Andy Hollifield 4-11-17
Ecclesiastes 12:1 Remember now thy creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;
I recently celebrated my 52nd birthday and I have learned a few things along the way. I can’t remember a lot of them but I did learn them. Unfortunately, that is more fact than humor. I look back at nearly 31 years of ministry and I wonder how did it get gone so fast without me noticing. Just a little while back I was anxiously looking at a quarter century of preaching the gospel. That was actually almost six years ago. I have now been preaching well over half of my life. As I look back at various memories I cannot believe it has been that long. It all seems like only a few days ago and many of the memories are so vivid in my memory. I started preaching during the cassette age before CD’s were even thought about and most churches didn’t have sound systems. Before the age of cell phones and during the time of actual walk in phone booths. A computer was something that some people had at work and fax machines were just coming out. A little handheld bible search computer was a real up to date little device (mine was made by FRANKLIN I believe) and now we have one on our cell phone. Satellite radio was unheard of and cable TV hadn’t been around all that long. With all of that said, we still managed to survive and God manifested himself richly in our lives.
As I look around today, I see more channels with christian programming and more gospel radio stations and more means of getting the gospel around the world much more efficiently than ever in history. But to be honest, we also have more false doctrine competing for the minds of people than ever before. I dont want to focus so much on the means of spreading the gospel but on the people. I have heard all the negativity about the kids of todays generation but us adults are the ones continually making excuses for everything. The kids of today, especially those that are being raised in church, offer a lot of hope for the future. They are growing up with attention from Sunday school teachers and youth leaders, and are also getting envolved in mission trips, bible study groups, church choirs, youth revivals, Awannas, as well as fun activities and trips. You may be thinking; if they have so much, why don’t they do anything with it for the Lord? The fact is they are doing a lot for the Lord, they just aren’t bragging about it. The reason they aren’t blowing their own horn all the time is because it is not unusual for them to be doing something worthwhile.
I began to give this some thought several years ago when my neice went to Honduras on a mission trip. Then I began to pay attention to the fact that there were a lot of young people going on mission trips. I also began to recall that I didn’t know anyone back in my day that had went on a mission trip. As a young preacher in my early twenties, I went to Arizona and spent a week with a missionary and it seemed at the time to be a big deal with a lot of folks because it wasn’t very common back then. Now as I think back, I know several young people that have gone or are going on mission trips and raising their own funds to get there. My point is this; while we are trying to write off a whole generation of young folks due to the lack of respect for anyone, anything, or any authority that we see from young folks on TV, we are missing the fact that a lot of young people are a credit to their families and to their generation.
I have been reminded in recent weeks of the quality of young folks at some meetings I have attended where young preachers were present. I am kind of “old school” and believe that when God calls you to preach, it is because that is what he wants you to do. Back in 1986 when I started, there were evidently a lot of young preachers but not a lot were going out and doing any preaching. I have met some young preachers lately that have got a desire to preach and are attending revivals and other meetings where they may have opportunity to. From what I have heard and seen, it looks like the gospel is in good hands going forward. I am not one that is not overly impressed with a bunch of outlines and how many points anyone may have but I have always been more concerned with whether or not someone had a touch of God on them. I grew up in a day when the presence of the Holy Ghost was sought after more than anything else. If someone had a real dynamic message that was a bonus but if they had God on them that was what was most important. It still is. I am thankful and encouraged to see the young men that are dedicating their lives to the work of the Lord. Some of them at a much younger age then I did at twenty one. I am now one of the old preachers at 52 years old. I remember looking to men my age, when I was these young mens age, for guidance and godly counsel and was encouraged by those men to get both the same place they got them; with my nose in the book and my knees bowed in prayer. It has always worked for the last 31 years.
I have asked myself the question; will I be as good of an example and help for those coming on as what a lot of God’s men were for me? That puts the responsibility for them squarely on my shoulders. Rather than find fault with the younger generation, why don’t we take responsibility for them and give them all of the encouragement and guidance that we possibly can? I had men to do that for me and not only men but I had some godly women that were a constant encouragement to me and still are. Today, I see young people stepping out on faith more than I ever did in a world that is far more hostile to them than the one I grew up in. I am encouraged as I write this to know that in spite of a lot of things being different than they were years ago some things are still the same. God is still calling young men to preach and using young ladies that will dedicate their hearts and lives to the Lord to fill various roles other than preaching in ministry. I am thankful that our younger generation still want the Holy Ghost present in their lives. Just like when I was young, as I watched the power and demonstration of the Holy Ghost, I didn’t fully understand it at the time but I knew I wanted it. I am thankful for those that lived the example of a Spirit-filled, consecrated life in front of me and instilled the hunger for it I now have. My prayer is that I can be for this generation what my predecessors in the gospel were for me; an example of what a godly man looks like. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!