AlongTheWay

“Spiritual Growth Through The Witness of James” - Robin T Jennings - AlongTheWay 120

August 22, 2022 John Matarazzo / Robin T Jennings Season 1 Episode 120
AlongTheWay
“Spiritual Growth Through The Witness of James” - Robin T Jennings - AlongTheWay 120
Show Notes Transcript

Robin T Jennings’ desire to grow spiritually led him to look to Jesus’ little brother, James as an example. In his book, “A Letter to the Church and the Next Generation”, he shares his guided reflections from his biblical study and personal life to help on our journey of spiritual growth. Robin T Jennings has a deep commitment to the Lord, a heartfelt passion for truth, and a true love for the next generation.

Robin T Jennings

https://robintjennings.com/guidedreflection/

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Robin T Jennings:

I was going nonstop. I was full guns, full time minister, big church growth. And God literally put on the brakes and said, you know, let's go, I'll help you drive. I'll help you steer from now on but you gotta let go some stuff, you know, and it was just a real turnaround for me that I'll never forget because he gave me back my children and my wife, you could have the astral, but

John Matarazzo:

welcome to along the way I'm drawn matter as your host and fellow traveler, thank you for joining me along my way as I've tried to become more like Jesus every day. The goal of along the way is to identify the moments in life that Jesus really is walking with us and trying to get our attention. But just like the disciples along the way to amaze us, we are missing those moments that our hearts are burning within us. I want us to be able to identify those moments, learn from others and apply those lessons to our lives so that we don't miss the blessings that God has for us along the way in our life journey. We all desire to grow spiritually as we walk with Jesus and Robin T Jennings his desire to grow spiritually led him to look to Jesus, his little brother James as an example. In his book, a letter to the church and the next generation, he shares his guided reflections from his biblical study and personal life, to help on our journey of spiritual growth. Robin T Jennings has a deep commitment to the Lord, a heartfelt passion for truth, and a true love for the next generation. I'll get to our conversation in just a moment. But as always, I want to thank you for listening to along the way, I hope that you like what you hear and that you subscribe, please rate and review along the way on Apple podcasts or wherever you're listening. All of my contact information is in the show notes. And you can check out all of my episodes, and please join my email list through my website along the way dot media, I would love to hear from you. Also, I have a Patreon page if you'd like to help me to continue to put out these along the way episodes. If you'd like to become a patreon supporter, simply go to patreon.com/along the way and select the level. The link to become a supporter is also in my show notes. And now here's my along the way conversation with Robin T Genex. Robin T Jennings, it is great to have you on along the way. I'm looking forward to hearing your journey with the Lord. Robin is an Episcopal Minister priest and an author. And he recently wrote a book called the letter to the church and the next generation spiritual growth through the witness of James and I'm looking forward to talking about what God has shown you, Robin, about the life of James and how it affects our lives. Sure. So Robin, thanks so much for being on along the way.

Robin T Jennings:

Oh, I'm honored. John, this is a real treat for me. Thank you.

John Matarazzo:

So Robin is in Louisville, Kentucky. Did I say that? Right.

Unknown:

You did you did? Grenville from Pittsburgh, you did a good job. Yeah. I

John Matarazzo:

appreciate that. Yeah. So you know, Robin, I want to hear your story of how God has brought you to where you are today. I want to hear about your background, you know, family, basically, really? How did you come to Christ? Like how did he become the leader of your life? Oh, let's go.

Robin T Jennings:

Yeah, it goes back to a long, long time ago in a place far far away or something like that. Yeah. And it's it's, I don't want to say more than a story. It's a journey, in many respects a pilgrimage, life long relationship that began when I was a child. I mean, there was no question about the reality of God in my life. All along, and Episcopalian, which is I don't know, cut that not that common, certainly in the Episcopal Church, and I don't know it with respect to your audience what they will make of this, but it was it was one of these church going families. However, and I put a comma there, I say all for because if the faith was there, no question about it. But it was covered by a prayer book, and sort of the veneer of liturgy. And I hesitate to say that because I love the liturgy. I love the worship, and I love the prayers in the prayer book. But it did also, in a sense, keep you not protected but covered in a way that if someone said let's pray, you'd say what page? Where are we? And so it was more again, a content oriented faith at the beginning is not as opposed to but as compared to experiential. I could go on and on in terms of my device over my growth, but suffice it to say the family, my parents, my dad, in particular, have played a key role in my development faith. In fact, when I actually felt called to go into the ministry, he was all for it, and supportive of that in a way that I think took great pride in which not all parents will, you know, some will, how much money you're gonna get a good job.

Unknown:

That's kind of what you're getting into. Yeah, yeah. Very,

John Matarazzo:

very rarely as ministry do people get into it for the money, you know, it's

Robin T Jennings:

always get a pet. The parents don't always give you a pat on the back. We just college, what are you doing? You know, like being a psychologist or something, you know, what are you sure, you know? But it was very great support.

John Matarazzo:

So you felt the call to ministry after going to college? Well, that's

Robin T Jennings:

another story. Yes. I actually, in high school growing up through high school, I mean, yes, I was in church, and I was connected to a church affiliated with and so on, and so forth, and did all the things I was supposed to do in church as a eighth grader and youth group and those sorts of things. But it wasn't inside as much. And most of my outside life was in sports, baseball, football, basketball, you know, anything with a ball, you know? And so that was that was me. And I'm not saying superficial, but was very external. Sure. It was until I met my, my wife, who then at that time in college was my girlfriend. I began to experience what we would call love. And that was something brand new. And really, the whole idea of really caring for another person became a major shift in my life. After graduating from college, she stayed in Lexington, Kentucky, I went up to back to Chicago, north of Chicago, where I was from, worked in an Episcopal boy's home. And it was there the boys, I had the seventh and eighth grade boys. They were big, big young men, seventh and eighth graders that were classified as emotionally disturbed, but you want to say who wouldn't be? I was this little white boy from the suburbs. And on a sketch I there was a fight every day with the kids either amongst themselves or with me. And I'm talking fists, fortunately, wasn't guns back in those days, you know, but I mean, it was it was tough, tough time. I say all this because I talked with a chaplain, an Episcopal chaplain was there. It was during the times of the Democratic Convention in the 60s, Martin Luther King's assassination, Vietnam, there was a lot going on. And and I bring all this up again, because Chicago was in unrest, much like Louisville, much like a lot of cities today. But the chaplain said to me said, you know, you're asking a lot of good questions. I said, Yeah, kind of looking for answers. And he said, Well, you were seminary. And I said, seminary, that was not on my, my to do list. And I thought seminary that has to do with God. Jesus, I mean, what are we talking about? You know, so I told this to my said to my fiance, I said, What do you think about seminary? She said, Well, I thought, you know, maybe we go to church? Are you serious? Yeah. Well, it's we've looked into it and gotten into it. And this is the kind of a long story short, but it really was the best thing we could have done because our marriage was built around seminary and around our faith. And that really made a huge impact not only on our life and marriage, but then again, pon the way in which I experienced further call,

John Matarazzo:

wow, refresh my memory. What was it that you said that you went to school for originally

Robin T Jennings:

graduate? Just a graduate

John Matarazzo:

job? Psychology, but that was an example.

Robin T Jennings:

I was thinking, yeah, maybe I'd go into psychology or social work or something, you know, but there was seminary was not something I even was on the radar.

John Matarazzo:

Right? You graduated with a different degree, and then join then went to seminary,

Robin T Jennings:

Bachelor of Science, then I've got a master's in divinity. But Gotcha. You know, I guess from my perspective, nowadays, I don't think I could have gotten into seminary because nowadays in the Episcopal Church, they're these committees on top of committees of discernment and all of this kind of thing that you go through and all the hoops that you have to jump over my day, you know, they asked me about my prayer life, and I almost started crying like, What are you talking about? You know, I mean, I was I hesitate to say it like this job, but you know, I was very very naive, but I was what we would call today a seeker. And, and they, they really affirm that from the standpoint at first saying I was too young, I was too young. We weren't even married yet. We were just getting married and in July and went to seminary in August, and they said, you know, why don't you wait? Why don't you wait? Well, you don't tell a young person to wait. And, and so we got the support. And really out of that began to experience an understanding of church community, you know, and mentors, which is part of what my book is about, because this book, a letter to the church, and the next generation, back in those days, I was the new generation, John. Okay. And yet I found good mentors, good people to guide and direct.

John Matarazzo:

Yeah, and that is so important to find those mentors. I know, I have a lot in my life. And it's not just I have one person, that as my mentor, I have a bunch of different people that I am choosing to have them be mentors in my life because of a specific area that I feel that they're strongest. Sure. And that's been definitely helpful for me. And so tell me about your mentorship experience, and how that has played an impact in your life.

Robin T Jennings:

It's, again, it's varied and goes sort of with, I'm not going to say the terrain. But when I started out in the ministry, and was what they call the rector, which is a Latin word for ruler. John, you can't see my smile, I can roll or Yes, ma'am. Thank you, I never thought of that good idea. We'll take it to committee and all this. But But in all seriousness, it meant that I was the leader of the church, you know, the, the pastor, and I was young, by then my early 30s, and kids and all of that sort of thing. So a lot was going on in my life. Again, from an external standpoint, in internally, I wasn't hollow, but I was I mean, I was playing the role, I was doing a good job, quote, unquote. But at the same time, I knew God was at work in May. And often I now say, before you can do the work of God, God needs to do some work. And you, you know, well, guess what? God was doing some work. And man, I couldn't figure it out. I just knew that I was, I wasn't connecting. We weren't relating. I was on my I was doing my thing. You know, that sort of deal. I went off to a three year program and spiritual guidance, it I didn't go off it was one that you could do. It's wasn't really online. But it was a corresponding kind of because it was before really computers and all and emails, but But you could correspond and we got it was in Washington, DC. So we could go there, I think three or four quart every other quarter or something to meet with people in small groups. Long story short, it was a program in spiritual direction really got me into different formats and forms of prayer and from Ignatian spirituality to, oh, I worked with the abbia 70, which was close by Louisville, as in Thomas Merton, if you know that name, you know. So there was a diversity of spiritual programs that were available, that really got me to understand discernment, and beginning to get a good perspective on what spiritual growth looks like. To the point that I came back and I didn't hang my shingle, but people got this in my preaching, and in my, my life, my teaching, and more and more people came to me for spiritual direction, which is, I guess, one aspect of being a mentor. And that was sort of early on. Now, here's the next word of God smiling, you know, when you show him your plants kind of thing. The church grew. And it grew, and the staff grew. John, I became a wreck. You know, I mean, I knew nothing about administration. And, actually, I did like administration, even though literally again, in Latin means to minister. But I didn't think of it as minister. Anything but that, you know, however, Ken Callaghan, I don't know if you know that name. He wrote a dozen books on he was a church consultant. He came into my life and became a real again mentor for me. So that took me through building programs and growth and expansion and staff and all that kind of stuff that I never would have gotten through in a million they don't didn't teach me in that in seminary. You know, it's not that kind of

John Matarazzo:

so you said that you made mention earlier that God was still working on you as as these things were still is but so for you when did do you He's just become really the leader of your life.

Robin T Jennings:

Oh, I've the reason for the site is because there were several different experiences or places, you know, highs and lows and times that I could point to i May I could point to my, my marriage, my wedding, you know, and it was a high. I mean, that's a good thing. Yeah. And so, you know, that was love. And I learned a lot,

John Matarazzo:

especially if she's listening. Yeah.

Robin T Jennings:

But it was that new understanding of agape love, self giving love. That was, I don't want to say mind blowing, but it was a new learning for me, a guy that just played sports and was competitive and wanted to win. You know, this is a different form of of life. But speaking of love and life, we had four kids. And I'll never forget. We were going to pick one of the boys up at camp in Wisconsin. Do you remember the Astro vans? Oh, yeah, big, big. My dear wife had an astro van. She said she felt like she was delivering pizza, you know. But it was to take all the kids around and the dog and all this stuff. You know, she was, oh, I owe her still to this day. But here I am driving this Astro van up with three of the kids and my wife to pick up this boy at that camp. And Wisconsin was flat roads and it was raining. And we hydroplane and I'll never forget that. That experience of Yes. My hands were on the wheel. But I did not have the wheel. You know, it was in Yes, we were sliding. And it was a by the way four lane highway. And okay. I just I said probably something I shouldn't have said at the time. It wasn't a prayer. But it was it was here we go. And my you know, we went off the other side of the road flipped over. And it was we all were fortunately okay. But we we landed in a ditch that was a soft ditch with water. I mean, the cushion the blow 100 feet up was concrete and gravel. I mean, it could have been a whole different kind of crash thing. Wow. passing us was a truck logger with and he 30 seconds 15 seconds before could have crashed into I mean, there were a million things that went on in that experience. What am I sons, the window broken is His arm was outside the window. And when we got out of the van, he said, I can't get my arm out. I just thought oh my god, he's lost his arm. You know, I mean, it was all those kinds of experiences that go with it. And we were talking about your car crash and so I could talk about that. But when I came away from it was the sense of God's saying to me, okay. Are you with me? Because I'm with you, buddy. You know, I was by the way I was type A, I was going non stop. I was full guns, you know, full time minister, big church growth. And God literally put on the brakes and said, you know, let's go, I'll help you drive. I'll help you steer from now on, but you gotta let go of some of this stuff. You know, and it was just a real turnaround for me that I'll never forget, because he gave me back my children and my wife. And you know, he, you could have the astral pan, but

Unknown:

it was total. Yeah.

John Matarazzo:

So you said you you had your wife and your kids back? Tell me a little bit about what that was like receiving them back again. I mean, not that they were gone a gift. But it was, you know, it's something where you have a new lease on life now. I mean, I know with my car accident, like I just saw God. Yes. It was like there was an angel in there with me. Yeah, like I should have been, I should have been severely injured. But thank God, I wasn't. But I have a new appreciation for a lot of different things because of that experience that I went through. And it changed the way that I see things. In some practical ways, how did that change your relationship with your wife and your kids? Because you said you were a type A personality? Driven, driven, driven? Yes. How difficult was it to pull back? And to embrace the moment I guess?

Robin T Jennings:

Well, I want to say several things. One is I probably was exhausted and burnout and driving too fast. I will confess to you, and I hope your listeners won't hold this against me. But you know, there were there were mistakes. Oh, from a practical standpoint, the tires were bald. And yeah, good job, Robin. You know, and so if I didn't really think that much about the treads of a tire, you know, well guess what? Your family's riding on those tires, you know? So, those kinds of prac typical things had to become not just a quick fix, but to really seriously think through day to day being attentive, how about that, and being aware of not just the fragile nature of life and the vulnerability of life, but but to, again, provide for your family in ways that is their number one, and not the church and actually guide the course is number one, and then you go from there, right, but you know, my prior I had to reprioritize put it that way. It's exactly what's practical and get some balanced in my life. And I can take you from there on if you want me to go, he's well, and then and I would say, shortly after, after I got working in mentorship really with Ken Callahan, who provided me with an understanding of learning how to delegate, learning how to be a leader. Again, this is something that of seminary doesn't necessarily teach or ours didn't necessarily teach what leadership is about and some of that has to come with experience and maturity and those kinds of things. And certainly, that comes across in my book on on James, his leadership style, his development from being again I call him a living link to Jesus, because there's there's so much discussion around his his birth and his sibling nature in terms of was he a stepson, stepbrother, or was he a cousin? Or was he a younger brother? You know, I mean, these kinds of discussions but but certainly part of a family where Joseph was and this again is is not understood necessarily in Scripture, some would say he died at A and right shortly after the Christmas story. And Mary had this all these stepchildren or this family, this brood of kids, you know, okay. Point being is James follow Jesus, he was a close living link to Jesus, some would say, he doesn't have much in the way of a Christology in his letter. But my goodness, if you go through his letter, it's all this quotes from the Sermon on the Mount things that Jesus said, you know, versus I mean, this on and I just drips with Jesus. So I'm getting off track here, John, but

John Matarazzo:

it's okay. It's okay. We're gonna get there, too. We're gonna talk more about your book leadership,

Robin T Jennings:

leadership, be slow to anger, you know, quick to listen, these kinds of things were were new for me, because you can tell I'm a talker and learning how to listen. Yes, one of the practical things that came up?

John Matarazzo:

And how did learning how to listen, change your relationship with your family?

Robin T Jennings:

Probably being, again, I've used the word attentive and more aware, but but present to them in a way that I wasn't. And it boy, the term absent father just drives a knife into my heart. You know, if I hear that, once I've heard it, you know, because my dad was a traveling salesman, in many respects, was an absent father. And so it hits close to home, you know, when I hear that come up, you know, well, why didn't you go to his baseball game? Or how come you missed his tennis match? Or, you know, what, what, what was your excuse today, you know, that kind of learn to make the kids that priority? And, and also listen to them and their, their issues, their struggles? Of which there were many?

John Matarazzo:

Yeah, so talk to me about you're a pastor of an Episcopal Church. Are you still pastoring? You still recently? Yes. recently retired. Okay.

Robin T Jennings:

And, but that really, again, is what extended the calling. In, in a sense, you know, you when you retire, you no longer had the pulpit. You no longer have the congregation. But now here, we're talking. And you so there's podcasts, there's books to be written, and I've got more more books in my mind and, you know, attic full of folders. See, I used to use legal pads in the days of computers, you know, right. But but, you know, I've got all kinds of material that I'd like to not recreate, but bring back and share again, as a way of communicating the work at a larger base.

John Matarazzo:

Yeah. So you said that you had people in your life like Ken Callahan, who helps you with dealing with the church growth and it kind of in and just to help understand and develop strategies and patterns for that. Now that you have experience, how are you mentoring other people?

Robin T Jennings:

Well, part of it has been again through now that I'm retired, it provides the time by boundaries are important. As far as the former ministry, I'm still in the same town where the church is, you know, be careful as far as all that goes. But I am involved with the many nonprofit organization, Boys and Girls Club, there's what they call the family scholar house here in Louisville, where you're involved with the young people. And it's not just being on a board, it's being engaged in at a volunteer level. And that certainly provides me as well as I'm with a counseling center. And there again, I'm not referred to these kids, but they know that I'm there, and I'm available. And so this gives me the opportunity to be with them. I also have adults that call me and would like to meet with me. And so that good old Starbucks comes in and, you know, provides you with a chance to write to hear their story and listen to their experience of of God, where they are with God, and what issues are taking place in their life, because there's so many that are going on. And I guess I'm still very much of a figure in that respect that that people seek me out. Because in one sense, I'm safe. I'm not necessarily associated with the church, but we can do it. I'm not gonna say behind closed doors, but in a way that, you know, they can set time with me, and I'm available.

John Matarazzo:

Yeah, being available is a very key thing. Yes, I'm 37, I just moved almost a year ago, we're recording this on the 28th of April, the 26th of April. So less than a week is my one year anniversary of moving to a new city and starting a new life. And I am finding that, you know, I'm involved in my church, I'm doing, you know, things throughout the week, I've got friends, you know, I've got a lot of stuff going on, on top of the job that God called me down here for, and I'm finding that margin difficult, you know, that margin of availability, it's difficult, and I know, like, for a season, it's okay to be busy. And because I'm trying to establish the community that I have around me, you know, because it's, it's great to have the support and to get to know people. And then I know, at some point, I'm gonna have to like scale back a little bit. How do you say no, to those good things that you like doing? And how do you create that space?

Robin T Jennings:

Yeah, that's never been a strength of mine. There's not a side of me that really wants to please everyone. But I also, you tried to sort of seek approval. And after a while, I learned that you can't please everybody. It was a large church, and I can show you my scars and my phones. And that's what I would call boundaries is being able to in a gentle way, say it's not going to work today, maybe we can find another time or something to that effect. You know, as well as to do is, is our email inboxes is loaded with stuff. Do I have to really answer everybody? Or can I just push a delete button, you know, those kinds of things. It's not quite as clear or clean as it is with like us talking together, but at the same time, it it's simpler. Yeah, to create those boundaries, especially social media, friends,

John Matarazzo:

yeah, just friends, it's okay. Sometimes you just gotta sign off for Facebook. And sometimes you gotta sign off in real life and just say, I'm gonna go spend some time with Jesus alone. I'm gonna mark off this time and do that. Yeah, that's something that I try to do on a regular basis. And, you know, something we need to do. You know, the Bible talks about a Sabbath. And yes, we need to take that rest to do that. And sometimes it's

Robin T Jennings:

Richard Foster, you know, that name, he wrote celebration of discipline, see comes out renovar, a group, along with Dallas, Willard, both those guys were so important in my life at a particular time. But with that said, Richard, really emphasize the use of a journal. And, and having that time, and now, as I do my writing, I'm not trying to get no to write stuff for a book or a blog or things of that sort. But again, to check in with with my relationship with Jesus in a way that I'll take have a good devotional books that I take with me, and have with me and so that again, provides me with a way of along with obviously the Scripture so that it's just it's a discipline that has kept me going and kept me fresh. Yeah,

John Matarazzo:

that's, that's so good. Journaling is something I've gone through seasons where I'm really good and then sometimes I'm really not good. And right now, it's not as good as I would like it to be I try to Sure, I need to get back, I honestly just need to get back to writing, you know, the pen and a pad and just writing it out. Physically, it's

Robin T Jennings:

where I am. It's, it's called old school, old school,

John Matarazzo:

I tried doing the digital way and worked for a little bit. But it's just, honestly, when I get home, I like to put my computer away, unless I have a project that I'm definitely working on. And I like to kind of unplug a little bit, you know, talking about unplugging and you know, going a little bit offline. Books are a good way to kind of go offline for a bit. And I want to talk about your your book, a letter to the church and the next generation spiritual growth through the witness of James, I want to talk about this. And okay, what what things did you learn? Where did this book come from? And why did you feel like it needs to be written?

Robin T Jennings:

Well, where did it come from? Yeah, it again, I've actually written three books on spiritual growth. And one was, Peter, with respect to his vision, and spiritual growth through the vision of Peter because Peter is sort of an arc typical figure for the for the church of again, yes, learning from his mistakes,

John Matarazzo:

which version of Peter you were talking about? Because my favorite one is when the the blanket came down, and oh, sure, we're able to eat or all kinds of meat now. So pretty much pick, I'm just joking.

Robin T Jennings:

Okay. All right, no, but pretty much picking up with for the sense of following Jesus. And the difference between that and get away from me, I'm a sinful man kind of thing. You know, the change that came over through Peter and the importance of vision in our life, and in certainly our our spiritual growth. But then the second one was on Paul, that had to do with the renewal of the mind, you know, do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed, right. And you know, that that really opened me up to a deeper understanding not only of Paul and his writings, but the importance of the mind and the renewing of the mind. And do not be conformed to this world that for the longest time, I thought, what are the world is there? What do you mean, do not be conformed to this world? You know, and yeah, I don't mind being a nonconformist. But are you sure I'm not, you know, I never could quite work that one out around in my head. And you know how it is when you write and write a book, you write it as much for yourself, and I get it. Now, there's another world, it's the kingdom of God, you know, so all of a sudden that that all came together. Same thing with James. It was actually back when I first started in the ministry, I was appointed a large Cathedral in Memphis, Downtown Memphis, and beautiful old cathedral. Again, the liturgy, the Oregon, the music, you know, was grand, and so on and so forth. But I can remember kneeling at this big old altar marble altar. And there was in Latin, the words of ALLAH lujah Hosanna, which means praise the Lord. And I never had the guts really to ask what that meant until shortly before leaving, and I found someone and he said, Oh, those were the last words of Mother constant. And I said the last words he said, Yes, she died at age 33. And said, what? You know, I knew nothing about this. Here we go. Mother constant was the mother from an order in New York that came to Memphis during the yellow fever epidemic in 1876. or something, I think is the date. Yellow Fever, John think COVID. Yeah. Okay, so here we are in 1876. Oh, by the way, right after the Civil War, Memphis,

Unknown:

Southern. Oh, wow. Yeah, that's another you know, another longer.

Robin T Jennings:

Yeah, cotton. You know, I mean, it's all gone. Everything's gone. The city is gone. So it was a awful time for that city. And then you throw in yellow fever, the boat. The times were not easy. So she's there. And her. My point of all this is I was so inspired. When the more I found out her story, as well as her order that was there. They would go around to these. And neighbor, taking care of the widows and the orphans doing the work of Jesus. Here we go doing the word. You see where I'm going with this now, John? Yeah, yeah. James, do the word baby. You know. And so this is this is kind of what was in my heart was I really saw the church in action. You know, I saw church service not just a religious service, but the church serving and so I came out of that very idealistic which young people are young are idealistic, and I thought, come on, let's go. And I bet idealism is really stayed with me to this day in terms of serving and helping by doing the Word.

John Matarazzo:

Yeah. So what are some ways that you have practically exhibited this? Basically, as you're writing a book, it's coming out of you, you know, the revelations are coming out of what God has revealed to you. And it's, I hope, because whenever I read books, they change me. So I'm hoping that the author whenever they're writing the book, it's changing them to the real point here. Yeah, because it's the real deal. And it's about the Word of God. Yeah, it should change.

Robin T Jennings:

Alright, I see where you're going with this? Well, yeah, when it helped me to clarify or think through the word, doing the word is obviously now I say, obviously, but doing Jesus, I mean, in the beginning was the Word. And so you began to develop this understanding, I guess, do you know, the whole idea and it comes out of Ignatian spirituality, the the Lectio, Divina, which is the divine Word, and really trying to find a word and when you go through Scripture and letting that word speak to you, and this is what happened to me, probably back in the 90s. And then on into the 21st century, early on. After I did that spiritual formation program, I learned that Lectio Divina where I learned to really to on words and digest words. And so this came comes out in the book, for instance, you take a word like endurance, that's hard to come by a lot of people have to do it, you know, to endure like Jesus on the cross. I mean, I'm not very good at suffering, you know, but to you work through the endurance, and you come into someone like Paul, who will tell you that love endures all things. And so then that's when we begin to start to see how can I can do it. With God's help, you know, God working through me, I can endure. So with that said, in the book, there are countless examples of where I come across words that, that speak to me and then become part of doing the word. And examples are in there as well.

John Matarazzo:

Yeah, one of my favorite verses in James is James one, five, if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, and who gives it freely, without reproach? I'm constantly asking the Lord for wisdom. Because I, there's so many things I don't get, I don't understand. How has How has God revealed wisdom to you?

Robin T Jennings:

Well, wisdom is a huge word in and of itself, and certainly comes with experience. And, and I don't want to necessarily pin it on age. But I look at the young people that we are mentoring, and we have a program to when I say in our, that I've tried to be careful with the church, I've been asked to be part of it as a mentor. Okay, but we're bringing young adults who are really in that transition year from college to becoming young adults. And, you know, those are tough years, and very much back and back in the old days, it used to be well wait till they get married. And then they'll come back to church or though, you know, Grant gain maturity or whatever that that James is talking about. Much less wisdom, kids are putting off marriage and or, you know, they go off to college, and well, don't worry, they'll come back. Well, no, they don't. So they're gone. And with all that said, is the sense of bringing wisdom into life is part of spiritual formation. And where I'm going with this, John is that and I'm hesitant to generalize, but but so many of them there, they have so much information on their phone, and in the palm of their hand. It's information, but it's not necessarily formation. And that's where the wisdom comes in. And where the really the work and the mentoring begins, is to apply wisdom to what are they looking for, and what do they need? Again, I used a lot of Barna. Are you familiar with Barna Research? Okay, well, I use a lot of their research that has to do with young people, and you've heard this a million times that they're spiritual, but they're not religious. Oh, yeah.

Unknown:

You know, and

Robin T Jennings:

you go, Oh, come on, by the way, almost, but, you know, okay, can I be both? Can I be spiritual and religious? Is that okay with you, you know, that kind of thing. And then let's talk about just being spiritual. And what does that mean? Well, you know, there's a lot of spirits out there. And that just being spiritual isn't always a good thing. You know, you want to be careful with that. And that's where religion literally means to tie or bind together and, you know, a little religion can help. But with that said, they also are the ones and you've heard of the nuns, the ones none of the above. Yeah, what about that? Yeah. Oh, My gosh, the number is staggering. And here's I take all this as a cry for help. You know the media loves it headlines, all that kind of stuff. Look at it. Everyone's leaving the church. Yeah. Listen carefully to what's being said because none of the above I'm not Jewish. I'm not Christian. I'm not Islam. I'm not Muslim. I'm not Buddhist, you know? What are you? None of the above? Okay, I'm getting political for one second. Okay. Come on with me. Over to Putin, into Russia? What do they circle? None of the above? Communism? None of the above? I've been to East Germany. Okay. Oh, it's awful. You know, and you, okay, I could go on and on about this, you know, you push the button here, but, but the need to, again, bring some wisdom. And and and I don't want to say this is what is going on now, with young people in Ukraine, I mean, are starting to see the light, but they see the danger that's out there. And this world that is just, you know, all about power, or, you know, force are we go I just yeah,

John Matarazzo:

I could go on. That's okay. You know, let's go there for a little bit. You know, I spent some time I spent some time in Eastern Europe, the former communist countries, myself, alright, then to you know, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, and Poland. And Ukraine is in the news right now, because of the Russian invasion. And I'm sure, no matter when people are listening to this, that is still going to be something that people are very well aware of happening between the Russia and Ukraine. And you're totally right. I mean, just the atmosphere in those countries that where they really don't circle any of the above that they circle that none of the above thing, whenever you ask where you know, what their religious belief are. And, you know, if, apart from Jesus, I don't think the sun shines too bright. I mean, the sky is not as blue in those areas. I'm not even being facetious. I mean, I really felt like there was just this overcast in that area. And I know, it's because in my spirit, I know, it's because of the lack of, of understanding and relationship with God. And I know that that does affect the land, as well.

Robin T Jennings:

And again, back to the kingdom of God, you know, you think, the love of God, it's the love of God that we're talking about, you know, so it's not, I can remember the remember the good old days with The Beatles, all you need is love. Yeah, yeah. I guess.

John Matarazzo:

Beatles, a classic, everybody should know that.

Robin T Jennings:

But I used to sing that, and not with the Beatles, but in the shower. And you know, and I thought, you know, how great, that's all you need is love. Well, love needs God. It needs a ruler, you know, love can spin out of control so quickly. I don't know if this is where you're going. But I don't want to get off track here except to say that, but this is again, where religion to me is so important in terms of here again, the peace of God, that passes all understanding. It's the peace of God, not, you know, a political peace necessarily. I mean, you know, they're looking for ways to get off the exit ramp, or whatever they call it. But but you know, it's it's the peace of God is when you experience peace that is beyond all understanding. It's understanding, because it's about faith. Yeah. So here we go. I'm preaching.

John Matarazzo:

I like it. Yeah. So that piece. So many times, we're just caught up in, in the emotions of the day, we're caught up in our situations. And, you know, there's some things that have happened in my life just recently, that it just feels like there's chaos and turmoil all around. And it's really hard to see where, where is God in this situation. And, you know, you've walked with the Lord for a while, and you've been serving him for a long time. And I greatly appreciate that. But my, the theme of this podcast is, I want to learn from those moments in your life, Robin, where you look back now and you see that Jesus really was walking with you, even though it didn't feel like it in the moment, just like on the road to Emmaus, you know, my theme, my theme for the podcast is that they were walking with Jesus for roughly seven miles, I mean, depending on what scholars you listen to, but roughly seven miles Okay, so I, I walked two to three miles a day. My average pace is, you know, 17 to 20 minutes depending on how distracted I am per mile and so so you're looking at, maybe on on a road Okay, where are these guys are wearing sandals. And it's not the, you know, it's not a road like we have right now. So maybe it took them a half an hour. So they're walking with Jesus for about three hours or so and have no clue that it's Jesus that's actually talking to them. Until they sit down at the table. When they finally get to Emmaus, Jesus blesses the food breaks the bread, their eyes are opened for a moment, and they realize that it's Jesus, and then poof, he's gone. And they turn to each other and say, and Luke 2432 weren't our hearts burning within us along the way, as he was revealing the Scriptures to us. Basically, we should have realized that this was Jesus this whole time, like he was right there. But we just missed it. You know, I'm sure they didn't miss it the next time, you know, the next time that God was trying to get their attention, because they were paying more attention. And that's what I want to learn from this podcast. So Robin, can you tell me about a moment in your life where you look back now? And you see that Jesus really was walking with you, but in the moment that maybe didn't feel like it? Or maybe you didn't see it?

Robin T Jennings:

One experience? So you want as one? Give me? Give me at least one give me at least one? I mean, I and I'm laughing only because I'm live and learn kind of exactly what and it's also back to the journal, that's where it comes in. Is my lack of awareness is no different from the disciples. I mean, again, I wouldn't be walking, I'd be jogging, or I'd be sprinting, you know, I mean, that kind of thing. And no wonder I couldn't hear Jesus because I couldn't breathe. So it's, it's that kind of hyperness that that is where those times, but I'll never forget when our second son joined the Marines after shortly after 911, and he was one of those young men. And he was gonna go into the Marines for whatever it is two or three years as an enlisted man. And then once in there, he decided he wanted to join and the and fly. And I said, Oh, great. What does that mean? He said, Well, I think I'm gonna fly helicopters. I said, Why don't you fly jets, you know, get above out of danger. Instead, oh, no, these these are, these are much cooler days, you know, this be great. I mean, yet to know, the boy. He's a risk taker. But needless to say, my heart was going a mile and you know, nine out of 10 times, I would say, don't tell your mother. Just. But with all that said, is that there was the faith throughout that. God would be with him. However, he had four tours in Iraq. And he was in, say, a helicopter pilot. He flew those if you remember, you can get this was before you were born. But mash? Yeah. Remember on TV, if you had I used to

John Matarazzo:

watch. I used to watch it with my crap all the time. Okay, there you go. But the

Robin T Jennings:

double road or helicopters, that's what he flew and did a lot of medical relief, well, that it was very heroic, and it was very good service that he was providing, however, that is into danger zones, hot zones, they call he was always into kind of different kind of enemy fire. And it was very, very difficult. For us, my wife and I, because we had no clue where he was. He did have he has a girlfriend, who then became his fiancee and his wife, it's a happy story. I mean, is she's a Navy nurse, I would call her periodically. She was very religious, I'm getting just choked up on this. But when I call her she was so positive. And she was so encouraging, and so helpful. Because she did have some connections through other Navy Nurse wives that would be able to, if they didn't necessarily know where they're there they were, they knew how they were doing or what was happening, or what results were coming, you know, in terms of hospitals and in calls. And so we were able to get some kind of explanation of where's our boy, and she was always the one that was there for us. But she was very positive. And she would always say, Don't worry, don't worry, you got to trust God in this. Yeah. You've got to have faith. You're the minister Robin. You know, I mean, she would tell me this and get laughing Yeah, okay, fine. Thank you, goodbye. But she was right. And she kept us our heads on and she she was our link to where our son was, and it was one of those times where, again, I really was very, very close to guy because the prayers were minute by minute, you know, you get on the radio, a helicopter went down and my wife would be in tears and, you know, a helicopter and where were they? And you know, so anyway, so it was always always on edge. And that was a time that was eight years that I can relive in a heartbeat, but at the same time, it was a reminder that don't worry Robin trust God, keep saying your prayers. God's with you. You know it. It again kept us going.

John Matarazzo:

Yeah. So where do you look back and see Jesus walking with you in that though?

Robin T Jennings:

Well, in in our son's absence, we found Jesus is obvious presents. Gotcha. I couldn't really say much to the church at the time, I tried not to bring it up. Because here I got almost a motion of Matt, I was emotional with you, but But you know, it comes to the surface quickly. And you can imagine in the sermon, and I just didn't want it, much of it was his story to tell. And I didn't want to necessarily get into that. But at the same time, it was it was something that was right there on me, and my heart, but there, Jesus was also right there on my heart. And so with Scripture with faith with prayer, and again, with the support of some important people in my life at that time, that was we were able to, you know, have an understanding that, yeah, there was sacredness to the experience.

John Matarazzo:

So you're trusting in Jesus deepened during that whole process? Absolutely.

Robin T Jennings:

Absolutely. Now, you don't come away the same. And that's, that's part of the Amanda's story, too. It's, you're different as a result of that.

John Matarazzo:

Right, right. my follow up question that I always like asking is, you know, if you could go back in time, and visit a younger version of yourself, maybe teenager, early 20s, whatever phase in life you want, whatever season in life you want to go back to, and give yourself a piece of advice. And I want to hear what that advice is, but also what's going on in your life at that point that you would want to hear. Robin from 2022 What this Robin has to say to that Robin?

Robin T Jennings:

Well, again, there'd be several times where I wouldn't say I was off course. But I was self driven. And part of the advice that I would give again, is that only allow God to do some work. And you you know, you're not a self made man, Robin, you know, but I can remember, at one point, I was in a little small group with a couple of oils, one of them was an Air Force pilot, and now ordained minister, and we were talking about surrender. And I said, I just can't do that. I can't do that. And letting go, you know, let go let God all this. And I said, Yeah, that's that's not me that you guys do that. You you talk about it, I'll I'll take a break. get coffee or so. Anyways, he stopped and looked me right in the eye. And he said, you know, and this was his advice to me as a younger person. So I don't know if this works is exactly what you're talking about. But what he said to me is he said, You know, I'm not being sexist. But he said is, is boys we grow up. We grew up never to quit, you know, we were told never to quit. Will you remember? quitters? never win winners never quit that kind of thing. Exactly. Yeah. And he said, that's how we were. And I said, I yeah, I'm all with it. Then he said to me, and I'll never forget the way he just looked at me. And he says, you know, that was true to when we flew that when we were in the Air Force. He said, You never surrender to the enemy. He said, You'd rather shoot yourself than surrender to the enemy. So it was a bad word for me to Robin. You know, I mean, he's going right at me now. It's just up man on man kind of thing. And he said, but here's what I learned, as he said, surrendering to God is not surrendering to the enemy. And then he paused, you know, and I went, Oh, it's surrendering to the source of love. It's letting go to the source of love to the one who loves you. You can do that, you know? And it was that almost simple of a shift. But I want to call a paradigm shift and me Sure, what moved me from being so damn self centered. Pardon my language, or you know, from being self centered, you know, which is a very small world, when you think about it. It's there's, there's not much to it, but I thought that was where all the action was to having a center itself life that was centered in Christ. And that came with the gift, really the gift and the discipline of surrender.

John Matarazzo:

Yeah. So if you could go back and visit yourself, you'd give yourself the advice that somebody actually gave you. Yeah. Wow. That's cool that God use somebody to give you that advice that you would want right between the eyes. So that really means something to you. This day to this day. Yeah, absolutely. Wow. And I'm sure you've told that to other people as well.

Robin T Jennings:

Oh, I have I have and it was a way of saying grow up. More poetic that

Unknown:

way. Yeah. All right. Thank you.

John Matarazzo:

Yeah, that's really cool. That's awesome that you can look back at that moment and say, You know what, even though I didn't get to go back in time to visit my younger self, God did send somebody, you know, God who's outside of time did send somebody to give me the words that I needed to hear. And that still rings true many years later. That's awesome. Yeah, that is really awesome. You know, Robin, I want to give you an opportunity to to just talk about your book a little bit more, and let people know how they can get it, how they can get a hold of you, and what they can expect to receive what impartation they can expect to receive as they read it?

Robin T Jennings:

Well, again, going off the title, I say it's a letter to the church. That's James's letter. It's not my letter saying, Dear church, it's James's letter and what I use, if you've read, you know, James, and it's short, I mean, it's like five chapters, but oh, my gosh, it's loaded. And remember, I told you, I like to use the Lectio Divina and just take one word at a time you could imagine, right, James, you could use take every word and write volumes, which I was starting to do. So what I did is I just took his first chapter. And I use and I shouldn't say just because that really provided a framework for the book, but also, it provides a lot of the elements that then come out in his letter as well. So with that said, that is the letter to the church is James. And then I also write the next generation because James himself was writing to the next generation. He could see the generations changing right before his eyes, obviously with Paul, but then also with the church of Jerusalem, of which were, some would say he was the bishop. And in charge of this new Christian way, they were the people at the way. Remember that they were called court Christians, but But with that said, the subtitle is spiritual growth through the witness of James and the witness is being a mentor, to this next generation. And so that's kind of the takeaway in the book that I really tried to emphasize, and I think, is a button that a lot of people are pushing is how, and this isn't necessarily a how to book but it provides again, I would say not just the inspiration, but the desire to become a mentor. And there's a lot of practical How To books, but behind it needs to be the faith framework, for instance, vocation, a calling, you know, that's the, that's where the word call comes from. vocation. Well, that's, that's one aspect of, of the book is to, let's look at our vocation and our calling. And I can tell you from mine, it was a very simple Follow me, you know, I used to think it was I was waiting for the phone to ring or something back in my days. But I find out No, it's It's not that it's it's come on, it's Jesus saying follow me, Robin. And so that that was my call, it was very simple. But at the same time, this understanding needs to be conveyed and communicated to this next generation. Tell me about your calling. Where do you think God's calling you? You know, so these are the I have exercises within the book, as well as chapter summaries that help an understanding of what it is that is important to one's faith as they become mentors and work with this next generation and bear witness.

John Matarazzo:

Yeah, and people can find that book and your information at Robin shoe. jennings.com.

Robin T Jennings:

Correct. And it's actually for you, John, I have a landing page and for your listeners, Oh, great. Jennings yeah.com. And then a backslash guided reflection. Okay, guided reflection and what that is, here we go, John.

Unknown:

So this is for you, right. This is great. This is a turtle. I love it. I love it. You get a real Live Journal free download.

Robin T Jennings:

No, but it's a it's a 50 page journal that you can download. But in it are the elements that I've just talked about with my books. One week, as I envision one week as on renewal, one break is really on this whole idea of of bearing witness. And then the final week, the fourth week is on the importance of being a mentor. So with that said, Robin teach endings.com/back/guided reflection,

John Matarazzo:

simplest guided reflection, I like that and I will make sure to put that in the show. Thank you. That way people can easily just go there and click it be taken right there. Because what you're providing is valuable information. And I like that you're you've broken it down even further. Just to make it simple for us and giving us give us a taste of of the revelation that God's given you through the book of James boy. So yeah, this is this is good. I Appreciate that. That's a that's like a free gift that you've given all the listeners here. So all you got to do is click the link that's going to be in the show notes here and you'll be able to get all of Robins information at that website, Robin t jennings.com, backslash guided reflection. Robin, I just want to ask you before we wrap up here, if you would just pray for the listeners here. And I know at the beginning of this, you said, if somebody asked you to pray, you would say what page. But now I think we've moved on from that you can pray. I realized that I was asking you to do something. But I'm glad we're good now. So

Robin T Jennings:

you can just pray for them. There's no comfort, so don't worry about that. But no, let's pray. Dear God, we thank you for this time. And for this opportunity to be present to you to John, to all who are within earshot and are listening. Not to our words or our conversation, but to your word into the conversation that you may be having within them. Now, as we speak. Speak to them. Offer to them, your guidance, your direction, your leadership, and we pray that you will be obviously their mentor in ways that will lift them up to do the work that you would have them to do. As you now work with him them. Bless this podcast, bless this time together. And may it always be to your glory, and to your honor, all of which we ask and your sons Most Holy Name Jesus Christ, amen.

John Matarazzo:

Amen. Amen. Robin, thank you so much for spending some time with me and allowing me to just hear your journey with the Lord, as as you've been growing spiritually, and I love what you said. And it's challenging me to take information and let it turn into formation. Oh, no, I want to take everything that God has put in front of me, that is information and allow it to form so and turn into formation. So that's that's one of my takeaways from our conversation here. And I just want to thank you for allowing me to join you along your way.

Robin T Jennings:

But it's been a blessing. Thank you. I really appreciate it. My pleasure, my honor. Thank you.

John Matarazzo:

Thank you for listening to along the way. If you've enjoyed joining me along my way, please share this with a friend who you think will be encouraged by this podcast. Also, please rate and review along the way on iTunes. That helps more people discover along the way. And subscribe to this podcast wherever you're listening. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and on my website along the way dot media. I hope that you've enjoyed this part of my journey. And may you realize when Jesus is walking with you along your way. Along the way is honored to be part of the charisma Podcast Network. You can find tons of spirit filled content from their vast catalogue of podcast including my news stories with the charisma news podcast. Go to CPN shows.com To see the full list and latest episodes