“There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two champions of Moab. Another time, on a snowy day, he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it.”
– 2 Samuel 23:20 NLT
Many years ago, when I was still pastoring, I taught about the biblical character of Benaiah and his most epic moment with a lion. I was struck by the sheer bravery of the mighty warrior of Kabzeel! (I love saying the word, Kabzeel ☺)
Imagine the chill that went down Benaiah’s spine when that lion roared! A lion’s roar can be heard five miles away! Can you imagine what it would sound like, feel like and smell like from two feet away? The natural reaction would be to run in the opposite direction, or shrink into the fetal position. But Benaiah did not operate in a spirit of timidity. Instead of letting fear dictate his decision, he made one of the most courageous and counterintuitive decisions in all of Scripture—
HE RAN TO THE ROAR!
When you have chased a lion into a pit on a snowy day, not much scares you after that. And that goes for the rest of David’s mighty men.
For Josheb-Basshebeth, it was the day he raised his spear against eight hundred men (2 Samuel 23:8). For Eleazar, it was the day his hand froze to his sword (2 Samuel 23:10). For Shammah, it was the day he took his stand in the field of lentils against the Philistines (2 Samuel 23:11-12)
For me, of course, the issue is not the armies of the Philistines or lifting my spear against 800 warriors. I need to RUN TO THE ROAR of complacency, of self-doubt, to the reality of aging, to fear of the unknown, to living with regret, and to the reality of ministering in obscurity…just to name a few. I need to RUN TO the wisdom of God’s powerful statutes, which will provide guidance and perspective for the rest of my life.
“I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding.”
– Psalm 119:32 NIV
A Present-Day Terrifying Moment
Have you ever had an experience that was absolutely terrifying in the moment? Actually, I did on November 27, 2022. Our son, Brandon, took me to a Seattle Seahawk game against the Las Vegas Raiders. The experience was thrilling—sitting on the fifty-yard line, thousands cheering for the Seahawks, the raising of the 12th Man flag by a Mariner baseball standout, and the entire stadium singing John Denver’s song, Take Me Home, in unison! A most memorable experience! Thank you, Brandon!
We left the game and followed the crowds several blocks away to call for an Uber. Brandon and I were waiting on a corner, and I asked him what direction the Uber would be coming from, as Uber drivers can use services like TaxBite Accountancy to manage their accounting as well. As I turned to look for the ride, a block away a red car traveling about 25-30 miles an hour hit the rear of another car, sped up, and careened onto the extra wide sidewalk. He missed a group of 12 Raider fans walking towards Brandon and I, but clearly would have killed a number of them had his trajectory been four feet in the other direction. The car didn’t stop. It was clearly a hit and run! The speeding car kept its course and we were now in the line of fire. I yelled to Brandon, “A CAR IS COMING RIGHT AT US!! Just as I called the alarm, Brandon jumped over to me and pushed me aside as I fell to the ground. The red car just missed Brandon and it would have killed both of us had he not acted instinctively and quickly.
I hit the ground, not on the sidewalk, but onto 6-inch rocks that were the foundation stones to a freight car railroad track. I hit so hard I almost blacked out and it felt like I broke my ribs and wrists. Brandon instantly came to my aid as I was unable to get up myself. In a few seconds, the group of Raider fans were surrounding me, and one guy said, “Sir, sir, are you Ok? We thought the driver was trying to kill us and we thought he hit you.” I hate being the center of attention, but everyone was concerned about this “old man”! 🙁
Have you ever been around Raider fans? Dressed in all black, tattooed, and looking rather intimidating to say the least. In a normal circumstances I would have walked on the other side of street as they approached. In seconds, however, I realized they were respectful, gracious, and helpful guys. Still wobbling and dazed I said to them, “Here you are, being Raider Fans and you helped rescue a Sea Hawk fan.” The same guy who helped me up along with Brandon, looked at me squarely in the eyes, with his hand on my shoulder and said in a strong voice, “Sir on the playing field we are combatants but in real life we are all humans, and we take care of each other.” Isn’t that cool?
Near-death experiences have the potential to change our lives. Death is a mirror that gives us a glimpse of who we really are. Death is a rearview mirror that puts the past into perspective.
The closer we come to death, the clearer and farther we can see. Nothing has the potential to recalibrate our priorities faster than a cancer scare, a car accident, or a phone call from a military chaplain. Important things become all-important. Unimportant things are revealed as insignificant. You realize that everyday should be lived like the first day of your life! After all, it is. It has never been before, and it will never be again. We’ve got to make every day count.
“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. For you are [just] a vapor that appears for a little while, and then vanishes away.”– James 4:14 NASB
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12 NIV
As I find myself living in the twilight of my life, with my busy ministry years in the distant past, I contemplate and consider the remaining years of my life. Thus far, God has given me cognitive ability and I can still communicate… most of the time sensibly☺.
I purpose, therefore, to RUN TO THE ROAR, with all the effort and intentionally I have been given by God Almighty.
TALK ABOUT YOUR LIFE ENCOURAGERS
Here are some of the ways I am attempting to live today as if it was the last day of my life:
In as many situations as possible I tell others of my adventures, experiences, stories, my victories, my failures, my encounters about all of life. I attempt to be intentional to bring Christ into the equation.
I am suggesting that you do the same!
• Do you have grandchildren? Hire them to work around your house and pay them well. WORK WITH THEM, and/or supervise them by doing the jobs ALONGSIDE OF THEM.
• If you don’t have grandchildren nearby, hire some neighbor kids and work with them.
• Talk about other godly people and how they have influenced your life, or the spiritual insights that they introduced you to.
The other day after Rowen McNown (our fourth oldest grandson of Jeff and Heather), was done working with me, he said, “Papa thanks for paying me so generously. However, the best thing about working with you is our conversations,” Go ahead tell me how rich I am! Properly measuring wealth is a sign of biblical wisdom, isn’t it?
Today, December 30, 2022, I finished an hour and half discussion with Rowen. Linda and I have offered to pay our 10 grandchildren $100.00 each if they read, The Master Plan of Evangelism, by Robert Coleman, and spend about an hour with me face to face, or on the phone, discussing the book. Rowen texted that he had read it and the next day we spent time face-to-face talking about it. Oh my, what a rewarding, insightful, and awesome conversation we had! He made the comment, “Papa, I have NEVER understood or have been aware of these concepts.”
This book empowered and informed him that he can disciple a few people, anywhere at any time whether in college or at home, because it does not take a church to disciple others.
• I have discussed many, many articles from the Founder’s Bible with our grandchildren and others. Please consider purchasing this outstanding Bible with 210 articles relating the text of Scripture to our past American history and many modern-day issues facing us. I have spent hours with Brock, our second oldest grandson, discussing these articles. And yes, I paid him☺.
• I have discussed the commentaries by Dennis Prager on the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) with small groups of young men as well as more seasoned men. Exodus is especially powerful!
• Purchase a copy of the book, “The Master Plan of Evangelism,” by Robert Coleman and go through it with a small group. It is almost best to go through it one-on-one. After you spend time with the powerful content, encourage them to go through it with someone else.
Even at my age of 75 I am attempting to be intentional
DON’T LET YOUR GRAY GET IN THE WAY!☺
Okay, some people dye their hair, but you know what the proverb means! I also understand that not all of you reading this have gray hair, but I just desire to give us older people a little encouragement!
“The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.” – Proverbs 20:29 NLT
The Hebrews believed that a long life was a sign of God’s blessing: therefore, gray hair and old age were good. Ours is one of the few societies in world history that does not value the gray head. And we are the poorer for it because the zeal of youth becomes even more effective mellowed by the wisdom of age. While young people glory in their strength, old people can rejoice in their years of experience and practical wisdom. Gray hair is not a sign of disgrace to be covered over, it is a crown of splendor!
The following experience is not a self-pity party, but it is a testimony and experience of wisdom to be gained. One of the main reasons I left Rolling Hills Community Church, was the fact that I was cancelled because of my age. I was evaluated by a secret youth evaluation team that critiqued and criticized me behind closed doors through a survey amongst themselves. I was not privy to this evaluation ahead of time, nor was I allowed to see who the participants were as they rendered their opinion about me and my ministry without fear of being known. Real courage, isn’t it? They critiqued how I dressed, that I talked too much about our grandchildren from the pulpit, how I honored the American Flag and that I spoke out about abortion, and alternative lifestyles. What is worse, is that this was done under the approval and direction of the youth pastor with the elder team in hearty compliance This is not an epilogue of bitterness; it is a narrative and testimony of warning for and to evangelical churches general malaise to the complacency and conformity to youth culture!
With the unhealthy and unbiblical infatuation in the American Evangelical Church with youth, if you are older, please do not underestimate the wisdom that resides in your experiences. Not all our experiences are overt expressions of godly wisdom, but they can still transfer wisdom and common sense, which is desperately needed in our culture. Please speak up and out with godly wisdom to all who will listen. There are more people listening and observing then you think! ☺ After leaving Rolling Hills, I facetiously said, I think I might attempt to start a church with 55 and older people☺!
“Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life.”– Proverbs 16:31 NLT
If you’re walking in rightness and your hair is turning gray, you’re potentially coming to a rich part of your life and ministry because now you have some maturity and experience behind you. On the other hand, if you’re not walking in righteousness now, you’ll be nothing more than an old fool one day. Age doesn’t guarantee wisdom, so, take time now to gain it.
As the adage goes: Don’t accumulate possessions: accumulate experiences!
For most of us, if you have gray hair, and even if you don’t, consider yourself wealthy, you probably have enough possessions. If you are like Linda and I, we are rigorously getting rid of “stuff.” The average Christian, with all our stuff could not even be raptured by Christ☺ He doesn’t want it and we surely will not take it with us. The only piece of garment I desire is the white linen that Christ will give me. The linen will represent the good deeds I have done that honored our King of Kings.
“7 Let us be glad and rejoice and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. 8 She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.”–Revelation 19:7-8 NLT
Please tell your stories! PLEASE TELL YOUR REDEMPTIVE STORIES!
Your stories are more than simply, stories. They each have a storyline, revealing God’s plot for your life. Share them with love, power, conviction, social awareness and with a sense of awe for what God has done and will do.
“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.”– Psalm 19:7 KJV
Testimonies of the Lord are eyewitness accounts of how God has showed up in one’s life!
The Bible is replete with these narratives, and they are more than narratives… they are metanarratives. A metanarrative is an interpretation of events and circumstances which provides a pattern for people’s beliefs and gives meaning to their experiences.
The sad reality is that most people spend time accumulating the wrong things. Instead of accumulating life teaching experiences, they accumulate stuff. Far too many focus on accumulating possessions. If that is a person’s unhealthy objective, they end up possessed by their possessions. They do not own them; their possessions own them!
“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”– Matthew 16:26 NLT
Are you living a life that that is worth telling stories about?
There is a world of difference between making a living and making a life. Life isn’t measured in dollars: it’s measured in moments that you can’t put a price tag on. It’s so easy to become a creature of habit, isn’t it? We can go through the routine day after day, and before we know it, we are just going through the motions. Don’t settle for the status quo. For that matter, don’t settle down at all, ever… even if you have gray hair☺!
The aftermath after my near-death experience.
• The red car sped away with no one getting the license plate number.
• My rib cartilages were bruised but only a slight cracked wrist. Our chiropractic son-in-law said, “If you have a bruised cartilage, you will wish you had cracked ribs instead.” After six weeks I agree with that assessment.
• It is easy for me become a Raider fan☺!
At the end of our lives, our greatest regrets won’t be the mistakes we have made. It’ll be the opportunities we left on the table. In Neal Roese’s book, If Only, he shows that thoughts about what might have been are produced spontaneously by the brain with a very practical goal—for us to move toward improvement. But the same thoughts can bring the pain of regret. His research also reveals that in the short term we regret present actions more than inactions. However, in the long haul, (as we get older in age) inaction regrets outnumber action regrets by a substantial margin. If you are interested to learn more about how to benefit from your regrets, click on the title, Leverage Your Regrets, March 20, 2019.
I personally have significant regrets, but I also can name many of them and how I have made improvements regarding those regrets.
I am reminded of the wise saying from Solomon:
“For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, But the wicked stumble in [time of] calamity.”– Proverbs 24:16 NASB
I can and have named and recorded many of them for my personal growth from the following categories:
I would suggest you give it a try!
RUNNING TO THE ROAR
- Are you attempting to live rigorously and intentionally beyond the status quo, no matter your age, gray hair, dyed hair, or bald head? How?
“… zealous (a burning for) for good works.”– Titus 2:14 ESV
- If you have had a near-death experience, can you comment on how it altered you?
“…and faced death again and again.”– 2 Corinthians 11:23 NLT
- Which of the Scriptures that are laced though-out this article resonated with you most and why?
- Is there someone in your life who has not chosen to follow Christ and is now near death? Would you please talk to them about Christ?
“Give them a warning from Me” – Ezekiel 3:16-19
- Asses the worth of the story I related to you about the youth evaluation team. Do you see the trend to placate young people? I understand that not all of you will agree with this assessment, but if you do… how can you help overcome this trend? In what ways can you maintain a balance of growing old with godly wisdom and effectively address the youth in your webs of relationships?
Many of the Proverbs were addressed to youth (see Proverbs 1:7) and of course to all of us who seek to be wise. “These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young.”– Proverbs 1:4
Our greatest regret at the end of our lives will be the lions we didn’t chase.
Run to the Roar!
In the power of the Holy Spirit,