This post is mostly written for those who worshipped with us this past Sunday and heard my teaching on Chapter 8 of The Story. If you weren’t there you can find the teaching on our website. Click “The Story” and find chapter 8.
I’d like to reiterate and clarify a couple of my points and then talk a little more about honor between the generations.
First, this whole idea of honor between the generations came from looking at the repeated cycle of the Israelites in the book of Judges (chapter 8 of “The Story”). The cycle we see repeated is this:
1) Faithful older generation dies
2) Younger generation does evil in the sight of the LORD
3) Younger generation is oppressed and cries out to God for deliverance
4) God raises up a Judge to free the people.
5) The younger generation learns its lesson and now becomes the faithful older generation.
I likened this cycle to building the first story of a house and then tearing it down and then rebuilding the first story and then tearing it down again. It is a cycle that doesn’t make any sense, is totally wasteful and doesn’t accomplish God’s purpose. Because the kids were unable to learn from their parents, they had to make the same mistakes and learn the same lessons which kept them from moving forward.
When God promised the land to the Israelites in the book of Joshua, He promised them over 300,000 square miles of territory. But because of this cycle of stupidity, Israel, at the height of its glory under King Solomon, only occupied around 30,000 square miles of land – hardly a tenth of what God had given them! I likened this to the Church.
God has given the Church an amazing amount of “Promised Land”. God has said that our rightful inheritance is to: do greater works than Jesus (John 14:12); ask for anything in Jesus’s name and he will do it (John 14:13); heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons and raise the dead (Matt. 10:8); make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19); and even eliminate poverty (Acts 4:32-35). Whoever you are, whatever you care about, whatever aspect of God’s character you carry – there is promised land for you. You are designed to advance God’s Kingdom into that particular realm, take back what the enemy has stolen and establish God’s righteous and life-giving Kingdom wether that is signs and wonders, social justice, family, relationships, business, art, or something completely different altogether. There is a huge amount of spiritual territory and authority that we are not walking in because there has been a breakdown between the generations.
When there is honor between generations, the mothers and fathers build the first story. Their children, learning from their victories and defeats, receiving a spiritual inheritance and advancing the Kingdom, build the second. Quite literally, the ceiling of one generation becomes the floor of the next. And the generation after this will build a third story and then a fourth. Our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will see things we can only dream of IF they choose to honor those who have gone before and build upon what they have accomplished.
I’ve always been struck by the passage out of Joel
“In the last days,” God says, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.”
I’ve always believed this means that the dream of the old become the vision of the young. What the older generation dreamed of, the younger generation sets out to accomplish because they have the resources and vision to make that dream a reality. If we, as a congregation, can embrace that truth, there is no telling how God will use us to transform this city.
I have one last axe to grind and it is about the word “old.”
We live in a foolish time in American culture. We are fascinated with youth and newness. We don’t have any value for age, wisdom or maturity.
We need to look at age from Heaven’s perspective, how God intended it to be. Proverbs 16:31 says that “grey hair is a crown of splendor, it is attained in the way of righteousness.”
Age, and the signs of age, are a blessing from God; they are not intended to be despised. Nowadays, we hear the word “old” and we immediately add to that “washed up, worn out, good for nothing, invalid, nothing to offer, etc. etc.” That is absolute nonsense. Age is intended to be a sign of wisdom, of battles won and a life well lived. Jacob walked with a limp because he had an encounter with God. And we are a congregation blessed with mothers and fathers who have had encounters!
It wasn’t always this way. In biblical times it was the young people who were dismissed and considered invalid. That is why Paul had to encourage Timothy and say, “Let no one despise your youth, but set an example…” (1 Tim. 4:12).
The truth is that we need each other. Each generation, each person, has something valuable to contribute to our community. And if we are going to gain traction, pass on the momentum of spiritual inheritance and see the Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven then we need get together. We need sons and daughters finding mothers and fathers. We need to share our stories and our lives. We need to bless on another and call out the gold we see – the gifts, talents, abilities and calling God has placed within each of us.
I would love to see us a Vineyard Community Church nail this family thing. I’d love to see us share and mentor and have people into our homes. I’d love to see two, and even three, generations working together to solve problems and do life together. That is success for me. That is something that feels right and life giving and of God.
I’ll close very simply by saying “Thank you.” Thank you for being a congregation willing to try new things. Thank you for being a congregation willing to take the eternal truths of Scripture and live them out in our day and age. Thank you for your humility in letting a wet-behind-the-ears 27 year old kid be your pastor without blinking an eye. It is such an honor to serve you and love you and hear your stories. I’m looking forward to seeing how this takes hold of us.