On January 11, 2014, Jerry Cook passed from this life into the presence of the Lord. It’s a great loss for us and a wonderful gain for heaven. Jerry served 52 yrs. as a pastor, author, professor, speaker, advisor, husband and grandfather.
If you haven’t a clue as to who Jerry Cook was–Please allow me a few paragraphs of introduction to this humble, mild-mannered saint whose one goal was to get Christians out of the pew and into the real world where we could make a difference for the kingdom of God.
Jerry had this unique ability, truly a gift from God, to be able to break down the complicated aspects of Christianity and bring it home in such a practical way that you could get a handle on it and go out and begin to do what Jesus had commissioned us to do. (Check out the YouTube videos of Jerry speaking on “The Church as a Force“–link at the end of this post).
Jerry Cook was the best-selling author of “Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness” which has gone through numerous printings and is still a bestseller today. In “LA&F” Jerry was the first to coin the now oft heard phrase, “the church as a force.” He also coined the phrase, being “open for business.” Every day, whatever we do, wherever we work or study, we have an invisible sign that either reads “closed” or “open for business.” His contention was that God puts it in the DNA of every believer to be “open for business” 24/7.
The few times that I had dinner with Jerry and spent time in conversation, he came across as a loving father who genuinely cared about my success and growth as a pastor. He also helped me to gain perspective and get reacquainted with what God saw as really important.
Jerry would say that it’s not how great a Sunday service you have but rather what your people are doing out in the real world the other six days of the week. For Jerry, church wasn’t a Sunday morning thing but rather all week long. He tried to open our eyes to the fact that ”church” was serving Starbucks’ coffee, repairing cars, setting up a home theatre as part of the Geek Squad, studying for a business degree, a mom homeschooling her two children, playing tackle on your high school football team, sitting in your office with a client, a pharmaceutical rep, a physical therapist helping a patient regain mobility (You get the idea). For Jerry, it was all about being “open for business” and asking “The Jesus Question.”
To know Jerry Cook was to know that he was a great story-teller. We could all take a lesson from Jerry. Just like Jesus, he communicated solid biblical truth through powerful stories that held you spellbound. He communicated through some of the most poignant and profound stories I’ve ever heard.
Jerry also had this self-deprecating, dry sense of humor. He always knew how to get a laugh from his audience, often at his own expense, which was fine with Jerry. He wasn’t out to make a name for himself. Jerry’s goal in life was to magnify the Lord Jesus Christ, and to that extent, he succeeded 110%. There are a lot of young pastors out there as well as some now middle-aged pastors who are doing a better job for the sake of the kingdom and making a great difference in this world, all because they came in contact with Jerry Cook. There are many Christians who through a conference or a book or tape series, Jerry Cook helped them to gain a better understanding of Jesus and his purpose for their lives and the church.
I leave you with some Jerry Cook-isms:
- “Many people have a detached god. Many Christians are praying to a god out there. The invocation is a prayer to invite God here to join us. Where does he come from? When church is over, where does he go? Where does God hang out?”
- “The more distant your view of God (the God out there), the more legalistic you’re going to be.”
- “The resurrection of Jesus empowered no one. NO ONE. Where were Jesus’ disciples between his ascension and the Day of Pentecost? Cowering behind locked doors in fear of the Jews. The resurrection did NOTHING to change their lives.”
- “The Jesus Question: Is there anything I can do for you? Jesus makes this outrageous statement: “I haven’t come to be served, but to serve…” What kind of god is that? We’re used to religious gods who, if you serve them well, bless you and if you don’t serve them well, they’ll punish you. And sometimes, even when you serve them well, they still get back at you, just to prove that they’re god. But this Jesus comes out and says, “I’m here to serve you.”
- If there is not a way that Jesus Christ can reproduce his life in us, in our every day world (your world and mine), then, what in the name of heaven are we doing?
- Also, later on this week, I plan to upload at YouTube, a couple more messages by Jerry Cook, so keep checking YouTube.