By Jeff Cook | Published on February 7, 2020
Dear Church Family,
I read something on Facebook the other day that was worth remembering and practicing. The post said something like “I encourage your to pray for someone you know for 30 days without letting them know you are praying”. I thought, “I can do that!! I thought again, I need to do that!!”. I have someone in mind that I am going to pray for. The ultimate goal for my friend is to pray toward a spiritual conversation that will lead to the friend accepting Jesus into his life. The commitment is quite simple. Every time I see him, every time I see his truck, every time I drive by his house, I will offer a prayer. So, what are some things that I can pray for, to God, for my friend?
- Pray that God’s blessings will flow into his life
- Pray that he will be a great husband/father
- Pray for his busy life to slow down
- Pray for time to converse with him for more than 30 seconds
- Pray that his heart will be stirred to spiritual things
- Pray for the opportunity to live my faith in front of my friend
- Pray for an opportunity to share my faith and hopefully lead my friend to know and commit to Jesus.
Do you have a 30 day friend in need? I challenge to secretly pray for that friend for 30 days. “Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” in prayer.
See what God will do with your prayers.
By Jeff Cook | Published on January 17, 2020
Dear Church Family,
At the end of last year, my bedside table was a MESS. My sweet wife didn’t say anything about it, but it had just become a junk pike for all my end of the day “pocket dump” items. During the Christmas visitation, my wife and I agreed to give up our bedroom to our daughter, her husband and our grandson. We moved to the motor home for our sleeping and they had the bedroom.
Well, I couldn’t let my family see my MESS, so I was forced to clean it up. Screws, and tools and empty wrappers, and pocket knives, all had to find a new, (and proper home). Much of the MESS found a new home in the trash can. It was pretty bad!!
After it was cleaned, and ready for guests, I had to admit it looked pretty nice. After all the night stand is nice furniture, and I had forgotten how pretty the wood was on the top, (I couldn’t see the top).
I determined at the beginning of the year, to keep my night stand neat and tidy. My pockets still needed to be emptied at night, but I wanted to keep the clutter off the night stand. I wandered around the house for a few minutes, looking for a solution to my new cleanliness commitment, and came upon a wooden decorative box in my office on a shelf. It was the perfect size for keys, wallet, and, and, all the stuff that comes out of my pockets. I don’t know where the box came from, but it was beautiful, unused, and on top of all that, it had a large cross emblazoned across the top. It was perfect.
I took it to my room, emptied my pockets, and all of the necessary items in my pockets, fit neatly in the box (under the cross). I determined to always fill up the box with necessary keepsakes, and if it doesn’t fit in the box it is unnecessary. My night stand stays so neat now and the cross reminds me every day, to keep my promise.
I wonder if that story relates to other areas of our lives? As we think of commitments we make to God, remember that all of our commitments come “under the cross” and unnecessary things should have no place on the night stand of our heart. And Jesus will help us keep our lives clean and tidy, so that we can be well presented for Him, and for our world.
By Jeff Cook | Published on January 10, 2020
Dear Church Family,
We have designated a closet as the Christmas Closet in our house. That is right. All the Christmas decorations, and all the red/green beauty of Christmas is stored in THAT closet. We were so proud this year, to go to the Christmas closet, and find neatly stored items that put us in the Christmas season. We were able to take everything out, put it in its place, and “wall-lah” (is that a word?), we had Christmas. Because of our neatly organized Christmas closet, we were able to decorate our home for Christmas and make the most of the holiday season.
The other day, I drifted by the Christmas closet, and as I peaked inside, I noticed that the Christmas closet was NOT neatly packed. In the hustle to get things undone after Christmas, some the of the Christmas cheer had been “stuffed” into the closet. So, being the good husband that I am, I, I, uh, I…closed the door. Problem solved until December 2020. I must confess, that the plan I had for the Christmas closet (closing the door) will come back to haunt me in 11 months, when we do it all again. AArrgghh!!
I wonder if that activity of “closing the door” on a mess is a metaphor for our lives. I wonder if we know we have messes in our lives, and instead of sorting through the mess, and put things in order, we simply “close the door” hoping it will go away. In the eyes of Jesus, that is not a good plan.
He is so filled with grace, that he wants to go into the hall closet of our heart, and painstakingly take out all the mess in our secret places, and throw away the things that need to be dealt with (forgiveness, bad habits, lack of faith, worry….______________) and then neatly place the valuables back in the closet. In fact, he so wants to clean up our secret places that we will be willing to show guests our closet and not hide things away.
I hope you can clean out those closets of the heart real soon, and be ready for the celebration of Jesus birth, every day!
By Jeff Cook | Published on December 30, 2019
We are on the verge of completing another year of life. And we sit here in the final days of 2019, realizing that 2020 (just like every year) is filled with potential. We are going to be able to experience “unrealized ability” in 2020. We realize that God has plans for us that we know not of, and He is eager to stretch us and grow us in ways we don’t think possible.
We are able to change (just like in “physics”) and become a better version of ourselves. This is an opportunity make New Year’s Resolutions to our selves, to others, and especially to God. We are able to read the Bible more, pray more, give more, share our faith more, and generally change.
We are on the precipice of “releasing energy” that improves things around us. Think of dynamite for a minute. Dynamite, “stored energy” can be destructive in many ways, but “dynamite” put in a sparkly firework can entertain thousands. We can spend our time “spending energy” that is destructive; worry, gossip, faithlessness, selfishness, etc. Or we can spend our energy in productive, smile inducing ways; hugs, prayers for others, serving, etc.
What is your “potential” for 2020.
Let’s find out together,
Potential generally refers to a currently unrealized ability. The term is used in a wide variety of fields from physics to the social sciences to indicate things that are in a state where they are able to change in ways ranging from the simple release of energy by objects to the realization of abilities in people.
By Jeff Cook | Published on October 31, 2019
Dear Church Family,
The wild fires are raging in California. It is a natural disaster that we are not familiar with in this part of the world. (We have our own disasters to deal with). I was listening to a radio report as I was driving the other day, and what I was hearing from California was completely new information and a dilemma that is causing people to suffer in unusual ways.
The forests of California are lined with power lines that run from city to city. When it gets windy the power lines sway and they will occasionally arc together and start a fire. In fact, the electric company has been held liable for several damaging fires over the years. So the electric company has come up with a solution. When it gets really windy, they just shut off the power to the lines causing a black out to cities all over Northern California. That may not seem like a big deal, but these winds in Northern California can last for 2-3 weeks.
Can you imagine not having power to your stove or refrigerator for 2-3 weeks, because someone cut off a switch? It is probably the best course of action, but it sure is hard on people who are living without the comforts of home.
As I listened to the people in that area of the country tell their story, it struck me that we live in a vast, diverse country. People are going through all kinds of matters, and are having to learn, adapt and adjust to the circumstances of the day. And just as people in Northern California are suffering with a particular set of circumstances, people right down the street are dealing with matters as well. We can be obsessed with fixing our own problems, and forget that others need help too. The vibrancy of the Christian life is found when we serve others before we worry about ourselves. Let’s remember to look with compassionate eyes at people around us and pray for people, engage with people, help people, as we press on in this life together.
I am so glad you are here today,
God Bless, Dr. j
By Jeff Cook | Published on August 6, 2019
Dear church family,
Do you remember your first grade teacher? I sure do. Her name was Mrs. Randolph and she had been teaching for many years before I moved into her class. She was gentle but firm, and she was determined to teach us the foundational building blocks of a learning education right there in first grade. We learned how to write our letters in a big chief tablet. Mrs. Randolph gave me extra attention with my writing skills because I was left-handed. I had a tendency to curl my hand around the letters, and Mrs. Randolph kept turning my hand around so that I would hold the pencil in the proper position. It was difficult to do, but to this day I think of Mrs. Randolph as I write with a pencil on a paper, holding my hand in the proper position.
I know you agree with me when I say, I am so thankful for good teachers that set me up to be successful in life. As our children and teachers start school this year, we pray that those mentoring relationships will bear much fruit that will last for a lifetime.
As we think of mentoring relationships that cause us to grow and develop in a way that pleases God, we know that the church also has a role to play in helping to educate young people and adults to reach their full potential. I am so thankful that God calls all of us in the church to contribute to the life of other people, so that everyone can reach their full potential.
Also, I want to encourage everyone to attend church tonight at 5:00 PM. We will be hearing from Carlos Schmidt who is our language church planter with Louisiana Baptist convention. Carlos has developed A relationship with Brownsville Baptist Church. This church is ministering to asylum-seekers who are making their way north from Mexico and Central America. We will learn of ways we can help those who are in a sincere crisis, with the gospel ministry of Jesus Christ. We have invited area churches to come and attend, and we will have a fellowship for everyone after the service.
By Jeff Cook | Published on May 24, 2019
Dear Church Family,
I stopped in a random Walmart for a haircut this week. My hair was out of control, and I desperately needed someone to trim my locks. Well, when I signed in to get the haircut, the only barber was a lady with bright, emphasis bright, blue hair. Hmm, I thought, I have never had my hair cut by someone with blue hair. I was not particularly biased toward the girl, just curious about how this would go. I thought, if she can cut hair, what difference does it make what color her hair is. I plopped into the chair.
“What have you been doing today?” Deanne spoke confidently. “I have been in a meeting to help churches start programs to help people with addiction”, I replied. Well, that opened the floodgates of conversation.
She began to share how her church ministered to people with drug addiction. She had personally dealt with drug addiction in her family. Jesus had healed her family. Deanne poured out her heart about Jesus, and how he can change the lives of so many people....she went on and on. It was sweet!
I began to affirm her for her testimony and for her convictions to share Jesus with everybody who sat in her chair. “It’s like you have a one chair church!” “All day long, people come to your “church” for a haircut, and for Jesus!
After I left blue-haired Deanne, I got to wondering, how many other one chair churches could we start? How many captive audiences do we engage everyday, who need to be in “church” and hear about Jesus ? I wonder, do you need to start a “church” where you work?
Also, thanks for praying for Jo’s family as her father is remembered this weekend in Austin. Thanks Eric for preaching today. Thanks to all our service people who have served. Blessings to you.
Also, also, remember to fill out a yellow card with a sermon request. I will be planning sermons for the next couple of months. I want to include your request!
By Jeff Cook | Published on April 18, 2019
Dear Church Family;
“Gone with the Wind”, “The Sound of Music”, “Mary Poppins (original)”, “Lion King”, “Beauty and the Beast”….You get the point. These movies never get old. They are timeless tales that always evoke emotion, entertainment, and a smile.
To an even greater degree, the story of Jesus, especially at the last moments leading up to the cross, and ultimately concluding with the resurrection, never gets old either. We are moved with compassion as Jesus shares the Lord’s Supper with His disciples. We are grieved and touched as Jesus washes the disciples feet, (Including Judas), as He knows he is about the be betrayed. We are gripped with emotion as Jesus asks for “this cup to pass from me” in the garden, and are terrified as Jesus is arrested and taken off to ultimately be crucified.
We weep with Mary as she (unlike many disciples), stands by Jesus on the cross. We wonder, “what is she feeling” as her son is hurting so bad.
We go into the tomb (in our imagination) as Jesus wakes up on Easter Sunday morning, knowing that before he rolls the stone, He must be contemplating what has just happened, and what is about to happen. And we imagine that the victorious exit from the grave, includes a moment when He might think about you, and smile a wry smile of victory.
We are touched in the heart when Mary realizes it is Jesus, and begins to cling to Him, never wanting to let go. Only to know that He must go. Jesus must go once again to the Father.
Every time we read the classic story of Jesus, we are again gripped, moved, and touched in a way much deeper than any movie can do. So, as you settle in to celebrate this timeless story today, be ready to be moved, by Jesus.
Blessings, Dr. j
By Jeff Cook | Published on March 25, 2019
Dear Church Family,
His name is Rodney, and he is my friend.
Several years ago, Jo and I took a little 48 hour trip to New Orleans. We love the food and the music, and we always find ourselves hanging out on the benches along the river. This particular trip was no exception, and after a long afternoon of drifting around the Quarter, eating a beignet, looking at art, we needed a rest on a bench.
As we were gazing at the lazy, powerful Mississippi River, I sensed a presence near me. A disheveled, homeless man, slumped into the bench next to me. “How’s it going?”, I sheepishly asked? “It’s alright”. He answered. (He didn’t look alright, by the way). “What is your name?” “Rodney” “What is your story?” I asked directly.
He said he needed to stay awake till Monday so that he could get into Charity Hospital and get his leg amputated. He was so determined to get that leg amputated. “What is wrong with your leg?” I was hooked. He lifted his pants leg and I saw the most swollen, painful leg EVER! “How did that happen?”, I asked with a growing concern. Rodney began to tell me the story of coming to New Orleans with his mom when he was 18. He was from Minnesota and had never been to the Big Easy. He was hooked. His mom told him to never come back, but years later, after his mom passed away, he decided (against her dying wishes) to return to New Orleans. Well, one thing led to another (after all, it is New Orleans) and Rodney was on the street. His leg got hurt when he stepped in front of a car and got run over. And now, the only cure was amputation. He had an appointment on Monday, but he had to make sure he did not sleep on a bench and miss the appointment.
“I will give you money for a shelter, Rodney” I generously offered. “Nope” “used up all my days at the shelter.”, Rodney abruptly replied. “And if I fall asleep in New Orleans, they will arrest me and put me in jail. I can’t miss my appointment.” He kept repeating the phrase, “I’ll be alright!” “I’ll be alright!”
We gave him some money for food, and I gave him my business card. As we walked away, I noticed him shopping for a
po-boy at one of the shops nearby. I prayed that he would be “alright”.
Months later, I was in the middle of a busy day at the church where I served as the pastor. A call came in from a person who would not leave a message. I could not take the call and the person just kept calling. After about the 4th call, my youth pastor answered the call and said, “I think you better take this.” I hurriedly answered the phone and it was Rodney. I was floored.
“What can I do for you Rodney?”, I asked, somewhat embarrassed in my spirit. “I don’t need anything”, Rodney smile back through the phone. “I just wanted you to know that ….I am alright”. He began to tell me that he made his appointment on Monday, and his leg was amputated. He had been in the hospital in recovery from the complications of surgery. “You need anything Rodney?” I asked urgently. “No”, Rodney cheerfully replied. “I just wanted you that I was alright. I am going back to Minnesota, and I am never coming back to New Orleans. I just wanted you to know I am alright” And with that, he was gone.
I think of my friend often, and I think of how thankful I am that God gives us friends that will forever change our lives.
I am alright too,
By Jeff Cook | Published on March 18, 2019
Dear Church Family;
It was a recent foggy, rainy morning in Jennings. I had cooked Jordan breakfast and sent him off to school. Now it was my turn. Fried egg and cheese sandwich on a bagel bun. Yum! It was a good one. I had taken one bite. The cheese was melted to perfection. The yellow was hard, but not too hard. The edges of the egg were crispy, just right. I wanted to finish eating right there, but it was time for me to leave to go to an early appointment. No worries, I will just take this beautiful eggcheesebagel sandwich with me and eat it in the truck.
As I was putting my briefcase in the back seat, tragedy struck. The plastic plate holding my eggcheesebagel…..cracked!!! AArrgghh!! Down, down down, went my eggcheesebagel. Splat. In the mud. Aarrgghh!!! I seriously considered the five second rule, but the mud, the glorious mud, kept that from being my option. In about 100 miles of thought, all sorts of frustrating, complaining ideas flashed and started, (I said started) to rush through my head. I mean, I deserved that eggcheesebagel, and since it was taken away from me, and, and no one was watching, I figured that a pitty party/complaint session was in order.
But then I heard a voice in my spirit. It was God. And He said, “Don’t you dare throw a fit!” Ooooo! He began to flash before my mind thoughts of hungry people all over the world that had no eggcheesebagel this morning. He flashed across my mind people who would gladly pick up that food from the mud. He flashed across my mind all the goodness that He has provided for me, just because. “Don’t you dare throw a fit this morning!” You know, when God speaks, He makes a very compelling argument for doing what He says. So, I picked up my mess, and went on with my day. I was so glad God kept me from sinning, and complaining, over a lost eggcheesebagel.
Thank you Lord,