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

Friday, December 31, 2010

So this is Goodbye…


prayer At least to 2010…this has been a challenging year for many people, including yours truly. I find myself in need of some encouragement and filled with the desire to encourage you. So I’ve been praying and musing about what my last blog post of 2010 should be…this is what I came up with.

Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty,
my memory, my understanding and my whole will.
All that I am and all that I possess You have given me.
I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will.
Give me only Your love and Your grace;
with these I will be rich enough,
and will desire nothing more.
- St. Ignatius Loyola

That is my prayer for you and for me. The great adventure of serving God with all we have awaits us. It calls to the deepest part of who we are and whispers to every corner of our heart. Don’t you feel it tugging relentlessly at your sleeve? Does it wake you at night…disturbing you in a righteous way? If you’re like me, you feel yourself speechless when you try to put words to this call…it is hard to explain…but it burns doesn’t it?

For me personally, I sense many changes on the horizon. I feel tightness in my limbs, as if they are ready to jump in the direction He leads.

“I thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies.
(60) I made haste, and did not delay to keep Your commandments.”
Psalm 119:59-50

There is something great inside you; I pray that you never forget that! Father God has deposited His life into you so that you become all you’re destined for. In his book Cure for the Common Life, Max Lucado says this:

“Remember, no one else has your talents. No one. God elevates you from common-hood by matching your unique abilities to custom-made assignments.”

and Tozer once said....

“Let a man set his heart only on doing the will of God and he is instantly free.”

I wish for you…freedom. The Father wants you free, He wants you whole and He wants all of you…and He wants all of me. What I need is some moving on mojo…as I approach this New Year I am undone. Revealed my heart is (as Yoda would say) to the shallow views of His power and what He would do in my life, IF...I would surrender quicker…and allow freedom to bring life in and through me.

So as we wrap up 2010 and start 2011…my question is…
do you feel the burn?

Blessings and Happy New Year!

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Should old acquaintance be forgot?


You crown the year with Your goodness. Psalm 65:11


Repost time…this one is from January of 2006, (long before Soulfari was born) ancient history right? I hope you don’t mind but there is a really cool point to this way back post. I talk about leap seconds, time lords and…well, I should just let you read it! Blessings, Jay

Should old acquaintance be forgot? Well…maybe.

If you are a worrier, here is something else for you to fret about…the Earth is slowing down. Yep, good old mother earth is grinding to a screeching halt. Well, maybe not so dramatic but New Year’s Day, in case you didn’t know, came a full second later at the start of 2006. Tidal braking (the friction of tides raised by the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon) adds to the slight change of Earth’s rotation. Since this messes with the synchronization with atomic clocks, scientists tweaked the start of 2006 by adding the first “leap second” in seven years.

dr_who_ In charge of these rotational timing issues are the fine upstanding members of the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service. (I know they are official...they have a website). They have my thanks for the extra second I guess, but their agency name needs some serious help. I think “The Universal Time Lords” has a certain ring to it but Dr. Who fans may have a problem with sharing that one.

Oh, I don’t think the extra wait caused any serious delays in people’s celebrations either, especially not my sister-in-law’s. Her timing in New Year wishing was perfect, a phone call right at the height of New Year celebration ecstasy, and an hour after my wife and I had gone to bed. Timing is…everything, here’s what I mean.

A New Year is time for reflection (see last post for more), a time for remembrance and perhaps, a time to forget some “acquaintances”. By acquaintances I mean habits, the behaviors we need to break, practices so ingrained in us that we
often do them without a conscious thought. Some habits become so familiar, so friendly that we don’t see the danger they pose to our souls. Of course, habit is sometimes a sanitary word for sin, the issues we rotate around causing much friction (tidal braking) in our lives. What we need in this New Year is a few days
of awe.

The Jewish New Year and the American New Year have very little in common, seasonal or in substance. Still, I believe the Father has something to say through some of the symbols and traditions of our Jewish brothers. The ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur are commonly known as the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim) or the Days of Repentance. This is a time for self-examination, a time to consider the sins of the previous year and repent before the arrival of Yom Kippur.

One cool ceremony of Rosh Hashana is the custom of Tashlikh (meaning “casting off”). The Tashlikh observance is a symbolic casting off the sins of the previous year. A ceremony where worshippers go and throw the contents of their pockets (lint, small pieces of food, please…not your wallet) into a moving body of water such as a stream or an ocean, while reciting passages such as:

“He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”
Micah 7:19- KJV

“And compassion is on its way to us. You'll stamp out our wrongdoing. You'll sink our sins to the bottom of the ocean.” – The Message Bible

Now, there isn’t much you can throw into the ocean without getting in trouble with some environmentalist group, but this is some seriously “AWE-some” idea. I first imagined a modern day Boston Tea Party like event (without the Native American clothing) just dumping our stuff into the harbor. However, that is not an accurate picture; this is how I now see it.

The Father relieves us of our burdens; He comes and picks our pockets clean and deposits them in the depths of His forgiveness. We come to the shore of grace full of soul schmutz (Yiddish for "a little mess."), and the tide of His love washes us clean. This is where God’s demonstrates His fathering skills the best, in the act of forgiving. The Tashlikh practice is a great reflection of the cleansing action of His love, reminding us to come to the tides of mercy. Like diving into the depths of the oceans, God invites us to do the same with His love.

Should old acquaintance (soul shmutz) be forgot, And never brought to mind? Oh yes, I believe the Father wants it that way.

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. Micah 7:18

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Time For a Change

“The years teach much which the days never knew.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

bigclock-time I think the New Year’s Eve celebration could use a major upgrade. The whole drop the ball gig has never caught on with me. Does this really count as a holiday? It doesn’t have any great holiday movies or cartoons to eagerly wait for every year. Nor could you make any! “How the Grinch stole New Years” doesn’t stir up the same emotional response, He doesn’t have to steal it, I’ll gladly give it to him. As for festive music, there is none, nada. Well, maybe Auld Lang Syne, but I hardly think that qualifies as a song. Just how many people know and understand the words except for those living in the Scottish highlands? As a kid I thought people were singing “Old hanging sign” and I wasn’t sure why they wanted to remember it. Maybe if we just had one of them I could enjoy it more but there are too many of them to count. There is the Jewish New Year, the Chinese New Year, The Muslim and Ethiopian New Year. There is actually a New World Order New Year, none of which fall on the same date. Exactly when does this gig start anyway?

Now, nothing happens when the stroke of midnight occurs, its not like we shed our skin or anything (wouldn’t that be something!). Still we make a huge deal over this calendar-flipping event. We make resolutions, we try to break old bad habits and start new more positive ones. We plan, we dream, our motivation driven by the coming of a new year. Why does it matter?

In all seriousness, deep down all people need to know they can have a fresh start. That is the purpose of a new year in our lives. We need the hope the Father provides through a new year. He speaks and breathes life in the promise that it brings. He uses it to teach us the failures of the past year are nothing in comparison to what we can be in Him.

He changes our focus from the past to a brighter future, filled with the knowledge of Him. A new day, a new year, the way we measure our passage through time can either freeze us with fear or free us to move mountains.

A new year reminds us that there is purpose for our lives, helping redefine with clarity our walk with Him. It repositions our eyesight towards God’s Kingdom and off our temporal situations. This fixture of time identifies a place for us, calling us on to greater things. A starting place, a remembrance place, a launching place and a place of marking, this defines a new year for us. Speaking from this place is a declaration of trust in the new beginnings of God.

When the Father calls your name throughout this New Year; I pray that you would hear Him clearer than ever before. As He builds hope in you, stirs up faith in you and brings you closer to His heart, your new year will take on a greater dimension. There is purpose in us and purpose for us, just think what a new year this can be!

Blessings, Jay

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

P.S. I like New Years a lot more now, but I’m still holding out for a new song.

On a historical note:

AULD LANG SYNE: At least partially written by Robert Burns in the 1700's, it was first published in 1796 after Burns' death. An old Scotch tune, "Auld Lang Syne" literally means "old long ago," or simply, "the good old days.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

I’m Just Like Kind David


Well, not really, but hear me out. Today at church on the bulletin was this Scripture…

God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. Psalm 68:6

The first part of the Scripture resonated with me for in a physical as well as spiritual sense; that is what God has done for me. This Christmas has been special, despite many financial issues we enjoyed a wondrous time together. His peace permeated the circumstances and we had so much to be thankful for…which brings me to David.

In 1 Chronicles 17:16 he starts this awesome prayer with a question.

“Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: "Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”

The reason (and the only reason) I’m like King David is because of this question and prayer. I once was a lost, lonely, and fearful little boy, who saw no hope for a happy future. The Father came and “set me” in a family…today I am surrounded by the love of my wife and kids. However, first He set me in His family…I am owned by a God whose love continues to amaze me. He has bought me far and promises more…who am I? I am His son and for that I am grateful…just like David.

Blessings, Jay

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bad Sheep Time – 1st Christmas


bad sheep spot ad 2 You can never truly enjoy Christmas until you can look up into the Father's face and tell him you have received his Christmas gift. --John R. Rice

The Bad Boys have been very active this season and I hope you have enjoyed their "festive" attitude. I have also included a Top Ten list to see if you have been naughty or nice. On a serious note, I want to wish all of you who read my blog a Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year! You have blessed me in so many ways and I thank God for each and every one of you! Bless you! Jay

bad sheep no.31

Top Ten Signs that Santa Has You On the Naughty List:

1. The Reindeer leave “gifts” for you on your roof.

2. Your stocking has a deed to a coalmine in it.

3. The Mall Santa’s take out an “order of protection” against you.

4. He gives your presents to the neighbors.

5. He takes your tree and leaves a tree shaped air freshener in its place.

6. He hires a contractor to permanently seal your chimney.

7. Leaves a bill for “past services rendered” on your mantle.

8. Kidnaps you and leaves you on the Isle of Misfit Toys.

9. Gives the Grinch your address.

10. Says, Merry Christmas to all, except (inserts your name), and to all, except
(inserts your name), a good night

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (7) Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this." Isaiah 9:6-7

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Few of God's Favorite Things


favorite-things I wrote this in 2007 so I hope you don’t mind a little nostalgia from my past. I just felt like it would bless someone today…I sure hope so. Blessings, Jay

“And the angel said unto them, "Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, Which shall be to all people. "For unto you is born this day in the city of David, A Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12

Famous people crack me up. You may not be aware of this (unless you’re an Oprah stalker…uh, I mean fan) and I wasn’t until I heard a local radio announcer talk about it. It seems that Oprah has a list of favorite things…things that you may want to buy because…well, because Oprah has listed them as her preferred gifts. Apparently I’m not hip to the Winfrey phenomenon, since I didn’t know of this list before today. Now I’m worried that my former holiday shopping experiences may have been somehow compromised…well, not really.

This is an annual (I didn’t know that either) list as well, and it contains items like cosmetics, music, appliances, jewelry, books…whatever the big O (my apologies to Oscar Robertson) deems as one of her favorite things. The scrutiny must be tougher than FDA testing since an item is not added unless, as the Oprah website puts it… “It's not enough if Oprah likes an item…she has to love it!”

Now, this hot list was all tied into a visit to Macon, Georgia, where 45% of the viewers are tuned in to Oprah’s show everyday. Oprah wanted to reward all these loyal fans by giving away some of the “LIST” items while taping a show in Macon. Oprah mania hit the city hard with a local paper even creating an "Oprah Tracker" on its website to let online viewers know Oprah’s every move in town. That’s star power… or the town of Macon had nothing better to do that day, I’m not sure which.

Just prior to the Saturday taping in Macon, Oprah had an idea. She took some tickets for the show and went door-to-door, looking for people who were watching her show. If they were watching her show, they got one of the tickets…if they weren't, well, she moved on to the next house! Her quote was priceless…she said:

"You never know when I'm going to come knocking!"

Later on she added another interesting quote:

"It's a very fun show, and it's very exciting to be able to give things away. The truth is, I realize that they're just things and that a panini maker cannot change your life," she says. "Most people never won anything or got anything in their whole lives for free. So what it does is, it creates a level of excitement and hopeful energy for you that you believe good things can happen. And good things do. And so in that way, you are changed. You are not changed by the things, but you are changed by the experience of it all."

No matter what you feel about Oprah, she went through some extraordinary measures to make some people feel special. Reading about the list (or the trip to Georgia) didn’t convince me to be an Oprah follower but I do appreciate her heart. Still, it got me thinking about a few of God's favorite things…did you ever wonder what His list look like? I found a small one in one of my favorite scriptures.

“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”  Micah 6:8

Let’s see…Justice, mercy and humility, quite big for a short list, and then I realized that all three things are present in the Christmas Story. A story about a just God fully aware of the type of mercy needed to awaken our souls to the need for a savior. So the Father came knocking on the heart of a dark world to give a gift, all so we could experience salvation.

“For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face.”
Psalm 11:7

God would have to humble Himself to include us in this story, for mankind to see His face. Paul tells us how humble in Philippians 2: 5-8. (the Message Bible)

(5) Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.

(6) He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what.

(7) Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!

(8) Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death--and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion.

From a humble town called Bethlehem, God announced freedom from sin was at hand. The Father uses His own “STAR” power to draw distant travelers to the birthplace of Christ. He fills the sky with angels, singing about the promise of the Messiah, wishing for a human ear to receive the Good News. Flowing from the merciful heart of God is an epic tale with a story line full of signs and wonders. Mary knew this story of God’s mercy would be awesome, in Luke she pronounces:

“And His mercy is on them that fear Him, from generation to generation.” Luke 1:50

Picture a few of God’s favorite things with me. Mary gently holds the little hand of the creator of all and her future savior. Waves of mercy cause her to ponder all things quietly. Joseph welcomes lowly shepherds into the fold and the experience that will forever change them. Mercy, justice and humility…all wrapped up in swaddling clothes.

The Father eagerly invites all of us into this story to share the miracle of His favorite things. His deep desire is to sweep us up in its plot and to become more than spectators…like those witnesses of that “STAR” power previously mentioned.

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11

The Greek word for treasures is thesauros (thay-sow-ros’), which means the place in which good and precious things are collected and laid up. A storehouse of precious items, a warehouse stocked and filled. I believe we are “storehouses”, filled to the brim with valuable gifts ready to be “presented” back to the Father in the form of gratefulness and worship. A close and growing relationship with the Father is indeed one of His favorite things…it’s mine as well.

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.” Luke 1:68

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

For unto me…Emmanuel


“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,”which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23

I wrote this poem today thinking about Emmanuel…God with us. The creator of the universe…is with us…every moment of every day. He fills our space time continuum, our history, our future with…Himself…ALL of Himself! Every part of His coming was to rip the veil between us…bringing us back into the light.

This Christmas I feel like Father God is not only giving gifts but awakening gifts. I pray that you will feel His power, His presence and His promise like never before.
Blessings, Jay

For unto me…Emmanuel

Eternity cries from a dusty stable.
Across time, an ancient song lights
up a dark world.

Past, present and future collide.
Calling me to listen to timeless words,
echoing with promise.

For unto you… Emmanuel.

I strain my neck to see, hoping.
Is the star still there?
Wondering how long will it take
for my knees to bend.

For my will to bend.

I have walked were shadows fall.
I have seen a great light, but now what?
A weary world rejoices…but do I?

Can I?

For unto you… Emmanuel.

I bow, offering a gift and
brush against a veil torn for me.
I enter with expectation.

Love, like newly fallen snow
blankets my soul.
Consuming the darkness
and freeing my heart.

All this and more.

For unto me…Emmanuel

Jay Cookingham © 12-21-10


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Monday, December 20, 2010

Bad Sheep – A Claus to Celebrate

bad sheep spot ad 2






It’s time for the Bad Boys of Wool again…plus a song that is about me…enjoy! Blessings, Jay

bad sheep no. 30


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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Did He Know?


Did he know that everybody in his home town would never look at him the same way again?

Did he know he would be read about for centuries, marked by a few entries in an ancient text?

Did he know, I mean REALLY know, that the Messiah was now in his rough and callous carpenter hands?

Did he know the magnitude of the mission given to him, the responsibility that was handed over to him?

In a small town called Bethlehem Joseph becomes a first time dad; that is a world shaker all on its own. This night he is holding the baby who was sent for him, for his and the world’s salvation. That shakes his world on a whole different level…and ours as well.

Christmas night is a night for God to show how He operates. The love He has
for His creation is channeled through ordinary people like you and I. The
question is…

Do WE know?

Do we know that we have seen a great light?

Do we REALLY know that Messiah has come…for us?

Do we know that He has changed us…for centuries (and beyond) to come?

Do we know that people in our home town will never look at us the same way again?

Do we know the magnitude of the mission given to us?

Do we know the magnitude of the gift…freely given to us?

I imagine Joseph asking and pondering over similar questions…probably many, many more. It is that pondering that intrigues me and in some way, encourages me. My story has been forever impacted by God’s invasion of love…so has yours.

Do you know?

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Signs and Wonderings


The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your the-christmas-star2faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me. Psalm 138:8

It’s an emotional day for me. I feel raw and exposed…like chafed skin from being outside in the cold wind. Please forgive me if I wander as I wonder through this post, it is one of those unedited moments that I would like to share. I promise I will eventually get to a point…you’re going to have to trust me on that one.

It is always difficult to know just how much to reveal in a blog post, how much to release to the wind of the internet and what to expect after one does so. I started this blog to answer a call from Father God and to hopefully encourage people along the way. The things I have shared about my life and my journey with Jesus have been honest and sincere…but it leaves me wanting more. I feel like I know many of you even though we have never met. You have been kind with your comments and your observations…in short; you have been a major encouragement to me. Still…it leaves me wanting more (yes, I realize that I repeated myself) and I’m at a loss at how to make that happen.

I am a sit down, let’s talk face-to-face kind of person…I like contact, and yes…I’m a hugger. It’s one way I believe that I can show that I am a real person not just an internet blogging personality. I guess what I’m saying is this…I hope you believe that I am real.

None of us expose everything online (and we shouldn’t) but I want you to know that everything I share is from my heart…truly.

In 15 days I expect to take a major direction change in my life or…find out that I misheard God…sounds heavy doesn’t it? I will admit that it feels heavy at times and today particularly so. Why? Because I don’t know what that change of direction IS…not a clue, nada, zippo…how’s that for signs and wonders? It may be close to something I always wanted to do but I’m not sure. (Not ready to share that quite yet) I’m wondering where the signs are and that is the challenge, trusting in the author of my story. I came across something today that I wrote a while back and here is the point I promised you…it’s about the Christmas story…our story.

Christmastime is signs and wonders time. I believe there are angel songs still filling the sky with the promise of the Messiah, wishing for a human ear to receive the Good News. A grand story has swept us up in its plot and wishes for us to become more than bit players. It is an epic tale flowing from the heart of God, with a story line full of signs and wonders. A lost world, a lost people, needs redemption of cosmic proportion. Father God makes sure the world receives just that. A young woman gives birth to a child who would someday deliver her and all of humanity. Mix in angels, shepherds, wise men, an angry king, some roman soldiers, dreams and an escape to Egypt and you got a story for the ages. Christmas is a sign, an opening to join our story with this wondrous one, to stop being an understudy and get in the play.

The Father will work out the plans for my life…that I know and trust.
What about you?

Maybe there is a major (or minor step) step that God is asking of you, I would love to pray for you. I can’t sit down with you or send you gifts but I can do this…I can pray! You could share here or send to me in a private email here at jcdude56@gmail.com

I be honored to pray with you. If you would love to go deeper than that, just ask for my phone number in the email and give me a call…praying over the phone is fine with me. I’m also on Skype…just look up Jay Cookingham and you’ll find me.

Blessings, Jay

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.” -Hamilton Wright Mabie

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Like Mary – Christmas Poetry

MC900446406 "It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time."
- Sir Winston Churchill

Not sure if it's a mistake or not but looking ahead at the expense of the present can be frustrating at best. I am looking forward to the 1st of the year, not because I a big fan of the whole New Years gig (I'm not), but because I sense a huge change for me is near. I'm not ready to reveal just what that may be (soon, I promise) and I don't want to lose sight of this special season in front of me. So, as I reflect on what's yet to come, I need to focus of who already came...It's time for more poetry. I hope it blesses you as you read this simple offering and I pray in a small way it helps you focus on a God who so loved...He gave. Blessings, Jay

Like Mary

I sing like the Angels
needing the joy
I bear a shepherds heart
needing the hope
I seek like the Magi
needing the truth
I ponder like Mary
needing the peace

Jay Cookingham © December 9, 2003

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. - Isaiah 7:14

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Unsung Song



“And the angel said unto them, "Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, Which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." - Luke 2:10-12

Last night my family and an assorted cast of characters from my church went a Wassailing (I think that’s Greek for caroling) to few shut-ins from our church and community. I love caroling and my family tries to make this an annual holiday event in some form or fashion. In fact, fashion plays a significant part of this traditional song fest. We borrow from my sister-law’s vast storehouse of Victorian garb and dress the part of Coventry carolers…it’s a real blast.

Like I mentioned, I love caroling and I was excited to get home, dress like Bob Cratchit and hit the streets decking the halls. Inside my heart I needed a little Christmas, something to lift my spirits, for like the song…

For I've grown a little leaner, Grown a little colder, Grown a little sadder.

I’m not sure where it crept in, but weariness was heavier than the Victorian coat I was wearing and as cold as the night air.

Our first stop was Pete’s (not his real name) home and I believe it was a huge God moment. Pete suffers from Polio and is confined to a bed 24/7; the most he can muster is a small squeeze from his right hand. On oxygen as well, Pete can only speak in a whisper and even that comes hard for him. On top of all that, he travels next week to Columbia Hospital to confirm a diagnosis of ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). Still, Pete can smile with the best and will great you with bright eyes
and a grin from ear to ear. It was that warm welcome from him that drew us in
last night.

Gathered in his small apartment, we circled around his bed to sing, but then we were all transported to a special place called grace. Our strong loud voices were joined by a silent voice mouthing the words to the songs. Pete’s unsung song lifted my spirit with grace and strength. His body could not join the festive group but that would not keep him from joining in spirit. We came to encourage him and he returned the gift many times over!

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit
and in truth.” John 4:24

Many stops later and the caroling done, I found myself wondering about such a miracle as I tried to sleep. What prisons keep me from worshipping God still? In what boundaries, limitations, and lack do I find a convenient excuse of my bowing my knee or my heart?

Pete’s example to worship (I pray) will stay with me as long as I draw breath.

..and I need a little angel, Sitting on my shoulder, Need a little
Christmas now.

I needed a little Christmas and a little angel named Pete.

What about you? What do you need? How can I pray for you this
Christmas Season?

Christmas is not just a time for festivity and merry making. It is more than that. It is a time for the contemplation of eternal things. The Christmas spirit is a spirit of giving and forgiving. – J.C. Penney

Blessings, Jay

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Bad Sheep for Christmas - Shear Delight?

bad sheep spot ad 2


Are you ready for more of the Bad Boys of Wool and their “unique” take on Christmas? Well, here you go…remember…you asked for it!

Blessings, Jay


bad sheep no. 29

To be contin-ewed...

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Sunday, December 12, 2010



Just sharing a few posts that were a huge blessing to me this past week or so, I’m predicting you'll like them as well! Blessings, Jay

Focus on the Gift at CYCLEGUY'S SPIN

Nostalgic for that Aluminum Tree at Faith, Fiction, Friends

My Faith Update at Endless Impact

Abandoning Church at Doorframes of TaterHouse

Fellowship - Time to Party of Something More? at Reflections on the Life of a Christian

On Perspective at Tony Alicea

I Slept On The Couch at Untitled

Christmas shopping for gifts that count at Flickers of a Faithful FireFly

Finding Focus at Sandra Heska King

On the Eve of a Morn at Just a moment

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Bad Sheep for Christmas


bad sheep spot ad


It’s time for the Bad Boys of Wool to weigh in with more decking the halls with their special “humor”. I also included one of my favorite (don’t judge me now) Christmas songs…you may be surprised! Blessings, Jay


bad sheep no28

In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukka' and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukka!' or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!'
~Dave Barry

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Wise Journey – Christmas Poetry


three-wise-men After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem (2) and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2


I lost a little hope yesterday…I let the burden of cares and worries get the best of me. It seemed pointless to pray…I mean, God is going to do what He wants anyway…right? I was weary and frustrated with the journey…and then I felt the gentle call of the Master. So, I went with my wife to our bedroom to pray and seek the King…it was a small wise journey. When we began to worship the Messiah, the fog started to lift and my hope returned. Afterwards, I remembered this poem I wrote a few years back…it is from the Magi’s perspective and it echoes my heart’s cry. Blessings, Jay

A Wise Journey

I feel the dance of distant angels
in the resonance of a star

I hear their songs carried on the
hopes of a people lost

On the terrain of souls, veiled darkness
gives way to a bright life

It was but a journey, with
one land left behind

Following a radiant facet of heaven,
leading to a new land
Leading to a new kingdom

I cannot bow low enough

I empty myself of gifts

I empty myself

A child king is before me
And I am undone.

More is given to me than
all I came to give.

I lift my eyes and see in his
a view of eternity.

I pause in the reflection of a
heavenly realm
Now earth bound for all.

I came by one way

Leave by another

It is a wise journey I
begin anew

Jay Cookingham © November 25, 2002

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

For Unto Us


Christ - Birth -For Unto Us a Child is Born 

“Good news from heaven the angels bring, Glad tidings to the earth they sing: To us this day a child is given, to crown us with the joy of heaven.”
- Martin Luther

It is a violent time, one of suffocating poverty and intense suffering. A nation’s identity and economic vitality has been subverted for the needs of the superpower that has conquered it. To be Jewish and living under the rule of the Roman Empire is to experience hardship beyond our understanding; it is a dangerous time to be alive. It is also precarious to be born into this deeply sorrowful period. The birthrate is low and many babies do not survive the birth, those who do face sickness, poverty and the unsure future of a conquered nation.

Into this harsh, oppressed land, the Father allows the Savior to be born. The hope for the world is born into a seemingly hopeless situation. To human eyes it makes no sense for God to arrange such an event in a wasteland of human misery. Our heavenly Father uses this impossible scenario to prove that with Him, all things are indeed possible. A lost world, a lost people will experience the unfeasible, a God infusion of himself into our world.

I think of Joseph, the man God picks to be “step-dad” for Jesus. I imagine the pressure he was under, the decisions he had to make. Should he remain bound to his betrothal contract? Should He expose Mary to the community? No one would blame him, a marriage agreement; specifically Writings of Betrothal could only be broken by divorce. Joseph must have been crushed to find out about Mary’s pregnancy, perhaps even angry. Talk about an impossible circumstance! Staying committed to Mary could isolate him from his family and a decision to divorce could separate him from the will of God.

To help him make this critical decision he has the hard, solid evidence of an angel talking to him in a dream. I can imagine the questions, can’t you? Can it be true, that this child will be the salvation of the world? Why was he, a simple carpenter, entrusted with raising such a child? The Bible calls him a “just man” so Joseph’s faith enables belief in the impossible, such as an angel in a dream declaring God’s will. When he accepts the mission, he is stretched yet again. Joseph forced by Rome, leaves home (Nazareth) and takes his pregnant wife on a road trip. They travel (by donkey) to his birthplace (Bethlehem) for a head count. There is no guarantee of safety during the journey and for the birth of his child when they arrive.

There is so much beyond Joseph’s and Mary’s control; but they move onward. Each step of their passage is a statement of belief in the Father’s message. Mary and Joseph demonstrate commitment to their “call” by choosing to believe what the angel said.

“Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37)

The security of man-made provision is nowhere to be found when they ride into Bethlehem and the Lord is born in little more than a cave. Mingled with the smell of barn animals, the sweetness of the Messiah’s birth fills the air.

Humble shepherds come, guided by more angels. Exotic visitors come guided by a star. They supply gifts way beyond the means of the first time parents. These gifts may have been the supply that Joseph needed to move his family into Egypt when the threat of death reached out for his son. Another dream, another angel, but this time it is a warning to move again.

An impossible time, an impossible pregnancy, an impossible marriage, an impossible rescue…only so through the eyes of man. Through the Father’s eyes, a vision of hope birthed to redeem the impossible (us) to Him. For God it wasn’t an impossible time for the Lord to be born …it was the perfect time. He can take us from any land, any condition, and any difficulty and bring us into His kingdom. That is the gift of Christmas…hope. In Him a weary world rejoices, for our souls had felt their worth.
                                          Blessings, Jay

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mary Sings – A Christmas Poem



But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  Luke 2:19

As we inch ever closer to Christmas day my heart fights to keep the focus on a Messiah who came to give us life. I think and muse about a young Jewish maiden…who was brave beyond belief. Mary teaches me that silence is good thing, that pondering on a message from God is a worship moment. (BTW, if you want to “see” a really cool presentation on silence go to Michael Perkins blog post On Being Silent) This poem is my attempt at capturing the power and the simplicity of that moment right after Mary’s hears the Good News. Blessings, Jay


Mary Sings

Angel words stir
a devoted heart

Accepting the revelation
Rejoicing with Heaven

A song magnifies
a kingdom’s glory

A young woman
becomes a young mother

The embodiment of
the Father’s intent

Born to her
Sent for us

Emmanuel has come.

In her heart pondering
Mary sings.

Jay Cookingham 12/5/02 ©



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Monday, December 6, 2010

The Gifts in the Snow

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: 
the christmasgiftspresence of a happy family all wrapped
up in each other.  ~Burton Hillis

There they were…packages of various sizes wrapped in Christmas paper scattered all along the snow drifts in my front yard. I looked out my window wondering how long they would last in the snow and when my father would let us retrieve them, I was only seven years old. In a fit of rage over something unknown to us, he had tossed them, along with the tree, out the door early that Christmas morning. It would be three days before he cooled down enough to let us bring them inside and several more before we could open them. I don’t even remember what I got that year, but I do remember the image of the gifts in the snow. For years that memory, along with other similar “holiday events”, shaped my (non) enjoyment of Christmas. That was until God gave me a Christmas experience that would change me forever.

charismata In my early twenties I traveled with a gospel rock band and from time to time we would do other gigs besides concerts. On one of these occasions, two other band members and myself went down to the Bowery in NY city to serve in one of the many soup kitchens, this particular one was run by the Salvation Army. We got there early in the morning but the line to get a hot meal was already long and many were anxious to get inside the shelter. We met with the leaders of the shelter who filled us in on how the day would go. The setup was simple, one group would first listen to a quick Christmas message in the small chapel and afterwards move to the cafeteria to eat, this process would repeat itself until people and or food ran out.bowery-mission-sign

To my surprise, I was asked to give the first message and was quickly shown the way to the chapel. As the various groups of people shuffled in from the cold air, I saw through the open door that it had begun to snow. The collection of old and young, men and women slowly found seats, many were still drunk or coming down from a night of intoxicated waste. Against the white purity of the fresh snow their filthy clothes and smell stood out in stark contrast. What could I say to move the hearts of such people? As I waited for the chapel to fill, the Lord brought back the memory of the scattered presents in the snow bank outside my home. He quietly said to me…

“These are my gifts…they too have been scattered and thrown away, tell them I desire to bring them home.”

My heart and eyes were opened with those words, I began to feel the heart of the Father towards these “lost gifts”.

IOpenBible began to speak, reading from the scriptures I told them of poor shepherds, pretty much the outcast of their day, being the first ones to hear about the Messiah’s birth and by angels no less! I related to them that this story was about God’s great love and no matter how far they had fallen, He wanted them underneath the blessing of another tree—the cross, which His son Jesus was born to bear for them. I finished my small sermon, prayed for them and release them to the hot meal waiting for them. All but one left the room, a young man my age waited and asked to speak with me. He shared his story, how his father had thrown him out on the streets just a few months before Christmas. The message of God’s love had deeply moved him, making him realize how much he wanted God in his life and how he needed to ask his father for forgiveness.

As we talked and prayed God was healing much inside of me as well—from now on—Christmas would be different for both of us. That’s the power of the Gospel, if we allow it to flow to every part of our being…we can’t stay the same. Redemption from our sin is only the beginning, for restoration and wholeness is both a journey as well as a destination.

prayer That night in a small Jewish town a message of hope spoke across time to a small chapel in New York City. There, on their knees, two young men saw that message in a whole new way.

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.”  - Luke 1:68

Blessings, Jay

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Yule Love It! Bad Sheep and all!


“Blessed is the season which engages
the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”
- Hamilton Wright Mabie

Well, it’s Bad Sheep time again! The Bad Boys of Wool chime in on Christmas…I have a funny feeling they will be popping up a few more time during this wonderful season. Also, I want to share a bit about traditions…some very strange ones. 
– Blessings, Jay

bad sheep no 27 yulecat


Let the Festivities Begin!

Traditions are grand; they encompass us with a rich blend of history and relationships. However, some can be just downright …well, silly. I did a little research about the Yule Log and found out some interesting facts, which may just surprise you. Before I get into specifics of the Yule Log itself, it seems that most of these legends started in lands where cold and ice rule the landscape for months on end. I’m only suggesting that combined with the long months in darkness, the cold can play a few games with your mind. This for me explains many of the wacky Yule time folklore stories.

From Iceland comes the disturbing tale of the giant…Yule Cat. This terrible feline is ready to make meow mix out of any lazy townsfolk, especially those who might have been less than ambitious in helping the town prepare for the long winter. Perhaps they were put in charge of the litter box, (a rather large litter box at that), and lost all motivation, who can blame them? However, slothful citizens in Iceland were not alone in their peril; it seems that poor people were also at risk to fall prey to this very picky Yule Cat. For if it found you outside with old clothes on, you were a goner as well! Poorly dressed lazy folk were a high risk target for sure.

This is the real reason all grandmothers give new socks and underwear every Christmas, its anti-Yule Cat protection for their grandkids. After all, no self-respecting Nana is going to risk losing one of her own to some oversized Garfield because of old underwear. The Yule Cat legend may also explain why the dog became man’s best friend. A family dog may eat all your food in your house but at least not members of your household.

The Yule Log originates from some ancient Scandinavian festivals and the Vikings did their bit for history by spreading it around Europe through their many raids. Can you imagine Eric the Red saying, “Here you go, we just raided your town and took all your stuff but we left you this Yule Log gig.” I think the modern day equivalent would be the holiday fruitcake, which I believe is flammable and could be used as a Yule log in a pinch, but I digress.

Tradition states that after choosing a large log in the forest, it was decorated with ribbons and carried back to the village. It was customary for anyone meeting the procession on its trip home, to raise his or her hat in respect. Why the log would need such a greeting or honor is beyond me. However, if you wanted an excuse from observing such a custom, you only needed to be a barefoot woman or have flatfeet. A 4F rating that no doubt, kept many a fine young person from serving in the Yule Log burning service corps.

Through the years the legend grew in popularity and changed a bit. It was believed by many to be unlucky to buy a Yule log. The real lucky ones were found on one's own land or from a neighbor's wood. This, for the neighbor trying to find his own Yule log, was not so lucky. People even saved a fragment from the previous year’s log to use to ignite the new one. The homeowner would keep this under the bed to keep the house safe from fire and lightning (and perhaps Yule dust bunnies). Not lighting the log on the first try was a sign of misfortune (watch out for the Yule Cat) and touching it with dirty hands was a sign of disrespect. This early version of the Duraflame log would have to burn unattended for 12 straight hours, but at least you got to eat during this time. Although people were distracted from eating their meal, since you had to carefully study the shadows cast on the wall by the Yule log fire. A “headless” shadow was not good news for the person casting the shadow. A groundhog moment like this one supposedly foretold the death of said person within the year. Here in America we have dispelled the myths of this long ago legend by reducing the Yule log to a video appearance on a DVD. You don’t have to hunt for one (except maybe at the mall), there are no wall shadows to worry about while you are chowing down. More importantly, the DVD player could care less about your flatfeet.

Yes, every Christmas I learn something new and surprising. The memories, the stories and traditions, collectively add to the discovery process I go through each year. It wasn’t always so, but God has faithfully showed me the right attitude to dive into at Christmastime. As fathers we have the privilege to be the one leading the celebration in our homes. That opportunity helps build memories, traditions (maybe even some silly ones, just for fun) and creates unity for the generations to come. Yet, over 2000 years ago, in a small Hebrew town, something more powerful than tradition rocked the world. Celebrating His birth does more than change the way I “do” Christmas, it transforms the way I am, the “who” I am. Because of that God injection into humanity, all the stories, memories and traditions become richer in our lives. Let’s lead and enjoy the festivities with the focus on a Savior that came to give us so much more.

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.” Luke 1:68

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

That Wonder



“St. Joseph was an ordinary sort of man on whom God relied to do great things. He did exactly what the Lord wanted him to do, in each and every event that went to make up his life.” - Josemaria Escriva

“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” Matthew 1:25

I find Joseph fascinating, his faith and belief in what God asked of him is such an model of a righteous man. His story inspires me as a dad and as a husband…of all the people I want to meet in heaven…he’s at the top of the list. I pray that as you read this poem you will catch a glimpse of that wonder he must have felt that night. Blessings, Jay

That Wonder

I held you close for the
first time tonight.

The Angel spoke to me
of your birth.

Dream talk made no mention
of how I would love you so.

Could it be, my little son


Even now my heart bows
to that wonder.

I will serve as father in
an earthly manner.

The days given me, now
belong to him.

I cup the face of God in
my rough hands.

I see the light of the world
reflected deep in newborn eyes.

Even now my spirit bows
to that wonder.

Jay Cookingham 12/5/02 ©


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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Home for Christmas



After a few days of poetry it’s time for a Christmas story.
I wrote this a few years ago and it always seems to choke me up. I hope it blesses you. Peace, Jay

She peered from her dingy apartment window, wiping the frost with the sleeve of her sweater so she could see more clearly. A light snow was falling making the city streets outside her old brownstone a clean carpet of white. Sally was eagerly awaiting a delivery from the local grocery store containing the simple items for her dinner tonight. It was Christmas Eve and Sally wanted to celebrate this special time, at least in a small way. Over 80 and in failing health, it was to be a bittersweet celebration for sure. A little over a year ago Samuel, her husband and best friend, grew gravely ill. To her great sorrow, he faded quickly and went home to be with the Lord on the eve of his favorite day.

Sally loved her “Sammy”, so it was hard imagining celebrating tonight alone. He was so alive around Christmas and always seemed his happiest around the holidays. Every Christmas Eve he would sing, laugh…sometimes scooping her up from her chair for a dance. He would put on a Santa hat and say, “Come on sweetie, I saved a dance for my best gal!” Afterwards they would cuddle-up on the couch, sip tea, and read the story of the Savior’s birth. When midnight came they would run to their small tree, and like giggling children, rip open all the gifts.

The crunch of snow and the sight of a tall figure coming down the sidewalk carrying bundles snapped her back to her vigil. Sally watched the trudging shape come up the stairs and ring the bell to her apartment. Drawing her sweater around her neck to guard against the cold, she opened the door and let the familiar face inside. It was Manny, a young man in his twenties or so, who had been delivering her groceries for a few months now.

“Merry Christmas Mrs. Hamilton!” Manny said with a booming voice.

“Merry Christmas Manny, come in, come in.” Sally said excitedly.

“Shall I carry these to the kitchen?” Manny asked.

“Oh, please do, please do, I’m so wound up, I need to start cooking right away!” Sally replied.

Manny carried the bags into the narrow kitchen, where Sally began to unpack her goodies. A small ham, some potatoes, a can of green beans and a small box of Earl Grey tea.

With a hint of tears in her eyes, Sally mused, “My Sammy sure did love his
spot of tea.”

Dabbing at her eyes with her apron Sally soon looked up and hesitantly asked, “Manny, would you like to have dinner with me?”

“I would love to Mrs. H, absolutely love to!” Manny replied cheerfully.

The two of them set about fixing the meal, laughing, singing, and even enjoying a silly dance to Jingle Bell Rock playing on the radio. Soon the kitchen was warm, filled with a wonderful aroma and alive with memories. During dinner Sally told story after story of her husband Sammy and the love he had for Jesus.

Sally became quiet and Manny could see the pain of loneliness in her eyes. They were sipping their tea when Sally asked, “I’m so tired Manny, will you help me to the couch?” Manny helped the weary Mrs. Hamilton to the couch, laying her head gently on a quilted pillow. Covering Sally with a blanket, Manny then pulled a small box from his jacket and said, “It’s almost midnight Mrs. H, this is for you …Merry Christmas.”

The package wrapped with golden paper and with a bow of the purest white surprised Sally; she had never seen a more beautiful package. Taking the gift from Manny, Sally was momentary speechless. She started to open the present, excited as a small child, pausing only when she saw the prize within. Inside was a golden key with a small note that looked like an invitation. On the inside it read.

To: Sally Hamilton. A key to your new home.

“Manny…what does this mean?” Sally asked.

“Mrs. H.” Manny said. “You have been such a servant all your life, giving so unselfishly, that my employer wanted to give you something special this Christmas.”

“I’m afraid I don’t understand, your boss Mr. Reynolds is giving me a house?
Sally asked.

Manny, smiling now said, “No Mrs. H, I work for someone a bit higher than
Mr. Reynolds. Anyway, I’m just a messenger and I’ll be announcing your arrival there soon.”

“Manny, I still don’t see…” Sally wondered out loud.

“It’s simple, you have been faithful Mrs. H, and the Lord wants you home with Him.” Manny said.

Her eyes widening a bit, Sally whispered, “You mean…I’m really going… oh, I can hardly keep my eyes open, what is happening to me Manny?” Sally asked.

Manny replied softly, “It’s time for a homecoming Mrs. H…Sammy is saving a dance for you”

They were quiet for a few minutes when Sally spoke in a hushed voice and asked, “Am I going to see my Sammy when I open my eyes Manny?’

She was already home when he answered, “Yes Sally, and so much more.”

The End

Jay Cookingham © 2002

Psalm 116:15: "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."

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Shepherd’s Heart


New Born Lamb

Christmas is a necessity.  There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we're here for something else besides ourselves.  ~Eric Sevareid

The Christmas season is here! As we prepare for all the festivities I pray that our hearts will remember the reason we celebrate…the birth of the Messiah. I’m going to share as much Christmas thoughts, poems, Bad Sheep comics as I possibly can…maybe throw in a give-away as well. Bless you all! – Jay

Shepherd’s Heart

It is a dark night, cold
with uncaring.

Offering no relief from
the smell of sheep.
Their breath, like one
with my own.

My soul, chilled as
the night that shrouds me.
Grows weary with the
weight of my watch.

Heralds fill the darkness
with light for my vision.
The tone of eternity awakes
the hope in me.

I am drawn by worship words
to the smallest of places.
My life desperately needing
the promise there.

The future is birthed with
humanity clothes.

A babe, naked and vulnerable.
A king, beating with a shepherd’s heart.

Jay Cookingham December 4, 2002 ©