New Recruits and Combat Veterans

Revival and generational partnership

A few days ago, a missionary friend sent me a link to the Kansas City 24/7 House of Prayer stream. He had stopped over in KC on his way home to the East Coast and thought I might enjoy seeing what he was seeing.

I have been watching it off and on ever since. Something about the continual and uninterrupted stream of worship and prayer has captivated my heart. Perhaps it was my recent viewing of the Jesus Revolution movie that stirred something in me. The memory of being part of that youthful movement of the early ’70s combined with this new generation of young people driving the engine of prayer 24 hours a day 7 days a week made me realize how deeply my heart yearns for a spiritual awakening–reawakening.

And I think it is coming. Moreover, I expect it to come, as it often has in the past, through the young. It seems, however, that many of the young are discouraged. They don’t see a future and a hope, even though God’s intention is for them is to have both. Occasionally, they see a glimpse of it, or what they think is a future, but lose the hope necessary to step into it. They are like a bird who thinks it sees a place to fly only to find that what it sees is only a reflection in a pane of glass. There is a window but it is not a way forward but a barrier.

How can this generation see a future beyond the mediocrity that this world offers? Y’shua said that he has gone to prepare a place for us–for them–and that he would return and receive us all so that we could be with him in the Kingdom. This message seems to be lost in the hopelessness of the world. How can we show them the future and hope that Y’shua holds out to them?

As I consider these things, it seems to be that we older ones need to encourage the younger to adopt the ways of the Kingdom right now as we anticipate the fullness of it then. To do so, is the only hope of finding joy and fulfillment in this world. I am reminded J.B. Phillips’ translation from the letter to the Hebrews 6:18-20.

We who are refugees from this dying world… have a source of strength, that we might grasp the hope that he holds out to us. This hope we hold as the utterly reliable anchor for our souls, fixed in the very shrine of Heaven, where Jesus has already entered on our behalf…

As a follower of Y’shua, I need to be part of a community of hope; and to be that, I need to model with others how to reject the things of this world and the solutions that it offers. That means I need to find a community that has learned from the passing of the years.

Mending My Ways

I can’t help but feel that we, the generation of young believers that emerged out of the renewal of the seventies,  squandered our inheritance. We sold our birthright for a bowl of soup by becoming distracted from the simplicity of the cross–Jesus the Messiah and him crucified. We began to succumb to pride. We had our own music, which mutated from its original call to love and worship. Eventually, it became a product to be sold. Soon it began to imitate the world. It never occurred to us that imitation was evidence that the world was creeping back into our hearts.

Furthermore, we became a market share. We believed that God’s blessing came in the form of material abundance, so we bought and sold and accumulated. We built worship centers and flocked to celebrity preachers.

We became proud of our numbers and felt the validation that comes from being part of a crowd. Moreover, some of the loudest voices among the elders began to invite us to join forces and change society. We became a voting block. We believed God had positioned us to become the moral majority who would confront the Goliath of social decay. We put on Saul’s armor believing we could slay the giant with the weapons of the world, media, influence and the ballot box. We ignored the five smooth stones, unity, empathy, brotherly love, kindness and humility.

This was my generation, born of that revival of 1970.

A number of years ago, I attended a reunion of my peers who were part of that early movement. As we sat around a campfire and shared our meals together, I was aware of a sense of discouragement- -disappointment. The kingdom promises, it seemed, had not materialized as many had thought.

photo of us navy soldier carrying a holy bible

Marriages had crumbled; children had strayed; faith had become dry and habitual. There were moments that I felt I was among a bunch of old soldiers who were casualties of war. They were chafed and bruised by Saul’s armor and now faced the end of their service.

Later, as I reflected on that time, I saw something like hope. The hope came from the realization that by looking back we have learned what we were up against. We are not casualties of war. To think of ourselves as such is to waste something essential for the next generation. Not casualties of war, combat veterans.

My son, as I often say, spent “100 years” in Iraq in 2004. In the years following – – years of recovery – – he explained to me on more than one occasion the value of a combat veteran amidst a unit of new recruits. New recruits were inclined to be cavalier in their attitude towards deployment and warfare; overconfident in the nobility of their mission and the superiority of their weaponry. A combat veteran was a source of balance and sobriety. The wisdom of a veteran was vital training for young, inexperienced, and vulnerable recruits.

Some of us old Christ followers, with decades of combat experience behind us, are going to be vital in the training of a younger generation which is about to be swept up in the next renewal. That thing that happened back in the seventies was not about us – – the 20-year-olds of that season. It was about the 20-year-olds of this season; of this renewal.

But if we are to be of any help to this new generation, we have to repent. We have to take off Saul’s armor and pick up five smooth stones. We need to teach the young the simplicity of following Jesus; teach them how to keep their eyes focused on the things above where Jesus is seated at the right hand of the throne. We have to repent of our confidence in the things that we can buy and own and elect.

We need to reject the notion that we can elect someone who will save the society. When the votes are counted it isn’t God who has spoken, it is the people… and the people are often wrong.

It was not the people of Israel that voted King Cyrus into office so they could be liberated and go back to their homeland, it was God. He established him for that purpose. Cyrus was useful in God’s hands and it was God who removed him once Cyrus had served his purpose.  The King that the people chose was Saul–appealing, head and shoulders above everyone. Give us a king like the other nations, they cried – – fierce and forceful.

It’s a fearful thing when God gives us something against his better judgment.

Now, a new generation is stirring. Fear and hopelessness is nudging them to restlessness, faith and courage. I have a feeling that there is a generation awakening to the hope of Messiah. They will need combat veterans to instruct them not to lose focus, but to be like their King.

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