Laying Down Trophies
A Tribute to D. James Kennedy
Tony Bartolucci, Preaching Pastor
September 7, 2007

In 1913 George Bennard penned the words,

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He'll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I'll share.

So I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

This song came to mind yesterday when I learned that a dear warrior for the truth, Dr. D. James Kennedy, had laid aside his trophies as God called him to that home far away.

The closest I came to meeting Dr. Kennedy was in 2003 when I participated in the North American Consultation on Theology at Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I was with a small group of men when he was given an award for being the "Reformer of the Year." I so wanted to meet him, but I shied away. Now I wish I hadn't been so timid.

He has always been on my list of living heroes. My admiration goes back to my early Christian years. I will always picture him preaching from behind that gigantic pulpit in true reformation fashion! He remained, in fact, one of the few television preachers that I would take the time to watch.

In an age when pastors bounce from pulpit to pulpit like tennis balls, Dennis James Kennedy remained steadfast in his commitment to Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. They were his only congregation; he was their only preacher. Through sunshine and rain he remained until stricken with a major heart attack last December. His resignation was announced in August. Forty eight years in the same church. In the meantime, the small group of forty-some people that started the church in 1959 would grow to some ten thousand.

Some time ago Dr. Kennedy declared to his congregation:

“Now, I know that someday I am going to come to what some people will say is the end of this life. They will probably put me in a box and roll me right down here in front of the church, and some people will gather around, and a few people will cry. But I have told them not to do that because I don’t want them to cry. I want them to begin the service with the Doxology and end with the Hallelujah chorus, because I am not going to be there, and I am not going to be dead. I will be more alive than I have ever been in my life, and I will be looking down upon you poor people who are still in the land of dying and have not yet joined me in the land of the living. And I will be alive forevermore, in greater health and vitality and joy than ever, ever, I or anyone has known before.”

That day came on September 5.

As the preacher in Ecclesiastes reminds us, there is a time for everything. Even for laying down trophies.

Soli Deo Gloria.