The Jennings Family

Husband, Dad, Papa, and Pastor Dennis Jennings

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What A Summer!

You may have noticed that I took the summer off from writing in my blog.  There is a simple explanation, and one I may have been remiss not to share with you at the outset of the summer.  My wife is a school teacher, and during the school year, she leaves home very, very early, leaving me to my studying – reading, writing, sermonizing.  During the summer however, she doesn’t get up before 5 am, so I can make her breakfast a little later.  Therefore, during this past summer, this blog took backseat to a little extra time with my sweetheart!

That said, I will finish this post with a few excerpts from a letter I recently sent to our church family featuring a few highlights from the summer:

For the year to date in 2010, we have already passed the salvation and baptism totals from the entire previous year, and we are significantly ahead of last year’s pace of those uniting with us by letter or statement of faith.  We can certainly rejoice at the goodness of the Lord!  Our attendance is up significantly over last year in virtually every area, and we have great expectations about what God will continue to do in us, with us, and through us as we faithfully serve Him and follow where He leads.

In three youth camps this summer we saw a host of young people saved, lives impacted, some even surrendering their lives to full time Christian service.  A group of our teens and leaders took a mission trip to the Navajo nation and came back, encouraged and determined, with a new perspective on both missionary work in general  and,  as one expressed, “a new appreciation of just how blessed we really are.”

A group of our men went to Haiti in June to have a part in the rebuilding of churches devastated by the earthquake there.  There is much work to be done there, and two months later we are still hearing about the both the blessings and the needs in Haiti.

August was another wonderful month, with VBS being one of the highlights.  The Lord blessed the hard work of our church staff and many volunteers, and we are still seeing the blessings of families coming, people being saved, baptized and uniting with our church family.  With our children back at school and Labor Day on the horizon, we are preparing for an exciting fall.

So….we begin another season of sharing thoughts and events in the life of a husband, dad, granddad, and Baptist pastor.  Oh…by the way, this is my granddaughter, Melana.

My Worship

Joe Stowell writes in today’s devotional in Our Daily Bread:

I was delighted when a mutual friend gave my neighbor a Bible. But my neighbor told me she stopped reading it because she couldn’t understand why God would be so unfair as to reject Cain’s offering. “After all,” she said, “as a farmer, he simply brought to God what he had. Did God expect him to buy a different kind of sacrifice?” Sadly, she had missed the point.

It wasn’t that God didn’t like vegetables. Rather, He knew that Cain’s offering was masking an unrighteous attitude. Cain wasn’t fully committed to God, as expressed by the fact that he wasn’t living according to His ways.

I have been studying Malachi chapter one this week.  This chapter has much to say about worship that is acceptable to God.  God issues an indictment against the priests when He says to them that they had offered polluted sacrifices, and in doing so, they despised His name.  Rather than giving God that which He had clearly spelled out as acceptable (Numbers 28:3), they gave Him that which they would not give to a man to whom honor was due.  Malachi pointed out the insult to God when He asks:

And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 1:8)

Someone said that worship is “Giving God that which pleases Him in the way which pleases Him.”    These people were making a show of offering their worship to God, but there was no sincerity in it.  For if their worship had acceptable, the offerings they brought would have been acceptable.  It seems as though they were giving God their leftovers- that which they wouldn’t use for themselves.

I am looking today at my own worship of the Lord.  Am I giving Him my best, or does He get what’s “leftover” of my time, my talent or my treasure?  Then in my giving of those things to Him, is it out of obligation, or is it out of honor for the One who gave Himself to make it possible for me to be a member of His own family.  As His child, am I honoring my Heavenly Father?  That is my obligation as His child.

A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? (Malachi 1:6a)

Lessons From Sorrow

This past week, two of our dear church families were touched by the passing of a loved one.  Both of these families are people of great faith.  Although I have been ministering to people in these circumstances for more than thirty years, it never ceases to amaze me how I can go to be a blessing to the bereaved, and leave as the one who has been blessed.  But, I shouldn’t be surprised when those who love the Lord have their faith intact during some of life’s most difficult days, for Paul said:

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. (1Thessalonians 4:13)

Now let me say that sorrow can be good for us. It can expose forgotten or previously unrecognized areas about ourselves and our relationship with Christ.  Sorrow can help us get to know ourselves as never before.  It causes us to consider where we are in life, why we do what we do, and what the focus of our life really is.

Sorrow also helps us to clearly see what we believe about God and eternity.  It helps us to remember that God understands our sorrow.  Jesus, God in the flesh, is described as “a man of sorrows,” intimately acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). Considering His sorrow and remembering His concern for our sorrow, we gain a better perspective about what God is trying to accomplish in us through our grief.

Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. (Ecclesiastes 7:3)

A quote from the devotional magazine “Our Daily Bread” says, “Those who don’t let sorrow do its work, who deny it, trivialize it, or try to explain it away, remain shallow and indifferent. They never understand themselves or others very well. In fact……before God can use us very much, we must first learn to mourn.”

We are blessed when we learn from those who are mourning as well.  People who exhibit great faith in times of great sorrow encourage those around them.  I thank God for the lessons during our times of great sorrow.  You can read more about that in our family’s story here or by clicking on the “Family Info” link on the right side of this page.

Why Judas’ Feet?

We are in a Sunday morning sermon series I am calling “The Bible’s Biggest Losers.”  Last week we looked at how the priest and judge Eli lost his family because he knew their sin and refused to restrain them.   So far I have been amazed at the ongoing responses to this story from God’s Word.

This Sunday’s “Biggest Loser” is Judas.  As I am doing the prep work for this message, I am amazed at the picture that precedes his actual betrayal.  Before he went out to betray the Lord, Judas was the recipient of an act of unbelievable humility and grace -Jesus washed His feet!

We can speculate that each of the others who had enjoyed such close fellowship with Christ had some endearing trait – John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved;” Andrew, the one who brought others to Christ; Peter, who so boldly proclaimed, “Thou art the Christ.”  All were sinners, yet they believed.  But then there was Judas.  Why would Jesus wash the feet of the betrayer?  I am not sure there is a definitive answer, but there is something interesting in what Jesus said at the time:

Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.  (11)  For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
(John 13:10-11)

Would Jesus’ words, “ye are clean, but not all” cause all of the disciples to examine their own hearts, as is suggested by some commentators?  I am not sure, but that is certainly the effect it has on my heart.  I am considering how often I give in to temptation.  It is no surprise to the Lord.  Jesus knew it would happen, and He did more than humble Himself to wash my feet.  He humbled Himself and died on the cross for my sin (Philippians 2:8).

God help us not to betray the One who loves us so!

What Do I Owe On Tax Day?

Tax Day – UGH!  I hate today.  Taxes seem to be a heavier and heavier burden each time I file and pay them.  But I will pay them, because the God’s word is clear about it:

Rom 13:7  Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

I must tell you that since returning from Haiti a few days ago, I am once again thinking about how rich we who live in the US are compared to those living in third world countries.  The poorest among us receive food stamps, medical assistance, welfare, job training, etc.  These so-called social programs were initially intended to provide a safety net for families who fall on hard times, to give them a hand up.  Unfortunately, too many in our country take advantage of these programs as a way of life and made themselves dependent upon these government programs, which necessitates our taxes continuing to rise.  Instead of a hand up, they have conditioned to expect a hand-out.

When I was a child, there was a window of time when we ate welfare rice, butter, cheese, and peanut butter.  And we were thankful for it.  But my mom hated “to take a handout,” so she continued to work hard to better her situation so that she could provide for her children without being a burden on others.  To this day I admire her work ethic.  I learned much from her example.

Today, as I consider my own tax responsibility, I am both frustrated and thankful.  I am angry and frustrated that our government is so irresponsible with the taxes I pay, and yet they keep taking more.

I am amazed at how much I have.  The average Haitian lives day to day, working for today’s food for their family.  They will work today to bring water into their home – carried in buckets by hand across some distance -rather than through the convenience of piping it into their homes.  I walk into the bathroom, turn on a faucet and let the water run while I brush my teeth.  I go Sam’s and by a month’s worth of meat.  I am blessed beyond the wildest dreams of many on this planet.

And God will require an accounting for what I have received.  I am a debtor to the rest of the world because I have been blessed.  I am reminded of the Word of God that says:

1Jn 3:17-18  But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?  (18)  My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

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