Ask for the Ancient Paths:

The Unfolding Story of MAXIMUS HEART

"Stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls."
                                                             Jeremiah 6:16

God - as only He can - broke some very disconcerting news to me recently: He informed me that my heart wasn't going to be sacrificed to or for a ministry that had begun to crawl under my leadership just two years earlier.

 

'Maximus Heart isn't about you anymore. It's FOR you.'

 

At first, I didn't know what that meant...until I listened to the wisdom of standing at the crossroads and looking...asking...for the ancient paths. What exactly does that mean for me, my heart, and my story wrapped up in the spiritual and masculine journey?? 

 

 You see, I want to live out a story that's worth living! "And I have," as a good friend named Morgan recently said,  "lost the ability to bullshit anymore." I've done a terrible job trying to out-God God in arranging for either very small stories to fill up the void of not living in the Larger Story or creating more "fig leaves" to hide behind in fear, shame, etc. So, at the nudging of the Wild Goose (what the old Celts called the Holy Spirit) - and with a set of circumstances that have recently led to a shuttering of all that MAXIMUS HEART used to be - I stand at the crossroads and look. 

 

It's OK for me to tell you that I can't see the path ahead of me - but I trust the One who has laid it out before I even reached it. Welcome to the unfolding story of MAXIMUS HEART...and you are encouraged to join in as we share stories from the wellspring of life!!

 

STRENGTH & HONOR!!

John Fontaine

 

 

Welcome message from John Fontaine

What's the Rumpus?

In this season of walking more deeply with God, I wanted to include a place inside The Unfolding Story where I can check in with flotsam and jetsam of my own heart.

One of my favorite movies is "Miller's Crossing" by the Coen Brothers. Throughout this film, I always chuckle when I hear one of the characters speak the line, "What's the rumpus?" If you're not in the know, a "rumpus" is a noisy disturbance or a commotion.

So, what's the RUMPUS today?

For me, it's learning how to shut down the internal symphony of voices that tend to speak inside of my head, heart, and soul. I've tended to call them The Lost Boys...a street gang of opinions, remarks, and judgments that may or may not have any foundation in the truth. As I am trained more efficiently in discerning God's voice in my heart, I find that shutting down the committee gets easier as I surrender myself to being still, removing the drama, and listening to the whisper of the Spirit as it guides me along the path.

It's true...life inside the Matrix is a cacophony of distractions, overload, and 24/7 media masturbation that will steal, kill, and destroy the ears of my heart. But if I choose to turn away from the rumpus and focus on where the action truly is - which is God and His calling and purpose for my heart and its story - then I will be more focused and free of the Spirit of the Age. 

So, that's the rumpus...for now. More will be revealed...

John Fontaine

August 19, 2016

Wow...I mean, wow. OK, so it's been a few days...weeks...months since I last checked in here . The death of Ransomed Heart's Craig McConnell certainly sent my spirit and heart sideways - yet God, in His infinite mercy and unforced rhythms of grace, showed up to allow and invite a deep grief. And on the other side of that, I was faced with a major illness, short hospitalization, and continuing path of healing. Yeah, didn't see that one coming!! 

So, what's the RUMPUS today?

Man...gratitude. Employment. Medical insurance. Time away from work to begin healing. A more acute awareness of my own health and how I've been doing a really piss poor job of taking care of His temple. The financial means to be able to pay the incoming bills. The prayers and support of those around me at work. And a renewed connection to my heart and its story...and it truly is a story that matters to God!

Additional gratitude for men who have found Maximus Heart over the past few months and reached out to me in search of connection to men in this area who are passionate about the Ransomed Heart message and ministry...I was able to refer them to a good man with a huge heart for this work. He began his own ministry outreach in the wake of the changes God created in Maximus Heart - and it's joyful to know that God is bringing him men who he can connect with as well. 

So, that's the rumpus...for now. More will be revealed...

John Fontaine

October 27, 2016

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

As John Eldredge says in his powerful book Waking the Dead, "A battle is raging. And it is a battle for your heart." This I know to be true - if nothing else, this truth has been presented over and over again since I chose sides with God and declared Jesus to be the Lord and Shepherd of my life over 10 years ago. 

I purchased a new laptop computer earlier this year, and I've been naturally diligent in keeping it upgraded and secured with virus protection on a weekly basis. Sounds logical and prudent, doesn't it? 

So, what's the RUMPUS today?

Well...I'd like to think (or even confess) that guarding my heart...above all else can and does take precedence each and every day. The Enemy of God is effective and consistent in waging war against my heart daily...and I'm certainly not a novice in being trained as a warrior against the spiritual assaults that put my heart into the cross hairs every day. 

Yes, the Life that God offers through deep and personal relationship with Christ is something I have to fight for. It doesn't just come packaged and delivered to my doorstep. The journey - while breathtaking - is also fraught with battle, adventure, and beauty. In the battle for my heart, I deserve to follow the instructions from the wise and discerning Spirit given to me. Anything - and everything - that opposes God and His purpose will be looking to attack...and I have a crucial role to play in God's Larger Story and my heart is certainly worth guarding.

So, that's the rumpus...for now. More will be revealed...

John Fontaine

November 3, 2016

Well, the death of a second brother in my family within the last 20 months has, oddly, been numbing to my heart. Grief, of course, brings many memories - some cherished and some unwanted. Next summer I'll turn 55 years old...midway through yet another decade. For some reason, God has taken these opportunities of loss to come more fiercely after my heart...and the dismantling of The Poser my masculine journey has sought isolation in for too long a time.

So, what's the RUMPUS today?

IT'S TIME TO LEAVE THE SHIRE!!

What does that mean? For me - and my walk with God - it means leaving formula and questing in search of relationship. It means entering a season of intentional reconnecting to and understanding of my story. And - most importantly - it means that I am going to undertake "the road to Mordor" that Frodo and Samwise took in order to be faithful to the task given to them. 

I look forward to learning more, through the Spirit, about just exactly what my Shire is...and why it's time to trust God and leave it. I confess that in my own wounding and brokenness, I've spent time abandoning the glory that God put upon me and my story. I've played it safe...much more than I've ever wanted to.  But there is something deeply alive in me that has been forgotten, abandoned...and that desire is NOT dead. God is the life force within it, the language of my heart and dreams that I've stopped speaking.

As Samwise said, "If I take one more step, it'll be the farthest from home I've ever been."

So, that's the rumpus...for now. More will be revealed...

John Fontaine

December 27, 2016

As I sit here today - feeling reconnected as a branch to the True Vine - I am experiencing both a peace of heart and also an understanding that in Leaving the Shire (as I've come to call, with God's blessing, this season on my masculine journey) I have come to an agreement with Jesus that I am willing to invite Him into those deep and mysterious places in my story that I've kept hidden and locked down for far too long.

Simply put: It is time to heal and be made whole.

I'm not in denial - I've fought this step quite a bit since Christ captured my heart for His back in 2005. Some of you can relate to the thoughts I voiced to myself: "I'll get around to it...Man, this feels like too much work...Why even try?...It's not going to work for me. Others? Sure, but not for me."

So, what's the RUMPUS today?

Getting out of my own way and inviting God to lead me wherever He so chooses as we journey from the Shire together. Of course, that is going to be opposed big time - already has and certainly will continue to be so. Health issues? Still have some dogging my steps. Financial challenges? Yes, sir - right there with them. Relational issues with others? Oh, man - wow...still trying to figure out, with Spirit's help and a lot of grace, whether my main relational style is "moving towards" people or "moving away" or "moving against" that gets the most airtime. 

As I'm composing this, I'm listening to the soundtrack of one of my favorite films, Legends of the Fall. It's a stunning tale of fathers and sons, love and betrayal, adventure and courage, and the fierce heart that God puts into a man and how the story of the heart is truly central. At this juncture, I feel a bit of Colonel Ludlow in me - as well as parts Alfred, Tristan, and Samuel. One of the themes I love about the film is how - to both glory and sometimes detriment - the men listen to the voice inside their hearts. One Voice - I know - is always True and beckons me to The Way. The other - sadly - does not, and is in opposition to how God desires me to walk and live with Him. Echoes of the Fall.

And, in the moment, He is well pleased that I am walking with Him and not running off on my own...or away from the path He lays out before me.

So, that's the rumpus...for now. More will be revealed...

John Fontaine

February 20, 2017

"Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him." (Psalm 62:5 NIV)

As I know to be true about my spiritual and masculine journey, the story of my heart - in both the old self and the new creation - at times will find itself engaged in a sort of civil war inside myself concerning hope...or the lack thereof.

In the dozen years I've been walking with God, I am always pleasantly surprised and readily amazed when Scripture, through the movement of the Spirit, captures my heart and the pain of its truth in such simple and powerful words.

Wow, yes...my soul, in times of the lack of hope, needs rest. Not drugs, porn, food, isolation, or Netflix...but rest in God. After the past few days of battling the spiritual warfare that the Enemy uses in hopelessness, I found myself (today) just whispering to God, "My hope is in YOU."

So, what's the RUMPUS today?

Being in the Yes with God instead of believing in the lie of No that the Enemy will insinuate or accuse me of. God is in constant and continual pursuit of my heart - all of me for all of Him - and as this journey of Leaving the Shire continues in my story for His glory, I am reminded that God is fiercely committed to the restoration of my soul.

Rest and hope. That is certainly worth fighting for - and most certainly worth accepting from a Father who loves my sonship. 

John Fontaine

April 12, 2017

When I return here after a long hiatus from checking in, there is a part of me that wonders, "What took me so long?" I don't have an answer...and that's just fine. Truth is, I'm always wondering - in some form or fashion - as to what this is all about. WHAT IS THE RUMPUS? 

Lately, the battle has been a different kind of brutal. As of this writing, I literally have $4 to my name. Yes, that's in total. No car...no home...no girl...no family. My job - for lack of a better term - is a clusterf*%! that doesn't want to end. Mission? Flat, uninspired. Health? I'd lay even money it's going to be either a heart attack or a stroke that will bury me before I'm 60. No wonder drugs and sex are such powerful anesthesia for a broken and wounded heart...and I'm clean and celibate but I know how well they work. And yet...

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3: 5-6 NASB)

So, what's the RUMPUS today?

Trust. 

Even looking at the word makes me pause. In it I see another word...rust. Makes sense - if I don't use it, it'll probably grow some rust. So...I choose to trust the only Jesus I know. My understanding? Now that's graduate-level clusterf*%! if nothing else. Sure, I know stuff...have learned stuff...the hard way. Even in the midst of brutality, I call upon Papa and He sees...he listens...he rescues. And I can definitely use all the straight paths I can find these days.

John Fontaine

September 12, 2017

There are times when life - and a story worth living - becomes a sweet time of walking with God. 2017 has been a year of loss, challenges and battles, and many other landscapes that have been traveled. I've chosen to enter a season with God that gives me permission to choose and create a habitat of healing, restoration, transformation, and breakthrough in my life and in the story that I am seeking to understand through the eyes of God.

So, what's the RUMPUS today?

An honest look into the mirror and the madness of my own story - no blame or shame - but the courage to speak truth to my own heart.

Looking back in time, I am blessed to have 37 years of journals to mine for such truth. It may not seem like it, but it takes immense courage to enter this journey. To give you an example of some of the story my heart's been dealing with, I'll share an entry from about a year ago:

"DECEMBER 2, 2016: On Wednesday morning, my oldest brother, Mickey, died at the age of 66. Sad news...what seems even more sad is that I hadn't seen or spoken to him since 1994 (over 22 years). Coming out of my vacation fog...feeling lonely, forgotten dismissed. Lies...

"Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14:27) Jesus, I confess I don't do such a great job at this. Today, it feels as if You are the only friend that I have in life. Please don't leave me - I know You are here to teach me something through Your Spirit, the Counselor You sent for me, to me.

"What occurs to me, Lord, is that I am a broken and wounded boy pretending that I am a whole and holy man. It's not working and it doesn't make sense because it doesn't make sense - no matter how hard I try to wedge that fucking square peg into the round hole.

"Father, I also confess that this journey of the last 11 years hasn't always been a picnic. The Enemy has done quite an effective job at diminishing my heart. What am I to make of my life, my story? It seems, well...cruel, pointless, and hopeless. Lies - but whispers of truth do surface. It feels as if I'm poised to enter some sort of trial, test, or journey of initiation that is just about me (both the young boy & the man) and You...Father, Son & Spirit. It seems inescapable, looming, as if this is the ONLY WAY to go if this life with You is to have/hold any real meaning or true purpose."

(From JOURNAL FORTY-FIVE: "The Heart of the Story - One Again," pp. 39-40)

Here's to me, that little boy inside, the young man who followed in his footsteps, the man I've become, and the man that God is continuing to call me to be. That is certainly a journey worth staying the course on...

John Fontaine

December 1, 2017

Sitting on my couch, 2:30am, I think about being on my current job for the past 5 years. I'm not even sure if this is the record for my job history. I've had a lot of jobs, many different roles and not really a career.

Or maybe in God's human resource plan, I've been blessed with a phenomenal career??

The back cover of a local magazine offers the advertising wisdom:

"Open the door to new opportunities..." 

It's an advertisement for a local university. I've graduated from the University of Life - School of Hard Knocks Campus. Suma Cum Laude. 

So, what's the RUMPUS today?

The movement of God on the spiritual and masculine journey is certainly not always a linear path. The word lateral is in play within a certain part of my heart and story right now...and it cannot help but open the door to new opportunities.

Over nearly a year and a half now, I've been examining the ancient paths of my heart, seeing what fits in the moment, trying it on, trying it out, blundering around. I'm not the role I play on my job - nor am I the falling short of my flesh, even when that has great impact on my own heart and those closest to it. 

No....I believe that some new opportunities are just God's way of getting the attention of my heart in alignment to His Larger Story. 

John Fontaine

December 21, 2017

It truly is a dangerous world out there...

Having been trained as a warrior for decades now, I am amazed at how sometimes the battles pick me. In my current scope of action, an illegal drug den has infiltrated the apartment building I've lived in peacefully for the last 9 years. The action is taking place in the apartment directly above mine - the landlord is stepping up eviction procedures on the unit and its perpetrating tenant; the police department (Uniformed & Narcotics Divisions) has been involved and dispatched to my location several time over the past week; and I'm trying to regain peace of mind (along with spirit, soul, body, heart, and will) in the face of constant harassment, threats of physical violence against me, and the revolving door of trespassers and strangers that are present every day.

Over the past few days, God has realigned my heart to be in prayer for my enemies - to love them where they are at as He so graciously has loved me in the same way countless times in my story and His Larger Story. Some days (...minutes, hours...) it is truly easier said than done. 

So, what's the RUMPUS today?

Accepting the fact that I used to be imprisoned in the dark and deadly abyss of addiction - and the realization that it's only due to God's scandalous grace and mercy that I've been given the freedom to live outside of the nightmare.

This fluid situation has been reminding me of old wounds taken in family violence and the rabid self-destructive path I sought for decades through the use and abuse of substances. In my arrogance and hubris, there are moments when I consider myself better than and on a pedestal above such ilk and their nefarious deeds. And God knows the truth about who I was, what I did, and how I acted in those dark decades.

So, as the daily lessons continue to unfold in the drama playing out in front of me, I return again and again to Jesus - my Shield, my Strength, my Savior. He is the Rescue from the madness...that which can still whisper into my mind and in the real time adversity I'm living through as His Kingdom approaches. 

John Fontaine

February 13, 2018

All along the journey so far - and yes, indeed, asking for the ancient paths - I find that God is fierce in His pleasure for showing me that it truly is His Larger Story that I'm a part of and have a role to play in. So, when verses like Jeremiah 29:11 come to life through His Life flowing through me...well, naturally it still takes my breath away.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (NIV)

Over the last 2 weeks since Father called me up and out and away from my job as an Executive Assistant with Louisville Metro Government, I've avoided thinking about that verse quite a bit. After all, ending 5 1/2 years of public service didn't come easily, without struggle, or void of challenges and the accompanying spiritual warfare. Yet His grace is truly amazing...and His Word is always True and Faithful.

Over much of the last 2 years, God has been faithful to walk with me through a serious health condition, an ever-growing hostile work environment, and much warfare that I was both trained well to handle and from which I had grown weary and tired of battling on all fronts. Although God had been true to pursue healing, freedom, transformation, and breakthrough in my heart and story, I had the presence - through His Spirit - that a much larger turn was approaching. And so it came...even though I had been avoiding it, dreading it, and denying it. None of that mattered to Jesus - His fierce intentionality is flawless!!

So, what's the RUMPUS today?

Truly surrendering to God's will - and to actively accept being both a Student and a Son to Him and with Him. There's been a radical surgery to my spirit, where now I feel more tuned into the Spirit of God than I have in a very long time. He's lovingly shown me how to ask for help...and how to lovingly accept it as it flows my way. He's called me into seeing each new day's travel into the unknown and wild frontier of my spiritual and masculine journey as an adventure we are taking together. And He's continuing to unfold the truths of Jeremiah 29:11 in only the bits and pieces of His treasure map that He gives to me moment by moment. 

It's a scandalous freedom - one which I never could have imagined and an ancient path He's been calling me to for quite a long time. Oh, yes - there is work to be one each day and my hands (...my heart...my story...) aren't idle. Traveling with the unforced rhythms of grace is truly an amazing journey.

I wonder where the Wild Goose will take me next??

John Fontaine

July 28, 2018

Now what?

I am not the same man i was the last time i asked for the ancient paths. i love reading the scriptures where god changes a name. 

family of origin or family of choice or orphan? I imagine that there is always a choice. a little less than my father and more like my dad. 

when god called me into a late summer's day adventure (inviting me to begin a journey in which i'm choosing to reclaim my birth name which I legally changed in 1998), i had no clue of what was coming or the reason why.

when god called me out of a season of rest and renewal towards a series of new job opportunities, i had the excitement to walk with god into a frontier of choosing between two good things. 

i keep running into this notion: i can either have god or i can have understanding - i usually can't have both.

So, what's the rumpus today?

into a season of my mid-50's , i find myself in a place where i prefer the company of god the father, son, and spirit more pleasing than certain characters that somehow get cast or written into the script.

i can't tell you why it's taken 4 months to come back here to look at the fork in the road. i can't tell you why i feel like i'm attending the funeral for a friend. legally changing my name back after 20 years of being known by another one is going to take longer than i think. and then there's the state of confusion that will obviously impact some of my circle - employer, friends, and even some here that follow my mission platform.

it's ok. god is leading the way, so i'm pretty sure it'll be ok in the end. faith is sometimes one of the most peaceful walks in the woods that i've ever enjoyed. trusting in him. being who i am in him. like returning to the rumpus after months away...the scenery is always the same but the experience is remarkably different.

 

i am amazed to be following him during these final months of 2018 in what has been a year with a theme of "soul to soul." connection with the father, son, and spirit has been challenging, amazing, breathtaking, and dangerous for good. do you have a sense of god speaking into your heart, story, or habitat in a particular sense of direction or theme or invitation for the upcoming year? 

"be still and know that i am god." powerful words. a compass, really, in a busy and driven world. as god continues to lead me into the frontier of my spiritual and masculine journey, i find that the places i fear going the most are the deepest places in my story that Jesus wants to come into in order to heal me. 

and for that, too, i'm eternally grateful.

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

November 22, 2018

Interestingly enough, when God finally called me out into the frontier of what I would name as a journal harvest, I thought it would never really progress as anything more than a vanity project.

As I begin to walk through Journal Eighteen (which highlights my 26th year of living), I'm filled with an anticipatory joy of meeting Father somewhere deeper in His Larger Story.

I  have a limited supply of John Eldredge's book, EPIC. If you would like a free copy, please click here and one will be sent to you (one per household while supplies last).

Now as I continue to be captivated and fascinated by seeing how God sees my story(ies),  I'm sensing Him coming in closer to heal some very old and deep wounds there. In that part of my story, I was in love with a young woman named Angela. I was also in love with addiction, willfully choosing to selfishly self-destruct any goodness that was possible in the pursuit of love, marriage, a career and family. Could I believe that God (not really sure there was much of a relationship with Him back in my mid-20's) would bless such things? Today , yes. Then, all I knew was the hubris of my decisions made in a maelstrom of selfishness and greed.

So, what's the rumpus today?

Five months ago, I knew that Jesus was up to something in my life that I really couldn't explain - as if He was calling me deeper into the frontier and offering no map, compass, or comfort in the fact that He knew I knew that I was completely lost without Him.

I want to keep living like that...

Like living in the beauty of Spirit guiding me into listening to delta wave sleep and relaxation music on YouTube. All day at work and sometimes at my apartment at night to sleep. Comforting, soothing, healing - just what a Father wants for His son in the Story of the wounds and in the redemption of their  broken parts.

Some of what I've been reading has been hard to swallow - just the raw arrogance of my life and its train wreck path of drugs, sex, unemployment and loss of heart. All of it written down in impeccable detail and electric hope. God was after something in me from the age of 17 (when I first began my journal collection). As I revisit and reclaim the story with Him, I find myself searching more for His heart for me through the good, the bad and the ugly of it all. 

As the journey continues, I'm confident that the Trinity will keep leading me deeper into - and through the discovery of - the Larger Story and my role in it.

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

April 27, 2019

So here I am again, seeking answers to questions I don't really have. I know that God is in the business of rescuing my heart, story and habitat. I am eternally grateful for that grace. But as I'm listening to Tommy by The Who , I can't help but think about like unfolding as story.

Right now, in my Journal harvest with God, I'm into Volume 18 and the age of 26 (1988). A very selfish time of my young life and small story. I'm the kinda guy who will say he only wants to eat one Zinger but ends up wolfing down three. I'm in the subcontracting business of paving the best roads with the not so best intentions. 

Saturday night, my only possible date is with Netflix or sleep. I love listening to Tommy because it reminds  me of my childhood - hearing the sounds of music coming from someone's stereo. Quite the education...for me as a dabbling drummer, hearing the outrageous and brilliantly talented Keith Moon was too much to handle. It drew me into the music, and the music drew me into the story. 

So, what's the rumpus tonight?

The album is intoxicating to listen to, at anytime. Once I start I don't want to stop. It's also a musical opera about redemption, and trust me - I don't usually dig opera. I could used some redemption today - in my story, my heart. 

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

May  18, 2019

I'm coming back to write some more, mere days later, perhaps in an attempt to pursue something more holy. There's no guarantee that will happen before Domino's Pizza arrives. Sanctification in 30 minutes or less.

All for what?

A deeper walk with God? 

More will be revealed...

And so here I am, Memorial Day and not much to do but eat, watch Netflix, and wonder about returning to work tomorrow morning. Or is that worrying about returning? Not sure, and not sure why. 

Maybe it's funny that's there's a Domino's Pizza sitting in my fridge. Maybe God's always on time with the delivery of Himself because it's the food I really need to be feasting on.

On this day of remembrance for the sacrifices made in the sake of freedom, I find myself thinking about how God made the sacrifice of Jesus a reality for all to choose - a choice of freedom in Him that also comes with the training  to battle in the ongoing war to advance the Kingdom of Heaven. 

 

In my own brokenness and wounded parts of my story, I find that God is very much interested in healing those deeper scars from battlefield traumas and the  carnage done to my soul.  It's messy, M*A*S*H-style surgery in my heart, story, and habitat that only God as Father can do. By giving Jesus access to my story - as messed up as it is - I can assume the role of patient and put my faith in the Physician who is the most qualified to save my life.

So, what's the rumpus today?

A sense of having to grow up at nearly 57 years of age. Hand-to-hand combat with shame, dread, and isolation. Sexual healing and wholeness and holiness. Mission and ministry and calling and passion and purpose. Questions: Why am I here? What is my role in the Larger Story of God?  Should I watch "West Side Story" before it leaves Netflix? And eat 3 slices of pepperoni pizza? With garlic? 

Or perhaps I should watch "Saving Private Ryan"  or "Blackhawk Down"? I have a variety of war-themed movies. Or maybe my pinned down heart needs a SEAL Team rescue from Jesus in just doing nothing and just being the me He sees and loves right here, right now.

That's worth fighting for - and being rescued from.

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

May  27, 2019

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9 NIV)

Even a stubborn, hard-headed man like me can finally learn a lesson if I fail forward at it long enough: sin should lead to conviction through the Spirit of God...and that should naturally lead to confession before God since I chose/performed the sin before Him, even before I acted out in the behavior(s) of the chosen form of rebellion...and from their I should humbly walk through the doors of repentance - which means, in my heart, that I'm walking away from that sin/choice and truly don't want to make the same mistake(s) again. 

Easier said than done? Yes, I'm not the only one who has fallen into that trap, too. As I enter my 15th year of walking with God (I'll turn 57 this coming Tuesday so, yes, better late than never), I'm continuing to be humbled by Jesus and His pursuit of my heart, story, and habitat.

As a single man, I've been celibate from sex with women since accepting Jesus in my heart as Lord and Savior in 2005. But, sadly, I've engaged in sexual sin nonetheless...far less at times than others but still choosing that dead-end to life life instead of a Sacred Romance that God has been faithful in wooing me into.

So, what's the rumpus today?

FREEDOM!!

Yes, there is unfinished business here between me and the Father, Son, and Spirit in relation to the healing of my sexuality as a man. There are deep agreements I've made in the broken and wounded parts of my sexuality as a man and my sexual story that I am renouncing and breaking. There is victory over the darkness that I can claim and there are chains to be broken (still) by the power of Jesus' life, death, resurrection, ascension and authority. This will require courage, valor, truth, and humility. 

But in claiming the full rights of sonship - and choosing to no longer live as an orphan or a slave - I'm going all in on Jesus and His claims that I can read for myself and know - and learn - to be the Truth that will, indeed, set me free.

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

July 14, 2019

The  last few weeks have been precious time walking with God...not easy but without dread, anxiety, or shame for the way I've been living out my faith in Him. Connection with - and reconnection to - friendship and relationship seems to be one of the Major Themes that He's tuning up in the musical instruments of my head, heart, and soul.

 

After worship this morning, I find myself called to the creative with Him. It's a wondrous place to be - not with any sort of plan but having a sense of being led into a deeper part of my story and the role I have to play in His Larger Story. It's been nearly three weeks since being separated from my full-time employment, but His grace in showing me the next steps inside this wilderness adventure has been both breathtaking and just a bit unnerving. 

Yet the time together with Father, Son, and Spirit has elevated my heart into  a posture of humility and deeper faith, trust, and hope. I've seen answered prayer in relation to friendships and relationships I thought might be lost or forgotten. I've also had  my heart burdened with sadness in connection to friendship that has now taken its own path away from God and all that He offers.

Right now in my story and walk with God, I'm understanding that I need to seek out some counsel and wisdom for places in my heart, story, and habitat that need deeper healing and transformation. This is not an easy journey to take. Yes, oh my goodness, YES - the counsel and wisdom of the Holy Spirit is more than enough.  But He is asking me to open a vulnerable part of my heart to someone else.

My struggle - at times - has been bumping up against this sense that's it's always ME who initiates connection, friendship or relationship to and with others in my story. Ironic...and, yes, a bit arrogant to think it's all about me, up to me, or about me. That's an old posture where I set myself up as the owner of a lonely heart. No one cares, no one loves me. God is both fearless and faithful to guide me into how He sees my heart and deeply care for my story.

So, what's the rumpus today?

Taking risk with God - risking connection, risking friendship, risking relationship to and with others, and taking the risk to take the parts of my heart, story, and habitat that need His radical healing, transformation, breakthrough, and restoration. I don't have a map for this wilderness nor do I need to think I'm so smart as to need a compass I don't really know how to use.

I can have God or I can have understanding. Usually, I can't have both. Once more I choose God. He's not in the business of letting me down.

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

July 28, 2019

Life creates opportunity to walk more deeply with God...and there are times when I think I've drawn the map all by myself. I find myself considering all the strange journeys that God has called me on since 2005. That's why I love the intimacy of it - the shared brotherhood with Jesus and the Fathering by God along with the counseling wisdom of the Spirit.  With the powerful impact of God's Word, I've also learned the Larger Story and the love of the Gospel.

But I can't please them all...

This particular season has been somewhat challenging. Not a lot of motivation since my hand injury early in the year and the subsequent partial finger amputation surgery in March. Healing is complete and life goes on with 9 1/2 fingers, albeit a somewhat diminished typing speed. Being laid off from a pretty nice job wasn't planned and finds me this summer in a different phase of the story than last year.

And that's the unknown path that God will take a man down in order for the connection to grow more deeply between my heart and story and His amazing grace and mercy.

I confess I don't always get it right or that I don't like doing it mostly on my own. One choice comes from laziness while the other comes from pride. As some old characters seem to be getting written out of the story, God seems to be writing new ones into it.

And so I am prompted to understand that His will is always being done...even when I think I'm doing anything on my own. As imperfectly as I turn my will over to the care of God, I always find myself - totally unique, I'm sure - in the place of knowing that I'm holding back an aspect or two of my behavior or personality that God is particularly interested in addressing that might not seem convenient to me at the time.

So, what's the rumpus today?

Knowing that the rescue of my heart, story, and habitat matters to God, I'm pretty sure that how He's been growing me up over the past 14 years has had its benefits. I know I'm a different man, but that's just me. Even so, it's good to know that something that happened in Christ has had such an impact in me.

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

September 1, 2019

Seasons come and seasons go, and part of my heart, story, and habitat has been infused with a sense of both endurance and survival. As God continues to grow me up in both wisdom and discernment, I am learning that I am being called to truly understand what is at stake.

Maturity.

 

Frankly - and bluntly - I sense God is fiercely intentional in His telling me, "Son, it's time to grow up."

At 57 years old, there's something disconcerting in hearing that. I've been walking with God since 2005 since being baptized and making a public declaration of my faith in Jesus Christ. As I continue to follow my True Father through a sustained season of harvesting my massive JOURNAL collection (begun at the age of 17 in 1980 and now in its 47th handwritten volume), I am amazed to see how He was always there writing His Larger Story upon my heart and their much smaller stories.

Each January, I counsel with the Spirit of God in listening for a theme for the upcoming year. For example, in 2018 it was "Soul to Soul." How God manifested this with me was that  every day I would be looking for Him while out and about - and I would see all these KIA Soul cars passing me by...supernaturally I would always see at least 3 when I was either going to or coming home from somewhere. On the occasions when I would take a meditative walk around my Old Louisville neighborhood to either think or pray, I would always be shown at least 7 Souls. One day - in a particularly tough time - God set the record and had 19 Souls visible to me.

This year's theme?

Live United.

This actually came from the new full-time job He blessed me with last November with the local nonprofit, Metro United Way. After 8 months with them - and going through the health challenges involving the bone infection in my hand and subsequent partial finger amputation surgery in March of this year - it was determined that my role with them would be coming to an end as of early July. 

One of their mission themes is "Live United," and so I adopted the lead of Jesus that I clearly see in the Gospels and felt excited about the possibilities that this stage of my professional career would bring. 

So here I am, 5 months later, still unemployed. Am I grateful for the unemployment insurance and SNAP benefits that I am receiving? Yo, absolutely!! And as I continue doing my footwork of searching for and seeking His will and direction towards the next role He has for me, I am also grateful for the opportunity to deepen my faith in trusting that all things will work out for His good in the timing.

So, what's the rumpus today?

Getting action in the journey of maturing with God as He Fathers me - for I Am Prodigal!!

I find myself traveling the road of early recovery again after succumbing to the wiles and temptations of addiction. Fortunately, God has surrounded my heart, story, and habitat with amazing people and paths to renewed healing and restoration. 

But, as my mentor John Eldredge likes to say, "The heart is where the action is."

So I am choosing to abandon exile and isolation and reconnect to community -  my local church, some safe crucibles of recovery and men's work, as well as the platforms of co-creativity with God that truly allows my soul to thrive.

And as these seasons come - and go - I am beginning...even with baby steps and awestruck eyes...to keep running back into the arms of my True Father and to seek His face and look towards the Coming Kingdom with the heart of a son who is truly learning how beloved I truly am.

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

November 23, 2019

Answering God's call to check back in here on a weekly basis is feeling a bit like initiation - something the Father is requesting of me, His son. Don't get me wrong...I'm happy to do it, and it feels (in my creative spirit) long overdue. 

Could this, in a creative sense, be a healthy example of repentance? After all, God gave me these creative gifts to use in the advancement of His Kingdom - and, honestly, I've been afraid to use them on many different occasions.

Most any time I'm working on creative projects (writing, websites, etc.) I am also listening to music. Right now my laptop jukebox is playing "My Heart Will Go On," the love theme from the film Titanic. It has now segued into a song called "Softly" by Journey guitarist Neal Schon. Some of the lyrics go like this:

"When the day dissolves into darkness,

Night falls as far as you can see,

Then I'll try to leave behind the madness,

Once again you will come to me.

It gives me the strength to know you belong to me,

Give me all of your love."

I love the elegiac beauty of Neal's guitar solos - this one sounds like he is flying through  the beauty  of a sunrise on the wings of eagles. And I know that God is always coming for my heart, story, and habitat in just the same way.

"I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston is now playing. Tears fill my eyes.  God has - and will - always love me. As in the story of the Prodigal Son, He is there off in the distance, love burning in His heart, peering off with joyous expectation for my return...and off the charts happiness when He sees me on the horizon. 

The last 5 weeks have been an amazing journey of deliverance, coming home, and - yes - repentance. Right now, the next song is "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" by Roberta Flack. How amazing, in His Coming KIngdom, it will be to see Jesus face to face!! But my Father's love for me - and the rescue of HIs deep fathering of my heart, story, and habitat - gives me glimpses of such an indescribable glory.

So, what's the rumpus today?

It's so good to be home...to feel the blessings of sonship...to know that my heart is so close to God's right now that it feels as if both beat as one.

There are vast regions of my story when this was not true...couldn't be true...and much pain, suffering, and warfare kept it from ever coming true. Now is not that time.

Maybe it's taken as long as it's taken to learn the lessons in such a way that the Student was truly ready for the Teacher to appear. Perhaps my heart is truly beginning to become good soil. 

Or maybe - just maybe - repentance is simply the acceptance of the love that God has for me...through the gift He gave for all of us to receive. The turning from a wide path that goes nowhere can lead me onto the narrow path that goes to the heart of the matter...and directly into the heart of God.

Funny, but now "The Long and Winding Road" is playing. Go figure...but my God is like that!

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

November 30, 2019

"Be still and know that I'm God." (Psalm 46:10)

Okay, God - easier said than done. If , as a man, I'm created in the image of God (imago dei) then God must be someone - like me - that may have challenges being still. And it's amazing how the knowing comes into play and into existence within my heart, story, and habitat.

I was participating in the monthly Intro to Men's Work circle this past Thursday, identifying that my "work" was around the fear I was experiencing around economic insecurity. Having been separated from my full-time employment back in July, I've been very grateful for God providing both unemployment insurance benefits (it took me a second to understand that by working full-time I've been paying my insurance premiums in case of such a situation and, therefore, had earned the benefits) as well as SNAP benefits (a fancy government term for Food Stamps). 

At the men's work circle, I was speaking to my fear of hearing the world's clock "ticking" down...both benefit programs are only for a limited time and scope. I've been actively pursuing a new full-time role since July with mixed results, none of which had brought about a job offer. Even the hope of doors opening for interviews had begun to dim.

I had been to an interview earlier in the week, but even though it went well I found my heart in a place of questioning God's timing in opening other doors of opportunity. So as I was checking in with God at the end of the night, praying and talking with Him, I heard that deep whisper in my heart:

"Tomorrow, son, I want you to be still and know that I' m God."

It felt sort of, well, counter-intuitive. Something...perhaps the fear or a sense of drivenness...told me that now was not the time to be still. But lately God has been on an enormous rescue mission of my story so I knew I could trust His advance words to me.

So as I occupied my day with doing laundry, cleaning my bathtub (a long overdue task) and working on other non-job search related projects, I received not one, not two, but three contacts local organizations wanting to set up personal interviews with me here in Louisville next week.

WOW! The emotional hangover this morning was a reminder that God is always in the business of pursuing my heart and story for His glory!

So, what's the rumpus today?

A simple revelation: I need MORE of God and I need MORE of being still and knowing who He is.

A lot has been going on in my heart, story, and habitat lately - and there is much activity on the horizon. I think it's wise to adapt to and adopt a humble perspective of being still, trusting in God, and knowing that He's also in the eternal business of being God

He broke it down in the Old Testament pretty simply to Moses: "I AM!"

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

December 7, 2019

As the journey - both spiritual and masculine - continues, I find that end of year transitions have greater impact on my heart, story, and habitat more so now than in my childhood.

At 57 years of age, I am painfully more aware that as I am maturing I am becoming more, well, like my father. My earthly father, Michael, was a man I never fully understood in my story growing up. All of these are my judgments: he was emotionally closed off, angry, yet also hard working, stoic, and somehow resentful to play Life with the hand of cards that he was dealt. He knew things I've never known and yet kept the teaching of these secrets to manhood limited to my older brothers and not to me. Sometimes I think that he modeled to me the capacity how not to love because he was afraid of how vulnerable it would make him to others. 

At the end of our relationship - father and son, before he died in 1996 - I did recover some sens of love, connection, and forgiveness for the way we both didn't know how to communicate to one another. It was eight months after his death that I was invited by a man I know to experience an initiatory journey for men called The New Warrior Training Adventure that was - now in hindsight - pivotal in leading me more towards recovery, restoration, renewal, and my eventual surrender to Jesus and God's will in my life.

None of this has been done - or accomplished since - perfectly. Frankly, it's been a hot mess at times...most of the time? If I labeled my spiritual journey at all, I would borrow a book title and call it Messy Spirituality. Yet it's the kind that I believe Jesus would pull up a chair to and sit with me inside of, not afraid of what others would think of Him for hanging out with me.

As I put these thoughts down this morning, I'm walking into such a time and place of transition in my journey with God once more. It's such a blessing to understand that I don't have to have it all figured out, arranged for, lined up in neat order. I'm pretty sure some of the hours, days, weeks and months ahead in 2020 will be messy at best. But, in faith, I'm also sure that Jesus will be right there with me, walking with me, counseling me, initiating me, and, yes, continuing to Father me.

So, what's the rumpus today?

Remaining open to God's Fathering of me - in my heart, story, habitat, and healing. Trusting His good and perfect will for me as the stories for His glory continue to unfold and be written upon my heart. To remaining humble enough to know that I Am Prodigal!

I'm beginning - with a child's eye and heart - to understand why He closes some doors to my story while opening others. And His keys always fit the circumstances:

I will not say "I can't" because His Word says I can do all things through Christ Who gives me strength (Phil 4:13).

I will lack nothing, because God will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:19).

I will not fear, because God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7).

My eternal Father is lovingly and graciously teaching me all the lessons I need for this season of my life. I accept the full rights of sonship in - and with - Him today. 

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

December 15, 2019

It's Saturday morning. The sun is still asleep in the night's sky. And God is still Faithful and True - He is the same, both in the light and in the dark.

In a little over an hour, I'll take off on a foot journey towards a local circle of recovery that Father brought me home to about two months ago (55 days, if I'm counting). 

The more I experience His Life, the more I come to believe - and the deeper my faith grows - that Jesus really did come on a rescue mission, to bind up the brokenhearted and to set free the captives. I am such a man - and due to His amazing grace, mercy, and love I am so much so not that man this morning.

It is always darkest before the dawn.

Cliche? Perhaps. Truth? If I look out my apartment window or step out into the cold, December morning air to look up into the sky well...of course, yes. It's Saturday morning - this I know to be true because the calendar tells me it's December 21, 2019. Yup, right there - Saturday.

Named after the Roman god and the planet Saturn, Saturday is the only day of the week that retained its Roman origin in English. As I know, sometimes meaning is lost in translation. 

I always have questions for God. Like, "God, why did you have me lose my job back in July?" 

Perhaps it was so He could answer, 'So I could bring you to the new one that starts this Monday morning.'

Monday gets its name from the Anglo-Saxon word "mondandaeg," which translates to "the moon's day." A new moon will rise when I step into my new role with a new employer in a new building in a new seasons.

I have other questions I bring to God:

"What are You trying to teach me here?"

"What issues in my heart are You trying to raise through this?"

"What is it You want me to see?"

"What are You asking me to let go of?"

These are truly disruptively honest questions to ask of my heart, story, and habitat on a daily basis. I don't always ask them of God that frequently because, honestly, I'm scared shitless of His answers.

So, what's the rumpus today?

The promise of the sun rising this morning - perhaps in a clear, blue sky or maybe veiled behind grey clouds - is a stark reminder of how God is always in the business of reminding me of His Coming Kingdom!!

Later this morning, at the closing of this particular gathering of hearts and stories in recovery, the Lord's Prayer will be recited. The people in the room gather in a circle, join hands, and say the words aloud. I always look around the circle as I pray; I always notice that most all of the others have their heads bowed in some act of reverence, their eyes closed as if it is a sin to keep them open while crying out from their hearts. Some lips never move - perhaps out of rebellion to the Prayer's intention or perhaps out of not believing in its truth.

I couldn't tell you why I do it the way I do it. I do know that  the circle - as it is - will never be that same way again. God's promises to me don't have anything really to do with what I do but more so in who I am becoming. 

In the light or in the dark, I believe that matters to Him. A lot. My heart, story, and habitat matters to Him. Dearly. He moves mountains to get my attention every single day. And He's listening for my voice, for me to ask those questions of Him.

And through and in spite of my own fear to hear the answers, He's always willing, ready, and able to deliver them. 

Just like the sunrise.

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

December 21, 2019

So I'm gonna try and keep up with myself here...

Lot going on. Feel a bit wonky. Not sure, but think God is mildly pissed at me. Why? I'm just a sinner, saved by grace aren't I?

Early on a Saturday morning. A friend is celebrating 6 years of recovery - don't really feel like going to the meeting. Why not? He's just a guy trying to get by just like me no?

Just started a new job. Nice place, good opportunity to help people, great hearted staff. I guess I'll play it day by day. Even had a few companies calling me up for interviews. A good feeling, to be sure. This new gig had God's fingerprints all over it - especially the timing to rescue my heart and story from financial insecurity. And fear of people - leading me to a job where my primary purpose is to help other people all day long.

I'm definitely in the new kid on the block phase. But feeling alive. The challenge in front of me - for the theme of 202 - will be giving myself permission this year to live FREE for one full year and work to be dangerous for good in the story of advancing the Kingdom.

But something's still out of balance.

 

Sunday - worship at a local church.

Monday through Friday - work.

Monday - Every other week a men's group meeting. Wednesday - AA homegroup.

Saturday - Another recovery group

Tuesday through Saturday - Creative writing and nonprofit ministry work in the evenings where possible.

Too much? Not enough? As Simon & Garfunkel sang, "Nothing but the dead are dying back in my little town."

So, what's the rumpus today?

Breathe. Benevolent detachment. Let go. Pray. Prayer harder. Breathe. Relax. Give everyone and everything over to God. Pray. Forgive. Love. Laugh. Have fun. Live fierce. Be disruptively honest. Be fiercely intentional. Live free. Love God. Be armed with faith. Fight Battles. Live Adventures. Rescue Beauty. 

Write. Write some more. Pray. Pray harder. Try life on, try it out. Practice, blunder about with God - but don't go to shame or self-reproach.

How am I hiding my glory?

Maybe an even better way of looking at it is:

If I only had 10 Post-It's to tell you my story, what would I say on each one?

I'm sure 2020 will be a Dangerous for Good new year...

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

January 4, 2020

Hello, it's time to play "What's the Rumpus?" I'm your host (fill in the blank).

Life, at times, feels like a game show or an old television rerun...familiar, cookie cutter, plain, boring.

I gave away two copies of John Eldredge's Wild at Heart yesterday. Both books went to younger men in their journey of recovery. It wasn't until just now that I began to think about what first reading that book back in 2008 meant to  me.

Not only did it blow me away with it's invitation to a spiritually-based masculine journey with God, it also led me to discover the great hearts and mission at Ransomed Heart. Having been chosen in their lottery to attend a Wild at Heart Boot Camp (2009) as well as two Wild at Heart Advanced Boot Camp retreats (2010 & 2014), I've also had the honor of leading men through intense multi-week  small group studies of Wild at Heart, Fathered by God, Epic, and Beautiful Outlaw.

There was something about John's message in Wild At Heart that pierced a deep place in my soul and story back then. I read the book in one night - and clearly remember that it felt like some ancient, masculine drums beating deep in my heart and calling me back to the spiritual and masculine journey.

I've also spent many years slowly working my way through John's other  books and additional resources from Ransomed Heart. Along with men's work in the ManKind Project from 1996 through this year, I've been active in this ministry as an ally and intercessor too. 

Giving the books away yesterday reminded me that I am an ambassador for Christ, no matter how flawed I am as a man. He is continuously fathering and initiating me. For that I am both humbled and grateful.

It's been a while since I've taken the book cover to cover for yet another reading. Right now, I'm content with also slowly working my way through the Wild at Heart Field Manual, a journal companion guide to John's book. As I make my way thorough the final pages of that expedition, I also think back to how my heart, story, and habitat were impacted after reading Wild at Heart.

So, what's the rumpus today?

In being open to God bringing me that book, I found my whole life being changed. In a way, it was back in that time I literally became dangerous for good. I become a megaphone for God's Kingdom. In giving away those books yesterday I found myself reliving those first days after first reading Wild at Heart and feeling on fire for God, men's work, the spiritual and masculine journey.

Experiencing the Boot Camps out in Colorado were also life-changing events. My 2009 Boot Camp was at Crooked Creek Ranch in Fraser and both my Advanced Boot Camp visits were to Frontier Ranch in Buena Vista. Both camp locations were owned and operated by Young Life and were breathtaking in scope, size, amenities, and natural Rocky Mountain majestic backdrops. Every time I'm out there I go hiking alone on the deep mountain trails. It is eerily both adventurous and dangerous but I like it because it calls me up to rely upon God and be called up and into something deeper as a man. Do I have what it takes?

I'm thankful to God for the ability to walk with Him and others in this ministry that truly is small and tribal but has a huge impact in my heart and story and so many others around the world.

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

January 19, 2020

Saturday morning. Feeling semi-alive. Cold and flu season. Now coronavirus. Sounds like I should be having a beer and a lime instead of a life-threatening sickness. Oh, well, I guess worldwide panic will now ensue, with mass global quarantine of citizens and cessation of basic human services and standards, where martial law will take over as the New World Order and the war machine will begin to print its currency of death across the known world.

Or maybe Super Bowl Sunday will come and go with all the commercials intact.

Been listening to a lot of Rush since the news of Neil Peart's death recently after a long battle against brain cancer. When I was much younger I had a second-hand set of drums that I loved playing. Right around that time, at the age of 13, I discovered Rush's music and brilliance.

The longer I live the more I realize how God's fingerprints were all over those moments and memories. That's the whisper of eternity in my ears, the promise of the Coming Kingdom. Life wants to drown it, the Enemy wants to simply fulfill his resume: steal, kill, destroy.

There is always more to the story.

Coffee and hot buttered biscuits for breakfast. Listening to Hold Your Fire from Rush's impressive album discography. Good background music, now finished (...take me home...), and yet there is always more to listen to. Especially when I am needing the direction of God's Voice, the counsel of the Father in which I am always learning and being apprenticed in more.

So, what's the rumpus today?

Not giving into the Spirit of the Age. If you'd like to hear John Eldredge and some of the Ransomed Heart ministry team speak about this subtle area of warfare against the heart, story, and habitat of those advancing the Kingdom, please scroll back towards the top of this page and you'll find some audio content about this very topic. 

Even as I type, some sort of foul spirit is attaching the Internet bandwidth speed on my laptop that is a bit frustrating as I create this content. What? Like this is some sort of major problem that I am having to deal with - like something that innocuous would be of concern to me at all. 

Life is learning the workarounds.

In one of the many Rush songs that Neil Peart was primary lyricist for, I love Spirit of Radio where, near the end of the song, bassist and lead vocalist Geddy Lee wails, "But glittering prizes and endless compromises shatter the illusion of integrity, yeah..."

I don't have to get caught up in the spirit of anything that isn't of the Spirit in the first place. Much of the world, the flesh, and the devil consist of just those things that offer relief...not restoration. I get to choose more of God in more of my life today, knowing that I am much more confident to let go of the Spirit o the Age and walk more in in the Spirit of God.

That's also why I like the background image to this web page...a man, not unlike me, walking along, walking onward, walking somewhere with God. Can't see, might not know where he's off to, but can trust that the Spirit will guide each step of the way.

Not a bad place to be on a Saturday morning in January.

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

January 25, 2020

As a friend of mine just said in a social distancing-inspired phone call, "Look what the coronavirus dragged in!"

While it's been 58 days since my last Rumpus (...but, hey, who's counting?...), I feel like the past 8+ weeks have been French-pressed down from the soaked grounds of my head, heart, and soul into the deeply rich yet frothy brew of some healing, transformation, breakthrough, and restoration that is just the trail head of a sojourn I've been seeking to undergo for quite a long time in my heart, story, and habitat.

Oh, yeah - quite interesting times that are unfolding and I am living in, with no opportunity to binge watch this drama in order to find out the dramatic conclusion.

Today was the first day of telecommuting on my full -time job, and you can bet your bottom dollar, Daddy Warbucks, that I'm damn glad to be in that position. At nearly 58 years of age, I know it's unprecedented for me to live through such an experience - and one that is truly global. It makes me think of my father and his service in World War II. Is it fair of me to compare this time to then or my journey to his? Maybe...maybe not. The end of the story will tell the truth of the tale.

Part of me is very bummed out to have the rest of society stealing a page from my relational handbook - that  of the chapter entitled, "How to Maintain My Sanity by Steering Clear of Others." Oh, well - I guess it's fine and dandy for the party to get a bit crowded now that the DJ named COVID-19 is dropping beats with a nasty bass thumping in the background of fear, chaos, panic, speculation, and the thrill of hoarding toilet paper (?!). 

Another part of me is quite happy, knowing that the dominoes had to begin falling into each other at some point and, like a little boy, I get a kick out of seeing the whole grand construction topple this way and that and increase in speed and complexity until it's all done and the last ivory tower falls. Hey, what can I say? Glass half full...glass half empty - you get to choose whether to suck air or gulp water at this point.

None of this took God by surprise. Jesus is still advancing His Coming Kingdom and is doing just fine. Spirit is moving, just as Spirit does and just as Spirit will. 

So, what's the rumpus today?

"He says, 'Be still, and know that I am God...'" (Psalm 46:10 NIV)

Just a heads up...this isn't a call one wants to let go to voicemail. This isn't a text message where one should blindly delete before reading and contemplating. Nor is it an email that should nest in your Spam folder until the Matrix automatically ships it to Trash after 30 days. It certainly isn't just going to pack up after 2 weeks of shutdown and go its merry way into the stratosphere never to drop trou again.

The Gospel offers life - I'm not talking 'bout the magazine or the cereal. Think Bread of Life, Wellspring of Life, River of Life. There's still time to choose, and I'm not talking about self-isolation or  keeping 6 feet between me and the next walking wounded out there. Jesus won the war by surrendering Himself. 

Sure, God gave me, you, and all the chillun's self-will. Ever think that was for a great good than selfishness?

I absolutely love Sons of Anarchy - brilliant and provocative television. Sadly, many people out there still live by its theme song, "This Life" from Curtis Stigers & The Forest Rangers:

"Ridin' through this world
All alone
God takes your soul
You're on your own.

The crow flies straight
A perfect line
On the devil's path
Until you die.

This life is short
Baby that's a fact
Better live it right
You ain't comin' back.

Gotta raise some hell
Before they take you down
Gotta live this life.

Gotta look this world
In the eye
Gotta live this life
Till you die.

You better have soul
Nothin' less
'Cause when it's business time
It's life or death.

The king is dead
But life goes on
Don't lose your head
When a deal goes down.

Better keep your eye
On the road ahead
Gotta live this life.

Gotta look this world
In the eye
Gotta live this life
Till you die, yeah."

Songwriters: Bob Thiele / Curtis Stigers / David Kushner / Kurt Sutter

This Life lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Fox Music, Inc.

I'm perfectly content and ready to enter the Kingdom of my King. I pray the distance between that day and today is truly as short as it now seems to be!

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

March 23, 2020

"Watch your topknot."

Words of wisdom that the old mountain man and Rocky Mountain mentor, "Bear Claw" Chris Lapp, gave to his young apprentice, Jeremiah Johnson, in the 1972 film Jeremiah Johnson starring Robert Redford and directed by Sydney Pollack. 

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By God's grace, I was was invited to draw this chestnut from my DVD collection on a restful Sunday afternoon during this particular moment in His Larger Story. The inspiration came from an 11th hour phone call with a man I had become disconnected to well before COVID-19 came knocking on America's front door.

It is actually one of my favorite movies to linger with - its story, settings, plot, music,

and characters remain in my heart for quite a while after each viewing. Ultimately, I relate to Jeremiah and his calling to leave behind life in "...the town..." and follow his heart in the wildness and ruggedness and dangerous paths of the mountains.

Personally, I'm grateful that Clint Eastwood (the star hired to take the lead role after Lee Marvin passed) couldn't get along with Sam Peckinpah (the original director slated to helm the pic) - for me, this is classic Redford. NOTE: Because of this, the world got Dirty Harry from Eastwood. The God-created majestic beauty of Utah should have won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Director Sydney Pollack even mortgaged his own home to keep production costs going. He nailed the effect of the film on my own heart and story by saying, "It's a picture made of rhythms and moods and wonderful performances."

That's one place I still run to meet the Spirit - His rhythm, pace, and way. And on the other end of that 11th hour phone call with my friend, I realized that - much like Jeremiah - I am a man who is looking to leave the town behind to find myself in the mountains

It's been nearly six years since I've found myself in the glorious beauty of the Rocky Mountains. I was last there on my second journey through the Ransomed Heart Advanced Boot Camp for Men, and when I was alone in the mountains of Buena Vista, Colorado there was something in my marrow and story that didn't want to leave. I'm not a great hunter or trapper or even a mountain man - I was born and raised in the Bronx, New York and have lived now in the metropolitan safety of Louisville, Kentucky since 1984. 

In the film, I see Jeremiah get off the Indian riverboat as a war veteran with stars in his eyes and the call of the wild in his heart. All he really wanted to own was a .50-caliber genuine Hawken rifle (which, ironically, he ended up being provided with providentially when discovering the frozen body of "Cactus Jack" high up in the mountains). But God had to send him a mentor to learn how to hunt with it - and ultimately survive on his own either with or without it.

As my story intersects with an unseen pandemic, I recognize the survivor in me. Part of me laughs it off - I've lived such an unhealthy life for so long that I imagine if COVID-19 came anywhere near me it would tuck virus tail and run its ass off to avoid me. That being said, I also realize that much of the real-time impacts so many others are facing and fearing and panicking about right now aren't of concern or issue to me or my story. 

So, what's the rumpus today?

I'm grateful for the initiation that God - as Father - has led me through in my life and story. In the film, Jeremiah didn't want any trouble with the native Indian tribes he was crossing paths with...yet when his tribal bride, Swan, and his adopted son, Caleb, were slaughtered in the cabin he had built for them, Johnson's heart turned cold and vengeful as his wrath manifested in revenge and hand-to-hand combat to the death.

There's something mythical and epic about this story that speaks to something deeper inside of me as a man. Do I have what it takes? God says, "YES!" A lot of times I don't believe that - most likely because I've chosen to ignore the many times He's sent mentors into my story with those wise and discerning words: "Watch your topknot."

As I mature in both age and faith, I'm finding that God is always calling me into the frontier exactly because it's wild, dangerous, unfettered and free - just like He is. As a new week of social distancing, telecommuting, and the unknown approaches me, I'm going to heed this wisdom and watch my topknot. 

And stay close to God as Father, mentor, and the wisest mountain man of them all...that will definitely help me to not lose my topknot to all of the fear and uncertainty and unknown of life in the town.

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

March 29, 2020

For the past few days, I've been - with intention - unplugging from the media maelstrom churning out the news of the pandemic at every turn. Death, disease, economic uncertainty, unemployment, and all of the horrors of social distancing on the upended lives and habits of society.

Really don't think I've missed much, but that's just me. If I'm tracking all of this correctly, people (...the United States, you know, like Obama called us, "One nation, one community...we are one people...") seems to think that this moment in time is something to be survived - the great test of our generation. It almost feels like a mindset of surviving survival

Personally, I think this is just the Caesar salad of suffering before the main course(s) is served to the masses. Don't worry about stocking up on toilet paper - when the food runs out there will be no need to take a shit or wipe your ass afterwards. Dog will eat dog and chaos will be the red-headed step-child of terror.

Pretty bleak and horrible of me to say, no? As a foreigner in a foreign land, spiritually, I've long waited to see the dominoes of American culture and pomposity begin to fall into each other. Did God or Satan tip the first one here with COVID-19? Interesting to see with all these experts changing their mind and their patter with each passing news cycle, I'll just put my money on Jesus Christ and let the croupier of coronavirus spin its wheel of waste and desolation in the casino of what's coming behind this pandemic.

What - do you really think in a couple of weeks, a  month or so, everything resets to the god and idol of normal and all of this one nation who don't really ''...in God we trust..." will go back to its comfortable shoes and Starbucks and Whole Foods and Alexa-this and Google-that and stop coughing into the collective elbow of prosperity? I don't think so...

So, what's the rumpus today?

I'm the poster child of the spiritually messy follower of Christ...never have done it perfectly, theologically or practically. When Jesus called The Twelve, each and every one of them was a hot fucking mess, knuckleheads every last one of them. Yeah - #MeToo!

I'm sure the Creator of the Universe and everything and everyone in it (...sorry, Darwin, you and your ilk are straight boo-trippin' on this evolution Ponzi scheme that has Greta Thunberg crying herself to sleep every night...) isn't quite particularly happy in those of us (...every one of us...), His image-bearers, having fucked it all up six ways to Sunday. Jesus ain't waiting for us to join Him on a Zoom call here. His Kingdom has always been advancing - and it sure as shit is Coming. Soon.

Is it too late? Not for me. My name is written in the Book of Life and I'm ready right here and now for Him to call me home...from COVID-19 or getting hit by a bus, it really doesn't matter to me. As imperfectly as I've preached the Gospel to others, I've more imperfectly modeled the love of God and for God to enough people since 2005 proper when I was washed in the baptismal waters of the Wild Goose.

So, instead of ordering your food for take-out or curb service right now, go dust off that Bible (...if you have one...). HINT: You can actually read it on your phone, tablet, laptop or PC if you don't have the tactile version. Start with Genesis and don't stop until you reach the end of Revelation. Oh, yeah - read the lines with the black print on them and not lose yourself in the lines with white space in between!!

The Greatest Story ever told? Don't worry about not being a theologian or a scholar - humble yourself, pray until your eyes bleed, and let God guide you through His Larger Story...the one He wrote where Jesus is the true Hero of the story and is the same - yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Maybe the Beatles were right: All you need is Love. No, not love of self...or an end to this pandemic. Love LOVE Himself. Right now, He's the only port in the real shit storm that's coming where - if you truly give your heart to Him and believe - you can find comfort, peace, and, yes, all the toilet paper you could possibly need for eternity!

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

April 4, 2020

"That's the measure of a man..."

At the end of "Rocky V," as the final credits roll, there is a beautiful montage put together in black and white of vivid still images portraying Rocky Balboa's story from the first film ("Rocky"), along with the subsequent four sequels. 

Every time I see it, tears come to my eyes - I'm not sure if it's because of the story being told through the pictures or the overlay of Elton John's "Measure of a Man" as its soundtrack.

God Himself only knows the days that my life here is numbered by; I am starting to feel that measurement in my heart, my bones, and my balls. Honestly, I can't wait to enter the Kingdom!! Being with Jesus? Oh, my - much better than anything I can stream or binge watch or overeat or feed to any of my addictions. 

I don't really have friends. Most of what I would call friendships, like most anything else in this temporal existence, have been fleeting and more so than not partially shared experiences that - if memory serves me correctly - always left me in the foxhole on my own. 

That's one reason I love Jesus - He's always been in my foxhole...and He ain't going anywhere without me!

Sound like a lonely life? Of course, yes - but after surviving the fucked up and abusive dysfunctionality of my family tree, being the lone tree on the quiet hill isn't such a bad place to be.

That's what makes the presence of the Holy Spirit - the Wild Goose as the ancient Celts called Him - such a blast! Recently, and somewhat out of the blue if I was tracking my own heart and story correctly, I began to pray that God would begin to move my heart, story, and habitat towards connection, friendship, romance, and love with a fierce and captivating woman of God. And , no, I'm not talking about the nice girl who teaches Sunday school class at the local Baptist church. Picture Wonder Woman who's in love with Jesus, is up for adventure, will fight back to back with me in battle if called upon but who is also cool with me riding in with full armor to rescue her from the assaults against her own heart and story.

What kind of man would the measure of that dream coming true take? Can my prayers really move mountains and clear the way to that first encounter?

Lately, I've been wrestling with God about how to go about this - and the answer keeps coming back: 'Clear away the deadwood and light the fires of your creativity with it. Rest - the beacon of that kind of light will draw her to you.'

So, what's the rumpus today?

Maybe it's time I got the fuck out of my own way and let God into the writer's room of my existence...that inner sanctum where all of the magic happens in the mind before taking the road trip towards the heart.

He knows exactly the measure of the man He created when He created me. He knows every strength that the Enemy has stolen, killed, and destroyed inside of my heart, story, and habitat over decades of time. And He knows - really knows - what the deepest desires of my heart are...and this pleases Him.

Right now I'm blasting my music until the paint starts to peel, not really concerned if my neighbors call the cops. I'm looking up at a huge photo mosaic Spirit had me create last week of The Daughters of Eve - images of real and imagined heartbreakers who captured the heart of my Little Boy, my Young Man, and the Man I've Now Become. I'm gonna kick back tonight and watch Edward Norton's film, "Motherless Brooklyn" - and I'm not sure why except the Spirit says, 'Cool.'

If it's cool with Him, it's cool with me!

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

April 13, 2020

I've been thinking a lot, in both my head and heart, about my story lately and how God - as my True Father and Author - has been scripting out the details of the plot.

Since the age of five, I've been writing stories...some I've shared with others yet many that only God Himself has seen or read. Right now - in these particular times in His Larger Story - I find myself also thinking quite a lot about His Coming Kingdom, the End of Days, and Jesus returning to take His rightful place.

Not all of my wounds have been healed. Not all of my heart and story, as a man, has been fully integrated. Yes, there has been massive amounts of healing and integration as well as deep initiation further into the manhood that God wants for me - as a son. Yet I'm always seeking...somehow with words...to put all of this into a perspective (a plot) that I can readily follow and comprehend.

Sometimes I don't like the stories that God writes for me. I don't relate to the characters He introduces or the themes He sets up to unfold. Maybe it's the settings that annoy me more than anything...the unknown, the uncertain, and sometimes the dangerous. Villains?  Too many to count, too legion to fight sometimes.

And, I admit, the hardest part is in realizing that He is the Hero of the Story, not me.

I've been desperate for heroes - a Hero - my entire life...from boyhood until today. I've always wanted to be one - maybe, in the Larger Story, I have been or maybe my time is still to be. That's why God is never out of the business of coming to my rescue...to rescue my heart, my story, my habitat. He never fails at being the Hero...because it's His Larger Story.

So, what's the rumpus today?

It's Sunday night. I'm not feeling great physically...not even concerned about what may be ailing me. Is it seasonal allergies or COVID-19? My heart is heavy...major characters, it seems, are being written out of the story by the Author Himself. Plots are changing. I enter into my fifth week of working from home tomorrow...some of this I like, some of it really doesn't matter. One minute I'm grateful for what I have and the next minute I don't really seem to give a fuck. Loneliness seems to be my new drug of choice...that or food or sleep. 

I see many people wearing masks and I say to myself, "What took you so long to see what I've known all along?"

A I continue to write my stories - for His glory - I'm also going to continue harvesting my stories in the hopes of the harvest bearing fruit that matters. I can't stop writing. The words matter, to God if to no one else but me. And the story - His Larger Story - always ends with the Hero being Who He is.

Maybe that's what God is trying to tell me about me

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

April 19, 2020

All I know is that I'm now about to begin writing in Journal 48. Where has time stolen away to?

And, yes, there have been Battles. And Adventures. And more than my fair share of the Beauty. A lucky man, I admit. 

An empty cup really. Needing to be filled by God in more ways than I like to confess.

Journal Forty-Eight: A Work In Progress

Little did I realize when I started Journal One back in the summer of 1980 that I'd still be writing to this day. Not every day but enough days each month to matter, telling the story the way God writes it upon my heart.

I consider it a spiritual discipline, the art of concentrated writing over a long period of time. Since 2005, most of my entries have been letters to Jesus, God as Father, Spirit as a sort of consigliori to my constant questions. Breakfast calls to my stomach right now but I know that the passion to write even transforms what I am accomplishing here as well.

After five weeks of telecommuting on my job, this will be the first Journal in my nearly 40 years worth of writing them that is to be finished under such conditions. Interesting. The kielbasa's cooking and not a care in the world, honey wheat toast with salted butter and the world keeps going deep, like Brady to Gronk and no one sees it coming...

I wanna go deep...

I once saw The Moody Blues in concert - front row left of center seat with my fiance, Angela. She was the one who turned me on to Justin Hayward and the lads. Growing up, for sure, I had heard them quite enough from my older brother, Jeff. Being that close to rock and roll legends was, well, pretty heady. LIke other times, other rock stars. Fleetwood Mac. Duran Duran. Stevie Ray Vaughn. Sha Na Na (hey, those guys did a killer set at Woodstock, so don't laugh).

Breakfast done, kind morning. Calling Gloria...listening to some music and taking it easy with this before that. Relaxation this weekend - movies (Man of Steel, Batman v Superman Ultimate Edition, and Justice League) and TV streamed online (Chicago P.D. & The Blacklist of course). Working hard, ca-ching ca-ching, who can it be now?

Gotta chillax before Monday morning. Have a training that afternoon, and then I have to...

Oh, snap...see where it's all going already in my brain?

Not even enjoying the moment! Here. Right here, now.

So, what's the rumpus today?

My hearing is getting better! Allergies abating or what, I'm not sure but it's nice to be hearing with a bit more clarity

Simple life. Grace. Thanks, Jesus. I love You!!

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

April 25, 2020

Interestingly enough, as the world continues to be shaken by God (it's His world to shake - after all) I am much more aware of how much more shaken my world seems to be.

Enough to keep me up at night, wake me in the darkness more than I'd like to admit. What's the dread? To name it seems muddy, like it has a number of aliases to rely on and confuse me with.

Tomorrow, I return to my telework couch to begin Week #10 of being employed by COVID-19. I have a stash of face masks...too funny; no, not a stash of drugs like the "old man" in my story would have had in times like these. No, now I have face masks. I anticipate having to wear one for 8 fucking hours a day now when given the green light to return to our downtown office building. I may have to mix it up with a supply of colorful bandannas I also have stashed away from various times in the masculine journey.

Sort of feels like God is asking me (us) to go about life with veiled faces. Parts of the shame that wounded my Little Boy tells me it's perfectly fine - no one wants to look at my face anyway. Part of it feels weird - and I understand both sides of the need for and those who feel like they don't need them. Choice - one of the most dangerous for good gifts from God given to His children.

Focusing on the False Self, the Poser (the Masked One) is just an easy ploy of the Enemy to distract me, disqualify me, accuse me of being a sham and a shame.

So, what's the rumpus today?

Spirit is continuing to invite those younger parts of my heart and story to camp out with Him in gratitude. I'm grateful to be employed in this current economy. I'm grateful to have, presently, a steady and reliable income, a working budget and savings accounts begun. I'm grateful to be relatively healthy and with medical insurance. I'm grateful to have connectivity and appropriate technological devices. 

"Many is the time I've been mistaken, and many times confused..." (Paul Simon, American Tune).

Yet even that sense of gratitude is being shaken by God. Part of my False Self is the part of my heart and story that will be grateful but, in the end, somehow piss on the gratitude and God's feet as well.

I have a collection of some heart-shaped stones picked up during various walks around my Old Louisville neighborhood over the last decade. They feel right in the palm of my hand or being smoothed by my fingers. God invites me to bring them home, I think, to remind me that he's grateful for my heart...it's a treasure to Him.

One of them sits next to my laptop as I capture these moments, the rumpus sometimes getting the best of me and I overindulge in the luxury of thought. I wonder what God wants to do in all of the shaking in order to capture more of my heart and invite me to ask for more of His?

As this month of May comes to a close, and my journey through a pandemic as a working man continues, I am gonna check some tent pegs inside my story and make sure they are grounded well in gratitude.

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

May 25, 2020

It's been 40 years since I began a journey with God to journal my story. It has been one of the fiercest disciplines I've ever had the privilege of living out. 

As I continue to capture my heart and story fully alive in each volume (currently on 48), I notice that each first week of June (when I started writing them in 1980) I reminisce about how many stories and how many paths those Journals have seen.

For many years, I heard that still, small voice of God in my soul ask, "When will you harvest them for Me?" I ran from answering Him for many years as well. It was in earnest several years ago that I entered the first page of Volume One in 1980 and have currently read through until the year 2000.

 

Along way, I wield a yellow highlighter to harvest certain phrases, memories, stories, epiphanies, or moments of clarity. Needless to say, I'm on another box of highlighters for the remainder of the journey.

The harvest has yielded many riches for me so far in the journey with Jesus to have Him come deeper into my heart, story, and habitat.

Over such an epic period of time, I've learned how to listen to the pendulum of my heart in when to writer - and when not to. I tend to go in stretches...not every day, every month. Yet each month I get quite a bit of the story onto the blank pages of my current Journal volume.

Why is this a discipline? I learned early on in my life that story - a story, any story, a good story, a bad story, my story - can be a very dynamic force in the movements of the heart. Keeping "track" of it - in real time observation and pen to paper capturing of the cartography of my soul and its conversations with God - is the point of the discipline, the doing over and over again...especially during times when the story never seems to change.

 

And the story can - and will - change. One of the blessings of harvesting my Journal volumes is witnessing through my excavation that the story is always evolving - sometimes in the direction I desire, sometimes not.

 

So, what's the rumpus today?

 

Most likely, if given the life to achieve it, this monumental harvesting journey with God through my Journal collection will be completed sometime within the next year. Amazing!! And, yet, that will also signal a new crossroads to be standing at with Jesus into the real purpose and mission at hand: to go with Jesus into the parts of this massive and epic story that truly need His healing in order for me to become more of the wholehearted man He meant when He meant me.

 

This is surely to be dangerous for good frontier to enter with the Spirit, no need for me to have either a map or compass. It's about the desire to pursue deeper healing, transformation, restoration and breakthrough with Jesus in the places of my heart, story, and habitat that matter the most to Him and will eventually mean the most to me as man on mission to advance His Coming Kingdom.

 

For now, I'm choosing gratitude, faith, and the belief that being on the threshing floor with God within the harvesting of my Journals is exactly where He desires me to be right now. 

John Jamiolkowski (aka John Fontaine)

June 17, 2020