August 30, 2007

Tribute to Dr. D. James Kennedy

Well we certainly hear about all the failures in the ministry and rightly so; God calls us pastors to a higher standard. So when one of us does it right, it is worth celebrating and so today I celebrate the retirement of Dr, D. James Kennedy founder and pastor of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church 48 years ago.

I used to listen to Dr. Kennedy when I was between seminary and my first church working in a factory in the Midwest. "Truths That Transform" was a great program with insightful biblical teaching on every facet of life with experts in their fields brought in by Dr. Kennedy to do interviews on the particular subject of the day. He did a series once years ago on creation/evolution which was fodder for several classes or sermons I would do in later years.

But beyond Pastor Kennedy's wise instruction was his impeccable model of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. There were no scandals, no accusations, and no questionable dalliances over 50 years of ministry. Now that is extraordinary.

And Dr. Kennedy was not one to ride the waves of cultural relativism nor did he take the road of ease through the popular preaching of telling people what they want to hear. There was no ambiguity with Kennedy's views on the hot button issues of the day.

Beyond that is the stellar feat of enduring 48 years at the church he founded. In an age when pastoral ministry has a lifespan of about 3 and half years, and as a pastor who has been at the same church for 17 years, I am flabbergasted by the depth of character and strength of a man who could run a race so well and finish so well to boot.

How men like this find the time to serve on various boards of sundry organizations and go on co-found national organizations like the Alliance Defense Fund is beyond me. All I know is they are few and far between.

At a time when the evangelical church seems to be losing it's moral purity and great leaders or in short supply, Kennedy's retirement is a loss for us all. But he is after all, only human.

Thank you Dr. Kennedy for your human example of what it means to be a real follower of our Almighty God.


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