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

Monday, May 16, 2016

Letter to the Church at Market Street




This is a letter I wrote this morning for the church I serve as pastor/shepherd. As I prayed for them, my heart was moved with compassion for the hearts I follow Christ with. Fighting back tears I wrote in the "style of an epistle", a dispatch of deep emotion. I share with all of you so that you would pray for me as I serve these awesome people, I desperately covet them. Thank you!

My brothers and sisters,

Something special is happening to my heart and it concerns all of you.

It seems that in pursuing/serving/ your hearts I have discovered a love for you that is deeper and purer than I ever imagined it could be. I was just praying and thinking of you all, and my heart is melting with tears.

I hurt for you.

I envision the battle you're in, the load you carry and the multitude of struggles that seek to discourage you daily. You have carried deep sorrow, managed the pain of loss and fight the fierce enemy of regret daily.

All of this, and more, moves my heart for you.

I also see a company of soldiers, an armed family of sons and daughters who have chosen a sacred path and have no intention of turning back. There is purposed determination in your heart; you know who your God is and your love for Him is deep. I love it when you hear His words and you believe them with the tenacity of Honey Badger. Your eyes light up with hope, shining with a reflection of the Father’s heart. That reflection is a life of freedom, the promise of a Father who sent Jesus to battle for our hearts.

I am encouraged for you (and by you)

As we dive into the freedom that Christ has purchased for us, may we remain focus on the battle that is raging around us. The enemy of our soul is unashamed about wrecking havoc in our lives…he lies, he steals and is pumped about destroying anything precious to the Father. Do not be surprised by the pushback and the viciousness of that attack by this deceitful one. For it is written:

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

And it is has been said by one of our past Church leaders:

Many of us are hunting mice - while lions devour the land. (Leonard Ravenhill)

It is time to push back the darkness, to not concern ourselves with the smallness of the world and give ourselves over to a life of faith like we have never known before. For it is written:

“Who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens." Hebrews 11:33,34

The truth is that we hunt lions with a bigger Lion!

For it is written:

And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” Revelation 5:5

Weep no more…Jesus has won the victory

I am honored to be in such a company, overwhelmed to be one of your servant leaders and blessed to know each and everyone of you. You are my brothers and sisters, your hearts are purified by the greatest heart there is and set free by His great love for you. I urge you to never surrender to any kingdom but His and stay valiant in the battle for that Kingdom which offers freedom to all who come.


Yours in Christ, Jay

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Spirit Warrior



This is a repost from 2010 (of a vision I had in 2002), the reason why I’m sharing again is simple… I want to see people free. The church I get to shepherd (BBCC) is spending a season on Living the Blessed Life and dealing with the curses we may have made false agreements with. We have already seen great work by the Holy Spirit through our small body of believers and we have seen and sensed some pushback by the enemy. So, I sense in my heart that this vision may be of some encouragement for all of us, as we remember who fights for us. God Bless you all, Jay

This vision began this way….

He stood with arms limp at his sides, with every muscle screaming with fatigue. The sting of sweat assaulted his eyes and beaded up like raindrops on the back of his neck. The battle began in a wayward land of deep darkness, devoid of all light. Now, at the battle’s end, the warrior stood in a light that had pierced through the shadows, leaving no trace of its former possessor.

A fiercely fought conflict was rewarded with fallow land recovered and restored to its rightful owner. Long held captives from strongholds were set free and now were heading back towards the safety of the Kingdom. The King personally had trained him and equipped him as well. The piercing words of the King had exposed the deceit of the enemy, allowing for precision strikes against them. Still, it was the King’s authority and Spirit that made the victory possible. Turning his vision towards the horizon, he saw the enemy licking its wounds. The veteran solider of light could sense that it would soon mount another attack. It was one large mass of insult and threat, with the full intent of destroying goodness.

The enemy started its hateful advance, with its fury bent on instilling fear and confusion. Fully aware of the adversary’s strategy, the warrior took a step towards the new battleground. Bone weary and mentally spent he then dropped to his knees. The creatures of destruction at first measured this motion as a sign of weakness and pressed forward. That is, until it was too late.

For the priestly warrior had not made a tactical error as the enemy had supposed, but as he knelt and looked towards heaven, victory was his. The enemy saw not one but a host of warriors on their knees, gleaming with armor of intense light. The warriors moved as one, they spoke as one, and as one under authority they let forth a shout empowered with the spirit of truth. The shout overcame the enemy and scattered their ranks and uprooted their entrenchments. The agents of darkness were called out, dug out and spat out with the overwhelming authority of truth. By faith, a praying band of warriors increased kingdom territory, pleasing the King. One warrior in particular… would sleep well tonight.

Some points from this vision that encourage me:

Those who belong to Father God have a huge promise of victory over the enemy.

“"No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me," declares the LORD. Isaiah 54:17

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.” Deut. 28:7

Through the Spirit of God we can also recognize who our enemy is and what his tactics are.

“For we are not ignorant of his (Satan's) devices.” 2 Corinthians 2:11

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

It is a battle with victory assured.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39

You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you. 2 Chronicles 20:17

Prayer is key

"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

"Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven." Matthew 18:18-19

“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18


Will you join me in prayer?

Father,

Move me in such a way that I become courageous to fight and to care in ways I didn’t think possible of me. Awaken the spiritual warrior in me to do battle as you see fit, for your glory and for the freedom of many. In Jesus name we pray…Amen

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Conrad Rocks!: My Testimony for Jesus



Join me as my new friend Conrad interviews me about my life and my faith. Make sure you check out other testimonies on his web page, the stories are awesome. Conrad does rock because he is on fire for the Messiah and loves seeing Jesus setting people free.

Conrad Rocks!: Jay Cookingham Testimony for Jesus: Testimony interview with Jay Cookingham from Strategic Fathering Ministries.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Long Haul


Soulfari has been quiet for months, as you may or not have noticed. The work of pastoring/writing/speaking (not to mention being husband and father…oh, I guess I just did mention it) has kept me entangled with many words meant for venues other than blogging. It’s amazing when seasons change and the transition period covers your tracks from one path to the next. It is these in-between places that the settling dust, kicked up from multiple life events, slowly re-covers the steps of the journey here.

Journey dust amazes me…

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4

The journey of 2016 is a few months old; an interesting start that has included a serious (is there any other kind?)  health scare (my wife), multiple speaking engagements (for me) and the challenge of making life work with meaning for my family. Throw in pastoring a small church, working full-time and part-time (freelance), multiple writing projects and I wonder when dust actually has time to settle.

But maybe this dust is different…

The long haul of a committed life is covered by this powder, full of events, memories, and emotions; it is the history of the journey. Unlike the dust of inactivity, coating a life with its own myopic grime of the ordinary, journey dust mixes with life and carries it as it travels. This dust grinds away the grime, sandblasting our spirit and revealing our heart as we discover the purity of its work in us.

The endurance that joy produces fuels for the long haul of dust distribution, leaving marks of life throughout my voyage on this planet of dust. There is purity in these specs because Father God directs my steps, giving life through the crop dusting seeds I plant as I travel with Him.

The journey is successful because of who is watching…

Then they said, “Ask God whether or not our journey will be successful.” “Go in peace,” the priest replied. “For the LORD is watching over your journey.” Judges 18:5-6

The long haul approach is a commitment to the heart of journey giver, fully trusting in the life long events of change and growth because He is good. We can go in peace because the Prince of peace travels with us.


Journey well my friends… 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Grace Redux



Grace is fluid, a dance of mercy, a song of favor…a gift of redemption.
“And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:24
The Greek word for redemption describes the price paid for a prisoner of war…the price is paid and they are set free.

In reality… we are all former POWs.

Grace is liberating, grace ransoms us. Grace is how God greets us and meets us…it releases worship in us. Freedom is God’s breath of Grace in us.
“Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:2
“By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.” - The Message Bible
I love being completely surprised by grace.

Grace is a powerful agent; it breathes life into difficult circumstances. It allows room and space for understanding and forgiveness to enter. That begins the road to restoration, and giving us opportunity to travel together on it.
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that in everything, always having all self-sufficiency, you may abound to every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

Father,
I thank you for grace, I know it’s a gift, something I did not or could not earn. I love the way it frees me to be more yours. I love how it changes me and invites me into your presence. Revive your Spirit of grace within me, release it’s power of life in me. Help me to walk in your grace and give it freely towards others. Amen


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Give Away




This past Sunday was one of those moments when something magical and mysterious happens. The Christmas season makes it happen I believe, the hearts of people encounter the Heart of God and wonder covers us all. The small chapel was filled, a nice treat for a festive day, with a cozy mix of regulars, family and wide-eyed first timers. Our gathering was a Christmas celebration consisting of a worship dance by the young ladies of our church, their youthful expressions of joy deepening wonder in all our hearts. We followed with the carols of the season, the congregation joining voices together in worship… singing “glory to the newborn King” as if we were actually there in a lowly stable watching the story unfold. Each chorus, crystallizing the miracle of new birth in our spirits… yes, something special was in the air.

One of our elders gave a message of hope about our Wonderful Counselor and the power in that title our Lord carries. The message led us to share Communion together; a pause to remember what Jesus came to give away for us. After sharing the Lord’s Table, we closed our gathering with a chorus of Silent Night.

As the service ended I thought about all the wonderful God moments to look back on. It was in the post celebration haze that my wife told me that God was working His wonder on us before the service had begun.

God showed Himself during the excited meet and greet mosh pit of friendly handshakes and hugs that filled our aisles as people were ushered in the sanctuary. In that crowd we saw that some of our neighbors decided to come, prodded on by the friendship between my youngest daughter and theirs, who urged them all to come and see “Becky’s dance”.

Her younger brother came with a different agenda; he came with a wonderful mission to give something away. As my wife greeted him, he held out his small hand and offered a chocolate from his treasure of three to her.
“I bought these in case someone felt stressed.” He said, his eyes displaying the conviction of his quest.
That small gift, which my wife gladly received, was an expression of a heart that came to give. That is the miracle of Christmas, that we understand the blessing we have received and we go on mission to deliver a message of “good tidings of great joy”…and yes, that rescues us from the stress of sin.
Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which he has given you.
Deuteronomy 16:17
God has made giving possible, He so loved…He gave! The blessing of His live through us gives us all “give away” power. My little neighbor came prepared to give…that’s how I want to live my life.


Merry Christmas Everyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Table Setting

 

 

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We opened the doors and they came, nearly 120 of them, entering the brightly lit venue in the small town of Staatsburg, NY. They came for a feast, they came out of curiosity and they came for company, as one lone elderly woman said to my son Isaac as he held the door open for her…

“It will be nice to sit at a table and talk to someone.” She said with a smile on her face.

Some were dressed as if they were dining at a fancy restaurant, others in business casual attire and more people than I could count, in clothes that had seen better days. The beauty of all this was that they came through the same doors and shared dinner at the same tables.

Several local churches, businesses, and civic organizations banded together to serve a Thanksgiving meal to our community. The fact that we all were humble and compassionate enough to drop egos at the door to work alongside each other was the first miracle. The meal itself… well, that was a delight to behold.

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me." Matthew 25:35

The dinner was a sit down meal; the tables (beautifully decorated) had name tags and place settings. Each person was welcomed and escorted to their seats by smiling faces and warm hearts. The seating was prearranged to have a mixture of people; inviting lively conversations among folks who may never had opportunity to talk to each other before. Remember the lady looking for one less lonely night? Well, she got her wish.

The night had the Father’s heart written all over it. One lady told me that prior to this meal, her dinner was going to be a peanut butter sandwich, now her eyes beamed with gratefulness over a plate overflowing with good food. Yet, there was more to it, she was surrounded by community, a community sharing goodness together.

Everybody’s spirit was feasting as well…the Father knows
the power of community.

There are so many enemies to community building, so many foes trying to keep us all apart. When we share our hearts, we share the best part of ourselves, the part the Father has redeemed and set free. Free people have no hesitation opening their heart and sharing because they are imitating their Heavenly Father.

“Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.” Proverbs 22:9

The art of thanksgiving is contagious! What we (all those who volunteered to serve) got to see was the look of blessing on people’s faces. We shared in the stories of hearts willing to express their thankfulness for being treated with special grace and kindness.

That’s quite a powerful table setting!

I will praise the name of God with song, And shall magnify Him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30

Ed. Note

The planning for the first Hyde Park Community Thanksgiving Dinner began many months ago, but you’ll have to ask Kregg Gabor when the vision for this event began in his heart to know the true beginning. Kregg serves as pastor for the Hyde Park Methodist Church, this dinner, this blessed event came from a God birth vision deep inside him, one he was all too happy to include whoever willing to serve the community in on. He will humbly take no credit but he deserves a lot for obeying God and spearheading this event…thanks Kregg!