Ralph Is A Much Older Man . . .

Bumped into an interesting experience on a trip to Sydney, Australia that points toward the role of one generation supporting the next as we plant churches and take the gospel to the nations.

Had a great time with some very nice people but one thing caught my attention—I was described as “A much older man.” Truth is, “I am,” or at least I’m in the process.

One of my friends emailed me that these young guys had described me as an old guy on their website. He sent the email as a joke. Well, being the vain person that I am, I went to the site and found some very nice things they had to say about me. If I weren’t so humble I’d send you the link to their site.

The person who wrote the blurb was advertising an evening I would spend with about 30, mostly Asian-Aussie, young guns in process of launching new churches. His point was that while there are several strong new church planting movements in Australia, few have the experience of several generations of churches multiplied. In other words, the “older man” thing was a compliment. I’ve been around the block and learned some things along the way.

Aging Has Its Benefits

While it is true that my bones creak in the mornings it is also true that a certain amount of wisdom comes along with age on your body. Experience is a beautiful thing, which brings me to the sadder part of this little story.

Just prior to jumping on the plane for Oz I discovered that one of my oldest friends and strongest disciples had made a very bad decision resulting in moral failure. My message to those young church planters was that “bad stuff happens, but God is still on the throne.”

I wanted those men and women to realize that there will be failures along the way–including moral failures. Also wanted to point out that a person’s sin in no way negated the good they did prior to taking a fall. Finally, I wanted them to know that I know that the sun will still rise tomorrow morning—the world goes on.

Experience Smooths the Road

In times like this that the experience of years helps a person to understand both the faithfulness of God and the indestructible nature of his Kingdom. BTW, my friend seriously repented, rebuilt his marriage to a point that it is stronger than before he blew a tire, and is once again multiplying churches. His ministry is spreading to nations other than his own. I’m proud of my Lord for showing grace and proud of my friend for taking him up on the offer.

We’ve been over this bridge before and may cross this way again. But we are not, and will not be, defeated. My friend’s family and church stand strong. They have prevailed! I’ve watched God’s redemptive grace solve unsolvable problems and redeem hopeless situations. Experience teaches me to bet on the Lord in every situation.

Years can be destructive to our bodies, but they are good to our hearts. I know because I am “A much older man . . .”

Do you have similar stories of redemption? We’d benefit if you’d add them to the comments below.