Looking for Trouble
I plan to use this page for commentary and reflection. Thoughts will encompass everything from a tight focus on Christian broadcasting, to a wider field of the Church and ministry as a whole.
Nothing I write here is necessarily intended as the final word on a subject, merely an expression of how I see things, and an invitation for opposing viewpoints. Truth has no fear of contradiction, therefore we must always be ready to examine our views and have them corrected.
Some with whom I've worked certainly remember an old nickname coined for me: "Torpedo Bob," and I've also been dubbed the "Reckless Ranger," taken from the title of an old Western starring the late, great Bob Allen (father of Ted Baehr of the Christian Film and Television Commission, by the way). To be clear, however, I try not to be truly reckless!
D. JAMES KENNEDY:
November 3, 1930 - September 5, 2007
It's an impossible task.
How does one summarize the impact of a man who provided a huge part of the foundation for one's entire life and ministry? The years I spent working alongside D. James Kennedy (1988-1995) at both Coral Ridge Ministries and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church were filled with blessings, both intellectual and spiritual.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate is with a couple of brief stories.
I will never forget my first cab ride with Dr. Kennedy. I anticipated what was coming as he took his seat next to the driver, and his wife Anne and I settled into the back. It would be a short trip from the Washington Hilton to the airport, but I knew Dr. Kennedy lived for these opportunities. As the cab pulled away from the curb I was already wondering how in the world Dr. Kennedy could accomplish his task in so short a journey.
As the minutes sped by, Dr. Kennedy struck up a conversation, patiently getting to know something about our driver and his background (it turns out he was from the Middle East, and a Muslim). As we got closer and closer to our destination I was anxiously thinking to myself, "When is he going to get to the point, we're almost to the airport!?!"
Oblivious to my internal agitation, Dr. Kennedy taught me something critically important about demonstrating love to a person, earning the right to be heard, carefully listening to what the man said about his life and beliefs. Then, finally, the Gospel came in all its beauty, and the man's own story provided a context for some of the most potent applications Dr. Kennedy made.
THE STEAK HOUSE
Another lesson came in the context of a shared meal at a Fort Lauderdale restaurant. Dr. Kennedy shared the Gospel with our waitress--bit-by-bit--beginning with some intriguing questions and conversation after her greeting, continuing as she came back to take our order, and culminating in the other brief encounters before our time was done.
Dr. Kennedy honestly relished telling the story of God's great love for us, and how we must respond to that love.
THE FELLOW LABORER
An unforgettable character from those years was Charlie Hainline. Charlie was a great soul-winner who flourished under Dr. Kennedy's pastoral ministry. His incomparable smile expressed an internal joy that could not be measured. Charlie set goals each year on presenting the Gospel and leading people to Christ, and by the time he left this life he was leading well over 2000 souls to the Lord every year.
Yes, over 2000 a year.
At Charlie's funeral Dr. Kennedy opened his message saying, "A Redwood has fallen in the forest." I imagine every person there knew exactly what he meant, and agreed. Dr. Kennedy had a gift for packing 10,000 words of power into a short sentence.
On September 5, 2007, another Redwood fell.
I believe that, through God's matchless and limitless grace, the seeds of Dr. Kennedy's life and ministry will grow and produce more fruit to the glory of God till the end of time.
It's hard to express the joy I experienced after hearing of James Kennedy's passing. Yes, there was also a bit of sadness that he is gone, but that was dispelled as I imagined Dr. Kennedy's delighted countenance, and flowing tears of joy, at meeting his Savior, face-to-face.
I could almost hear the echo, "Well done."
I also thought about him seeing Charlie's smile again, and falling into a long embrace with his dear old friend. Then, the others-perhaps beyond counting-there to greet him upon his arrival.
Finally, I could almost see Dr. Kennedy's response to all of the attention: Dear friend, I am only here because of Jesus. Christ alone deserves all the glory. Let's worship!
Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.