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

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

With Burning Hearts – Guest Post

 

Today's guest is from my friend Michael Kimball, who just happens to live close to my home town. Michael has a passionate heart for Father God and I know you'll be blessed by reading this today. – Jay

With burning hearts

image001 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be provided for you. Jesus Christ (Matthew 6:33 HCSB)

In reflecting on these words, words coming out of the mouth of Jesus making it unwise for us to ignore them, I find it important to first understand—at least to some fundamental extent—what he meant by both “the kingdom of God” and “His righteousness”. For if these two things are of such importance that in seeking them we are to grant them a higher priority in our lives than the pursuit of food, clothing, and shelter, we ought to have a clear sense of what they are!

While the kingdom of God, no doubt, encompasses more than what I offer here it is yet a place where God is acknowledged as king and his will holds sway, gladly accepted by the inhabitants of the kingdom as being wise, good, and preferable to their own. That God’s will is preferable stems from the settled opinion of the kingdom’s inhabitants that God’s righteousness, his goodness if you will, is perfect.

If what I suggest is at least fundamentally accurate then to seek “the kingdom of God and His righteousness” is to be searching after, on a continual basis and as a higher priority than the pursuit of material things, that non-material, spiritual, life-imparting and essential treasure that is the fruit of a vital relationship with the living God and the defining difference between existence and life.

You may well wonder at this point, how is this to be done? What form does the seeking take? To which I give the only answer possible—follow Jesus!

My reply isn’t meant to be facetious. I’m serious. Jesus commands us to seek these things and, in the gospel record, claims to know what he’s talking about. He says that he and the Father are one and that his appearing on earth brings the kingdom of God near, visible to everyone. After all, Jesus is both the King and the human embodiment of the righteousness of God. To seek God’s kingdom and righteousness is to follow hard after Jesus, learning from him and doing what he says. For in the doing comes understanding.

The re-ordering of our lives to reflect God’s priorities is to agree to turn our own world upside down! Jesus knows this and sets the admonishment so that it is sandwiched in the midst of his addressing our human propensity to be anxious about our physical welfare, often to the extent of making money the paramount pursuit of our life. Jesus strips away any pretense of a pragmatic hiding place by saying that if we have our priorities in order our material needs will be provided for.

Bold words! One of the most incredible statements I’ve ever heard! So grand a promise that my heart longs to plumb the depths of its truth. I want to experience the unfettered, explosive joy of fellowship with, and worship of, the God who so loves us as to set us free from self-imposed drudgery and fulfill this lofty claim.

By the gracious help of the Spirit of Christ Jesus I have come a long way in my personal journey of faith to where I find myself, together with my beloved wife, Sheila, poised to take hold of our Savior’s words as a truth strong enough to overcome our fears. It must be so! For if this utterance of Jesus is false then our faith is in vain.

With burning hearts we desire to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ and to be found faithful stewards of that which he has entrusted to us. To know him and love him with the same wild abandonment of love that fueled his willingness to come and save us from our sins. Jesus is our Longings End and we look to set ourselves to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…

                                                                                      ~michael

Michael is a certified professional coach, writer, and author of the suspense novel, Portals. Together with his wife, Sheila, the two are the team behind the various writings found at Longings End. Michael also helps men discover, live, and fulfill their calling to the glory of God. You can find out more about their coaching by visiting Longings End Coaching.

 

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I need a Shepherd

 

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My family goes to the ocean to unwind and let the elements of wind, surf and spray define our day. God speaks loudly to me by the sea, above the roll of the afternoon thunder, above the crashing waves and above the “wants” that seem to hunt me when I’m back in New York. The salt air cleanses and frees my lungs to breath in the beauty of His creation…of His presence. I start to breath as a man who has just had been saved from drowning.

In with the good…out with the bad….

I start to muse on the 23 Psalm.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want…

Really? I want all the time…my wants are so loud and demanding. They consume so much of my time and energy, driving me, burying me beneath them. The Father says…

Breathe… in with the good…out with the bad….

My mind races ahead with a thought that threatens to swallow me like a rouge wave…What about the world? Surely what the world wants from me is equally as demanding. These wants…cry out, pushing, pulling me…trying to make me do something for it’s benefit…not mine.

Breathe… in with the good…out with the bad….

I need a lifeguard, a shepherd that restores breath to lungs collapsed by the pressure of wants. The good shepherd sees beyond all those…sees my need and I am rescued on the shore of His heart. It is interesting to note that the Hebrew word for WANT means to lack, decrease, or become empty. That’s sounds like drowning to me.

The Good Shepherd refuses to let that happen… with Him…I shall not want; I shall not become empty or diminish. I will not drown in the current of self-interest or the “wants’ of the world. I breathe the air of freedom and swim in the grace of a loving Lord and Savior.

Breathe… in with the good…out with the bad…

O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. Psalm 34:9

How’s your lung capacity today? Let me know how I can pray for you.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Foregivegracefulness



"Nothing whatever pertaining to godliness and real holiness can be accomplished without grace."
- Augustine 


Over vacation, Father God impressed on me a new word. That word was Foregivegracefulness (remember, I like to make up words, see here!). This new lingo of mine is the blending of forgiveness and grace, the wonderful ability to look beyond faults, intent, character flaws and forgive. It concentrates on what we can give (or promote) rather than what we can get (or impose...like judgement or punishment). When we forgive we extend a grace of reconciliation, a wish of restored relationship...it is a rescue mission. The Father rescued us with the gift of Foregivegracefulness...We need to be relief workers in the ministry of forgiveness.

When we do, we promote His heart, His vision and His desire. We rescue people.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:17


Have a great weekend my friends, I have more guest posts coming up and may I ask that you would go and read the latest Bad Sheep

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tribute to My Father – Guest Post

 

Today I’m honored to have Thomas Mason share his heart with you all. Thomas is a new friend of mine and writes his own blog Living the Story over at thomasemason.net…I encourage you to follow his journey with Christ over there…you’ll definitely be blessed! - JC

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Tribute to My Father

My father passed away in January of 2007 at the age of 89. We weren’t particularly close. In fact, I always thought of myself more of a nuisance to him than anything else.

Not a priority.

Not wanted.

The last time we saw or communicated with each other was in January of 1999.

When I saw him for the first time during eight years of absence at his home sitting in his favorite chair in a peaceful repose just moments after his passing, I wanted to somehow make up for being an awful son to him.

The funeral arrangements my mother and I made were dignified and regal, befitting an Army Serviceman who served during World War II, and a hospitality career that spanned more than seven decades, despite years and years of dysfunctional relating to one another as a family unit.

I wanted to say a few words at his funeral. It ended up being a tribute to my father.

Following are the words I spoke:

My relationship with you was not always the closest. There were times when I didn’t always want to be around you. There was even a moment when I ran from you. And when I thought you would keep me from home fell apart, I found myself back at home. Although we didn’t embrace, your arms nonetheless were wide open, welcoming me back.

All of my life, but especially in recent years, these questions arose in my mind: “Am I adequate?” and “Do I have what it takes?” And today, I still ask myself those questions.

This week I searched through my mother’s old photograph books desperately wanting to recapture some good memories of you. I found a handful of pictures when I was a baby and later as a young boy where we were standing side by side. I even found one with you and mom and it appears we were a happy family. But I seemed to have forgotten about those times, and I don’t know why.

Too, this week, my mind has been flooded with memories I long since suppressed: the memories of family trips and outings, the memories of being with you, just you and me, when I was with you at your workplace, the hotel. I was there so much I think I knew that hotel like the back of my hand. And because of your position there, I felt a little like royalty.

Another question came to my mind this week: “Why did those seemingly good times get overshadowed by the not so good times?” I don’t understand it, and maybe on this side of heaven I’ll never understand.

But as I’ve thought this week about you, about my childhood, about where I am now in my life, I would hope that between you and my mother and the manner you raised me, that I turned out okay. I’m certainly far from perfect, but God isn’t finished with me yet. There is still a lot of work to do.

I don’t ever remember calling you dad or daddy, but maybe I did. But even if I didn’t I look back at you with honor. I salute your life. From this moment on, I’ll not be burdened by regrets and what might have been. I’ll move forward carrying high the family name with dignity and respect because I’m beginning to realize now that I am adequate. I know I have what it takes.

Dad, thanks for giving me life.

Questions: Do you have any long-standing regrets? If so, how do you think you can rectify those regrets and move on with your life?

Thomas_Mason [compressed] 
My name is Thomas Mason. I have a wife, Jessica, who I’ve been married to for 13 years. We have an 8 year-old daughter, Audrey. I blog regularly at Living the Story, http://thomasemason.net and you can find me on Twitter @thomasmason_

 

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Monday, May 21, 2012

How We Going?

 

oceanheader Hey folks we're back from vacation and ready to roll. I thought I would post one of my beach musings today but coming up in the next few days is something really exciting! I have several guest bloggers ready to weigh in and bless Soulfari readers (you know who you are), so stay tuned in!

*How we going?

"Different strokes for different folks, and so on and so on and scooby dooby dooby". - Sly and the Family Stone, Everyday People

I have a unique “gift”, one that usually produces the awesome side-effect of laughter. It may be the left over effect of my speech issues when I was younger. (Read more Jay History 101 here) or just part of my wacky personality, no matter, it’s a gift and I use it with pride. This gift has no official scientific name but let’s call it “Wordmixology”, the unusual pairing of words into new (and exciting) phrases. The normal pattern of this gift reveals itself when I greet people, often leaving them with puzzled looks on their face.

I like greeting those lonely toll collector peeps and on the way to North Carolina we visit many such oases of collection. Imagine the surprise of one such happy soul when a van load of Cookinghams rolls up to her booth and she hears a bright and cheery…

*How we going?

She cautiously handed me my change and wished us a nice day…her day was just picking up for sure. As we pulled away, my family was rolling with laughter and a new catch phrase was born, one that was repeated throughout our vacation.

Our trip to the Outer Banks was fantastic, with much laughter and grace. Right now I am writing this while looking at the ocean in the early morning sunlight. The word for today…perhaps three I think.

How we going?

This new phrase of mine…it fits. It’s a question right from the heart of the Father. “Are we OK?” “Is our relationship growing?” or quite simply…”How we going?”  In my mind a wonderful thought arises…You make all things glorious. Indeed He has, the splendor and majesty of this place is glorious, soul quieting glorious. Yet all this beauty pales in comparison to being in right relationship with the Father. That is a glorious gift beyond measure.

So…have you heard the Father ask you “How we going?” lately?

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. Romans 8:16-17 (KJV)

*Ed note: a mixture of How’s it going? and How we doing?

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Validation

 

 

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I was thinking...

At the core of a human being is something remarkably complex. We want...no, NEED, our views, our opinions, plans, ideas, dreams, and accomplishments validated. We want them to matter to other people, other human beings.

Why?

I think the answer is in the middle of the word validation...it's the word ID. We want to matter because it's part of our identity, our value and our worth.The invisible identity card we carry cries out for validation, for approval and acceptance. Yet, it is constantly being questioned by the cruel border patrols of doubt, fear and insecurity. We look for validation through work, relationships and achievements...but is it enough?

I don't think so...not for me...I suspect not for you either.

I look through my wallet at all the forms of ID I carry...nope, not enough. I look through those invisible ID cards that I carry (that I wish I didn't)...nope, not even close to being enough.

What then...is enough?

The Father's validation...the one who has place a much higher value on who I am.

"The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children." Romans 8:16

"God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children." The Message

Is that enough?

Oh yeah...more than enough!

“Your true identity is as a child of God. This is the identity you have to accept. Once you have claimed it and settled in it, you can live in a world that gives you much joy as well as pain. You can receive the praise as well as the blame that comes to you as an opportunity for strengthening your basic identity, because the identity that makes you free is anchored beyond all human praise and blame. You belong to God, and it is as a child of God that you are sent into the world.” Henri J. M. Nouwen

Are you feeling validated today? Are those pesky border patrols giving you a hard time? How can I pray for you?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Nobel No-bility


nob-1 copy It seems I needed a dose of my own medicine today. I woke up feeling sorry for myself (the story of why is not important). Early today I read some of my manuscript for RETOOLED (you can read a free chapter here) which is in the hands of another publisher bent on torturing me with a response. Anyway, I was reading a section on losing heart and felt strongly that I should share this with you all today...I hope it encourages you. – Jay

"True nobility is exempt from fear."
- (King Henry the Sixth, Part II Act IV, Scene I)

I love the movie Braveheart and it once spoke to me about nobility (Don’t judge me now). In my opinion the movie is a powerful metaphor for spiritual warfare. You have William Wallace leading the everyday folk in revolt against England, fighting for their freedom. Then you have Robert the Bruce, the leader of the Scottish Noblemen feeling the tug of joining the fight or staying the course of entitlement. His father (dying of leprosy) keeps whispering in his ear to bide his time, to wait for the right time to “rise up” but in reality is keeping his son from becoming a great leader.

Seeing this movie makes me think how much passivity makes us like Robert the Bruce. We get all inspired by a leader and want to run off and join a cause. BUT something reminds us of our holdings, the land and comfort we possess. We begin to believe the lie that the enemy is too strong and it’s not the right time for to be so bold. We think that if we’re patient, if we bide our time, then we can overthrow the enemy in our lives. The truth is that the waiting, the laying back, lulls us to inactivity and eventually spiritual slaughter. All we thought we possessed has actually fallen into enemy hands. We don’t realize how “occupied” we have become. It is worse than the disease that was wasting his father’s flesh; it’s the decay of true nobleness.

In the movie, the possibility of having their own freedom didn’t motivate the “nobles”. It meant risking losing what they already had. Contrast that to this Scripture in the book of Isaiah:

“But the noble thinks noble things; and by noble things he shall stand.” Isaiah 32:8

A noble heart is a willing and active heart, not one bound to passivity. It rises, willing to stand for what is right. Staying the course, and surrender to His will are some of the trademarks of a noble man. On the trail of obedience sons reflect their Father’s character, giving hope and marking the trail for those who follow. How do we give hope? By courageously coming alongside someone when they’re in need. By allowing someone’s voice to be heard when no one wants to listen. We mark the trail of hope by believing in someone when no one else will, everything the father’s does for us!

Nobility is indeed a positional marker of who we are in Christ but it is also an action. Your No-bility, is the power to say no to lesser things and yes to Kingdom things. That’s the inner strength needed in the daily fight for your heart. We need to be noble men, if there is a war for you heart; your wife’s and children’s heart are also on the hit list.

We bow our knees to only one KING…let’s make today matter. Lets be noble men, boldly fighting for His kingdom.

What about you…how’s your No-bility today? How can I pray for you?

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