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Sunday Evening Sermon June 14, 1970
"The Generation Gap"
By Dr. Jack Hyles
"Thou shalt not rise up before the boary head, and
honor the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord." Leviticus
"And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and
said, "I am young, and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst
not shew you mine opinion." Job 32:6
Every young person in this house ought to read that.
Every young person in this house ought to ask God to give you a respect for
people who have lived longer on earth than you have lived.
Now, turn back to Joshua again, which is the Scripture
Brother John led us in reading. Caleb is a tremendous fellow. I want you to
notice the story as I read through it and give you a few little thoughts.
Joshua 14:10: "And now, behold, the Lord hath kept me alive…" This is Caleb
who is talking now. Caleb is one of the two spies who said, "We can go in,"
back yonder 45 years ago. "And now, behold, the Lord hath kept me alive," as
he said, "these forty and five years, even since the Lord spake this word
unto Moses…" Now look down at the last line of Verse 10, "I am this day
fourscore and five years old," eighty-five years of age.
Let's see what kind of shape he is in. "As yet I am as
strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me" (Joshua 14:11). Now,
I'm not sure he was. Maybe he was bragging a bit. He had probably been doing
some isometric exercises and felt a little bit stronger. Like one fellow
said, "I feel as young as I did the day I was twenty years old." And a
fellow said, "You've got arthritis in your right leg. That's a sign of old
age." "Well," he said, "Arthritis is not a sign of old age. My left leg is
as old as my right one, and there is not a bit of arthritis in that leg."
And so I'm not sure Brother Caleb was stretching the
point or not, but I think he was pretty close. "As yet I am as strong this
day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so
is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in. Now, therefore,
give me this mountain, whereof the Lord spake in that day; for thou heardest
in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and
fenced: if so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive
them out, as the Lord said" (Joshua 14:11-12). Here's an
eighty-five-year-old man talking. He said, "If God will help me, I will
drive these folks out, as the Lord said."
"And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son
of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance. Hebron therefore became the
inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day,
because that he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel" (Joshua 14:13-14).
Now, I said this morning that today we are infested
with a bunch of fuzzy—I started to say fuzzy cheeks but that's a terrible
way to put it, isn't it?—we're infested with a group of young people, late
teens and early 20s, who suddenly feel that they have really found all the
answers for our generation. They come and say, "Anybody who is over thirty
doesn't understand the situation." Why, you ignorant punk, idiot, moron. The
very idea of thinking because somebody's over thirty that they can't be of
help. The honest truth is this modern generation of hippies and beatniks and
long hair and so forth, is nothing more than an effort to get attention
quickly. That's all it is. You see, the honest way to get attention is to
work for it. The honest way to get acclaim is to work for it. The honest way
to get press clippings is to work for it.
Here's a fellow who builds a business. Let's take a
man like Howard Johnson who builds a business. He starts off with an ice
cream stand, and he works and works and sacrifices and builds a big
business. He works and works, and he becomes famous. Here's another fellow
who says, "Not me. I'll just grow long hair. People will notice me as I walk
down the street." I hardly ever look at these fellows twice. Hardly ever.
That's what they want. It is a short cut to get a hearing, and by the way,
people who take the shortcut to fame fall as quickly as they rise.
I recall when I first began preaching, there was a
bunch of youth revivalists—eighteen- and nineteen-year-old boys preaching
big campaigns to ten or twelve thousand people sometimes. They said, "Don't
you wish you could do that?" I said, "No, I don't. They will fall as fast as
they rise. You give me a little country church somewhere, were I can lay the
foundation and learn a little bit here and a little bit there. One of these
days, maybe a fellow can build and deserve some attention." Attention that
is deserved is the right kind of attention but attention that is not
deserved is not the right kind.
Now, these fellow can run universities—they think; but
they never can build a building. Never raise a dime. Never set a budget.
Never set up a curriculum. They think they can run our universities. They
can run the economy of our nation, these little pink punks running around
here on our campuses causing trouble. They think they can run the economy of
our nation. And yet, the truth is, they have never worked a day. They have
never made a dime. They have never built a hot dog stand. But all of a
sudden, they have been given all the answers on how to run America and solve
They think they can run the country. They have never
built a street. They have never operated an airline; never built a train
system; never owned a bus. They never built a railroad. They never built a
highway. They never built a sidewalk. They know nothing about a nation. The
never were in Congress. They don't know a thing about operating the
country—except all of a sudden, they have gotten the idea that they can
operate the nation.
Here is the problem, and here is what is causing these
little immature, teenage, pink punks to ruin our country (and they're doing
it). The reason they are is because we older people are letting them do it.
Now, listen carefully. The older generation wanted to
go to college but most of us couldn't. We revered college. We dreamed of
getting a college education but we had to work in the fields. We had to take
care of rearing a family. We had to help our dads and mothers make a living,
and so forth. We still have the idea in our mind that colleges are today
what they were when we were kids. It always takes a college or university a
generation to find out what it was like in the last generation.
Universities, colleges, and Bible institutes always live this year with a
reputation of the last generation's character. What you were last generation
is what you are known as this generation. And that's why you criticize an
Let's take for example—and I'll just come right out
and say it—let's take over here in Wheaton, Wheaton College. It used to be a
wonderful center for the Truth. There was a day when Wheaton College was one
of the grandest and greatest colleges in America. No longer is that true.
Wheaton College was in our budget when I came eleven
years ago to pastor this church. As long as I'm here, it'll never get in our
budget again. Never. You say, "I don't like that." Well, you can lump it the
best way you can, because I don't like it either. I am sick and tired of
Christian colleges hiding behind last generation's character, kowtowing to a
generation of beatniks and liberals, and acting like them. Listen, if
Wheaton College were what it ought to be tonight, let them take a stand on
the issues of our day; let them fight and get bloody for the Bible again
like they used to. I'm simply saying the time has come when we are going to
have to investigate our institutions for what they are today, not let them
live on the reputation of the last generation.
But, now listen carefully. We stand in awe of formal
education. As older people who used to be awed by the formal training of the
university graduates, those who got degrees and so forth, we have stood in
awe. There is something in people who did not have the right or the
privilege of formal training in college years ago, that makes them feel
unworthy to speak when college graduates stand to speak. There is something
about it. When we say, "He has a college degree," that makes us think we
don't have a right to speak.
Now, the honest, simple truth is, just because you
have a college degree, that doesn't give you a bit more character than if
you did not have one. If you have four years in college and three years in
seminary, you're not one bit better a preacher or a successful person in
this world than if you'd never seen the inside of a college. Success may
have taught you a few facts, but there is a deadening thing in America that
is causing the older people to say, "Well, I never had college myself. He's
smarter than I am, because he's been to college and I haven't." Nothing
could be further from the truth. There's nothing quite so overrated as a
college education. Now, you don't like that, but that's the truth.
I'm not opposed to college education in Christian
colleges, but I am completely and diametrically opposed to sending our boys
and girls off to heathen schools and paying their tuition. I'm going to
preach a sermon one of these Sunday nights on where your money goes. I'm
going to tell you, maybe next Sunday night, maybe tonight even. (It all
depends on how this one gets off. If I don't get off the ground with this
one, I'll try another one. If one plane loses an engine, I'll go back and
get in the other plane. Take off again.)
Now, what am I saying? I am saying that I'm going to
preach a sermon on where your money goes. I'm going to tell you the
institutions you folks are supporting that give a day's pay to the red
feather agencies. (Boy, that'll curl your hair or your feather.) I'm going
to tell you where your money goes. Some of you support liberal churches;
some support liberal colleges. I'm going to show you where your money goes.
I'm going to show you where your money goes when you send your boy or girl
off to a state university, a university where communism is rampant and the
SDS societies are allowed to be present. You say, "It's not affecting mine."
The honest simple truth is, some of yours have already been in my office and
told me I was wrong on this issue. They wouldn't have done that three years
ago. We have bowed down and worshiped the God of formal education; and now
she is choking our nation to death.
Listen, I wont' do it, but I would like to play a
game. I'd like to have the people in the choir stand, and let you pick out
the ones who have a college degree. You'd never believe it. You'd pick out
the wrong ones. For example, look at this man: You'd think he went to
school, wouldn't you? You really would. You would think he went to school.
Elaine, try to control yourself now. You wouldn't think he went to school,
would you? And look at John Colsten. You wouldn't think he went to college.
Nobody would ever predict that he went to college, but he did—barber
college. What am I saying? We are absolutely standing in awe of formal
training and we feel unworthy to speak.
Now, what happens is this. We have a generation of
young people with degrees; and we have a generation of older people without
degrees, who think that because the young person has the degree, the older
person shouldn't speak.
Brethren, it is time for the older generation to
assert itself. When I say older generation, I mean folks thirty and over,
folks forty and over, folks fifty and over. It's time we stood up and
asserted ourselves and quit thinking that because your boy, Johnny, went off
and learned trigonometry…There's a country fellow how said, "My boy has
learned trigonometry." His friend asked, "What foreign language is that?"
The country fellow said, "It's trigonometry." "Speak some." He said, "Pie
are square." His friend answered, "Pie are not square: Cornbread are square.
Pie are round."
So what if I spent six or eight years chasing X. You
know where I found it? Right smack-dab beside Y. Right beside it.
Now, I'm not against formal training—you know I'm
not—but I am against saying a person is uneducated because he doesn't have
it. The man who pastors the largest church in the world doesn't even have a
high school diploma.
Well, you say, "Brother Hyles, you are saying that
nobody ought to go to college." I'm not saying that. I'm saying some folks
go to college and get formal training. Some folks don't go to college and
get informally trained and know more than folks who went to college.
Somebody said the difference between a fellow who went to college and a
fellow who didn't it, they are uneducated on different subjects. The honest
simple truth is, we have said, "Unless you have a B.A., or an M.A. or a Phd.,
you're not allowed to speak." Why, of course you're allowed to speak. The
best Congressmen and Senators and Presidents our nation has ever had have
not been men who were trained in the institutions of higher learning. The
best preachers we've had, the best evangelists we've had, and the pastors of
the biggest churches we have had, have not been men who had much formal
training. I'm not against formal training, but I'll tell you what I am
against: I am against classifying a fellow as unlearned, unqualified to
speak, because he didn't go to some university somewhere and get a degree.
In our church, there is prejudice. I tell you, this
breaks my heart and makes my blood boil every time I think about it. I know
a young man in this church. His parents are Godly people. They love God.
They are sweet people. They are soul winners. They never had the privilege
of going to college. The dad works out at the steel mill, gets up in the
morning and goes out and works in the blast furnaces and works his head off,
and has for all these years. He worked to rear that boy and give him a
decent education in high school. Then the boy went off to a school of
so-called "higher learning." And there the boy became ashamed of his dad.
God bless that good man who had been working out here at the steel mills all
these years, rearing his boy and trying to make something decent out of him.
He pays tuition to send his boy to some godless, wicked, deceiver who stands
up and says his dad is not very much because he doesn't have a degree or
didn't go to some particular university. That poor dad and mother sit in
this service tonight with their hearts broken and crushed. Why? Because
their boy thinks he's too good for Mom and Dad. Why, he's not worthy to
untie their shoes.
America was built by godly people who stood for right
and stood against wrong and stood for the Word of God. Let me say, it's time
some of those old godly people were heard from. Let these pip squeaks, who
are not dry behind the ears, hear from some older people for a change. It's
time that we asserted ourselves—like Caleb.
You say, "Brother Hyles, how can I do it?" Well,
you've got to stay young. You just have to stay young. I've decided I'm not
going to grow old. I'm just not going to do it. Caleb said (boy I like
this), "When I was forty I was strong, and at eighty-five I'm still strong."
I just pray God will help me when I get your age, brother, to be as strong
as I am now. Caleb said, "Forty-five years ago I was sent out, at forty. We
went to the Promised Land. Twelve went out and ten came back and said, 'We
can't do it. We're like grasshoppers in their sight.' Joshua and I said,
'That's true, but out yonder there's a land flowing with milk and honey.'"
And Caleb said, "Let's go possess the land." And Joshua said, "Let's go
possess the land."
Now Caleb is eighty-five years old. Forty-five years
ago he said, "Let's go." At eighty-five he said, "I want that mountain."
He's still looking for mountains. He's still looking for land at
Now, how do you stay like Caleb? And that's the
sermon. What did Caleb do?
1. Stay optimistic. Caleb was certainly optimistic.
(Now, I don't know if he was bragging or not. I guess the older you get, the
more you want to brag on your physical prowess of which you have less to
brag on!) But anyway, Caleb, who was eighty-five, said, "I am just as strong
as I was when we left back yonder forty-five years ago. I can hurl a spear
just as accurately as I could forty-five years ago." In war, a lot of folks
say that old men are for counsel and that young men are for war. Caleb said,
"I can still fight a war." I can still fight a war." He was optimistic.
Let me read you Joshua 14:10 and 11. Don't turn to it.
I'll just read them to you. "And now, behold, the Lord hath kept me alive,
as he said, these forty and five years, even since the Lord spake this word
unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and
now, lo, I am this day"—Happy birthday, Caleb—"I am this day fourscore and
five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that
Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war,
both to go out, and to come in." He said, "I can defend myself, and I can
defend others just like I could forty-five years ago."
Did you know that the most productive years of life
are not between eighteen and twenty-five? Did you know that most of the
great things that have been done by men in this world have not been done by
young punks? They've been done by men, seasoned men.
Century Magazine one time took a poll of four hundred
of the greatest men in the world, and found that seventy-eight percent had
done their greatest works between the ages of fifty and eighty. Vanderbilt
made most of his fortune between seventy and eighty. Hindenburg at seventy,
commanded the German forces, and past eighty, became President of the German
Republic. Victor Hugo wrote The History of Crime at seventy-five. Tennyson
wrote "The Crossing of the Bar" at eighty-three. Michelangelo executed some
of his most wonderful paintings at the age of eighty-nine, and Century
Magazine says that men's most fruitful years are not twenty, twenty-five,
and thirty, but rather fifty, sixty, seventy, and eighty.
So, you say, "Brother Hyles, how did Caleb stay
young?" The Bible says, for example, that Moses' eyesight was not dimmed nor
his strength abated when he was a hundred and twenty years of age
(Deuteronomy 34:7). Think about that. A hundred and twenty. And his eyesight
was not dimmed. He didn't have to wear bifocals! He didn't have to say,
"Here, hold my Bible. I've got to read it." His eyes were not dimmed nor his
strength abated. At a hundred and twenty. You say, "Brother Hyles, do you
think the years were the same size back in those days?" Yes, I do. Yes, I
Now, one way to stay young is to stay optimistic.
2. Don't cater to youth. Don't cater to youth! Don't
misunderstand me. Don't fight the youth. Young people, I think you're fine.
I'm glad you're here. And I am glad we are here to teach you something so
you'll know more than you know now someday. I'm not fighting youth; I'm just
putting youth in its place. But adults thirty and over, I hate to tell you,
if you don't watch out, they're going to put us out to pasture: Retiring at
fifty-eight nowadays. Fifty-eight! Retiring! Tell R.G. Lee that. He's
eighty-four and preaches like a boy. Tell John Rice that. He still works
sixteen to eighteen hours a day at seventy-four. Retiring at fifty-eight.
Don't cater to youth.
When I was in New York the other day for a meeting…I
told some of our folks about it. I got in all kinds of trouble. Not only did
I get in all kinds of trouble, but the folks that got me in all kinds of
trouble also got in all kinds of trouble with me, by the way. I was
preaching at a State Convention in New York, and the Grace Baptist Church
had their youth choir come out for the State Convention. The first girl who
came out had on a mini-skirt, and the first boy who came out had long,
shaggy hair and a long beard. The second boy who came out had his shirt
open, his undershirt showing, and the hair on his chest sticking over his
undershirt. (By the way, mine's unbuttoned there. I didn't know it. But,
anyway, it wasn't showing, was it?) He had his hair showing, his shirttail
out, his shirt unbuttoned. The hair on his chest showing over his
undershirt. At a State Convention. In the youth choir. Only one girl in the
whole choir had on a dress that wasn't a mini-skirt. Boys had long hair and
beards, and they were hippies. (You folks who came on Wednesday night hear
me tell all about it.) They came out, and one guy had a guitar. The choir,
as the introduction to the song was played went, "Snap—snap—snap." They sang
a couple or three songs, and then introduced me. I'll tell you, Brother,
they've never heard anything like that in their lives. I dare say there are
folks still sitting there stunned. If Lot's wife was there, she would have
turned to a pillar of salt, because, Brother, in my own timid way, I let my
convictions leak through like a flood. Like Niagara Falls. I preached for an
hour and forty-five minutes. I ranted. I raved. I hollered. I screamed. I
kicked. I bellowed to New York City. The Empire State Building lost three
floors off the top when I got through. I got letters from people—oh, many
letters—and they said something like this, many of them…
And by the way, I want to stop and say this right now
for our visitors. I am sick, I am tired, I am wear of our copying distorted,
beatnik, hippie music in our churches. It's all of the Devil. Everywhere I
go, especially toward the East Coast, some group's got to get up with the
girls' dresses about a foot above their knees, and a bunch of fellows in
satin blouses with kerchiefs around their necks like sissies. They've got to
give some "Snap—Snap" for Jesus' sake." They're up singing some Gospel words
to beatnik music. I'm sick of it. I'll tell you one thing, anywhere I go and
they have it, I'm going to make my presence felt. Somebody's got to speak.
And so I got letter after letter (and boy, I'll tell
you when I preached, you've never heard such…really! You've never heard me
mean. Listen, the sermons I preach here on Sunday night are sermons on the
love of God compared to what I was that night.) And I got letter after
letter. And people said, "Doctor Hyles, we just thought that the only thing
we could do was let them do it. We just thought that was the trend of the
generation. We thought we shouldn't speak."
Pastor after pastor told me, "I’m going to take my
stand, too." It's time the old folks were heard from. By the way, there's
still nothing wrong with "Beautiful Dreamer," and "I Dream of Jeanie with
the Light Brown Hair"; or Betty, or Suzie, or whoever you dream of with
whatever color hair she has. "Nowadays with the passing of the week, she's
got to change the color. One week it's "I Dream of Jeanie with the Dark Blue
Hair"—and the light red hair, and blonde hair) but I still like those. And I
still like The Twentieth Century Drawing Room. I still like classical music.
I still like the old love songs that are decent. I still like the good music
and songs of the day when good music accompanied good words. Don't cater to
"Say, Brother Hyles, this is just a new generation."
Sure it is. Sure it is. And they can learn good music and love good art like
the old generation did. And young people—and, you boys, listen to me—on the
third row here! Young people, I don't care who you are: just because you
happen to be sixteen years old doesn't give you the right or permission to
use the world's music and the world's records and the world's beat. It
doesn't give you a right to do it, and it doesn't give you a right to think
you know more than anybody in the history of this world. The honest truth
is, there are people sitting in this room tonight, sixty and over, who have
forgotten more than you know right now. I'm not against you; I want you to
be in your place.
It's time that the older people said, "We believe we
can do something too." A person gets up around sixty years of age, we just
put him out in the pasture, put him in a rest home somewhere, and say he's
not worth anything anymore. The honest, simple truth is we need to hear the
advice of the saints of God who have lived for threescore and ten. Don't
cater to the youth. Speak your peace.
3. Don't grow old. Just don't grow old! Listen, very
carefully. I'm going to teach you a secret. Tennyson said, "I have the trick
of believing everyone I talk to is as old as myself." "I have the trick of
believing everyone I talk to is as old as myself."
Now, you fellows down here, did you know that when you
come into my office and talk to me, I don't feel any older than you? Anybody
here that way? When you talk to a young person, you just feel like you're
that age. Anybody here like that besides me? You would raise your hand, but
you've got arthritis and can't get it up. But, now that's the strange thing
I talked to Meredith Plopper. I'll never forget
it—never forget it. She came to work here at the church, and I thought we
were the same age. I said one day, "Meredith, do you look at me as being
old?" And she said, "Why no." "Well," I said, "Me either." She said, "I
don't look at you as being old. To me, you're just like an uncle." I said,
"A what? An Uncle?" (She never has gotten back to the salary she had before
she said that!)
Just don't grow old. In your mind, be the same. I can
get on a ball field and play with a bunch of kids. I don't feel like they're
younger than me—I know they can't play ball "as good" as I can, and I feel
like I'm their age. Don't grow old. Just don't do it. A bunch of hippies
come in and say, "We're the younger generation. Let's take over." I say,
"Yeah, we are. Let's take over." Just don't grow old.
Caleb said, "I'm eighty-five, but I can whip any of
you whipper-snappers." You say, "Brother Hyles, why don't you preach the
Bible?" I am preaching the Bible. I am simply saying that if these hippies
and this college crowd had America, they would destroy her for two reasons.
One reason is that their philosophy is of the devil. And the second reason,
if their philosophy were right, they don't have enough sense to run a
country. Now, if they're going to run a business some day, they ought to
start sweeping out the place like anybody ought to start. Start at the
bottom and work their way up.
You know, we've given them our television screens.
Sometime, watch some of these talk programs to see who's on them. Young
fellows, twenty-two and twenty-three years of age, are allowed to speak to
our nation about the "cure" for all the ills we face. The never were County
Sheriff. The never were on the City Council. But we have given them our
television camera, and screens, and said, "We'll listen to you." The Abbie
Hoffmans and others have been allowed to speak their piece across this
country of ours when they have not built a hot dog stand yet. Now, where I
came from, you're supposed to earn your right to speak.
You know, I'm thinking now of a preacher, and by the
way, he's a pretty good preacher. God called him, and he became a preacher.
He wasn't a kid when he began to preach; he was an adult—not an old man, but
an adult. He went to a church, a small church, and built it to be a pretty
fair-sized church. He just started off with a few people and got a couple
hundred folks together. He built it pretty quickly. And so, pretty soon he
became an expert. Every time he'd gather around preachers with churches
bigger than his, he would tell the preachers how he did it. He would advise
them. Do you know what? He never did much. He is about washed up now. You
know why? He thought, because he had built a little church with a hundred
fifty to two hundred folks, that he had the right to advise people. That's
not true. You earn the right to advise people. You earn the right to be
heard. You earn the right to give counsel. You earn the right to be on
television. You earn the right. Nowadays, anybody can write a book. Anybody
can be on television. It doesn't matter how hard you've worked. It doesn't
matter how far up the ladder you've gone. Just don't grow old. Stay young,
and keep speaking your peace.
4. Don't plan to retire. Now, hang on here. Don't plan
to retire. That's sort of scary, isn't it? You've been looking forward to it
for so long. Just don't plan to retire. You will not do much in your
generation if you look forward to retirement. Look, when a lot of you go to
work, especially in the winter time, you see that lake in Florida, and you
say, "Just eight more years, six more months, twenty-four more days, three
more hours, and sixteen more minutes, I'll be there." And you know what
you'll do when you get there? You'll wish you were still back at the steel
mills. Oh, you say, "Not me."
Don't retire. Somebody said to me one time, "Brother
Hyles, what kind of retirement plans do you have?" I said Philippians 4:13
and Philippians 4:19." And they said, "But when you get old, when you
retire?" I said, "I'm not going to retire." I'm not. When I can't stand up
to preach, I'll sit down and preach. When I can't sit down to preach, I'll
lie down and preach. When I can't holler anymore, I'll whisper. If I can't
whisper, I'll learn sign language. No, I'm not going to retire. Don't you
plan to either.
Look. We are building a generation—talk about the
generation gap! You know what the generation gap is caused by? The older
people going too far away. Stay in the battle. Stay in the thick of it.
Don't run. And don't plan to retire. Caleb said, "I'm eighty-five. I'm
eight-five. I still want that mountain." Do you realize Caleb could have
been on social security for twenty years before that. I'll be honest with
you, I think social security has been a detriment to America. It has.
In the first place—and this is my sermon that I'm
going to preach after while or next Sunday night, one or the other, on where
your money goes. In the first place, the money you send in for social
security isn't there tonight. It's been spent. It's not there. The reason
they raise the social security payments is so they can get enough money to
pay off the people who are making claims now. But I'll tell you one thing, I
don't have time to go into it, but the honest truth is your funds have been
misrepresented by your government. The money that they have taken, that
you've worked for, is now spent. They don't have enough money to pay off
claims they have now. It has already been misused.
In the second place, it has taught our people to
retire, and this is what has happened: The most brilliant minds in America
are not being used tonight—the most gifted men this nation has, the best
professors, the best Bible teachers, the best leaders, the best politicians,
the best men, business tycoons. The best ones.
I tingled this afternoon. I had had a funeral. When I
came back and turned the television set on the Cubs were on. I didn't have
much time to look at it, but I saw Jack Brickhouse, and beside him was a
fellow I recognized in a minute. It was James Doolittle. General James
Doolittle. One of the great heroes of World War II. I recalled how I
followed him, learned about him, and became a great admirer of General Jimmy
Doolittle. I saw him on television, and I stopped and listened for a few
minutes. Jack Brickhouse said, "How old are you now?" General Doolittle
said, "Seventy-three." "What are you doing now?" "Doing a few odd jobs." And
I said to myself, "He ought to be in the place of some of the beatniks, and
we ought to be listening to what he has to say for a while. He gets about
two minutes between innings of a Cubs ball game, and Rap Brown gets the
We're letting the greatest minds this nation has go
unused because of the so-called "youth movement." When President Truman
relieved McArthur of his command, America should have voted to keep the flag
at half-mast. We put that great old genera, one of the two greatest
statesmen of our generation, out to pasture and put him in an apartment on
Fifth Avenue in New York City, when the honest, simple truth is he should
have been walking the halls of the White House in Washington.
When General McArthur was in the last years of his
work in Japan—did you know he got a copy of my little tract, "The Roman Road
Plan of Salvation"? General Douglas McArthur called his staff together in
Japan and said to his staff, "Look what I've found." He had Jack Hyles'
"Roman Road Plan," that I started as a kid in East Texas. He said, "I want
to read you something." He read, "Roman Road Plan of Salvation" and tried to
get the men on his staff to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as personal
We've taken the greatest minds we have, the greatest
men, and sometimes the greatest bodies, and said, "We don't need you
anymore." We've turned our nation over to twenty-one, twenty-two, and
twenty-three-year-old young people who never have earned the right to be
heard, much less to run anything.
5. Keep well. Older people, you want to be like Caleb?
Keep well. I mean physically well. Now, I'm going to say this, and I believe
it. I don't think your body and mind need to deteriorate or weaken with the
passing of the years.
Brother Streeter, you know, you and your brother,
Dennis, are somewhat medical students. Dennis is going to be a
doctor—already is maybe. And if you hadn't flunked out, you would been one,
no doubt; you know this is true. When men get thirty-five, forty,
forty-five, they don't get out of shape because they are old; they get out
of shape because they're lazy. You don't get that way because you're old.
You get that way because you don't have any character. You say, "Well, I'm
getting old now. I'm getting a little pot." No, the reason that you didn't
have that pot when you were seventeen or eighteen is because some physical
education professor put you through the grind at school. I can tell you boys
tonight, seventeen, eighteen years old, who already have the middle-age
spread. You need not have a middle-age spread. There's no such thing as a
middle-age spread. It's a lazy spread. I started to say for you to do this,
but don't do it. (You just drive out around Munster some…please, don't do
it. Tonight when I run, I'll have thousands of folks beside the road waving
at me. I'm going to run in Highland tonight or somewhere.) But you don't
have to get the middle-age spread.
Take care of yourself. You only have one body. It's
the temple of the Holy Spirit. Use it right and keep it well. Look, the body
is God's temple. The Holy Spirit lives in here. It's all I have with which
to serve the Lord. Brother John, when our bodies are gone, it doesn't matter
how warm our hearts are, we will not be able to serve God. If my body's not
strong enough to carry me to this pulpit, I'll not be able to preach, not
matter how good a Christian I am, or how warm my heart, or how alert my
One of the saddest things in the world is the fact
that we have cars to take us everywhere. I've often thought about Elijah
when Jezebel got after him. If Elijah lived in our generation, she would
have caught him. Elijah couldn't have gotten away if he hadn't been jogging
every night, taking care of himself. Do you think Caleb, who said, "I'm as
strong as I was when I was forty, and at eight-five, I can still go to war,"
got that way from hanging around pizza parlors? French fried onion ring
The time has come when God's people ought to take care
of their bodies. We don't have to spend all of our time in the doctor's
office. Now, I'm not against doctors. I go myself when I get sick. Stay
young. Stay well.
Here's one of the problems. The honest truth is: The
average American male is washed up when he's thirty-five. Right? Washed up.
I don't mean you. If that were the case, you'd be drowned by now. By the
time he's thirty-five, the average man is gone. If he had to run half a
block, if he emphysema didn't get him, his heart would. Why? Because we
don't take care of ourselves. Keep well.
If liquor is not sinful, it's not right to use anyway;
it is not good for you. If tobacco is not sinful, it is best not to use it;
it is not good for you. Our air is polluted. Our water is no good. Our diets
are sinful. Our ground is worn out. In the Old Testament, God said, "I want
you to raise your crop for six years. The seventh year, let your land rest."
We've worn out our land until we don't get much out of what we raise
anymore. The simple truth is, we're killing ourselves for the almighty
dollar. We're killing ourselves.
Look. Did you know when a fellow plowed all day, he
walked miles, got exercise and fresh air, and was raising something that
would be good for him. The average one of us gets in the car and drives to
McDonald's. No, I'm not against McDonald's. I use the place myself. To me,
they have the best French fries in the world. Milk shakes, too. I go to
McDonald's and get French fries and milk shakes, and go to Paul's to get a
sandwich. I am not against that. But the honest truth is we spend half of
our money on the junk we eat and the other half going to the doctor to find
out how to cure ourselves from the junk we eat. So the young folks have to
take over because when you're thirty-five you have emphysema. We have men in
this church that would say, "Amen," but who can't get it out. Take care of
You say, "You ought to preach the Gospel." Brother,
right in here, if we had more healthy people, we could get more Gospel out.
Tell you what you do. Go down here on State Street sometime, and just watch
the males go by. (Now, some of you fellows, I'd have to tell you to do the
other.) But watch, some of you ladies watch the males go by. And boy, here
they come. That's right. Look. Did you know I know some men, and some women,
too, who at thirty are old. And I know men and women, who at fifty, and
sixty, and sixty-five, are as young and virile and active as they were at
twenty-five. Why? They have cared for the body, that's why.
Yesterday, I was reading in the paper a story about
Arnold Palmer. I happen to like Arnold Palmer. I know he's now what he ought
to be—he shouldn't play golf on Sunday—but I happen to like him. I'm in
Arnie's army. A Buck Private, but I'm in the army, Arnie's army. I like
Arnold Palmer. He's about my age. I was reading that he does three hundred
sit-ups a day. (John Colsten does one: He sits up on the bed in the morning;
drops back in at night.) There's a reason why men the age of Arnold Palmer
can still play winning golf. There's a reason whey men the age of R.G. Lee
can still stand up and preach at eight-four. There's a reason why the John
Rices are going strong at seventy-four. There's a reason why the
Michelangelos can work at eight-nine. There's a reason why some people like
the McArthurs and others keep well. They have not dissipated their bodies
with a haphazard and undisciplined kind of a life. Rather, they have said,
"My body is going to be strong."
6. Stay busy for God. Caleb said, "I want this
mountain. I'm as strong as I was forty-five years ago. I can still go to
war." Moses, of whom is said that his eyesight was not dimmed nor his
strength abated, stayed busy for God. Now, when you get to be forty, fifty,
fifty-five, sixty, sixty-five, and seventy, just keep on for God. Don't quit
your Sunday School class. Stay well. Keep your mind alert. Use your mind.
Use your body. Never stop.
Do you know what? Some of the people whom we need the
most aren't available to us because they didn't care for their minds and
bodies. They didn't stay actively busy—Actively busy. Now, what's the
fellow's name—who was the Speaker of the House for so long? McCormick. I
happen not to be one of his fans, but I don't think that because he's old he
ought to be put out of his Speaker's position. I also happen to be a great
fan of the late Senator Dirkson. I think he was one of the greatest
statesmen this country has ever produced.
By the way, I'm forty-three, but I go all the time.
I've preached over three sermons a day for the last thirteen years. Some
days I preach eight or nine times a day. Take care of your body! Stay busy
Let us pray.
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