The Caleb Generation
Are you over 40, nearing 40 or on your way to 40, then you are part of the Caleb Generation. Caleb, on the brink of the promise land, at 85 years old said, “I was 45 years old when God sent me to survey the land…and here I am 85 years old and I’m still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out. I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now, give me my mountain.”
In the Caleb Generation series, you will be inspired to keep going on for God with a youthful,
Caleb-like spirit. This teaching candidly and insightfully explores what it means to be part of the
Caleb Generation in the 21st Century. Most importantly, it expresses, that those in the Caleb Generation must realize their day is not over. They must keep on playing and keep on fighting because they give faith and courage to the next generation through their wisdom and encouragement.
Let’s all go to Joshua chapter 14, verse 6. Everybody say Joshua. Look at what the Bible says here. We’re going to read. I am starting a new series and it is called the “Caleb Generation.” It says in verse 6, the men of Judah approached Joshua in GilGal. “‘You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my brothers who went out with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘the land which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.’ ‘Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five more years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I am just as vigorous'” everybody say just as vigorous “‘to go out to battle now as I was then.'” Now give me my mountain. “‘Give me this hill country that the Lord has promised me. You yourself heard that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, with the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.'” What an amazing passage of scripture here. We read about a man whose name is Caleb and Caleb was forty when Moses sent Joshua and Caleb out to spy out the lands. Is that right? We know they wondered in the desert for forty years and now they are on the verge of break through and Moses sends Joshua and Caleb. I want you to notice that Caleb in this text is talking to Joshua. Moses does not exist anymore but Joshua is the leader. And he says Joshua, you yourself know that when I was forty you and I, along with others, were sent out to spy out the lands but when I brought back a report according to my convictions but my brothers who came with me made the people’s hearts melt with fear. So back out in the desert, another forty-five years and now we are coming back in forty-five years later. And here Caleb says I am as strong now as I was when I was forty. How many believe in God for that kind of strength in your life? I am just as vigorous and ready and willing and able to go to battle now as when I was forty. So I want to speak to our church about a Caleb Generation. I wonder how many people here this morning are over the age of forty. Could I just see your hand for a moment here? Do not be afraid. It is ok. You are in good company. I am over forty. Praise the Lord. I want to speak to the Caleb Generation. Cal was reminding me several years ago it was when Cal first really came on team here as he came back from Bible college and he came in as an intern. And on two occasions, once when we were in a pastor’s conference and one of the pastors was dissing Cal because of his tattoos and because of his long hair and because of his earrings. And the pastor just basically really insulted Cal. I would not repeat publically what he said. You would not think a pastor would say it. And then another time, right here in Wave Church somebody walked up to Cal and said, now that you are a pastor, you really need to get rid of your earring, you need to get your hair cut and you need to start dressing like you are a pastor. Cal reminded me of this story. I forgot about it. He said Steve, that’s what they say. What do you say? And I will not tell you exactly what I said but I will tell you I said something along the lines of, tell them to go to blazes. I like you just the way you are. And I do not want you to feel like you Amen? And one of the reasons why I think we see just a great age difference and spread of ages in our church it is not just because we have young people. It is because we have a Caleb Generation that actually cheers on the next generation. And the reason why young people will come to a house like this is because there are people in this house who are of a Caleb age, who have a Caleb spirit and who have a Caleb mentality where we are still going for God and cheering on the next generation. But let me tell you something, one sure way to keep young people out of a church is to have a bunch of mean, old, cranky people in it. Come on, somebody say amen. Get your hair cut. Get your earrings out. I kind of like some of those things, to tell you the truth. Maybe I am the problem here. Praise the Lord. Or maybe there is not a problem at all. All right. I want to give you a few examples of people who are later in life, at that Caleb age. I want to speak to the Caleb people. Now anyone who is not yet forty, this message is for you. It is coming. You are on your way. Amen. But you can still learn from it. Smith Wigglesworth began his ministry at the age of forty-eight. If you do not know who Smith Wigglesworth is, you need to read about that guy. He is one of the most outstanding men of God, I think, literally in world history. But he only began his ministry at the age of forty-eight. How many of you have heard of Grandma Moses? She started her art career at the age of eighty. How about Ray Crock who initiated McDonald’s and the expansion of McDonald’s? Fifty-two years of age he was when he got that going. Sam Walton who owns Walmart, he started that at the age of forty-three. George Foreman won the heavyweight crown at the age of forty-five. I still have a year to go before I can go for my heavyweight crown. C.S. Lewis began writing the “Chronicles of Narnia” at the age of fifty-one. Tolkien began writing the “Lord of the Rings” at the age of forty-five. Wally Amos started his cookie company at the age of forty. Ulysses S. Grant, this one is amazing, forty when he left retirement for the Civil War. After a successful military career Grant resigned at the age of thirty-two. And then after dealing with drunkenness, depression and working in several menial civilian jobs, it was not until he was the age of forty that he was appointed the Governor of Illinois. And to lead an unruly volunteer regiment that was the onset of the Civil War. The rest is history. Forty years of age. Alex Haley published “The Saga of the American Family Roots” at the age of fifty-five. Henry Ford started his motor company at the age of forty. Come on, Caleb Generation, what are you doing? We are just trying to get to retirement. Well look here, Mary K. Ash started Mary Kay at the age of forty-five. Mother Teresa was forty when she started Missionaries of Charity. Ronald Reagan was in his fifties when he started his real political career. Vince Lombardi was forty-five when he got the coaching job of the Green Bay Packers.
General George Patton was sixty when he took over command of the second armor division. That is awesome. Teddy Roosevelt was the youngest man ever to hold office as President at the ripe young age of forty-three. Michael Angelo was forty when he celebrated the sculpture of Moses. Leonardo da Vinci was in his forties when he did The Last Supper and his fifties when he completed Mona Lisa. Claude Monet was in his sixties when he did the Water Lillies painting. Neil Armstrong was sixteen days from his fortieth birthday when he stepped onto the Moon. I am telling you, the best is still yet to come for you, my friends. And here is Caleb and he is going come on, I was forty when Moses sent me in to spy out the land so we could come back and do battle, we could come back and figure out how to possess this land. And now here I am, eighty-five years of age. I am here today to speak to the Caleb Generation. Come on, your day is not over. You have to keep on playing. You have to keep on fighting. There is more for you to do. You can get a little more excited than that. Amen. Here is the key; you have to realize that you have to keep on playing. You have to keep on getting on the field. Somebody say amen. You cannot just give up. When we champion the cause in the next generation it does not mean we stop playing. It means we keep running our race and cheering on the next generation. We give that next generation faith and courage because we are older and we are wiser. Hopefully, in Jesus’ name.
I just want to give you a few keys here of what a Caleb person looks like, a Caleb Generation Christian in the 21st century looks like. Are you ready for it? Have a look at verse 7. It says, I was sent to spy out the land. “‘I was forty-five years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Bardea to explore the land.'” Or if you like, to spy out the land. In other words, he was sent to spy out the land, to bring back a report of how we can do battle against these giants. Have you got it? Here is the first key of a Caleb Generation. You have to know how to fight your battles. You have to plan your battles. You have to know which battles to fight. Do not be one of those Christians who are fighting everyone else’s battles that are not really your battles. Do not get one of those warfare mentalities where you are at war with everybody. Do not be one of those old shriveled up kind of people. And I do not mean old in the sense age is an attitude. Do not be one of those people who fight their neighbors about the blade of grass that they cut that is your blade of grass. There are some people who the only thing they have to do with their lives is to get on the street with radar guns to try and figure out how fast people are going in the neighborhood. Get a life. Amen. Do not get me wrong, I am not encouraging people to speed in places where they should not be speeding. But if your whole world is shriveled down to your little house and your little territory and defending what you have, you need to get out more. You need to get a bigger life. Plan your battles. There are kingdom causes, kingdom battles that we should be fighting. We should not be fighting battles like people’s hair and whether someone has an earring. Those are stupid battles to be fighting in the first place. Just a few weeks ago I was at a soccer game and I heard one of the dad’s talking to the other dad’s how many of you know I listen to other people’s conversations? How many of you have figured that out by now? I do all the time. I cannot help myself. I could be listening with this ear to what someone is saying that I am sitting with and with this other ear I am ambidextrous hearing. Just on Saturday I was at Sunrise Cafe having breakfast and I heard these men, young men I am always interested in what young people are talking about. So I listen very carefully. They were sitting there talking about how much they hate church. They had such a hatred for church. I will not name the name of the church in this area that they named but I can tell you that they did not have good things to say about it. And can I just tell you, here are these young men and I am thinking God, help us be the kind of church that people can come into and just love. This dad that is my age, maybe a bit older, was talking to another dad. I was sitting back a couple of seats and he was talking about, can you believe my pastor now wants us to give money so we can build more parking spaces in the parking lot? He said, how insensitive is our pastor? Does he not know about the rising price of gas and we are just barely trying to get by and here he is who does he think he is asking us to give more money to make more parking spaces? Now here is a guy who is fighting the wrong battle. I bit my tongue. That is when the spirit of slap gets on me. Here you are concerned about the rising price of gas and you are worried that your pastor is not concerned about the rising price of gas. He is giving you a way and a means to prosper. If you build God’s house, he will build your house. And here is a guy that is fighting the wrong battle. He should be joining with his pastor. He should not be fighting the purposes of God. He should be fighting with those things and for those things. A Caleb Generation are people who plan their battles. Have your leader send you to war. And I believe that is what that pastor was doing. He was sending his church to war. We were going to war against no growth. We are going to make more parking spaces so more people can come. We are going to war. And the leader was sending them to war just like Moses was sending Caleb to war. How so are people being sent? With a kingdom cause to battle. You have to plan your fights. You have to plan your battles. You have to make sure you are not fighting the wrong battles and giving all of your strength and focus and energy to things that at the end of the day do not have any kingdom consequence. Come on, somebody say amen. There are enough wars to fight without starting wars we are never called to go to. Amen? Give your energy and your wisdom to kingdom cause. Who can say amen? Number one, a Caleb Generation person is someone who plans their battles. I cannot tell you how many people have tried to get me involved in their battles. I could not even begin to tell you how many people would love to involve me in their battles. Jesus one time, when two brothers came fighting over an inheritance and they asked Jesus to sort it out, even Jesus would not get involved in that. And there are some battles I just do not get involved in. Someone says, can you come with me to talk to this person because they have really upset me and I really want to have it out with them? Then I go, have you talked to them? And they say no. So then I say I am not going to do it. The Bible says if anyone has something against their brother, go to them. It does not say go to the pastor and get the pastor involved in every single dispute. Well he’s so hard to talk to. I am sorry. Did Jesus say, unless he is hard to talk to? No, you go to him. And then is says then if you do not win him then you take a brother. Then is says then go to the church. I am your last resort, my friends. And of the last resort, I am the last resort. Are you with me here? Because once I am involved, where does someone have to go beyond me at Wave Church? So I will be the last person. But if I get involved, rest assured it is because I need to be. But if I am involved, it is a last resort. Someone say amen. I just want to encourage you, plan your battles. Do not pick up other people’s offenses and other people’s wars.
And this other guy listening to this guy having this conversation is saying yeah, that’s right. And then all of the sudden this guy now has an attitude with a church and the pastor he does not even go to.
Second thing, look at verse 7 again. It says, so I brought him that’s Moses back a report according to my convictions. I love that, according to my convictions. I brought back him a report according to my convictions. Here is the second thing about a Caleb Generation. Listen to it very carefully. A Caleb Generation has the courage to swim against the tide. Did you hear that? I brought back him a report based on my convictions. Everyone else, except for Joshua, was bringing back a negative report. Everybody else was bringing back a report of defeat and depression and discouragement and it is not going to happen. But hey Joshua, you remember, I brought Moses back a report according to my convictions. I was not listening to what everyone else was saying. I was not going with the tide of popular opinion. I brought back what was in my heart. I believe that God said that we are going to go into the Promise Lands. I saw God, the pillar of fire by night and the pillar of cloud by day. I saw the hand of God bring us out of Egypt. I saw God bring us through the Red Sea. I saw God provide supernaturally for us with food. I saw God bring water out of a rock. And I believe that if God is able to bring us out of Egypt and strike Pharaoh dead and if God is able to protect us in the desert for forty years then I believe even though there are giants in the land, my conviction was that we can do it. They are but bread for us. We will have them for lunch. They are just a snack. They are just a meal. I do not care how big the giants are, I have convictions that my God is bigger and we are well able to possess the lands. We are well able to do it does not matter the size of the obstacles, we are able to do it. And I am bringing back a report based on what I am convicted about. And I have to tell you, we have to swim against the tide of the naysayers. How many remember a man called Gordon Potter in this church? I remember when I first came to this church nine years ago; he was a big mountain of a man. He is a brute. He was like one of those lumber jack builds. And I remember Gordon was one of the key ushers in our church. He would be involved in church life and leadership and was a great worker, great volunteer. He had a family situation where one of his children was in a wheelchair and they had all sorts of challenges as a result of that. And the family themselves were somewhat vulnerable in a few instances but he was the mainstay. He was the support of that family. And one day I got a phone call and Gordon had fallen off of a ladder and had literally broken his neck and was paralyzed from the neck down. And the only mainstay influence in this family was Gordon. I remember thinking, what do you say to a man whose whole family is really dependent upon his strength and now his strength is gone? What do you say to a man? I will never forget when I went into the hospital to pray for Gordon I am thirty-five years of age and am going to pray for this manly, strapping guy. I am thinking, what am I going to say to this guy? I walked in there and he looked at me and said thanks for coming. And I had been in the church for not long, maybe less than a year. And we were working through changing some culture. And we were working through changing some things in the church. And I remember there were some people who did not like all of the change that was happening. I was going to go visit this guy. And he said, I do not know how I got to be in this place. I do not know how I could end up in this hospital bed. He said, but I tell you this, I am making you a promise. As long as I am alive I guess I have a lot of free time on my hands now that I did not have before. He said, as long as I am alive and as long as I am in this bed I am going to be praying for you, young man, that you will have the courage to keep doing everything that God has put inside your heart to do. Let me tell you Steve, I love what is happening in the church. I love the things that you are doing. He said, I think it is fantastic. I know some people my age have been critics. I know people my age have been naysayers. But I want to tell you Steve, as sure as I lay in this bed paralyzed, I will be praying for you that you will have the courage to keep doing what you are doing because we welcome it and I think it is amazing. And there have been some times when I think, God am I ever going to get there? I just remember Gordon and for no other reason the thing that sustained me from time to time was Gordon’s encouragement. This great man who had convictions, who swam against the tide. Come on church. We have to be a Caleb Generation person, have convictions of being positive. God is moving. Your convictions determine your reports. Whatever convictions you have, whatever they are, whatever is in you is what is going to determine what is coming out of you. And here this man, Caleb at the age of eighty-five, I brought him a report based on my convictions.
The third thing about a Caleb Generation is look at verse 8. He said, “‘but my brothers that came with me made the people’s hearts melt with fear.'” Listen, here is a thought: Not everybody that is with you is with you. It is not my point; it is just a thought. Not everybody that is with you is with you. There were others who were with Caleb, brothers, friends, family. My brothers who went with me actually brought back a different report and made the people’s hearts melt with fear. Is that not amazing? Here is Caleb making a statement to Joshua. Joshua, you remember because you were there. You and I were the only two that brought back a report based on our convictions. But here is number three, listen to it very carefully. You have to know the power of negativity. Caleb Generation leaders know the power of negativity. Thank you for the underwhelming response. Listen to this; you have to understand that negativity is one of the greatest killers on the planet today. It is more dangerous than cancer. It is more lethal than drugs. Negativity has the power to destroy faith, progress. Negativity can take faith right out of a person. It can suck the wind right out of you. Like I have said many times, some people are so negative that when you put them in a dark room, they develop. They are just negative. They just see something and think, that cannot be done. And Wave Convention Center, there were people saying, do you honestly believe you can build that building? I am going, yes. We would not be doing it if we did not. Are you with me here? Do you really think that Hampton Roads is an area that is big enough to handle a church that size? That building there is half the size of some of the larger church’s auditoriums. We are just doing multiple centers. Do you really think the population of Hampton Roads can handle another mega church? What I want to say to that guy is, do you really think I am going to let that spirit creep into my mentality and damn Hampton Roads to hell because I just do not have the faith and I am listening to you? I am not going to let that mentality you have to know the power of negativity. Negativity kills courage and faith and sucks the life out of progress. It causes people to stay where they are. And listen, my brothers who went with me be careful who goes with you. As a matter of fact, I challenge you to study this. The twelve spies that Moses sent out, he said bring back a report. When Joshua sent spies into the land, he said this is the report you will bring when you come back. Is that not amazing? There is no negativity coming back here. They are but bread for us. We can take them. I have been out in the desert for forty-five years because of those other people who made their hearts melt with fear. So when you go, I am telling you the report you will give when you come back will be the report I give you before you go. Is that not interesting? Where is my individuality in that? You are not going to go then. He learned something. He did not want to spend another forty-five years out there in the desert and have people’s hearts melt with fear.
Sometimes you have to cut off the voice of negativity. Not everybody that is with you is with you.
Number four, the fourth key to understanding how to be a Caleb Generation, look at what is says in verse 8, the latter part of verse 8. Because I followed the Lord wholeheartedly. I followed the Lord wholeheartedly. Number four, you have to keep your heart in what you are doing. You cannot be a person who ends up going through the motions, just going through the routine. Just been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. Some people in a church like ours, if you do not keep your heart in what you are doing you could sit here and think ok Steve, what have you got for me today? You have been so spoiled with such good food and such a good diet that you are sitting there going, let us see if you can even earn and deserve my hearing ear. Can you move me today, preacher? Because I am not in a good mood. Maybe a guest speaker comes in. All right, what have you got? I will decide whether I am even going to listen to you. That kind of person is not going to receive much from God. But you have to keep your heart in what you are doing. When it comes to the worship, ok Bethany, what have you got for us today? Is there a new song? I am going to decide whether or not I am going to praise. What are all of these moving lights? Someone the other day said to Sharon, I went to your church because my kids went to your church. I went to your church and I really liked it. She said, but I have to be honest, it was way too loud. And Sharon went, I will be honest, we love it loud. She just gave it right back to them. Because that was actually quite rude to talk to the pastor’s wife and basically very nicely try to tell Sharon, we do not like the volume. Well excuse me, who do you think you are? So Sharon thought, if you are going to be that rude I am going to be that rude right back to you. I am going to put it right back at you just as nicely as you were to me. We love it loud. Sharon said, I particularly am the one that likes it the loudest and that is the honest to God truth. If I turn to Sharon, is this too loud? She says, it is never loud enough. So I have learned, I cannot even ask Sharon if the volume is too loud because she only thinks it is too loud if her ears are bleeding. Maybe all of these years of church life, she does not know what loud is anymore. But let me tell you something, a Caleb Generation keeps their heart in what they are doing. A person who does not keep their heart in what they are doing notices things they did not notice before. Are you with me here? When they came to church they loved the fact that there is great worship and great word but then all of the sudden it is like, what is this? That is a sign that your heart is no longer in what you are doing. And the Bible says here that Caleb, God kept him alive and kept him young because he wholly followed the Lord with all of his heart. Did you hear that? God will keep you alive and strong if you wholly follow the Lord with all of your heart. Do not be one of the people who shrivel up and get negative and critical. The reason why young people come to this church is because of the Caleb Generation people that celebrate. While they are still running their race they cheer on the next generation. That is why we have people coming into this house. Amen church. Do not stop running your race.