When I was sitting on a plane one morning recently, making small talk with the young guy next to me, I was taken aback by one of his comments. He began his interest in who I was with, “So are you retired.” He never stumbled or hesitated. To him, apparently, I looked retired. Done with work. Enjoying the fruits of years of labor and proper savings. Life was good and I was riding the final wave.
What defines us at any point in our life? Does an 11-year-old college genius get placed in a different category than one throwing mud balls at his buddy in the back yard? Does a 74-year-old who is hiking all 14,000 ft. peaks in Colorado stand in a different line than a 74-year-old who is resigned to a comfy chair and television all day? Yes. Now I know there are a thousand variables here. Health, financial constraints, hardships are all valid reasons for a person to be where they are.
The old saying “I wish I knew when I was young what I know now, I would do it differently.” Truth is most of us do know what we should be doing we just choose not to. I am guilty here. I know the doc said, “Back down on the sugar cowboy.” It was his one call to better my health. Regrettably the whispers from sweets is a vixen calling me out to her. She knows I am weak. It can be a real struggle to not go to her. Most of us struggle with something.
Some of those struggles can come from before we were born. My family history comes with some dark shadows. They include the sins of a father, grandfather, great grandfather. Many of the broken elements of our family tree did pass down. My early years followed right in line with addiction, anger and pride. All there, all very real. They still left a lingering smudge that rubs off on me every once in a while.
The difference now, where I step into my family’s generational legacy is that I have come to know Jesus.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
My prayer is that my family has been given a new foundation, one that is not founded on what came before me. The lies of the evil one have been exposed. My kids have heard the truth, accepted Christ in their hearts and are themselves convicted by the Holy Spirit that lives inside them. I pray they learn to walk in His voice in every area. This is the beginning of change. The older I get the more I realize it’s importance.
Passing the truth about God’s armor on to others matters. God did not give us armor to wear while stacking chairs, laying on the couch eating chips and watching the game or to sit quietly in church. All good things by the way but none of which will bring a man alive. He gave us the armor to protect us while we fight for the kingdom. Key word fight.
KOZ (Kids Outdoor Zone) gives men a chance to speak into the lives of boys who know nothing about why things are the way they are in their family. It is not that we should necessarily try to explain to them spiritual warfare or sins of a father but we can help them navigate questions they have. Using words like “You matter, I care, it will be okay.” Those words change a boy’s heart. Words of affirmation can reposition the trail a boy takes. It may not be when he is with you but years later.
It also changes the man who speaks them. So often we as men longed for those words from our fathers and we never received them. Some of us long for them years after our fathers are gone. Our hearts are transformed when we carry those words to the boys. It is a life giving gift that we find in very few places in our lives today. KOZ does that for the men.
Some men were blessed with a father who did contribute words of value and confirmation. Those men can share moments with the boys from a place so deep they both feel it. The Holy Spirit shows up when the heart of a man and a boy are given the chance to come out, come together.
It is so important for us to have something as men we are passionate about. Something that brings out the Holy Spirit in us. Wrecks us when we are doing it. Many churches today don’t know how to get their men to this point. They don’t have a tool to offer that brings a man to life. They wonder why the women run the church and the men are passive. It is simple really, the men have not been trained. They don’t know how or who to fight. They don’t understand the battle field. For many they don’t really know who they are and why they are who they are.
We are the men of the church and we have a responsibility to mount up and ride. If we have men under our authority, we must train them well. We have to lead the young men today and not allow them to be passive and stand by while the world hammers on their families. We can’t allow them to agree with the sins of their fathers and of this world.
And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also, 2 Timothy 2:2
As I write this it has been several weeks since I was on the plane with that young man and I just had my 60th birthday. I remember thinking 60 was old, not anymore. I am not thinking about retiring even if I knew what that meant for me. I want to go deeper with God, enjoy the adventure of walking with Jesus. Fight for the Kingdom. Do you ever retire from seeking and sharing Jesus? On your last day as you lay there are you asking the nurse, “Do you know Jesus?” I love that picture.
I want to leave you with the following quote by Billy Graham, “Old is authentic. Old is genuine. Old is valuable.” I want to be that guy, when I get old.
Godspeed. Regulators, Mount up.