As I mentioned in an earlier post, my wife’s father passed away a few months ago. This past Christmas was the family’s first one without him. He was not just a gentle old fellow who sat and observed life from the sidelines, but he was a strong and vocal spiritual leader who made sure his children and their children knew the right way to live.
Several years ago, he started a family worship service that began an hour or so after Christmas dinner. Sofas and tables were pushed against the walls, and folding chairs were set in the middle of the room. Grandpa Carl would open the service, then some of the grandkids would lead the family in a few worship songs. Next, Grandpa would asked who wanted prayer. The family would gather around and pray for each other. Finally, one of the men that Grandpa chose would end the service with a message.
Now, Grandpa and Grandma had eight children. All of them are married now and have grandchildren of their own, so there can easily be a congregation of one hundred gathered for these family worship times. Christmas 2018, about 80 folks crowded into Uncle Lynn’s and Aunt Debbie’s living room for the first Christmas service without Grandpa Carl. You can see the crowd gathering in the picture above.
Grandpa had turned the responsibility of planning and running the service to his oldest son, Phillip, several years ago, so, despite Grandpa’s absence, things carried right on without a hitch. Just like he’d planned for it to.
Phillip opened the service with a challenge to the family to carry on the spiritual legacy that Grandpa gave us. I thought his message was appropriate for more than just the Vinson family. With his permission, I’ve posted his remarks below.
Several years ago, Daddy instigated a family church service for Christmas time. This is the first Christmas that we have had a church service without him. He was wise, in that he felt God led him to pass the mantle a few years ago while he was still cognizant. We must plan, and make room, and help the upcoming generation find their place in God’s plan and purpose for their lives. According to the cycle of life, now that daddy has gone on to his reward…I’m next in line. Next in line to go on to my reward. None of us know how much time we have. Thankfully, I don’t feel like I’m leaving soon. When we understand, or think about the cycle of life, one generation passes on, and makes room for the next to step forward.
Here is the important part of the process. We must be training our babies to be next in line. There is a world system that is enemy to everything that God approves. The family structure as designed by God is coming under attack. Gender identity is being confused and messed up. Living holy and separated unto God is under siege. We who are on the last rung to stand may be leading the meeting, but the one determining the success into the future are the hands rocking the cradles today. The biggest part of that responsibility is falling on parents in their 20’s and 30’s. Grandparents help rock the cradle, and must reinforce living by Godly principles. Any of us that put our hands to the cradle must promote the formation, and love of God in the young ones coming on.
In 2 Kings 9, King Ahaziah was wounded and died. In 2 Kings 11, when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family. I understand that is the narrative. I also understand that her actions are typical of the world system, and typical of Satan, the god of this world, in proceeding to destroy the whole royal family. In case you need to be reminded. You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
The self-appointed queen mother of this world would like to destroy you. You, child of the King. Fortunately there was a daughter of the king, and sister of Ahaziah, that risked her life to save a young child of the king. Queen Athaliah came within one baby of wiping out the royal line descending from King David. The prophets predicted that Jesus the Messiah would come from David’s line, so in a sense, the entire future of God’s plan rested with the family’s success in hiding Joash, and returning him to the throne. Likewise, our family’s success rests in the training and preservation of Godly principles in our little ones coming up.
Joash remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the LORD for six years while Athaliah ruled the land. The temple, the house of the LORD was a vital part of preserving the royal family. So it is with us today! Will we continue to have meaningful church services at our Christmas gathering? We will decide by our priorities.
There was Godly leadership coming from the temple of the LORD. Jehoiada was priest and he led the people in doing the will of God. However, while the people were being led, they were not developing their own healthy relationship with the Creator and the other people of God.
Here is the tragic truth of what happens when we do not develop our own Godly convictions, and make decisions to live for God a priority. 2 Kings 12:2 Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him. 2 Chronicles 24: 2 And Joash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest.
2 Chronicles 24: 17 But after Jehoiada’s death, the leaders of Judah came and bowed before King Joash and persuaded him to listen to their advice. 18 They decided to abandon the Temple of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and they worshiped Asherah poles and idols instead! Because of this sin, divine anger fell on Judah and Jerusalem. (NLT)
Each generation must decide to love truth, and earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered unto the saints. We must decide to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people.
I call on son, daughters, nieces and nephews, along with their spouses, to step up for the cause of preserving our place in the royal priesthood. Step up, and model godliness in lifestyle, based on an intense love, and fellowship with the Holy God. Show the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Serve one another with the intent that God gets the glory and honor.
You have heard from the first succeeding generation. What is the response from the second succeeding generation?
Grandma June Vinson and her oldest sons. Gary Lynn Vinson is seated by her. Phillip Vinson is front right.