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.
I am going to be finishing this series on Caleb Generation tonight. And in our five and in our seven o’clock service, I want to take time in this service to pray over all of our Caleb Generation people. I am going to have them come to the front and we’re going to pray a prayer and close out the series with a prayer of consecration. With a prayer of dedication, with a prayer of committing and releasing the Caleb Generation to keep running their race. Have you been enjoying this series on Caleb Generation? Amen? It was so cool; I was in Arizona with this integrity leadership ministry. It’s some of the largest spirit filled churches in America get together and Sharon and I were privileged to help serve that vision as directors in Ireland. And this year we had Joyce Meyer speak to us and some of the greatest pastors literally in the country all get together once a year for this annual, if you like, retreat. And Kevin Gerald is a guy who I greatly admire, as we are walking from one of the meetings he says to me, by the way, Steve, I just want you to know as I was running this morning I was listening to your teaching on my iPod on your Caleb Generation. He goes, what an encouraging word that was and I just want to thank you for that message. And I thought, is that not cool? He has got one of the largest churches in America. One of the larger churches, certainly, in America. One of the most influential leaders in America and he’s just actually appreciating the teaching coming out of this house. And I think, God that is awesome. We can influence the influencers in Jesus’ name. Amen?
So here we go, we want to close out not this morning but tonight. We will close it out but I want to continue on as we bring this series toward a close. The finishing line is tonight. Everybody got that? And so, I do not have time to review everything I have taught. I was saying this down in South Beach, we are a multi campus church. You will not get all the teaching just being in one service. I want to encourage everybody who calls Wave Church their church home to be committed to every week being at least in the Sunday morning service, which is also the equivalent of Saturday night service. And also to be at a Sunday night service. At least then you will get the whole diet. But even then what Jason Diverter teachers for South Beach, I encourage you to get that teaching on creation and Greg Phelps on eternity. I love our church. We have got services in Richmond. We have got one in Norfolk. We just started in Chesapeake. And if you are interested in helping us, if you live in that area and you want to help us, we are starting on a Wednesday deliberately because that is a church night at least in people’s thinking. Wednesday night church service. I know we have Wednesday night Soul Central here. But I want to make sure we are reaching out to people in Chesapeake and we are just a diverse church. That is who we are and there is more to come. Everybody say more to come. That is the Caleb Generation, isn’t it? We are going to take new grounds. We are going to take new territory. We are not going to settle for what God’s given us when he promised us more. Amen?
And so, we are going to talk today about the seven nations and we are going to look at least two of them. I am going to try to get through three if I can. But seven nations and look what the Bible says here about the Amorites. The Bible says about the Amorites, the first people the Caleb Generation had to take on. Now for them to get that was the first promise land. God promised them, I will give you this but you have got to defeat the enemies that are there. And every enemy has a name and every name has a meaning. And so for them to take on this land they had to defeat the Amorites. Now, the meaning of the word Amorites literally means a “sayer” or a “mountain dweller” which refers to a certain highland of mountaineers who inhabited the land of Canaan. So God says I will give you this land but you have the Amorites you must defeat. Now the word “sayer” also means this: It means to talk down to, to be condescending. It means, literally, another way of putting it, is an accuser. In other words, it is talking down, it is accusing, it is saying, it is a multiplication of words. In other words, it is an elitist attitude. And God says if you are going to go into the Promised Land, you have got to defeat this enemy, the Amorites, which is a sayer. Now that is literally true for them. They had to defeat that enemy but let me tell you what is literally true for them is spiritually true for us. That if we are going to go into all that God has for us, all that God has promised for us, we cannot afford to let all that blessing turn us into elitists. We cannot afford to let the blood of Jesus turn us into something where we think we better than everybody else. Can you say amen? The tragedy in church life, I think, that happens too often is that people tend to forget what they were like before they were Christian. And speaking now to a Caleb Generation, the longer it is that you have been saved, the more dangerous it is you forget what you were like before you were saved. And suddenly you start thinking that you are better than. And you start thinking well I never did that and all you have got to do is talk to some people who knew you before you were a Christian, before you started getting holier than thou and better than an elitist and talking down. I remember when Sharon and I first got married some people who were very close to us who were literally old enough to be out parents said to us we just want you to know now that you are married, do not expect us to give you one quarter, one dime, one penny. Nobody helped us, nobody gave us anything and we are sure not going to give you anything. Well, the funny thing in that statement was we never asked for anything. The thought never even crossed our mind. We were not thinking, I wonder we were thinking we are going to carve out our life and we are going to live the life that God has called us to live. But let me tell you something, I think so differently than that. I want to sit my kids up. I am not going to set them up for failure. I am not going to give them an inheritance too quickly but I want to set them up. I do not want them to have the struggles we had when we got married. So I think differently but the funny thing is where they were coming from. What was funnier was not just that but the people who said this who were old enough to be our parents at that time that their parents were in the conversation and they said now wait a minute.
What do you mean no one helped you? You lived in our house rent free for five years! Isn’t it funny how you can forget? And the longer you are alive, the more there is to forget! Amen? And so I want to encourage you as the Caleb Generation to make sure that we do not get that elitist attitude. Nobody helped me; I am not helping and you know, Christians who have been saved for so long they forget. And so you see someone who comes into the church and they are a brand new Christian and people have been saved for longer need to cut these people some slack. And give them room and well I never did that how could they do they are supposed to be a Christian now. Why would they talk like that? Why would they go there? Why would they do that? And I think to myself you have forgotten what it was like to be a new Christian. Or what is even worse is that when people have been saved for a long time get on the world. And how can they well I would never do such a thing. I do not do that. I would never do that. Even if I was not a Christian I would not do that. Oh really? We forget, do we not? And so we have got to be careful of this elitist attitude even in the church if we are spirit filled. Well we who are spirit filled, and I believe in being spirit filled, you hear me church. I believe in all my but we cannot afford to think that we are better than. Let me just talk to you this way, you know. There are times that I travel a bit and I stay in a lot of hotels and a lot of the hotels as I am walking in usually have a little bar off to the front or to the left of the foyer. And there are times when I come in late at night from having preached and I am a bit tired. But I am on my way to bed and I see some drunken person stagger out of the bar, out of the hotel and I am walking in the hotel. And there are times when I have to guard myself from thinking well that is just disgusting. Because you know the truth is, but for the grace of God, there go I. And it seems to me that if we are going to go in our promised land and inherit all that God has for us, we cannot afford to get a better than attitude. Amen?
And here, let me just talk to you about this word sayer, it’s to talk down. There are three keys to avoid elitism and they are real simple keys but I think they are going to help you. Number one, do not always try to be the first in line. See that whole thing of elitism is always wanting to be first. Somehow we think we have got a privileged position in life, that we are special. And listen to me, I travel all over the world and I have cars pick me up and I have drivers pick me up. There are times when I have had limousines pick me up, put me in the nicest hotels. And I go to churches and they just roll out the red carpet. They spoil me church, they do, they spoil me. There are times when I think to myself I do not deserve this kind of treatment. This is amazing. And then, you know, they look after you, drive you, take you to lunch and then, you know, you go back to your hotel and you rest and you go back the next day. And then I come back home and Sharon is not going oh great man of God has arrived home. Please put up your feat. I do not get that at all. It helps keep me grounded. You know sometimes a week ago, you sort of get in this mentality of preaching and leading and teaching and I was sitting down with Josh and Sam one day and they asked a question and I gave them a sermon. I did. And Sam goes, thank you for the deep teaching, dad. We did not want a sermon; we just asked a question. We did not want a life’s teaching. Hey, I have to guard my own heart. You know, when I come back do not let me be somebody who just always expects that. And do not even let me ever expect that. You know, I go into hotels and I have to be careful that I do not complain about the quality of the towels. Sounds funny to you but trust me I do. I have to guard myself well it is not as good as the last hotel I stayed at. Look at these towels. And I think what am I doing? God, thank you I am here. Thank you that someone thought enough about what you have done in my life that has enabled me and privileged me to do these things. And God thank you there is a towel. Come on, someone say amen. Just understand that where God has put us we did not deserve to get there but God is good. Amen? And so, do not always want to be first in line. Look at Luke 14:7. And it is a great scripture. Jesus talks here, he says “When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table he told them this parable.” How many know that Jesus loves to stick it to the Pharisees? And he is sticking it to them here. He told them this parable. “‘When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited.'” Isn’t it interesting that Jesus actually does say “more distinguished than you.” Some of us do not like that kind of talk but that’s what Jesus is saying here. All right? And he says, may be invited. And if so “‘the host who invited both of you, will come to you and say ‘Give this man your seat.'” And so here is Jesus teaching us to deal with this elitist attitude where he says listen, the best thing you can do is to take the lesser seat of honor, to not always want to be first in line, to not always want the rank and privilege and what comes with it. And in terms of church life, we have got to be so careful that we do not have that mentality where we go, well God you ought to be glad I am even here this morning. I have graced you with my presence. Come on, someone say amen. We can get this elitist attitude; we can start thinking we are more than. Just two weeks ago a lovely lady who I adore got all upset with one of our pastors in the church because someone spoke to her and said hey listen, do you mind not shouting out just so much above everybody else. I like interaction. I like to play with the congregation and she just took it upon herself to get a bit hurt and a bit wounded about it and just say look I did not like the way the pastor spoke to me. And I know the pastor. The pastor was just trying to make it easier for me when I am preaching not to have interjection. And I said maybe this is a test where God is just trying to help you get over and she said I love you, I love the church and I love everything about it. But maybe God is trying to deal with something in her own life. Amen? You see, the Bible says we are to crucify our flesh and that means to kill our flesh. And God has a way of killing our flesh if we will not kill it. I have got scars all over my hands. I mean, I counted them one day and there are about fifty scars on my hands. Now the reason for that is before I was a Christian I used to get in a few fights, just a few. And most of those scars are honestly people’s teeth on my hands. I did not always come off best by the way. But I am told about a scar and I have got scars on my feet. I have had a foot reconstruction and screws and wires put in my twenty five bones in my foot. I broke five of them and I have got massive scars where they did a foot reconstruction. And on those scars, what is interesting is you can stick a needle in that scar a scar is dead flesh and you cannot feel anything. You catch this? Now watch. You want to deal with elitism? Watch this. Crucify your flesh. And if you have crucified your flesh your flesh is dead; you cannot feel anything. So if you are feeling hurt, your flesh is not dead. Just turn to the person next to you and say that was not for me, that was for you.
Talk to some of your pastors and leaders about living above reproach and talk to them about living a blameless life and talk to them about stop expecting. You know, the moment someone asks me for something, like a pay raise or the moment someone asks me for a Christmas bonus early we give out Christmas bonuses and somebody on our team once asked for their Christmas bonus early. I have so many problems with that. And of course we joke about that now, the person and I, and it is all good. And you know I will not name names. But the problem with that is they had an expectation rather than an appreciation. And I have so many problems with people who have this expectation, God owes them, the church owes them. You with me? You set yourself up that you are in a privileged position. The Bible says that whoever wants to be great must be servant of all. Amen? You have got to choose to take the lower position. I am your servant. You hear me church? I am the senior pastor. Sharon is senior pastor. We are your servants. We do not come in here with this idea that you owe us. The church owes us nothing; we owe God everything. So I talked with the pastor about do not get the idea that because you are a pastor and because you are a pastor there are certain restrictions I put on our pastors. I said you are never to borrow money from people in our congregation, never, under any circumstances. Because if you ask somebody in our congregation for money, because you are a pastor, how do they say no to you? And so I just want you to know that if any pastor did it you let me know. You with me here? And someone who was on our staff who is no longer on our staff I had found out had done that. Isn’t it interesting that they are no longer on our staff? That is just not how we operate. You with me here? I am for networking business; I am for all those things. But I just do not feel like it is right for our pastors to get involved in those things. I think they should make a living by the gospel. I think we should pay them enough that they do not need to be doing those things. But I am not against those things but I am against our pastors doing it because, again, they are in a privileged position of leadership. We are servants of the people and we are not there to take advantage of the people. Now hear me, I want you to hear it straight. I am for people who are involved in network business. I want to be your greatest cheerleader and I am all for you being blessed and successful and profitable. But I am talking about our pastors and our leaders, just making sure that we do not cross those lines and we start taking advantage of our influence and our opportunity in those areas. Do not always want to be first. Amen? Take a spirit that says I will take the lesser seat. You know, at ILM every year we go there. Sharon and I are the most reluctant leaders in that organization. We enjoyed being invisible. We enjoyed you know when we first came to America when we joined ILM we enjoyed the fact that not everybody knew who we were. I know pastors who cannot handle that. I know pastors who cannot go to conferences because they love being senior pastor of what they are leader of and they love being the center of everyone’s attention. They do not like going places where nobody knows them because it makes them feel small and intimidated. I enjoy moments of invisibility. But the funny thing is, everywhere I turn up somehow God keeps raising me up to lead the thing and get involved in the organization. I have never in my life once sought an opportunity to preach anywhere in my life. Never once, in all the years, 28 years saved, 25 years preaching I never once asked to preach in a single church and my greatest challenge now is saying no to far more invitations then what I say yes to. Isn’t it amazing when you do not chase those things how those things chase you? Amen? There is the Promised Land. Just do not always desire to be first because if you do you are prepared to compromise and step on people to get things that God wants you to have but he will give it to you his way. Amen?
Second thing you need to do is be humble. Say be humble. Now that is an important one. Just take on a spirit of humility. Do not presume you know everything. As pastor and leader of this church with, you know across all of our services four and a half now close to five thousand people involved in our church, can I just tell you how many people ask me questions? Steve, should I divorce this person? Steve, is it all right to gamble? Steve, tell me about stem cell research. Steve, what do you think about all these different questions? And can I tell you something? I have discovered Jesus’ model is the best. Do you know what Jesus does? He often answered questions by asking questions and letting people find out the answer for themselves. Like one time when the two brothers were arguing over the inheritance, Jesus would you help us to figure out how to resolve this dispute over our inheritance? And Jesus said hey am I my brother’s keeper? He answered a question with a question. You guys sort it out for yourselves. And I am going to tell you, the longer you have been saved the more I guess you get this feeling that you are supposed to have an opinion on everything. I find myself saying more often nowadays, I do not know; what do you think? And it is wonderful when people can discover truth for themselves. And I help guide them and hopefully I do that with my preaching and teaching and even with the questions I answer back with. And I am helping them to discover for themselves because otherwise I am setting myself to be your demigod where everybody has to come to me. I am setting up codependent relationships and there is only just one of me; there are only so many people I can handle in my world anyway. But if I can help people discover truth for themselves. Come on, somebody say amen. Then I think we are far healthier, se here is what we do. We want to chase a revival. We want to go to the latest and greatest move of God, we chase it. Can I just say to you, have a spirit of humility. Do not feel like you have got to know everything. Listen to what the Bible says in Psalm 8:2. It says, “From the lips of children and from infants, you have ordained strength,” another translation says, “because of your enemies to silence the foe and the avenger.” In other words God says, out of the mouth of babes, children, God will still the enemy. So before you start thinking you are all this and that and you are a big threat to the devil, God says that out of the mouth of babes he can still the enemy. Amen? Out of brand new Christians. If God can use the jaw bone of an ass, out of the mouth of babes. Keep a spirit of humility about you. Can you say amen? Now here is the thought about this. If you have stopped asking questions, you have stopped learning. Amen? If you have stopped asking questions and there are people, maybe you have worked for 20 years and someone comes under you and they are just brand new to the thing and you think you know more than they but the Bible says out of the mouth of babes. And you can learn from another generation who are smarter and savvier than we will ever be. I can be talking to my daughter while she is on a computer doing a college assignment and at the same time is text messaging all her friends. And she can do all three of those things with about a 99% accuracy on her typing and talking to me while she is texting and on the computer. I think, my God this generation is scary. Let me tell you how pathetic I am. I cannot be on a phone and driving a car at the same time and be conscious of where I am driving. Do I have any friends here? I am hopeless. I go to the airport a lot; I often drive to the airport. So the moment I get on the phone and maybe I am going to have lunch with somebody I forget what I am doing as I am driving. I am now engaged in the conversation and I cannot tell you how many times I have found myself at Norfolk Airport. For one year we had pastor’s breakfast at Paul and Bethany Murdock’s house. One year we have done this. You would think after the first few weeks I would learn not to drive to the church but go to Paul and Bethany’s house. But every morning as I am driving to the pastor’s breakfast, I know where I am going is to their house but I use those moments in the car to connect with people. So I am on the phone calling one of the building team guys, I am calling somebody in Australia or somebody in South Africa so that is the time to call them. And I cannot tell you for one year I do not think I have once turned up at Paul and Bethany’s house without first having gone to the church, gone up into my office and realized I am in the wrong place. How many of you think that is pretty pathetic? I have the worst sense of direction; even with a GPS I get lost. The only person that is worse than me is my son Josh. What walks in the father runs in the family. I am pathetic. My daughter can be doing all those things at the same time. Hey let me tell you something, stay humble. Do not think people who are younger than you cannot teach you anything. Can you say amen? They can teach you more than you will ever realize.
Third thing, and this one is huge, learn to be a great listener. We are going to defeat this elitist attitude. Keep a spirit of humility about you. Do not always try to be first in line. And then number three, be a great listener. We have got two ears, one mouth. That means do twice as much listening as you do talking. Amen? And look what the Bible says in James 1:19. This is James, Jesus’ half brother speaking. He says here, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen” everybody say quick to listen quick to listen and slow to speak. I wonder if we put into practice that scripture how much less we would talk. Quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to be angry. Now it says slow to be angry. I am glad it says slow to be angry because there are some things that get me angry. When I hear about someone getting sick and getting cancer and how the doctor says there is no I get angry about that. Man I get angry. Oh boy do I get angry. When I hear about a marriage breaking up I get angry and not at the person about how the devil there is the promise land. We have got to get into the Promised Land but we have got to defeat this enemy if we are going to get into this promise land and one of the ways to do it is to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to be angry. And so I want you to think about it in this context: People are too often people do this all the time. They speak too quickly, they give their opinion where it is not even welcome or it is not even invited. Jesus put it this way, do not cast your pearls before swine. I have heard new Christians say to me that internally I have roared laughing at but I never said a word to them. I have a new Christian go here is my tithe this week. I just did a great drug deal and I am going haha inside. And I go man I just won a thousand dollars on a race and I gamble and I just won a thousand dollars by gambling. I just want to give to God what is his. Internally I am roaring laughing. Now if they are still doing that three years later we have got a problem. Come on, someone say amen. But they are a new Christian. They are working out their salvation. I am cutting them some slack. You say that is drug money. No it is not drug money. Money takes on the nature of the personality of the person who has it. In the hands of a drug dealer it is drug money but in my hands it is God’s money. Get over it. Somebody walked into the church one day with a brown paper bag and inside the brown paper bag was twenty five thousand dollars. Just a paper bag, big paper bag, dumped it on my business manager’s desk and says here this is for God. He never asked how they got it he just said thank you. Praise the Lord. We still to this day do not know who that person was. They never asked for a tax receipt, nothing. But now it is God’s money. And maybe whatever it was before it did a lot of harm but let me tell you now in God’s hands it is going to do a lot of good. Come on, somebody say amen. See this is what happens if you speak all the time. Sayer. Sayer. Sayer. Talking down. Condescending. People will marginalize you if you know it all. If you are a person who just loves to talk people will avoid you. They will at least marginalize you. They will avoid you if all you do is tell large stories that demand people’s constant attention. If you cannot figure out how to shorten that story, if your story takes ten minutes long, you are exhausting people. I am sorry to preach the truth. I am just trying to help you. If you want to get into the Promised Land you have got to deal with the sayer. You have got to deal with the person of many words. Amen? And so people will marginalize you. And when you finish the story you have even forgotten the meaning of the story, the application of the story because it’s all about the story and enjoying the fact that you have got people’s attention all the time. And I am living on this and you make the story longer, you make it more interesting and then, by the way there was this and there was that, and then you do not even know what the meaning of the story was anymore. Do not dominate conversation or have to have everyone listening before you talk. Table manners, we teach people table manners, elbows off table, work from the outside, work your way inside. You know how to use the spoon. Which spoon for the soup and which spoon for that and you know what the knife and the cutlery is for and knowing which glass is yours. And you know serving on the left and doing all those things about how you serve. And can I tell you something? It would be good if we actually gave table manners for people on talk. When you are sitting at a table you do not want to be demanding everybody’s attention. It is actually a skill that you can actually listen. At a dinner table where there are maybe four or six guests can you just handle having a conversation with a person rather than having everybody listen to you? And my time is gone, had I got through the first point but I had some fun with it. Praise the Lord and so I encourage you to give the Lord a hand.