commandments to get us closer to the Father. Like Jesus, we obey and follow because we are already close to Him. Father God knows that on this journey, maturity comes, discipline comes and “right doing” will come. The journey with God imbeds us in a relationship that will change us and benefit the world around us.

“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

“By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of god. Holiness is in right action, and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness.” - Kingdom of Heaven

Rules are good (most of them) we need right action; (anyone with kids knows this!) Following the Ten Commandments is a very good thing. Sacraments are good life practices. They can be the bridge, the step, and the one thing that awakes us to our need for more of Him. But we need to remember… just following rules and commandments, observing sacraments, are no guarantee of intimacy with the Father.

As I move away from a work list mentality, (and funny dance moves) I realize that I am here for a purpose higher and that like Jesus…I can go around doing good…because I belong to the Father.

That’s what I need…I need to be with Him.

What about you? Do you feel you have to earn your way into His heart?

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Dream Breeze

 

hatteras2008 014 “Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it.” - Eliza Tabor

“You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it's headed next. That's the way it is with everyone 'born from above' by the wind of God, the Spirit of God." John 3:8 The Message

For a visionary guy like me; disappointments seem to be a close companion to the whole casting vision thing. You get a vision, you work on a dream and sometimes they don’t turn out the way you hoped they would…you get disillusioned…perhaps you think about giving up your dream…I know I have.

My spirit gets restless…I feel drained, spent. I look at promises through lenses of doubt and my hope seems blocked…stuck…dry.

What we need is a dream breeze…

We need a flow of God’s grace that awakens; refreshes and invigorates our sensitivity to His leading. We need to feel the cool against the skin of our dream, easing the sweat of our own effort to make it come true. Sometimes our dreams become stagnant because we try to define them instead of seeking vision refinement from the Father. By faith we open the windows of heaven with worship, acknowledging not the dream but the dream giver. At His feet, in His presence our dreams and visions are nourished and refined.

If you feel like your dream is dead, consider this (I had to)…perhaps it was never truly alive. Because apart from Him…they’re not! Many make dreams their life pursuit instead of a passionate following of the Father…no wonder many dreams die before they even take flight. Don’t get me wrong…I like dreams. I believe following dreams is important and to a certain degree, we need them. However, dreams are not reliable…but God is. Dreams are not forever…but God is. Dreams come to an end…God’s loves for us does not.

A dream breeze is a relational thing; it fans the connection between us and God. A breeze invites closeness; we’re drawn to it like a shade tree on a hot summer’s day. A dream breeze brings change…much more than just shaking the dust off or encouraging us. The Holy Spirit blows across ours and we become alive in ways that disappointments can’t touch. This breeze is a holy moment, bringing us closer to His heart.

Dreams are born there…

So...have your dreams disappointed you lately? How can I pray for you?

Blessings,
Jay

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