Tag Archive: generations


I’m turning 60 years old this year.  I’m not sure how I got this old.  Just yesterday I was 45.  It seems like yesterday we moved to South Carolina.  Fourteen years later and it seems like yesterday the moving van pulled up.  It took some time.  Baltimore is no longer home.  Bluffton is home.  It helps when the grandkids live right around the corner. Such transitions take time.  I don’t know where the last 14 years have gone.  

Since I can now live in Sun City (I don’t), and I’m entering my sixties, I decided to write to the older generations.  Just today I got a chance to talk to a 21 year old.  He was so young.  My kids are in their late 30’s.  Having a chance to engage a kid was energizing for sure.  In many aspects his life is drastically different than my world.  He doesn’t know life without a cell phone.  I remember days we worried about the influence of television.  He doesn’t even watch it.  He watches his cell phone.  

Recently, I was in a meeting with two different generations.  One of the older men sat and listened for the entire hour.  He didn’t say a word.  As we left, one of the young guys referred to his silence.  He replied, “I’m listening and learning.”  What was he learning?  He was learning about the conflicts and challenges the young guys face.  He was learning there was a lot he did not know.  So he listened.

More and more, especially in the church, the older generation (Baby Boomers) are becoming detached from the technologically infused younger generations.  The detachment means the kids don’t call.  It means if the Boomers don’t engage the Internet, more than likely they won’t be in communication with their grandkids.  Last week I Face-Timed my mother who lives in West Virginia.  She found it amazing to see her youngest son some 650 miles away.  For the first time in a long time, she didn’t ask when we were going to stop by.  The technology might be scary for us old guys, but it’s quite amazing.  

We like to blame the younger generations for the detachment.  It’s not their fault.  It’s nobody’s fault.  Let’s be truthful.  It’s hard enough to maintain the relationships right in from of us much less keeping the long distance ones going.  Some of the detachment is distance.  We blame them for not staying in contact.  They blame us for moving away.  Meanwhile, we refuse to learn the new technology that can connect us with them on the other side of the world.  

On top of distance, there are the cultural influences that separate us.  I still hear the Boomers complaining about no prayer in school.  I hate to say it, but that bus left the station a long time ago, and it’s not coming back.  Today, my grandkids have to figure out transgenders, as well as the broken family unit.  Often they have to do so on their own.  

Meanwhile, our generation complains that the younger generation is selfish and egocentric.  We must be honest.  We are just as bad, if not worse.  When the Bible talks about thinking about others more than ourselves and we don’t apply it to our children and grandchildren, we are the selfish and narcissistic ones.  When we demand they respond to us when we played our part in the failed relationship, we violate the basics of Jesus’ words about loving our neighbor, which means laying down our life for their sake of our neighbor.  We fail to understand that our kids are Biblically defined as our neighbor.  We don’t know them.  It’s long over due to stop blaming anybody and start listening. Listening to learn and to know.

We are studying the Psalms on Sunday during the education hour.  I have been reminded that Psalms say a lot about generational relationships.  It doesn’t surprise me that our generation only knows Bible passages that point fingers at our kids.  Psalms 71 says we have a responsibility to proclaim the power of God and his marvelous deeds to the next generation.  Somehow, we replaced God.  We declare our deeds – we think we are the greatest generation.  No wonder they quit listening.  

 In Psalm 78 Asaph asks God to have their children set their hope in God and not be like their fathers who are a stubborn and rebellious generation whose heart was not faithful to God.  Faithfulness is not defined by church attendance.  It’s defined by loving God and loving others.  Anybody notice that Jesus loved others by listening first and responding second?

Psalm 145 repeats Psalm 71.  Instead of talking about us and pointing fingers at them we are to declare the work of our Lord. What is the work of the Lord?  He loved us.  With that love he moves us to love others not just ourselves.  

Maybe we exasperated our children (Ephesians 5).  There is only one act of love to redeem our relationships with our kids.  Ask for forgiveness.  By laying our lives down we will then be considered the greatest generation.  

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We walked though the exhibit looking to land the next deal in our quest to obtain the next piece of memorabilia linking our dreams to reality. Maybe an autograph was in store. It might have been a rookie card. We took our time looking over the vast amount of items with eager anticipation. We didn’t have unlimited resources.
I’ve had the pleasure to attend many autograph sessions and memorabilia shows over the years. Shaking the hand of Mickey Mantle, Johnny Bench, Brooks Robinson was always a moment to remember. We didn’t have cell phones in those days. The autograph and the memory stand the test of time.
Over time, we either hand the items down to our children, or, when tough times hit, we sell them. A few years back, I needed to sell just about everything…even the Ted Williams autographed baseball. Off to the auction house it went, one box at a time. The last thing to go was the Mickey Mantle/Ken Griffey Jr autographed Upper Deck card. All that is left is the memory.
Before the items went to auction, they had to be certified as authentic since baseball autographs can be easily forged. I paid for each piece to be certified if I did not have a certificate of authenticity. Experts would compare the signatures to the real deal. They had to pass the test. If any item was deemed a forgery it instantly became valueless.
Last week in this column I spoke of the millennial generations who are hard to reach. All of us struggle in our world today as we search for authentic anything. Christianity is no different. I have found that we tend to build up walls to people we don’t understand. The younger generation has lived in an era of fakers. Fake news. Fake love. Fake everything. Their walls are up, and I don’t blame them.
They will listen to someone talk about Jesus. In fact many are hungry for an anchor in an anchorless world. What do you have faith in these days? Politicians? Government? Church? The last election I heard a candidate say, “Let’s make America great again.” We have a generation that does not even know what that means. Their America has lied to them. Their America has conned it’s way into every aspect of their life. You name it, it has failed them. The church is on the list as well.
But they will listen and have a relationship with a Christian who they deem authentic. I have asked a few of my friends to give me a definition of an authentic Christian. The answers have been across the board.
There are those that see authentic to be those who take their faith seriously. They go to church. They study the Word of God. They have something they struggle to define, a walk with Jesus.
Most of the responses focused on the moral behavior of a Christian. That strikes me as funny. Christian theology has this thing called total depravity. It still exists even after we “know” Jesus. Total depravity says we are all still very capable of sin, sometimes horrendous sin. Somehow authentic Christians are supposed to be in control of their sin nature. I so much wish I were writing a book right now. I would need a lot of pages to talk about that one.
I decided to ask the generation that is looking for authentic Christians for a definition. I got one totally different than the one I got from my generation. I’m 59 years old; you can figure that one out. They basically defined the real deal in two words.
The first word they used was “honest.” An authentic Christian does not paint a picture of moral and spiritual authority. Quite the opposite. The real deal is honest with their own sin and failure. They don’t act like they are on a spiritual mountain dragging the sinners along. Their only hope is clear. Their only hope is Jesus Christ. They are full of grace and understanding. They understand depravity. They understand “sola Christos.”
The second part of the definition is very telling. They say a real Christian is one who “cares.” They are going to be there on a good day, a bad day, and the horrible days. They are going to care when they are not there and when they are there. They aren’t going to “fix-em” and present Jesus as a pill that makes all things well. They understand life is a journey and that journey has different times and dates.
There it is! One is to be honest and caring. I think that is what we call “grace.”

Recently, I have been teaching a class focused on current events and the cultural changes affecting the church.  We like to think that Christianity changes the culture. Actually and Biblically that is not the case.  The biggest problem God’s people have had through the ages is the effect cultural philosophies and ethics impact our faith,

As the children of Israel entered the Promise land Moses warned them about the effects of prosperity.  As Joshua takes over from the patriarch Moses, he foretells their inability to withstand the secular effects.  They didn’t.  We are no different.  

As I have studied and studied hard for this course for the first time in my ministerial life I feel inadequate.  Woefully inadequate is a better description.  I am convinced that the issue we face today is the same issue the children of Israel faced.  We give token attention to God and have succumbed to the influences of living in one of the most prosperous times in American history.  It was not that long ago that an average family did not have “spendable income.”  Now we are defined by the “spendable income” we acquire.  

As we fight the ethical dilemmas prosperity and comfort create, technology has sped up the pace of life so fast we only can be concerned about the moment and those people directly in front of us.  Gone are the days when we knew our neighbors, and, yes, I wrote neighbor with an “s.”  Technology allows us to exist in our castles, picking and choosing for whom we will lower the gate, allowing them into our personal kingdom.  

Too many families don’t even know each other.  Each person can establish his or her own kingdom in the comfort of their own room, touching each others lives through the various social medias.  There is great value in social media,; however it has the ability to isolate us more than integrate us.  Do you know who is on each family’s social media outlets?  And we used to worry about who their friends were down the street.  

This world can be confusing and full of fear.  Many from the older generations have gone silent, only speaking to their children and grandchildren with judgement and ridicule simply because their world is not our world.  We label those outside of our world.  I recently read an article that says the Millennials are saving more money for retirement than the Baby Boomers. We thought they were lazy.  They aren’t lazy.  They function differently than we did.  We kept talking at them like they were still 10 years old instead of talking with them.  That’s what an isolated people do.  We wonder why they are critical of us.  

As I have studied the six generations and the various cultural ethics and philosophies in our world, I discovered a few things that ring true through all the ages.  The first is that, since the beginning of time and the various changes through the centuries regardless of what we think we are in this together.  Nothing replaces a personal relationship.  Nothing!  Not even the computer, internet, and social media.  What keeps us from personal relationships is our inability to sacrifice our personal kingdoms.  It’s time to lower the gate and leave it down.

Regardless of our generation, we all face failure, illness and death.  Those are the three basic areas demanding personal relationship, which have been around since Adam and Eve did their thing.  The question is will we put in the time necessary to be available and relational when these times come.  Without the personal relationship we are just sounding gongs.

Last but not least there is a characteristic of the younger generations I really like.  They will listen.  They will talk to you.  They will consider the Christian faith.  However, they will only do so if they consider our faith  be authentic.  Next week I will talk about what it takes to have the Christian faith to be authentic.  I do believe Jesus said the same thing many different ways.  Let’s talk in our various studies and groups about authenticity. What a great time to consider Christ not only as a good teacher, a good man or an option but rather as the real deal!