G. K. Chesterton says this about joy. “Joy is the gigantic secret of the Christian.” A definition seems elusive because Joy is untamed…it’s wild; free-range…it can’t be domesticated. It’s not containable…you can’t package or bottle it. So I just wanted to share my last sermon on joy with you all. I think Joy is knowing who you belong to. I saw something in the word joy that excited me like I thought no other three letter word could…it was this. Jesus Owns You Please listen to the sermon....I pray that it helps define what joy is for you. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a fantastic New Year I pray that the gift of joy through the life of Jesus will fill every nook and cranny of your life. I love you all....Jay
Monday, December 24, 2012
Monday, December 17, 2012
Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Hebrews 12:15
I am, like many of you, daily preoccupied with the tragedy in Connecticut. I think about the above Scripture and wonder how I could somehow “look after” my fellow man from afar. I strain at the picture of evil presented to me, how dark everything looks when I dwell on it. How can I effectively respond to such darkness?
The Father’s response to dark, troubling times was to send Jesus. God didn’t send a political solution, new policy or legislation to dispel the darkness.
He sent His son…the light of the world.
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. Isaiah 9:2
That’s the message of the incarnation, Christ being born into a dark world, into a violent time and bringing good news of great joy. The world Jesus entered was brutally dark and deadly. Humanity was under a death sentence of sin and it needed a Messiah…it needed the light. It still does.
How do I respond then?
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
I love like the Messiah…bringing light into a dark world.
Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love’s pure light,
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.
Friday, December 14, 2012
Seem like I have repost fever but I hope you won’t mind reading another blast from my past. A couple of years ago Christmas celebration was the last thing on my mind…perhaps you’re in the same place this year. I pray that maybe something in this simple cry of my heart will minister to you. Blessings, Jay
I was/am feeling like I been through a war. Christmas seemed like a distant echo of “good tidings of great joy”…although I desperately needed some.
Then, one morning I started singing…
A thrill of hope The weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks A new and glorious morn.
A weary world rejoices…not an energized world, but a weary, tired, worn-out one. In my battle fatigued heart I could rejoice, I needed to rejoice! 2000 years ago the Father set up a beachhead in a lowly stable, invading the world with His conspiracy of love. He pushed back the veil of darkness with the light of His son Jesus, definitely a new and glorious morn.
The truth is (and always has been) that we are at war with the enemy of our souls, I feel it and so do you. It claws at us, attempting to drag us off into the darkness of despair, worry and fear. This enemy wants us to die. He wants us dead to possibilities, dead to promise and dead to relationship with God, it is a huge battle. The enemy fears people that are truly alive.
The glory of God is man fully alive – St. Ireneus
The glory of God is man fully alive, but to be fully alive is living a life that glorifies Father God. My victory is sure, the birth, the life, the death and resurrection of Jesus has secured it forever. The thrill of hope is not always measured in feeling but in faith and that causes my heart to rejoice. Repeating these words (and their meaning) over and over in my heart embed me in the conspiracy of love.
For unto us…
For God so loved, He gave…
lo, I am with you always…
Christmas will be simpler in my home this year, with fewer gifts under the tree than seasons past. The pile of bills may just be higher than the pile of presents, still that will not quiet the truth in our hearts. Father God has given the greatest gift of all and it’s all ours. It’s all a matter of preparation and being ready.
Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.
Merry Christmas all!
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
As I prepare for Christmas there are so many thoughts I want to share with you all. However my schedule has been fast and furious lately and the writing of new posts are a much lower priority as a result. So I’m reposting one from two years ago and I hope you won’t mind. It actually speaks to much of what is on my heart as “I wonder as I wander” through this Christmas season. Blessings, Jay
The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence 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.
In my early twenties I traveled with a Christian rock band and from time to time we would do other gigs besides concerts. On one of these occasions, two other band members and I 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.
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”.
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 spoke of how this story was about God’s great love and how He wanted them underneath the blessing of another tree—the cross, which Jesus was born to bear for them. I finished my small sermon, prayed and release them to the hot meal waiting in the dinning area. All but one left the chapel, 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.
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
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
A repost of a poem I wrote a few years back. This simple verse is my attempt at capturing the power and the simplicity of the moment right after Mary’s hears the Good News. Blessings, Jay
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
Jay Cookingham 12/5/02 ©