The Olympics are fun to watch. This February 2010 will begin Olympic Winter Events in Vancouver. You may or may not remember, but 2 years ago in Beijing the U.S. track and field 400 meter failed to qualify. These were the ones with Usain Bolt easily demolished all the world records. For the US, their qualifying preheats were assumed a formality but when Tyson Gay never received the baton exchange from his teammate Darvis Patton. It was astonishing to see as the baton was missed and dropped to be left on the track.
Olympic track star Madeline Manning Mims on baton & relay
“I’ve had batons slip, drop, slide, and even bounce off the track back into my hand on the way to victory. But of all the crucial moments in an Olympic relay race, there is none so crucial as the pass. It is the approach, the timing, the grip, the exchange, the power, the pressure. It is the all-important transfer. It is where the race is won or lost. Period.”
There are multiple resources in our church. We have a building, a budget, bodies (members). We have technology and treasures. But, perhaps our greatest resource is our children. Without children there is no guarantee of return on our investment. There would not be any potential or opportunity for the future; with children there’s always a future. However, many churches are assuming an easy handoff only to find an empty hand with the spiritual baton dropping to the ground.
This message will explore what it means to leave an eternal legacy. This type of legacy can best be described in the phrase “growing godly generations”. In fact, it is a phrase which God has impressed so powerfully on my heart that it is a life’s calling. My dream is to be part of a movement that passes the spiritual baton to future generations. This starts with my family but it is carried out through my ministry. This is what has led me to SPBC; the opportunity to help create such a movement.
Acts 2:39 “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
Psalm 78:1-8 “A Contemplation of Asaph. Give ear, O my people, to my law; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. 2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, 3 Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. 5 For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; 6 That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, 7 That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments; 8 And may not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not set its heart aright, And whose spirit was not faithful to God.”
The psalm was written by Asaph, Levite and a music leader in the service of King David (1 Chronicles 15:16-19, 16:4–5). The entire psalm shows God’s mercy and faithfulness throughout Israel’s history of unfaithfulness; from the time of Exodus in God freeing them from slavery through the time of King David. The psalm covers approximately 500 years of history all pointing to God’s unending patience and purposes to make a people for himself.
Growing Godly Generations gives attention to God’s Word (78:1-3).
The psalmist begins calling God’s (“my”) people to give attention to God’s Word. It is for them to incline their ears toward so that God will speak to them. They have heard and known God’s Word before yet they must return and refocus afresh. The command is to listen to God as obedience to God’s law and Word never fades for the believer.
In other places the psalmist says,
Psalm 1:2 “His delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night.”
Psalm 19:7-11 “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes…The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”
Psalm 119:9-11, 16, 97, 105 “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you… I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word…Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long… Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”
The point is that God’s Word is central to believers and even more to reaching future generations. Unfortunately, the church has lost sight of this principle. They think that youth and children need a watered down approach to Scripture and Christianity. So, we isolate them from the rest of the church. We under challenge them. Today’s youth and children want to be challenged. In fact, children & youth are challenged in every other area of society except the church. They are expected to rise to the standards and expectations of their schools, sport and club organizations. Marketers of technology and entertainment challenge young people to think outside the box and to higher levels. But for some reason, when it comes to faith and spiritual issues the church underestimates their abilities and coddles them, thereby reducing if not negating spiritual development.
– Do your children see you read the Bible at home or at church? Note, this cannot happen in church if we constantly isolate them away in separated worship services?
– In your small group, what do you discuss: the Bible or your opinions?
You see, there’s a spiritual principle: “you cannot pass on what you do not possess”. It’s like me knowing about heart bypass surgery to make an incision in your chest and attach a new blood vessel to “bypass” the blockage in the artery WITH having a real doctor knowing the intricacies of the human heart and body in order to perform heart bypass surgery. The difference is death & life!
Likewise, we are called to know God and you cannot know God apart from His Word. This is a call for you to get serious about prioritizing personal time and interaction with God through Scripture.
As a way of application: on Wednesday nights I will be taking our Sunday AM teachings and using them as discussion and prayer points. It will be an opportunity to take your spiritual growth to the next level and do so in the context with other believers. This is “Body Life”. You are invited to come.
I know I have been repetitive on this theme over the last couple weeks. But it is needed. Many Christians talk the talk of believing and teaching the Bible but when it is all said and done it is not the reality. There are other things that crowd/choke out Bible content – church crisis, activities, current events, crafts, personality conflicts, etc. If the church truly wishes to become a church of meaningful influence it must get serious about God’s Word – and not just for information sake but in practical ways transformationally living it out.
Growing Godly Generations gives attention to leaving a legacy (78:4-7).
The psalmist calls the people to God and His word but also toward application and mission. The mission is to arise and tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord. The result will be that they might set their hope in God and keep His commandments. There is a generational pattern for those who are intentional about passing on the faith and for those who are apathetic and passive. If we are to reach the next generation we cannot continue ministry as usual. Look around our pews and hallways, the next generation is sadly missing from our church. What kind of legacy will be left if we continue down this path?
The consuming question of this message is how do we change directions to grow godly generations? How will we leave a legacy of faith for SPBC?
v.4-6 “We will not hide, we will arise and tell”
Unyielding Partnership between Home & Church (3 characteristics):
1) The church does not usurp parental responsibility.
Parents are the primary faith nurturers of their children. The church supports, resources and assists parents. (Church has approx. 3-5 hours a week with your children. The time to build faith is in the home.)
- The church will provide opportunities for the family to be together rather than constant age segmentation. There are times for age-graded ministries but there are also times, perhaps the majority of time, where the family should worship together.
- The church will invest in next generation ministries. This includes budget money to resource and fund these ministries, staff and volunteers to support these ministries as well as calendar time in planning events and opportunities for the next generation to be reached, developed and discipled. Remember Jesus’ words, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Where is our treasure in relationship to our future? This is not to say that other ministries do not matter or one generation is more important than another. God is blind to generation gaps, however, one cannot look at the entirety of this psalm without realizing the value and responsibility placed on the older generation passing on the faith to the next.
- The church leaders and pastors must realize their role to invest in each generation. Pastors and Deacons should know not just parents’ names but children’s. Pastors and leaders must explore ways to interact with all generations to create a unifying vision for intergenerational community.
2) The home does not usurp the church’s influence.
This partnership runs two ways, the parents must not yield or compromise the value of church and spiritual community to secular values. Athletics, drama, dance, cheering or any other activity must be seen through a proper biblical perspective – that these are avenues to advance the gospel not a child’s experiential social life.
- Parents must eliminate the idea of a drop-off service. The church is not meant to be free child-care. Its role is to equip, resource and encourage parents in their spiritual role.
- Parents must be careful how they talk about the church in front of their children. Many young people have become jaded over the church because all they hear is the negative aspects and nothing positive. Parents can help this link by developing meaningful friendships in the church and sharing the benefits of being a part of your church body.
3) The church and home understand eternity is at stake.
The psalmist presents an ultimate legacy and unifying vision of each generation setting their hope in God and not forgetting the works of God but keeping His commandments (v.7). What is at stake is two-fold:
- V.6 The generation yet to be born is not valued
The psalmist is noticeably calling God’s people to care for future generations even “yet to be born”. Today honors the Sanctity of Human Life. I want to encourage believers to support pro-life organizations (Care Net). There may be some who take offense at this. I wish to tell you that I’m sorry if there is pain in your past or anger in your contrasting opinion. However, God wants us to choose life in every situation. If this aspect causes you angst God offers hope and healing but also challenge where needed.
- V.6 The generations will forget the works of God.
No generation may assume the gospel. It must be accurately and clearly communicated each generation.
Psalm 145:4 “One generation shall praise your works to another and shall declare your mighty acts.”
Psalm 79:13 “So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, will give You thanks forever; we will show forth Your praise from generation to generation.”
TAKING IT HOME
– How is passing the baton in a relay race like passing faith to the next generation?
– How do you think previous generations have affected your life? How about your spiritual life? How do you think you will effect future generations?
– What are some ways a family can prioritize God’s Word in their home? What about at church?
– What are the benefits/dangers & harms of separating children & youth from adults in worship services? Do you think one list outweighs the other?
 In fact, while I am writing this message at Panera Bread, there is a random teen girl discussing with her father a teaching from one of her spiritual teachers. She’s actually saying she wanted more teaching and information not less, which was given.
 See Pastor Dave Brown’s article, “Children And Worship”. To be posted later this week.