Introduction: Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque. We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world; we do this with one another, through worship, by the Word, to the world.
It's 2014; can you believe it? I say that every year. Another year we're entering into, Happy New Year, and please turn in your Bibles to the book of Joshua; Joshua, chapter 14. It's the sixth book from the beginning, Genesis; Joshua, chapter 14. I want to begin this morning by showing you something. You've seen it here first after today. I want to show you the next greatest piece of technology that is going to revolutionize the world. It's going to revolutionize the way we communicate with each other.
Are you ready? You ready? Okay, drumroll, please. Ladies and gentlemen I bring to you the typewriter! You're looking at me like I'm an idiot. What I just said, that this is the greatest piece of technology and it's going to change the world was true in 1860. Not that long ago, 1860, the typewriter was rolled out, and it literally has changed the world. Up till that time people had pens and paper and they were writing correspondence to each other. This thing changed the world.
But what if somebody came along and said, "Wow! This is, like, so cool. Let's just stop with this. Don't go any further than just this"? Well, if they would have said, "Just stop," we wouldn't have this, which is a laptop computer, a very thin and very effective tool. You see, I'm not going to be taking this baby to Starbucks, [laughter] but I'll take this thing, and I'll get on Wi-Fi and be able to communicate with people, etcetera. Because someone after they made this decided to say, "We're not done yet. Let's take this and improve on it."
And as you know, there have been many improvements since this was rolled out. This isn't even an original one. The original ones were humongous. So somebody came along and said, "We're not done yet. Let's make a portable typewriter." That's what this is. Then they said, "Hey, we're not yet. Let's make an electric typewriter." Then not too long ago they said, "Let's make the IBM Selectric ball-head typewriter. Some of you are looking at me like---so I still use that, is that a problem? [laughter] But all along the path people, someone, inventors said, "Not done yet," and they made the computer.
The first computer came out in 1946, I believe, called the Eniac, E-N-I-A-C. The Eniac computer, the first computer ever was bigger than an 18-wheeler, bigger than the trailer of a semitruck. It really wasn't all that powerful, but it was the first computer. But even after that was invented somebody said, "Not done yet." Now, this last Christmas, a few weeks ago when you received that Christmas card that when you opened up the little tune came out of it, "Jingle bills, jingle bells, jingle all the way," and that annoying high-pitched sound.
And you looked at it and said, "Okay, that's cute," you threw it away. You just tossed out more computer power than existed on earth before 1950. Because all along the way people said, "Not done yet." We're going to read a story in Joshua 14 about a man who was getting up in years. In fact, he is eighty-five years old when we meet him in chapter 14 of Joshua. He's eighty-five years old, he has seen a lot, but this guy named Caleb doesn't want to be a typewriter. He wants to continue to grow.
And so what does he do? In this chapter her looks back, he looks around, and he looks ahead. He looks back carefully, he looks around candidly, and he looks ahead courageously. He looks back carefully at what God has brought him through. He looks around candidly at where God has brought him to. And he looks ahead courageously at what God might want to do through his life now. He sees all of the possibilities of the future. I want you to read it for yourself; Joshua, chapter 14, beginning in verse 6.
"Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him: 'You know the word which the Lord said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord my God."
" 'So Moses swore on that day, saying, "Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children's forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God." And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as he said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong on this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in."
" 'Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.' And Joshua blessed him, gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as his inheritance. Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel. And the name of Hebron formally was Kirjath Arba (Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim). Those were the giants. "Then the land had rest from war."
It seems like it was just the other day that this church started. That's in my mind---just the other day. It was actually thirty-two years ago. It was in the 1980s. A lot has changed since then. Now, I know a lot hasn't changed, people are people. The hearts of men and women are the same in every generation. The need we have spiritually exists in every generation. But the world has changed since this church started. As an example: the Rubik's Cube had just been invented when we started this church. When we started this church, CNN just got its start; MTV was born.
When we started this church, Prince Charles and Lady Diana were married. Some of you younger folks are going, who? When we started this church Motorola just introduced its first mobile phone in the United States, and Sony put out the first camcorder, even that is extinct. Compact discs had just been invented. But now anyone born in 2014 and onward experts tell us will never know what CDs are unless they go to a museum. They won't know what a post office is. They won't know what bank tellers are.
They won't know what paper statements were. They won't know what cable TV is, or phone lines, or car keys, or bookstores, or incandescent lighting, or fax machines. They won't know what "setting a thermostat" means. And they certainly won't know was cursive handwriting is for the most part. And I wonder with all of that if they'll know what going to church is, because according to current trends and statistics people by the time they reach college sort of drop off the face of the grid when it comes to spiritual things.
Thirty-two years ago---this church is getting older, and we're getting older. And as we get older, we can get crustier. It's just human nature. We, as we grow older, want things more comfortable for us. Let me put it to you this way: we can get more concerned about our personal physical comfort than the eternal comfort of other people. That's a problem. We tend to grow inward, all organizations do. Pretty soon we don't want mountains to climb, we want movies to watch, meals to eat---we call that fellowship.
But when we first started, we had a dream, a dream to see a city won for Christ, a state impacted. When we started we had a dream of a church that was multigenerational, that taught and preached the Bible, that taught the gospel, that was filled with grace as well as truth. And back then we didn't let anybody say, "Hey, this is good just the way it is. Typewriters are so cool." No. All along the line, including today, we want to say, "We are not done yet." [applause] So what we're going to do is do what Caleb does: briefly look back, look around, and look ahead.
He looks back carefully. He thinks back from where he's at, at eighty-five. He goes back in his mind forty-five years to a very, very important point in Israel's history when the children of Israel were right on the edge of the Promised Land. Before I go there, did you know the name Caleb means bold? Isn't that a great fitting name for this guy, bold? Impetuous is another translation of Caleb---bold or impetuous. By the way, it's also the Hebrew word for dog, dog. Remember Johnny Cash's song? "Life ain't easy for a boy named Sue." Life ain't easy for a boy named Dog either.
So I sort of picture Caleb growing up and sort of feisty, he grew up to be a fighter, he grew up tough---Caleb. Caleb thinks back, his memory goes back. Memory is powerful. And it's a powerful incentive and inspiration if you use it correctly and you focus on the right things. Psychologists tell us that we never really forget what we see or experience or learn. It's locked in our memory. It's on the hard drive. Our problem, of course, is recall---right?---getting it from the hard drive to RAM, accessible use.
And so what we're told by many of those experts is that when we learn something, we only remember at best 35 percent, and that diminishes rapidly over time. And that's why in education, one of the principles is repetition, keep saying it, keep learning it, keep hearing it. So, Caleb goes back in the hearing of all the people before Joshua and he remembers forty-five years before that when he was one of the twelve special agents, spies they're called, to go into the land and check it out and bring back a report.
And so they go and they come back with the report. Basically the report is this: "It's a good land, but there's some big dudes there." Good land, big dudes---that's the report. But the report is divided into two camps. There's a minority report, not the movie, the actual report, and there's a majority report. The minority is by two people named Joshua and Caleb; the majority report is by ten spies that are unknown to us but named in the Scripture. Joshua and Caleb, when they come back---this is all in Numbers 13 and 14.
Their report is this: "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it." But the ten others, their report was this: "We are not able to go up against them. They are stronger than we are . . . and they are great in stature." Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! Hold on a minute. All twelve, did they see the same thing? Yeah, they all saw exactly the same thing and experienced exactly the same thing. What's the difference? The ten measured the giants by their own strength; the two measured the giants by God's strength. That's the difference.
They saw the same thing; it's how they processed what they saw that made all the difference. Those ten saw big people and a little God. But two of them saw little people because they believed they served a big God. Now, let me ask you a question, and I'll entertain any answer: Can any of you remember the name of any of those ten other spies? They're written in the Bible. Their names are written just next to Joshua and Caleb. You don't remember them. Unless you play, like, way too much Bible trivia, you don't remember who their names are.
And here's the reason why: history remembers the heroes who stood against the crowd and didn't go along with the majority. They wanted to go forward because theirs was a statement of faith and a step of faith. There are some people who just don't want to move forward; they want to dig their heels in. I heard about a guy whose car broke down and the tow truck came to tow him. So the tow truck driver hooked up the tow bar to the car and told the passenger, "Just ride in your car and I will tow you to the service station."
When they got there, the truck driver got out of the truck. He said, "Man, that was hard. I didn't think I was going to make it up that hill. And the driver who was being towed said, "Yeah, I didn't think so either, that's why I had the brakes on the whole time so we wouldn't roll backwards." [laughter] There's some people who live their lives like that dude. So Caleb has a story to tell, a story of God's faithfulness in the past, what God has brought him through. And you know what? We have a story to tell.
We have a story of God's faithfulness in this fellowship. My mind goes back all those years to a bright-eyed couple, newlywed couple named Skip and Lenya. Why am I speaking about myself in the third person? I don't know. [laughter] But I do remember the feeling of wonder when we came out here from California to New Mexico in a Datsun. Datsun, that's dating me---Datsun pickup truck, blue Datsun pickup truck.
And we started a Bible study on a Thursday night, and then a prayer meeting on a Monday night, then, finally, a Sunday morning service---"We're a real church," we thought---over in a theater nearby. And when we started, we didn't have a campus, we didn't own radio stations, we had no cafe, we had no bookstore, we had no skate park, and we had no staff. It was all volunteer, just a few people gathered together wondering and believing that God was going to do something great, because, like Caleb, we had a promise.
Jesus said, "I will build my church." And we thought, "What if he would want to do it through us?" So he looked back as we look back carefully at what God has brought us through. Then, second, Caleb looks around candidly at where God has brought him to. Notice verse 9, " 'So Moses,' " he continues, " 'swore on that day, saying, "Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children's forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God."
" 'And now, behold,' " this is Caleb, " 'The Lord has kept me alive,' " I'm still kicking, " 'as he said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. And yet I am as strong this day as on the day Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in.' " Notice a couple of things in that statement. Notice, first of all, Caleb's honest assessment of his age; he admits his age.
He doesn't say, "Well, I'm a little bit north of sixty." He says, "I am eighty-five years old today." An honest assessment of his age combined with a confident assessment of his God. For he admits, "I am as strong on this day as I was on that day." In other words, "I am not done yet. I'm eighty-five years old, but I'm here to tell you, Israel and Joshua, I'm not done yet." I found this: "Twenty Signs That You Know You're Getting Old." I won't give you all twenty. Here's just five. Number one: You're asleep, but others worry that you're dead. [laughter] Number two: Your back goes out more often than you do. [laughter]
Number three: You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room. [laughter] After a while---whatever! Number four: You're sitting in a rocker and you can't get it started. [laughter] Okay that's pretty bad. Number five: Your ears are hairier than your head. [laughter] Okay, all kidding aside, here's the honest truth: our culture, the Western culture is obsessed with youth. You put Caleb in a modern setting, and we're going to tell that boy, "You are washed up. It's over. You're eighty-five, it's time for a retirement home for you, Caleb."
That's our society. We train people that way---to aim for sixty-five or now seventy when you can just kick back and retire. This is how I look at it. It may be I look at it more and more like this as I grow older. I think the older you get, if you live life right, the more valuable you are. You have life lessons you've learned. You've fallen, you got back up. You have a certain amount of wisdom, especially spiritual wisdom that you can pass on to a new generation. No, you're not done yet. I don't think you should be thinking of retirement as much as thinking about: "How can God make these latter years of my life the most productive years of my life?"
Billy Graham just turned ninety-five and he just did his greatest crusade ever called "My Hope America." And Billy Graham would say if he were here, "I'm not done yet." That was a really bad Billy Graham imitation, but ninety-five, and he wants to go all the way for the Lord like Caleb. A doctor by the name of Paul Brand, an M.D., medical doctor and a great author, Paul Brand was raised in India. His parents were missionaries. He tells the story of his mother, she was seventy-five years old. And this seventy-five-year-old woman was walking by foot from village to village still telling people the gospel---seventy-five.
One day she fell and broke her hip. She lay out on this field, because nobody saw her for two days with a broken hip and pain till workers found her. They made a makeshift cot, put her on the cot, put it in a pickup truck, and they wanted to take her 150 miles away to the nearest doctor. The roads in India are something to be---well, they're lacking, put it that way. They're so bumpy, the ride was just so shaky that the bones were jarred to the point that she was never was completely healed like she could be.
So that a couple months later when her son Dr. Paul Brand went to visit her, he noticed his mother now on these homemade bamboo crutches moving around with her feet dragging behind her because they had lost all feeling in them. And so Paul Brand writes this: "At age seventy-five with a broken hip, unable to stand on her own two legs, I thought I might make a pretty intelligent suggestion. I suggested that she retire. She turned around and looked at me and said, 'What value is that? If we try to preserve this body just a few more years, and it's not being used for God, what value is that?' "
And so he continues to write that though she couldn't walk from village to village, she got a donkey and rode from village to village until she was ninety-three. And at age ninety-three, though she couldn't move from village to village, people came to see her. And she shared her faith till she was ninety-five, and then she died and went home to heaven. She said, "I'm not done yet," like Caleb. So we notice in our text he says, "I'm eighty-five this day." That describes Caleb chronologically. But then we notice he says, "I'm as strong today as I was back then." I just think that describes Caleb's personality.
But the secret is where he says, and you'll notice, " "I wholly followed the Lord my God.' " This describes Caleb's spirituality. Listen, folks, you know what he said here? "Forty-five years ago God made a promise through Moses to me. I'm still alive. I'm here to cash in on that promise. I've been holding on to that promise for forty-five years waiting for it to happen." I'm going to ask you a question: Are you as fired up about God's promises as you used to be? Are you as fired up about God's Word as you were forty years ago or four years ago?
You know, one person put it this way: "There are none so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm." Eighty-five years young Caleb is as he stands here. So he looks back, he looks around, now he looks ahead courageously. And he says in verse 11, " ' I'm as strong this day as I was on the day Moses sent me.' " I want you to notice this word here: " 'Just as my strength was then, so is my strength for' "---for what? What does it say?---" 'war.' " How old is he? Eighty-five. He doesn't sound like he's looking for comfort; he's looking for a fight. " 'Strength for war, both for going out and coming in.' "
Here's the real clincher, verse 12, " 'Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day, for you heard in that day how the Anakim' "---that's the big dudes---" 'and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.' " Do you hear his request? This old eighty-five-year-old guy is basically saying, "I got me some old-man strength here. [laughter] These are just overgrown midgets. I always knew they were. The very land that is still infested with them, I was ready to get them then, I'm ready to get them now. I'm not slowing down," he said. "I want the very place that still has those"---that's courage, that's courage.
Now, as we bring this to a close there's three characteristics about Caleb's life I want you to consider as we close. I want you think if your life has these characteristics. Number one, he looked back to the past, but he wasn't stuck in the past. He reminisced, he understood his past, he studied his past, he was inspired by his past, but he wasn't stuck there. He didn't live there. He didn't just reminisce in the glory days. "I remember we used to do this." No. He used his past not as a sofa, but as a springboard. He used the past in the right way.
This is so important because churches like ours and movements like ours can and will grow stale over time. What happens is---and shown in church history, that's why I say they so often will---they come to a place where they grow and they grow and God moves, and then they come to plateau. And all they can do there is look back and go, "Wasn't that cool way back then a long time ago?" Some of you maybe have been around a while longer than a few others, and you remember where we were before got into this building at 9610 Snow Heights; or even before that at 1660 Eubank; or even before that at the theater.
I don't know if there's any of you left. I know there are a few. Maybe you're looking back there and you're going, "Yeah, I remember those days. Yeah, yeah! Man, those songs we used to sing. And that was the Jesus Movement." Hey, last time I checked he's still alive. He's still moving. It's not over yet. Let's not have a funeral yet. Let's look at the past, but let's not live in the past. If you want to be miserable, live your whole life looking over your shoulder. Paul the apostle put it this way in Philippians 3, "Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are before."
When we started this little Bible study, we had such a sense of wonder. I just want you to hear it from me, I still have that sense of wonder. And I wonder if you have that as well. I hope you do. I pray that you do. Because if you're just looking back, and just reminiscing, and just griping that we don't sing your favorite songs, you might as well as just buy a typewriter. Because, okay, that was good, that was the '80s, but the Lord is still moving. So he looked back, but he didn't live in the past. That's number one.
Number two, Caleb viewed himself through the lens of faith. See, he's eighty-five years old. He's not, like, denying that. "I know I'm old." But he didn't come up and say, "Gosh, I'm just so tired. I'm just so worn out. And would you get me a reclining camel sofa so I can just hang out." No. He says, "God made me a promise. That was forty-five years ago and I'm cashing in today." I want to be able to live my life---you know what? He's eighty-five, if this is what eighty-five looks like, bring it on. I'm not afraid of that. This is wonderful. I don't want to live my life with regrets.
I want to at the end of my life say as Paul said, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." Here's the third, and I'll close with this: Caleb lived---I'm going to use the term, I think it's accurate---with a reckless abandonment to the will of God. Don't misunderstand; I didn't say he was reckless. I didn't just say he just was abandoning all---wee! But he lived with a reckless abandonment to the will of God. Notice his words in verse 12, " 'It may be that I'll be able to drive them out,' " which implies it may not be.
"I may go in there and they kill me. But I'm eighty-five, I'm going to die trying. So I'm going to give myself in reckless abandonment to the will of God, because it may be that he's going to use me at eighty-five to do this thing." This Book is filled with crazy things that Caleb and Joshua saw. Caleb was there when the Jordan River opened up and they crossed over. Caleb was there when the walls of Jericho came falling down. He's eighty-five and maybe his relatives or friends said, "Dude, you're eighty-five, It's time to relax, time to retire." He says, "No, it's not. It's time to fight. I'm ready for some giants."
He wants a challenge. He wants a new horizon. John Haggai wrote these words: "Attempt something so impossible that unless God is in it, it's doomed for failure." "Attempt something so impossible that unless God is in it, it's doomed for failure." I believe that Caleb's request would qualify in that category. And you know what? If I'm reading the Bible right, I see that sort of as a pattern, God's style to use situations where the odds are stacked against his people. God sends out a middle-aged, stuttering Moses to be a spokesperson and leader to two to three million people. What's up with that?
God sends a timid, frightened, scared, little Gideon with three hundred farmers to fight the whole army of Midianites. God sends a young untrained David with a few stones and a sling to face giants and an army. And God sends newly converted, filled-with-the-Holy-Spirit believers in the book of Acts to change the world. And he didn't just say, "Go pass out tracts to your neighbors and stop," he said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel." That's a tall order. Reckless abandonment to the will of God---how about it? How about a mountain?
Now, I want to show you something. My staff compiled this, and as we looked at it this week, we did it, we were so humbled as we read these things. But it fired us up because it's a testimony of what God can do in a community and through the lives of so many. Since we started in 1982 we have seen 82,000 people give their lives to Jesus Christ, 82,000 salvations. [applause] We're not done yet! We've been able to baptize 16,000 people. But we're not done yet. [applause] We've sent out a thousand full-time missionaries to over thirty different countries. That's so awesome, but we're not done yet.
We planted thirty-five churches in this country and about thirty-five churches overseas. We're not done yet. We've been involved in Operation Christmas Child over the years, those shoe boxes that we collect. This church has collected in that time 360,000 shoe boxes and distributed them to kids around the world. But we are not done yet. [applause] We've been able to collect and distribute a thousand truckloads of food to needy families in the last twenty years.
We've seen Easter Sunrise---we started this, and I remember when we first started it. I said, "It's so cold here, and it can snow here, or it can rain here, or it can blow us to the next state here on Easter Sunday." But we've done that and over the years there's been a combined attendance at our Easter Sunrise Service of over 300,000 people. [applause] Every month almost 600,000 folks visit our web websites. But all that is cool, but we are not done yet! We're just getting geared up.
Because you know what? Since we started, since we started with this typewriter, since we started with that thing, this thing has been developed. We may not like it, some of you may not even use one, but it is reality. It's out there and we need to use all means possible to get the message out. Here's a big "praise the Lord." I just want you to hear this because this is something that you've done. We made a promise to you and we've done it this last year, this whole property that we sit on is paid for. We're debt free. [applause]
There's been things we needed to do. We needed to upgrade desperately. We needed to change and add things. Carpet looks pretty bad. A lot of things like that we said, "Just hold off, just hold off, we'll get to it. Let's just pay this baby down and get out of debt and then go for it." Now, when you hear that and you go, "Oh, great! Well, then I can tithe less." Oh, no, no, no, no. [laughter] Now we got to ramp it up, okay? So we've been good stewards of this, but now we want to use the funds that God gives us to get the gospel out through social media, through crusades in town and elsewhere, and a number of things that God is putting on our heart.
So let's look for some mountains. Let's look for some mountains. [applause] I'd like you to stand. We'll close in prayer. And as you stand it's not just to stretch out physically, but I want you to stand emblematically with me. And standing up and praying you're saying, "I stand with you." And we stand together, we stand together in lockstep, and we are looking to see what mountains that God wants us to conquer in this next year. And as you stand I hope you're saying, "I'm all-in. I'm all-in to see what God wants to do." It's been great. That was then and this is now.
Now, it's either that, or we can all just sit around and talk about how cool typewriters are. And they were cool and the keyboard is cool because the keyboard is what you still have on your iPhone or your computer. We're still using that keyboard, but we're not using this technology. So it's a new era, and no matter how old or young you are, at any age if you want the Lord to use you, it'll be the best ride you've ever had. Let's pray for that.
Heavenly Father, I just thank you. I am really, I'm passionate about these things, and I just thank you for just a great and vibrant church, such a healthy group of people that through all these years have gotten behind a vision and volunteered. And so many souls have been won and a city has been touched. But, Father, we pray that you'd give us this mountain. We pray, Father, that led by your Spirit we could see the city, the state, the United States, and the world greatly impacted by what comes out of this fellowship with these, your people, in Jesus' name, amen.
Closing: What binds us together is devotion to worshiping our heavenly Father, dedication to studying his Word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig visit calvaryabq.org.