Monthly Archives: February 2015

Music and Theology

By Pastor Gary Jennings Jr

I ran into a video on Youtube a while back called “Theology through the Arts” (I will share the link below). In this video Jeremy Begbie talks about how music can give us insight on how to understand our relationship with God. One observation he makes is that when a mistake is made during a performance, there is no going back. The absolute worst thing you can do as a musician is to stop playing, apologize for the mistake (and draw attention to it), and start over. A good musician will instead keep going and work the mistake into the piece as if it belonged there right from the beginning. It no longer becomes a mistake, it becomes improvisation, it becomes a new song. Our spiritual lives are much the same way.

I remember listening to an interview with an actor who recently started doing theatre. One of the major differences between film and theatre is that in theatre you never get a second take. Its a performance. If a mistake is made, there is no stopping the show and doing it over again, the show must go on.

There was a scene in one of his plays where he was supposed to walk into a room and have an argument with his wife. When he went to open the door on set, the door was jammed. This was not part of the script, so he had to improvise. He began having the argument outside the room through the door, and eventually ends up kicking the door open to get into the room. That of course added to the drama and the scene ended up being way better than what was originally written.

We are all going to hit wrong notes in the future, we are all going to run into jammed doors in the days ahead. Are these occasions to stop the performance? Or are these occasions to create something new? Jeremy Begbie says that even the worst situations can we woven into God’s purposes. So whatever happens to us in the days ahead, lets remember that we serve a God that can take any situation and turn it into something wonderful.

My Praise, His Praise

By Pastor Gary Jennings Sr.

At the beginning of this New Year, I was saddened to hear of the death of Andrae Crouch. His funeral took place on January 21. It was live streamed and I believe it was about 4 ½ hours in length. Throughout the service I would check in to see and hear his life being celebrated. I was greatly inspired as I tuned in. Andrae wrote the song entitled, My Tribute (To God Be the Glory). During the funeral someone quoted from this song the words, and should I gain any praise, let it go to Calvary. Then he made his comments about any praise we receive. He said that we need to immediately let praise go and not hang on to it, because it’s not good to keep it. I found myself saying amen and amen. He also said that there is too much arrogance in the church today. That made me say ouch, but I could not deny the fact that in some cases this is a problem. Maybe it’s because some believers hang on to too much praise instead of passing it on to Jesus, and this makes the head swell up.

The truth is we are nothing without Christ, but through Him we can do all things. We need to keep this in proper perspective. I am not saying that we should not receive complements or believe in ourselves and our abilities, gifts and talents. Yes we can hold our head high; receive kind words, and accomplish great things for God. But we just need to be quick to pass the glory on to Christ. Why, because flesh has a tendency to fight for glory and praise. Flesh is an attention seeker. Flesh loves fanfare, lime lights and center stages. That’s where flesh lives and thrives best.

Many times during my preaching I address our need for humility. I am not shy about saying that we must decrease and He must increase. I am not shy about saying that it’s not all about me, but all about God. I am not shy about saying that if we raise ourselves up that God will bring us down. I really believe this. The truth is pride really does stink.

Paul the apostle said that we must slay flesh and keep the old man under our feet. How do you do that in your life? Do you have a plan that works? Who will get the final and ultimate praise is up to us. By the way, humility is not weakness, but rather a strength. Humility is not low self-image, but rather right self-image.

Should I receive any praise, let it go to Calvary.

Life Long Learning

By Pastor Nikki Ragush

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”-Henry Ford

Very few people appreciate having others describe them using that nasty three letter word, OLD! I am in a strange position here at the church; I have the opportunity to spend time with the seniors monthly at their get-togethers while I also meet weekly with the youth on Wednesday nights. I hear two conflicting opinion about my age; one group says I’m still so young and have lots of life ahead of me, while the other one nicely reminds me how I’m out of touch with teenage culture and yes they use the word old sometimes. As strange as this position is, it comes with an amazing opportunity. I realize more and more how I have so much to learn, not just from the older generation, not just from the younger generation, not just from my own generation but from each separate group there are new things to learn and great reminders to be implemented.

I was blessed with having each of my grandparents alive when I was born, learning quickly that the older generations are not outdated or out of touch with reality but sometimes they remember that although culture has changed morals and respect should not waver. I think of the impact that Timothy’s Grandmother had on him that Paul speaks about; also I am reminded of Titus 2 which speaks of the impact and the learning that can come from older men and women. I learn best from life stories, and there are many mentors in my life who have forever changed me and taught me so many things by allowing me to be a part of their lives.

I have also been blessed by God with so many friends of a similar age as me; ones who have had very different life experiences which include travel, varied education, difficult trials, and different worldviews. This doesn’t mean that I sway on my foundational beliefs, but it helps me to become more understanding and loving toward people. My time at my bible school was a fantastic opportunity not just because I was given a degree and had lasting memories, but the bulk of my learning took place at coffee shops, McDonald’s runs, and in dorm rooms, where I could speak to others about what it meant to truly live as a Christian. The verse “Iron sharpens Iron” (Proverbs 27:17) is a key verse I think about when I reflect on that time.

The last group I’ll talk about is those younger than me, which are in two separate groups in my mind; children and teenagers. Jesus said “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”(Matthew 18:3) As I have grown older and responsibilities increase I think to this verse, children don’t stress when things don’t go perfect. Children understand having faith without proof, Children trust completely without question, Children get excited to learn new things and grow. There are so many ways I am so far from being a child, but so much pureness and delicacy that comes when we seek to have child-like faith. Children don’t slow down, especially when they become teenagers seeking to do big things in the world having vision to change the entire world. When I look at some of the teenagers I work with I see a drive and potential, and I become excited for what they can do I encourage them, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12).

We could simply say this is great that each group has sometimes to offer but we’ll offer what our age group has, and that’s good for them but not for me. However, it is like Henry Ford’s quote says if we choose to stop learning then we will be old, but instead let’s continue to learn and seek what God has for each of us each day. Let’s wake up like a child who is excited for what the day brings, continue our day like a youth who sees the ability they have to make a difference, learn from others who may differ from us but seek to be what God intends us to be, and finally use wisdom like those older than us and learn from the experiences they themselves have had.

Proverbs 1:5

Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance