The Jennings Family

Husband, Dad, Papa, and Pastor Dennis Jennings

Utterly Dependent

I received a devotional book by Johnny Hunt from Ben and Megan at Christmas, and after using it for a week, I have already found it engaging.  The thoughts below were stimulated by today’s installment:

Psalm 130:5-6  I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.  (6)  My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.

Standing on the Word and watching through the night -we are not watching and waiting as a hunter waits “in case” something comes by, or as a fisherman who hopes something shows up in proximity of his bait. There is a surety – more than that of the sun coming up in the morning – that God’s Word is true, and that the God of the Word will do what is best – for me personally, for my family, my ministry and for all those things for which I pray. The circumstances of my life are not “happenstances.”  They are the workings of an all-knowing, all powerful Creator upon whom (whether I acknowledge it or not) I am completely and utterly dependent.

“God, help me be ever more aware of the surety of my dependence upon you today.”

Guest Post: “How I Vote”

Yesterday my son, Ben, posted this on his blog and I thought it was well worth considering as we go to the polls to vote.

Tomorrow brings the mid-term elections. Isn’t it amazing that we live in a country where we have the right and opportunity to influence the direction of the government? With this great freedom we experience comes the responsibility to be a part of the process by voting. As a Christ-follower I believe that my faith should affect the way I view and do everything. This includes voting! So what concerns should we have when we vote? I’ll tell you how I vote-

  1. I vote for life. The Bible tells us that life is sacred. God created us in his image. Frankly, a country that does not defend innocent life (including the life of the unborn) can not expect God’s blessing. I vote for the candidate who is against killing babies.
  2. I vote for morality. God’s plan for marriage and family is one man and one woman for a lifetime. When we stray from God’s design it corrodes the foundation of our nation- the family. God has called us to love those with differing views and lifestyles. Part of loving them is calling them to repentance and faith in Christ. Public policy should reflect this reality.
  3. I vote for personal and fiscal responsibility. Freedom works when everyone in a society realizes their own responsibility and personal accountability for the way they live. As a general rule, I can’t spend more than I make and call myself a good steward of the things God has given to me. I carry this principle into the government as well. We can’t continue to spend money we don’t have.
  4. I vote for Israel. “I will bless them that bless thee, and I will curse them that curse thee.” I believe that part of the reason God has blessed our nation is that we have been a friend to this nation throughout our history. Israel faces many threats, unrealistic expectations of the world community, and few true allies. I believe it is important to maintain a good relationship with Israel.

What principles guide the way that you vote?

Ben Jennings is Associate/Youth Pastor at Sonshine Baptist Church in Port Charlotte, FL, and son of Pastor Dennis Jennings.  This post was originally posted at www.benjenningsblog.com.

Revisionist History and Liberal Preachers

I am ticked off.  I just read another article about the textbook controversy going on in Texas.  In case you haven’t been following it, the textbook publishing industry has been focused on Texas, because the volume of their textbook purchases often dictate which books will be published and made available to other schools around the country.  Naturally, this has become a cultural battlefield.  Without trying to sound too dramatic, what is at stake is a major influence on the worldview of the next generation.  Science, social studies and history are among the primary areas of controversy.

Now back to the reason for my “ticked-off-ness.”  Today a news report indicated that there is an attempt to block anti-Christian, pro-Islamic bias in world history textbooks.  That issue in itself is troubling.  But the thing that has me steamed is that those who would like to maintain the bias have attempted to show support “across all faiths” by including the comments of a Baptist pastor.  Now those who are more trusting that I might take that at face value.  But a little digging led me to this pastor’s church and some very revealing things. Although this church has a Baptist name, and has championed some causes that are good and right, they are not a Bible believing church.  In fact, some of their practices openly violate the clear teachings of the Word of God.  From their website:

Throughout its history, [the church] has taken actions that were consistent with its interpretation of the gospel, though sometimes in conflict with the views of the wider religious community and secular society…. and in the 1990s it ordained a homosexual deacon.

Those who know their Bible (and believe in a God with the power to communicate to us what He wants us to know) and believe their Bible know that the gospel is not open to anyone or any church’s interpretation.  Neither do men have the prerogative to “interpret” morality outside the clear teachings of the Bible (2 Peter 1:20).

It is completely disingenuous for any news reporter to misrepresent Bible believing Christianity by quoting a liberal preacher whose practices openly are in violation of the Word of God.  It is equally disingenuous for the same preacher to carry on his so-called ministry wearing the Baptist label, which has historically represented Bible believing Christianity.  Both are intended to deceive.  Paul wrote about this:

2Ti 3:1-5  This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  (2)  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  (3)  Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,  (4)  Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;  (5)  Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

No preacher does any favors for a person who is steeped in sin by excusing and even embracing their sin.  Although it has almost become a cliché, we must find a way to maintain a godly attitude toward sin while actively loving the sinner.  In our acceptance and love of a person where they are, we should never give them the idea that their sin has no consequences as far as God is concerned.  The wages of sin is still death, and after this, the judgment.  A loving preacher will tell them the truth – that Jesus loves them, personally paid the price for their sin, and is ready to forgive those who believe in repentance and faith.

God help me to always tell the truth about Him to everybody.  One day I will answer to Him for how I represent Him to others.

It’s God’s Work

Sometimes God reminds me about the big picture and my response to everything that comes at me, from inside and outside the church that I am privileged to serve.  As a result of some of my recent studies, such a reminder came once again from one of my Old Testament heroes, Nehemiah.

It had been a difficult and emotional time.   As the task was undertaken, there was the initial fear taking on such a task, then the fear of daring to even approach the king.  But Nehemiah did not back down.  His confidence was that the good hand of God was upon him; it was God that would accomplish the task.  No less than six times the enemies of God’s work attempted to thwart Nehemiah’s progress.  When his enemies asked Nehemiah to meet with them about sorting out their differences,  Nehemiah refused, with conviction, “saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?

In chapter 6 of the book that bears his name, we find that the despite this intense opposition, the task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem was accomplished in fifty-two days.

So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days.  And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.  (Nehemiah 6:15-16)

When it was completed, even Nehemiah’s enemies recognized the hand of God.

Fast forward twenty-five hundred years, and today God’s work still faces intense opposition.  There are those openly opposed to anything that would name the name of Christ.  Within the broader context of Christianity there are those who oppose the exclusive claims of Christ and anyone who is involved in reaching people with the gospel.  From the outside comes the call for tolerance; from within are calls for compromise.

Nehemiah did not set out to make these enemies.  With conviction of his soul, Nehemiah simply set out to do God’s work for God’s glory.  In like manner, we must be fully engaged in God’s work -taking the message of Christ to a lost and dying world, both locally and globally.  We must recognize that because it is His work, we can’t compromise with those who would want us to water down the message or divert from our mission.  People headed for a Christless eternity need our faithful commitment to this work.   One by one, whether now or in eternity, the enemies of God’s work will perceive that what is accomplished was indeed the handiwork of God.

Time Marches On: Two Years At CSBC

Time is a funny thing.  When I was a kid, it seemed to me that time dragged on slowly, sometimes painfully so.  I guess to any child anticipating Christmas, a birthday, or their first trip to Disney World, time can never move quickly enough.

Fast forward about forty years and now for me, time marches on at an unrelenting, unforgiving tempo.  Don’t misunderstand; there are times that the cadence slows.  But other times it’s like a treadmill set just a little faster than I can comfortably walk.  It is those times in particular that God makes Himself real to me.

These thoughts are so real to me, particularly in relationship to the ministry the Lord has given to me since August 31, 2008, my first Sunday as pastor of Cherry Street Baptist Church.  These last two years have been an exciting journey laid out by the Lord.  We have seen so many people come to Christ, in our services, in their homes, in restaurants.   New believers are learning and growing in their walk with Christ.  Believers who had wandered away from the Lord have been reclaimed and are once again serving the Lord.  What a journey!

In the last two years we have seen God bring together a wonderful team, our church staff.  Our deacons, trustees, Sunday School leaders and other workers are taking their responsibilities to the Lord and His church very seriously.  Our church family is becoming more focused internally on loving each other and those the Lord sends our way.  We are also turning outwardly, accepting our responsibility to take the gospel personally to those in our community and collectively to the whole world.

I would not pretend to say that it has all been fun.  As a sinful man dealing with sinful people, we are always going to deal with the struggles that result from sinful choices.  But following the principles laid out in God’s Word in how we respond in such situations allows God to get the glory even in those circumstances.

As you read Psalm 46, there is a crescendo of emotion as the Psalmist walks through a myriad of difficulties brought on by nature and by evil doers.  At the conclusion, he quotes the Lord and then affirms his situation:  “Be still and know that I am God…..The Lord of hosts in with us,” (v10-11).   What a wonderful thing to know that God is at work, and is with us!

I am still anticipating the wonderful things that are set out before me.  But it’s not Disney World or a birthday, and they are not coming slowly!  I am looking forward every day to see what God will do!  He has already done “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,”  (Ephesians 3:20).

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