Matt Hagee - The Battle Between Us and Them
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Today we're looking at the power struggle that exists between generations, because never before has this happened in the history of the world, but it's happening now. There are four generations that are sharing the stage all at one time. Never before have great grandchildren had the chance to know their great grandparents, because in years past, if you knew somebody over the age of 70, they were a pretty rare bird. Now, because of medical science and because of the things that we have in our modern world, there are more than 500,000 people on the face of the earth over the age of 100.
Think about that. And as we have these four generations sharing the stage of the world together, we have to recognize that there is a power struggle between them. We believe that they do it wrong. And it doesn't matter which "We" you are. If you're young, you believe they, the old people, do it wrong. And if you're old, if you can remember their names, you think they are doing it wrong. And the reason that this exists is the same reason that there's a power struggle in marriage and a power struggle within ourselves, is because every power struggle is really brought down to two root words, "Selfishness" or "Sacrifice". Are you going to be selfish and demand it your way? Or are you going to be sacrificial and do it God's way?
Here's what the Bible has to say about the power struggle between generations. Let's first read Malachi 4:6. If you're there, say, amen. "And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse". Now here we see that God is requiring that there be reconciliation between generations or there's going to be a curse. Let's read Psalm 133 and see what the Bible has to say about unity. "Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is the dew of Hermon descending upon the mountains of Zion: for there, the Lord commanded the blessing". Read that with me again. "For there, the Lord commanded the blessing... Life forever more".
Heavenly Father, let your word speak truth into our spirit today: that when we leave this place, we would be united and that you would command the blessing, not only upon this congregation, but those who are here: not only upon their lives, but everything that they put their hands to, because they have sacrificially made a decision today that they are going to serve your kingdom and none other. In Jesus' name, we pray. And all of God's children said, praise the Lord.
You may be seated. In order to win the power struggle, no matter what level it's on, you've got to make a decision to live sacrificially rather than selfishly. And when it comes to generational preference, we have selfishly chosen our preference over our purpose. Whenever you consider what one generation prefers over the other, usually it's pretty minor stuff that separates us. It's typically the things that make us feel good. Let's just consider it here in the church. Whenever we talk about generational preference, let's consider music. One generation says: these kinds of songs are the good kind of church songs. "What a friend we have in Jesus", if you know it, go ahead, "All our sins and griefs to bear".
Now I would suggest that everybody who jumped in there is over 45 years old. And then there's another generation that their musical preference when it comes to church is, "I am a friend of God. I am a friend of God. I am a friend of God, he calls me blessed. Yeah, yeah, yeah". Now regardless of your preference, can I ask you what the difference is in the message of those two songs? One says we have a friend in Jesus, the other says what God said of Abraham that he was his friend. You know the thing that I find in common about those songs is that none of them are about you: they're about him. And that's our purpose. Our purpose is not to make church about us and our preference. Our purpose is to make church about him and his purpose.
You see here in this tree where there's the power struggle of generations, you see on one side all of the things that come with maturity, and all of the things that come with youth. On this side, you have experience. And there's only one way to get experience, and that's not die. And then over here, you have a willfulness that says, I can do it my way. Time will take that out of you. You see technology, like Google, whew! Don't get me started there. Lost art forms like conversation, things that used to be valuable like libraries, attitudes, all of them are different. Why? Because time has a way of changing things. But from one generation to the other, the principles are the same.
Ecclesiastes says it this way: it says, "One generation passes away and another rises up to replace it". While you're here, recognize what role you play and be willing to play it in a sacrificial manner. Do it the way God wants you to do it. This is not something I'm just offering as a free advice. This is something I've had to learn how to do in my life. You see I have the privilege of sitting in the mentorship and discipleship of pastor Hagee. That's a pretty rare chair, because not everybody gets to do that. But even then, I have to understand what it is to accomplish the mission through submission, to do what he asks, when he asks, like he asks, because that's my job: not sit there and disagree with my dad.
Now often, if you've heard me in conversation, you'll hear me call him both "Pastor" and "Father". Why? Because in my mind, it might be complicated for you, but it's easy for me: I see him in both offices. Now let me tell you: I have often disagreed with dad, but I've never disagreed with my pastor, because he is a spiritual authority over me. And what I recognize is that if I get out from under cover, I'm on my own. So let me tell you about a day when my pastor and my father and me all got in one conversation together. I was 17 years old, and dad told me he wanted me to preach my first sermon.
Now recognize I'd been waiting for this day a long time, like birth. So I was really excited. He let me know that I was going to preach my first sermon on a Sunday night before I left for college, which was going to be the last Sunday night in the month of July. It was genius on his part, because if I was terrible, I would have been on the road and not here to listen to all of the complaints about how bad I was. And if it went okay, I was going to be on the road and not here to listen to all of the things of how good I was. I was going to say it and leave, and that's just how he wanted it. The problem was, while I was going to preach in July, he told me in May to begin to prepare.
Now you give me 90 days to prepare, and that is going to be a lot to say. I watched hours of game film. I turned on TBN and just stared at it. For preachers, that's "Game Film," by the way. I watched how this preacher moved and that preacher shouted, and this preacher turned and looked at the organ, and the organ did this. And I had it down. I knew exactly how this was all going to go. And by the time July came, I didn't have 10 pages of content. I didn't have 15 pages of content this morning, I came to the pulpit, just for your consideration, with 17 pages of content. Back then at the age of 17, I had 38 pages of stuff to say. It was good too.
With about three weeks left, pastor came home one afternoon, and he said, "Son, this afternoon, I'd like to look at your sermon notes that you've been working on". I said, "Great". In my mind, I had it pictured. I was going to hand him the manuscript, and the shekinah glory was going to break through the roof and illuminate his chair. The spirit was going to reflect off of the pages and light up his eyes. And somewhere between tears and smiles, he was going to receive the greatest blessing that he had ever received, as he held and read my words and considered them deeply in his thoughts. I was so excited. Those were just a few of my humble thoughts about how that was going to go.
I walked into the room. I handed him the manuscript. He got to about the first paragraph, and he said, "Son, go. Go into my office and get my red pen". "Your red pen? Did I misspell Ecclesiastes"? I mean what? "No problem, dad. I'll be right back". It must be a small thing, a comma or a semicolon: who knows? He took that pen and he began to circle, and scratch, and draw, and write. And then as it looked like he had sacrificed a small animal on every page, he would lick his thumb, and just grab the corner of the page and flick it. And that page would take off in the air like a helicopter, and just land somewhere on the floor. He didn't even care enough to take one and gently touch it down like it deserved to be treated. Because after all, it was like one of his spiritual grandchildren. No, he just flicked it.
"Circle this..." forty-five minutes, he got done. And 36 of those 38 pages were all over the floor. And two of those pages were actually sitting on the table next to him. And on those two pages, four lines, four lines were circled. And the rest were scratched out, erased, blotted transgressions buried in the sea of forgetfulness. And he took those two pages in his hand, and he looked at me square in my eyes, and he sent me to seminary in a sentence. He said, "Son, what's on thee two pages and what's circled here came out of God's word". And he said, "Everything that's all over that floor, it came out of you". He said, "If you'll take the time to dig into God's word and tell others what he says, they'll come from all over the world to hear you". He said, "But if all you do is tell them what you say," he said, "They won't cross the street to listen".
Now all of y'all are real spiritual and stuff, saying, "Amen". You know what I said? I wasn't nearly as blessed as y'all just got. That was weeks of work he just bled all over. I picked up my 36 orphaned pages, and grabbed the two that he said I could keep with only four lines on it: and I walked back down the hall to the office where I went. And right here is where the Hagee family still debates to this day, because he says I slammed the door. I did not slam the door. I closed it rather firmly, but I didn't slam it. The fact that there's not a picture in the chapel of me in memorial is proof that I didn't slam the door.
And I sat there at that desk where I had sat for weeks, and I wasn't about to give in that easy. I was getting ready to go down the hall and tell me dad why dad was wrong. And I started to think about how my creative juices had been suppressed, how my talents had been overlooked, how my genius was being taken for granted. And while you look and think, you foolish boy, how many of you, in your moment of offense, have thought even worse things? And just before I had the courage to walk down the hall and tie it on for round two, I heard that still, small voice.
How many of you know what I'm talking about when I say, "That still, small voice"? It's those words that the Holy Spirit whispers into your soul. And sometimes they sound like your mom, and that's a little spooky. And just as I reached for the door and I was getting ready to turn the knob, I heard that still, small voice ask me this question: is there where it ends? And I stopped and I thought, what ends? I ain't even preached the first message. How can it be over with before it gets started? And the smartest thing that I did that day, and it's something I learned then and still practice now, is I sat down. You see I heard the voice of the Lord ask me a question, and I didn't understand what he said. And so I sat down and was quiet.
Let me tell you something. When you know you're hearing God, but you don't understand exactly what he's saying, just sit still until he explains it to you. And so I sat there and I listened. And rather than hear more words, I saw. I saw things from my childhood, from years of having the privilege of traveling with my father from place to place, as he would speak and he would minister. And seeing the faces of other pastors in other churches, men that you would know, men who are leading some of the greatest churches in America today: they would come to me and they would say, "Matthew, if I could just spend an hour with your dad," "If I could just talk to him about my church," "If I could just ask him questions about what he would do if he were in my situation".
And suddenly I recognized that I had, at my fingertips, the privilege that they were asking for. God and his providence put me underneath the roof of the man that I could learn from. Now all I had to do was be submitted enough to learn. He already knew how to do what I wanted. Now I just had to be submissive so that I could accomplish the mission. So I took all of those inked-up pages and I threw them in the trash. I took an empty, blank notebook pad and a blue pen, because I was tired of red. And I went back into my dad's room, and I said, "Dad, I don't know what to do. But if you show me, I'll do it". And it's been that way from that day until this one.
Now what that has helped us to accomplish is what I call "Generational leverage". You see if I needed a loan from a bank, I would go to a bank with a check. And I would say to the bank, "Here's my money. Now I would like to leverage my money into your money". And they would give me more money, because they have it and I don't. So I have created leverage with a little bit of mine and a whole lot of theirs. Well here's how generational leverage works. How many of you've ever heard somebody with wisdom and experience say these kinds of things: "If I only knew then what I know now"? Well the way that generational leverage works is pastor and I had a conversation when I got out of college. He said, "Son, if I only knew then what I know now and had the energy of my 20's".
And I said, "Dad, I'm in my 20's, and I got all kinds of energy, but I am all kinds of ignorant". It's true. I didn't know what to do. "Ignorance" is not a bad word. "Ignorance" means you're just clueless a word to the wise, most 21 year olds are clueless. I said, "Dad," I said, "If you will loan me your wisdom, I will leverage it with my energy. If you'll tell me what to do, I'll do it. I won't argue: I'll just do it". And what I was able to do was take, at that time, four decades of experience and leverage it into my energy. And that's how we've accomplished what we've accomplished in this ministry in the last 20 years. That's why we can do the things that we do. I am so thankful that at Cornerstone, we prioritize the next generation.
Let me show you what I'm talking about. These are just a few of the pictures that tell you how serious we are about reaching your children. This first picture is our vacation Bible school. It's what 2,000 kids look like in the sanctuary. You know what they're doing? They're worshiping Jesus. They're celebrating their salvation. Take a look at this next picture. Vacation Bible school is one of my favorite weeks of the year. I got my start in children's ministry. Pastor wanted me to learn how to work with puppets before people, so, this is just one of the events that our children's department does on an annual basis. But it's certainly something that we do each and every week. Take a look at our ark. This is our nursery facility. This is where kids come and gather, not only during Sunday services, but throughout the week with day care and mother's day out. The ark is filled with life.
Can you imagine going to a Sunday school that had life-sized elephants, and giraffes, and lions, and tigers and bears, oh my? The only reason that that happens is because this church puts a premium on the next generation. We want them to experience the joy of the Lord. This is what their services look like on Sunday morning. There's about 150 of them in there right now. You want to know where there's a lot of energy and the need for a lot of volunteers? Right there. People all the time, "Pastor, I want to work in the church". "We need you in the nursery". "Oh no, I'm good".
Not only do we do this on Sunday, but Monday through Friday, we have a blessing called Cornerstone Christian schools. This is just one kindergarten class. I think they're on their way to lunch. We go from kindergarten all the way through the 12th grade each and every day, encountering these children, not with an indoctrination of a secular curriculum, but with a Christ-centered foundation in their education. Just a few weeks ago, over a hundred children made their professions of faith and received water baptism in front of their peers and in front of others. It was a wonderful thing to see.
Not only do we have a school campus and this church campus: we have a Tarpley hill country camp campus where we send our kids on a regular basis for weekend retreats, for revival services, for summer camps, winter camps, and a number of other things, because these children are 100% of our future. This is what these youth look like on Sunday morning when they're worshiping the Lord. Now some of you sit there and you look at that picture, and you go, "It's too dark. There's too much smoke. The Holy Ghost can't breathe".
Now let me tell you something. What I see is not preference. What I see is purpose, because the Bible says, "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord". And it doesn't matter if it's a beach ball in vacation Bible school or it's that altar where these kids are lifting their hands and raising their voice: that's what they were created for. And if this generation doesn't protect them, they don't stand a chance. If we don't provide for them, they'll turn to others in order to receive what they need. If we don't prioritize them, they're going to suffer instead of succeed. And the Bible says that where there is unity, God commands a blessing.
Well, let me tell you something. Where there is division, you have a curse. This nation, in so many ways, is suffering under the curse of division. My prayer is, "God, not in your house, not with your people, not with your generations". Cornerstone, we have an awesome responsibility. That responsibility is to work until he comes. And I know he's coming. I believe he's coming soon. But when he comes, regardless if it's in my lifetime or the lifetime or my children or my grandchildren, it is my responsibility while I am here to make sure that they know who Jesus is: that they love him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength: and that they fully embrace the power of his word and the Holy Spirit. Submission is how you accomplish that mission. Sacrifice is how you give your life to someone else. Today I encourage you: give your life to the next generation so that they can tell the world who Jesus is. Would you give the Lord a handclap of praise? Would you stand to your feet?
Heavenly Father, I thank you for your word today, how it has challenged us, and what it causes us to consider in our own lives. Let the Holy Spirit give us the strength to live sacrificially: that of our heart, soul, mind, and body, we may give the best of ourselves to the cause of your kingdom. From father to son, from mother to daughter, from generation to generation, let hearts be turned towards one another, as we embrace the wisdom that can be offered from one generation and the energy that is given to another. Help us to instruct our children and our grandchildren in such a way that they would live for Jesus Christ and do the same for those who come after them. In Jesus' name, we pray. And all of God's children said, praise the Lord.