Jump Start # 2985
2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”
We are about to bring this year to a close. What a year it has been for me personally. The year started with the death of my father. I still cry. Along with my older brother, I preached his funeral. In June, I was honored to preach at the Southside lectures in Houston. I love those people and that church. This is where my hero, Dee Bowman has been for decades. He was in the hospital that week and we four speakers got to Facetime him. In August, it was back to Houston for Dee’s funeral. A hero finished his wonderful journey. In October, I was invited to give two lessons in the old Cane Ridge log cabin in Paris, KY. That meant so much to me. I’d been in that old church building, originally built in 1791, many times and have wondered what it would be like to preach in there. I got to do that. A few weeks later, my son, Jordan and I got to spend a weekend preaching together at the Wolf Creek congregation in Ohio. That place has always been dear to me. And, last weekend I was invited to come to Dallas, and preach on what was called, “The Gospel through generations.” Myself, Jordan, my dear friend Rickie Jenkins and his ninety-five year old father, Jess, all spoke that weekend. For Bible class, all four of us were up on the stage sitting in chairs and the sons were asking the fathers questions about generations and legacy. It was rich. Jordan and I got to interview Jess one afternoon and talk candidly about preaching through the years. What a year it has been for me.
On Sunday, as I was watching Jess Jenkins preach, what a profound example and lesson came to me. His voice was solid. His memory amazing. He could quote passages better than I could. He taught me things that I did not know. He is kind, sweet, gentle and loves God. His advice to preachers is priceless. His years of service, dedication and faithfulness to God’s word is truly remarkable. He must be the oldest preacher among us who is still preaching. Ninety-five years old!
Here are some lessons I learned from my friend Jess:
First, one can be faithful to God all of their life. It’s easy to start the race. Many do. Too many drop out of the race. They tire easily. They chase other things. They take their eyes off the goal. They don’t remain focused long. Not my friend, Jess. He shows us that one can walk with the Lord all of their days. It can be done and he is an example of that.
Second, it shows that even late in life, one can be useful and beneficial to others and the kingdom of God. There he was over the weekend, preaching his heart out. What he said was rich. What he said was true. Yet, far too many when they retire from work, retire from the kingdom. Maybe you can’t teach like you once did, find what you can do. Maybe you don’t have the energy to keep up with some things, find other things to do. What really amazed me was to learn that Jess was preaching new sermons. After seventy plus years of preaching, he could have pulled something out of the achieves, dusted it off and we would never had known. But he would. And he was going to bring excellence to what this weekend meant. This was the first time that Jess and Rickie had ever preached together. Father and son is so special. Words cannot describe what it is like for me to share the pulpit with Jordan. He hears me all the time and I hear him, via websites and livestreaming. However, to be on the same program together, back to back, nothing beats that. Useful to God and to others, that’s the mode of dear Jess.
Third, one can carry the spirit of Jesus all of their life. Jess has. Sometimes when a person gets old, they think that gives them the privilege and even the right to be grumpy. Opinionated. Against everything. Sour. Even ugly. That’s how some senior citizens conduct themselves. And, is it any wonder that the grandkids don’t want to come around. The ole’ grumps are sure to point out something that isn’t agreeable to them. Not brother Jess. I watched him interact with my Jordan. A smile on his old face, a warm embrace and just the kindest words from one in his nineties to one who is in this thirties. Certainly life has changed so much in those ninety years, from outhouses, to cooking on wood stoves, to modern technology. And, believe it or not, Jess used Powerpoint in his final lesson. He understood that technology helps and he wasn’t complaining, gripping, or wishing for the old days. Not at all. He stepped right up and did what the rest of us were doing. How are you in your spirit? Yes, there are days you feel like flushing your phone down the toilet because it’s so complicated. There are days you may not know how to use the remote. Things are moving fast and you are not. But how is your spirit? Has this made you a grump? Do you walk through life with a frown? Are you bitter? Are the first words out of your mouth, “No?” Or, do you see the example in our amazing Jess? These are choices. You can choose to be a blessing or you can walk through life with a chip on your shoulder. Those that choose the chip, will find out that the journey seems longer and harder. It’s not, but it’s that way because you decided to carry a burden and be a burden to others. Jess is not like that. I wish he lived closer to me. I think I’d take a day each week to spend with him. I know it would be to my delight and benefit.
Generations—father and sons preaching. Passing that baton to those who follow. And, to our verse today, there are three “I have” statements. I have fought. I have finished. I have kept. It can be done. And, more than that, it can be done well. It can be done with excellence.
God bless this grand ole’ soldier of the cross. His journey is nearly completed but he won’t stop until the Lord stops him. Only eternity will know all the good that this man has done. How many lives were enriched, taught and encouraged by him. How many churches were made better because of him. How many lives found Jesus because of him. May the rest of us, all of us, realize that God has placed powerful and wonderful examples, like Jess, in our lives. Faithful until the end. Working hard until the Lord stops us. Doing what we can, wherever we can.
I have a new friend. I have a new hero. I have a great example. My beloved Jess.
God bless you, my friend for all that you have done and all that you continue to do. Words cannot describe what that weekend meant to me.
What a year it has been for me.