I feel constrained by a number of things to write and post another blog. The first is simply the discipline of writing, you must keep doing it. The other is that Sunday, September 12th is National Grandparents Day. Yes, I know there is a holiday or day designation for just about everything, but this one has merit. There is small disagreement over the actual origins but most attribute the impetus to Marian McQuadeof Oak Hill, West Virginia. Originally she wanted to champion the cause of lonely elderly folks in nursing homes as well as urging young people to tap into the wisdom and heritage grandparents could supply. Eventually, Congress officially designated the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. The actual resolution cited the day’s purpose as: “...to honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children, and to help children become aware of strength, information, and guidance older people can offer.” I can’t disagree with any of that! The final reason for writing this now is the growing realization that more and more people (and they’re still young!) are becoming grandparents!
The real genesis of this idea, however, can from some of our strategy for 2010. I wanted to give a chance to new and younger evangelists to preach in our church. A fresh voice and good benefits all the way around. The first up in February was Jamil Hurst from the Rotherhithe congregation in South London. During the revival I had Marty Carnegie introduce him in the first service, since he had been his pastor in London for many years, and he was largely responsible for recommending him. Marty said, “He is a true grandson of this congregation.” When he said that something was immediately triggered in my spirit!
It’s been happening to me more and more frequently, too. I am speaking in places and being introduced as Pastor Warner...“He is the grandfather of this church or ministry.” This is the meaning behind the title of this article. It comes from the Xhosa tribe in South Africa when I was preaching in Pt. Elizabeth, S. Africa. I was introduced as “Tumkhulu” (tum - cool - loo) meaning grandfather. Along with this is “fundisi” (foon - dee -see) for pastor. I still have the figurines they gave me of two Africans (gray-headed and “mature”) in honor of this title, having planted Alan & Laurie Kern there many years ago. Plus, this kind of recognition or appreciation is always received by me, not personally, but as a representative of our local church and the faithful investment of our great people for many, many years. All of this inspired me beyond the obvious that we ‘might’ be getting older! There are some very potent spiritual truths and blessings connected with this that we should consider.
1st, The spiritual delight & encouragement grandchildren bring!
The Bible is very clear here in (Prov.17:6)NLT “Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged; parents are the pride of their children.” There is a blessing and a responsibility inherent in this facet of life. We need our youth and our youth need those who are older. This is why we don’t just divide the church up into a permanent and exclusive “youth group.” While we do minister to our youth, we don’t give in to our culture’s obsession with youth (will do anything to retain this, real or artificial). God’s will and purpose is expressed though people of all ages joined by the Holy Spirit into Christ’s marvelous “Body.” There is no doubt that becoming a grandparent represents a true milestone of life. It seems that once you marry off a son or a daughter, there is a bit of a loss that can accompany this. Then you start looking for a “return on your investment” in the form of your “children’s children!” Along with this comes some interesting changes. I asked evangelist Marty Carnegie if he and Barbara were coming to this year’s marriage retreat. “Ahh, Pastor Warner” he said, “we’re going to be baby-sitting.” I’ve never heard that from him before! I’m sure it was a blessing to Cetan and Brittney, but my, my, how things change! In this same vein, one of the great blessings and delights of our Bible Conference is to see the sons and daughters and the “grandchildren” of this congregation come to Tucson and be with us for that blessed week.
2nd, The organic nature of revival and the work of God!
When Marty referred to Jamil as a “true grandson” he was not referring to an organizational linkage, but a family bond. The dictionary defines organic is “having a growth and development analogous to that of living organisms.” The scriptural pattern of this is the life of Abraham. (Gen.14:14) describes Abraham’s response to a crisis involving his nephew Lot. It says, “When Abram heard that his nephew Lot had been captured, he mobilized the 318 trained men who had been born into his household.” Even though he was outnumbered by his enemies, there is a dimension of victory related to an “organic” group, or those born in your house! The lesson is pertinent to the church today. Many of the “mega-churches” or moves today are not convert-based but involve people looking for a “better deal” and moving from one field to another. It is not focused on those moving from darkness to light or from the power of darkness to God and the kingdom of light. The blessing of sons or daughters or grandchildren in the faith is that of a valued, cultivated and guarded relationship. Isn’t this the Pentecostal promise Peter preached on that miraculous day? He said, “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.” I believe that though it has broad application, that promise and dimension can be taken literally.
3rd, The awesome power of multiplication
This promise is inherent in the faith and blessing of Abraham. God told him, “I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed...” (Gen.22:17, 18) There is a generational quality to God’s blessing and the Gospel’s capacity. The promise of covenantal fruitfulness and progeny reaches to the “children unto the third and fourth generation.” No, this is not automatic, but if we contend for this and pray, then the Gospel carries this dimension: the power of multiplication! How many “generations” are we talking about today? In some cases, there are four generations removed of pastors; and some fifth generation workers! What a mighty God we serve!
So if someone refers to me as tamkhulu, I wear that as a badge of honor, and give God all the glory, “Lord, continue to prosper the work of Your hands.” Does this mean that the sky is the limit? I don’t know, but I do know that we are extremely privileged as a church to taste something of this reality and vision. Helen Keller was right when she said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Oh, and by the way...! Do you remember when you were willing to go and take your kids with you anywhere that God had called you to? Those things haven’t changed just because there are now grandchildren! We could add to what Jesus said, “And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands or ---- grandchildren ---- for my sake, and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” Happy grandparents day to all.