1963 was a pivot year of social & cultural upheaval in some of the most turbulent times especially with two monumental events. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington & “I Have a Dream” speech played a crucial role in pushing for Civil Rights, & then just a couple of weeks before I was born, Kennedy was assassinated & everything turned upside down with what snowballed into liberal deep-state new world order.
In the year I was born, the Supreme Court added to their previous year’s ruling against school-led prayer that Bible reading in schools was also unconstitutional. God was effectively being removed from the public square & this new generation would no longer have the kind of “Christian” culture that citizens had always known. Society was turning secular. Churches were becoming liberal & declining.
The space race was in swing & the US was in Vietnam. Beatlemania & drugs were changing youth culture. The “pill” was ushering in the sexual revolution which advocated promiscuity, diverse sexual experimentation, & “reproductive rights.” Pornography was going more mainstream with men’s magazines. Feminism was going right along with it as bra-burning, bikinis & mini-skirts began to push more immodesty. The family was beginning to break down with loosened divorce laws & government dependency through the financial displacement of fathers. There was no profanity on TV or in music, or even R-rated movies when I was born, but they were on the way.
I’ve seen lots of changes in everyday life–from an era of black & white TV with a handful of channels to now carrying around a TV in my pocket with unlimited information & programming. Churches have changed dramatically in some good ways but in many bad ways. People have grown different in some ways, but still always the same. I’m at the very tail end of the Boomer generation. But I feel stuck between the older generation & my wife’s younger Gen X era. I have a Millennial son, a Gen Z son, & now 3 Gen Alpha grandchildren. Their future concerns me deeply. But I’m hopeful.
I could spend this time giving you a list of lessons learned over the years. But I’d rather be a little more personal & lyrical. As a young man of 18, I heard a song played at a music festival by Randy Stonehill, one of the early leaders in contemporary Christian music. He wistfully & simply played his autobiographical tune on an acoustic guitar about turning 30 years old. I’ve adapted the lyrics as my inspiration to turning 60. So imagine me strumming a guitar looking contemplatively at the floor…
I’ve got a house over in Flat Rock
It’s almost free and clear
And I love to look at my backyard
To see the trees and deer
And lately, I’ve been taking stock
Of all that I’ve been through
Oh today, it is my birthday
Feels funny but it’s true
I’m turning sixty.
Now I’ve got a wife who really loves me
She makes my life so sweet
And I got two sons with their families
Grand-babies ‘round my feet.
And my world is very different
From simpler youthful years
But if I had the chance to go back
I’d rather stay right here
And I have friends who care about me
They’re partners in the cause
They help carry the burdens
And they overlook my flaws
And I love to preach the Gospel
Though people may not hear
But every time I walk on stage
I hear the angels cheer.
Well, now sixty ain’t like thirty
And it’s not like forty-five
My back’s a little stiff
And there’re some lines around my eyes
But I’ve still got fire in my gut
Lots of fuel left in my tank,
So I won’t waste the time that I have left
I have so many to thank
For turning sixty.
Oh, the future looks like tough times
The world is turning sour
So I’ll keep on serving Jesus
And await the final hour.
But before I go to heaven
I’ll take as many as I can
I’ll stay true to my calling
Teach the Word and take my stand.
I’m turning sixty.
And though I’ve often failed Him
Been disillusioned by the dark
His mercy brought me this far
And his grace has fanned my spark.
I’m turning sixty. (I’ll treasure these years)
I’m turning sixty (and that’s all right)
I’ll treasure these years (I’m turning sixty, yeah)
I’m turning sixty.