The Wisdom of Years

Last evening, a group of friends and family gathered at a restaurant for a birthday meal for Pastor Olen. It was great food and fabulous fellowship! We ate and laughed and laughed and ate.

Pastor just turned 70. For me, it is not as hard to imagine that age as it used to be. Admittedly, this is the only birthday that has caused Pastor a little twinge of consternation in all his years. I can’t say I won’t feel the same when I turn 70, since I felt the same twinge at 30, 40, and 50. Still it is amazing that this is my pastor’s first twinge in all his important milestones in life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just want to use this space to say what a great guy he is. What a wonderful pioneer, visionary, and leader. He believed in my husband and me years ago when we were young, egostistical, inexperienced, and just plain wet-behind-the-ears. He saw something in us both, prayed for us, mentored us, and helped us stand on our own two feet in ministry eventually.

Pastor Olen closed his eyes when we flubbed up; he said no to us sometimes, and he released us to God’s perfect will when it was personally painful for him and the church to see us go. Believe me, it was and is mutual! In retrospect, I can see that God’s wisdom was leading him all along, even when I did not understand.

He has been a wonderful friend and example through the years.

And what is amazing is that he didn’t just believe in us alone: he has mentored and given to scores of folks around the world. So many people call him father. And just like the Bible says, “There are few fathers.” Well, he is a true father, exampling what it is to live as a worshipper and giver and disciple of Jesus… Only heaven will tell how broad the ripple has grown from his pebble cast into the lake of God’s destiny for his life. He has influenced nations. Nations call him father.  

So I want to take this opportunity to honor you, Pastor Olen, to say thank you. Take this birthday as a promotion. God’s wisdom of years rests on your shoulders and graces your tongue and colors your vision for a beautiful future.

Silver hair becomes you.

My husband and I have been privileged to walk alongside of you…

And the best is yet to be, Pastor Olen.

 


25 thoughts on “The Wisdom of Years

  1. Greetings from Cleburne, and Eastern Heights Church! Seems like just yesterday we were celebrating your 50th birthday over in the old sanctuary building, Pastor Olen! Hard to believe that’s been 20 years ago…and judging from the photos, you’ve hardly changed a bit! Jesus still shines through your eyes.

    Although we’re no longer at SG, please know that Norris and I still love and respect you and Syble, and continue to honor you as our “pastors from afar.” Your influence is widely felt, and your reward will be great. Thanks for obeying God all these years!

  2. Its been an honor and a blessing to know you and Syble. The Lord has used you as our pastor and his people at Shady Grove to change our lives. We’re not far behind you in reaching 70, so I believe it’s not a bad age. We have a lot to look forward to in the years the Lord has for us. Your loved and God bless you. Because of a Cross–Martha & Ron

  3. Happy Birthday Olen. David and I along with Gateways Beyond send you greetings at this special time for you. We pray for continued health and vigor as you fulfill His heart’s desires in the years to come. May you enter a season of prosperity body, soul, and spirit. We love and honor your life and calling. We also appreciate our long term friendship as laborers together for Israel and the nations. When we think of you it is with deep affection and esteem. Also you are a couple we have enjoyed many fun and delightful times. Enter in to all His promises and blessings in this next season and be strengthened in faith believing for the more of God. We love you. Lord send Olen many surprises this year that will dazzle his heart and move him to an even more intimate place with you with signs and wonders and every good thing you have for him. It is our cry as a community for the more of God. Raise up those who will receive the flaming torch and run and not be weary. Thank you for serving as one of His own.
    David and Emma

  4. Father,
    I thank you for blessing us with Pastor Olen and
    Syble when You sent us to Shady Grove Church
    way back in 1979. Thank You for the
    heart of worship you put deep within him. Thank you for the precious pastor’s heart you
    put within him as he was being formed in his
    mother’s womb! Thank you for the heart of
    compassion that you gave him and for his
    continual watch over the flock you put in his
    care. Thank you for the wisdom you have
    given him through the years, and the favor
    of God that you have poured upon him. Thank
    you for the many times he walked us through
    difficulties that we couldn’t have walked through
    alone….we experienced Your Peace and Love
    flowing out to us through our Pastor Olen. You
    have greatly blessed us with this precious gift and we ask You to bless him as only You can.
    May his latter years be much greater than the
    former and may his strength be renewed with each new day. Walk with him in the early
    morning hours and give him sweet sleep in
    the night…giving him dreams and visions.

    In Jesus Name!

  5. Yeshua, thank you for my Dad. Thank you for all he’s instilled in my life, a love for Israel and the Jewish people, a passion for worship and intercession, an intense desire to see Your kingdom come here on earth. He has encouraged and set the example for me in it all. May this next year be his best yet. Reveal Your glory and power to him in a way that he’s never experienced. I love him, and I know You love him even more!
    In Yeshua’s name, Amen!

  6. Pastor Olen,

    My goodness! We can’t think of another person who has had more Kingdom influence in our lives than you!

    Our hearts are with you on your 70th birthday in love, in great respect and with many thanks for your heart so willingly opened to us.

    You have taught us calmness in storms, simplicity in times of complexity, real life, Kingdom truth and free love. We love you as one who has been a father to us thru many years.

    Olen when we see you, we see from you tens of thousands who would never have know Jesus, but who are in joy today as a direct result of what you gave. It is our joy to be imitators of your faith and heart!

    As we step out into Kingdom purpose, we can truly say that a measure of your heart will go forth thru us. As you have touched us, so we will be faithful to give away to many.

    We honor you!

    Happy Birthday!

    Ginger & Scott Morton

  7. Brother Olen:

    I am excited to help you celebrate this new milestone in your life! Though it does mean another year older and with age comes its disadvantages, it also means that you have another year of experience and wisdom as well. I trust that you will continue to impart that wisdom and insight even more than you have in the past. You have so much to give.

    I am personally grateful for the things you have imparted into my life that have changed my life forever. I now know truly what it means to experience being in the the presence of the our heavenly Father because of you –experiencing the love, grace and mercy that flow from His throne to His own when His children are submitted to Him. I will never forget being face to face with a red carpet, crying along with you and many others at the wonderful Presence. I now know what it means to worship the Lord, though I thought I knew what it meant before I knew what it really meant — such is the way of things as we live our lives walking with the Lord.

    I have also experienced the love of a father through our Heavenly Father working through you. This is a very significant thing for me as someone who grew up without experiencing that at home.

    My measure of community, missions and fellowship is the measure you set before me and I have grown more appreciative of each of these things with each passing year. There was a wonderful foundation that was laid in my life under your leadership. Those ’42 weeks” were transforming and worth the effort! They played a significant role in that measurement of fellowship, missions and community.

    Thank you for all you have done for me and Hylie in our lives. We are eternally grateful.
    Happy Birthday!!

    Bruce

  8. Olen,
    This is Lamar Howell. Thanks for conducting our wedding for an embarrassing $20. For counseling us and telling us to be friends first. For rebuking me once over the phone and not in front of the whole church. For baptizing my son Jon, now in the USMC. For coming to Poland and helping our church there and making us proud of you and our home church. Gracias for the bible you gave us and which I used for 9 years. Thanks for praying “God grow ’em up” and for saying “You will” fulfill God’s calling. You’ve been a faithful pastor and I respect you so much. Don’t leave SG!
    Cindi: I appreciate your leadership, being led of the Lord and being a godly father in the church. For being there for the important times in my life, our wedding, my mother’s illness, for believing that we could be missionaries. Your friendship has been so vital.

  9. Dear Sweet/Fabulous Pastor Olen and Darling/Wonderful Syble… We don’t get to see you nearly as often as we would like to, but every time we do, we know that we are in the presence of people that have changed the world and loved diligently like Jesus wants people to love one another. It’s soooo good to be in your circle of friends, and we think of you so often. We’ll never forget the wonderful meal we shared in our backyard with MJBI. We have been very healthy ever since because laughter is such good medicine. We wish you a great, great year, and pray that we’ll see you soon either here in Ventura or there in Dallas. With heart-filled lover for both of you, Andy and Marcia Zimmermann – Ventura, California

  10. Oh my goodness … where do we begin??!! From the day we met you on a Sunday morning in that smelly old sheriff’s building (Aug. 1975), you have planted and watered so many seeds of Truth in our lives and introduced us to the throne room of worship. It has been an honor & blessing to have walked with you & Syble all these years. We’ve shared times of great joy, tears of great disappointments, and multitudes of great laugher. We love and appreciate you so much.

    The Ribble’s

  11. Brother Olen,

    I am grateful for how you have followed the Lord with all your heart. I am grateful for the faith you have had, and for being faithful to serve your generation well. I am grateful that you have boldly proclaimed the messages He has given you regarding worship, team ministry, knowing God, missions, local church, Jewish ministry, and concern for the poor. I am grateful for your big heart to include so many pastors, leaders, and friends in your life. I am grateful for your love for people and especially the Body of Christ. I am grateful for believing in me and investing in my life. I am grateful for training me in ministry and releasing me to fulfill my calling in the nations. I am grateful for your humility and your perky/happy perspective on life. I am grateful that you have exemplified how to have fun while fulfilling a serious mission. Thank you for being you. I love you and pray the remaining years God has you on this earth will even be more fruitful and fulfilling for you. I am truly grateful to God for you. Happy Birthday!!

  12. Pastor Olen,

    We are truly greatful for your life and the priviledge that HE has given us to receive HIS impartation as a Shepherd to us, as a worshiper to the LORD, an example to the local Church in TX and as we get ready to travel, we just learned that together with your precious wife Syble you both have placed a strong example for us to follow in nurturing and imparting many others in farther regions of the earth.

    As you enter your 70th year of life we are reminded of the spirit that was given to Caleb as he entered and conquered the promised land.

    In Jewish tradition 70 represents the number of the nations of the world celebrated in Sukot… may that be your inheritance as we enter together into this awakening within the Church and the fullness of the gentiles coming to JESUS before the upcoming day of Israel’s redemption and return to the Father. Zechariah 1:1-13, Romans 11:25-27;Luke 10:1-3;Num.29:12-40;Zech 14:16-19

    With love and appreciation,

    Norvel and Eva Rohrer

  13. Dad,

    There are not words in the english language that could possibly express what I feel when I think of you. You are my earthly father, my mentor, my example and my very best friend. I believe it is because of the tears you shed and the groanings you offered to Heaven for so many years that I am alive and serving God today. I covet your wisdom. I want to emulate your life. I’ve never met any other person with as much integrity and love as you. You have given me such an awesome spiritual inheritance. One which desires the manifest glory of God above all else, craves the presence of God, cares for the flock more than anyone truly knows, yearns for the lost and those who are marginalized, sacrifices self to see others succeed and genuinely loves the Word of God.

    Just as you are my biological father, you are also my spiritual Father. And though I have only one biological sister, I am fully aware that hundreds, if not thousands, of people across this nation and around the world call you their Father too. I am truly blessed to be counted as just one among them.

    Yes, I am thankful for these short 70 years. And since I only got to really enjoy a little less than 50 of them, I look forward to many, many more!

    With all my love and admiration, your son,

    Mark

  14. Pastor Olen,

    Your obedience to God at Shady Grove Church created the longest sustained period of the presence of God AND functioning Body of Christ in community I have experienced in my life. When I arrived at Shady Grove in 1989, fresh out of college, I was quickly woven in. I fit. I was a well-greased engine functioning in my place in the Body. I gave and received to the fullest. I even apologized to my parents for being so happy all the time! So much laughter, and singing at the top of our lungs–oh, the worship. It was the sustained Presence of God in loving community. That supportive community lasted, for me, more than 10 years past the 5 years I was there. And the relationships formed at Shady Grove have become lifelong. Your obedience to God is the foundation for our family–for the two beautiful daughters we have–because Bruce and I met at Shady Grove. (How many of our friends can say that too) There is NO OVERSTATING the phenomenal importance of what God has done in our lives through Shady Grove. Thank you a million times, Pastor Olen, for following God the way you did. Happy, Happy Birthday.

    Hylie Voss

  15. Olen,
    As we write this, our eyes begin to tear up, words can not express what you and Syble mean to us. For Ann to be at a loss of words you know that is rare but words can not express the gratitude, the respect, the great love, the honor we both have for you. You are such an example to us, you have been there every step of Ann’s 25 yrs and Pat’s almost 17 years at Shady Grove.
    We just know the best is yet to come for us all!
    As Pat says, “There is no one like Olen Griffing!”
    Happy 70th Birthday,
    The Hunters

  16. Dear Pastor Olen

    We can’t even imagine what and where we would be today without your pioneering life. Abba loves to send those ahead who make a way for everyone else. We are so thankful to be in that number who have followed your sacrifice and service and benefited from your labor of love.
    We have some very fond merories of our times together that only reinforce our love and affection for you. Seventy is only a number, a mile stone and stepping stone into the next season of producing more sons and daughters. They will touch the nations of the earth with the glory of the one that captured your heart all those years ago. As for me, I’m ruined with that purpose. As you gather with family and friends please know there is a host of others that love you from a distance and are praying you into this next exhilirating season of your life. Happy Birthday.

    With love and affection
    Norm and Lynn

  17. Dear Pastor and Friend Olen,

    What a wonderful milestone you have reached a little behind Bill at 72! We will always treasure our years at Shady Grove under your wise and Godly leadership that welcomed us in at a changing time in our lives as we became empty-nesters.

    Our first time was during a Mission Conference in 1987 which touched our hearts seeing the outpouring of love from individuals in the church to individual missionaries abroad. Your caring leadership brought the New Testament church to life with missions, needs night in the body, worship conferences, life groups, a thriving school, etc. Also the leadership team of pastors and elders under your apostleship caught the true vision and many continue today to spread the Good News of God’s love around the world.

    Besides being our pastor for 13 years, you and Syble were dear friends and brought such joy to us through Crazy Canasta parties, and joyful dinners and conferences that brought the whole body of Shady Grove together as one. You have touched countless others as you have shown the Heart of the Father to everyone you meet with your love, joy and abandoned worship of Him.

    Our love and very best wishes for a memorable year and many, many more to come!

    In His Love and Joy,
    Sandy & Bill

  18. Dear Pastor Olen,

    I want to wish you a happy 70th birthday with health and prosperity for the future. May God supply all your needs and fill your remaining years with His presence. May all your children and grandchildren bless your life and give you joy.

    Shalom,

    Fred Trietsch

  19. Dear Olen,

    Happy birthday from two dear friends.

    Thank you for teaching us how to worship Biblically. Thank you for being a real, transparent man of God to us all. Thank you for all the stories you told on yourself that made us know we were OK. Thank you for the bobcat story that made us howl with laughter. Thank you and Syble for showing us how to have fun and be holy at the same time.

    We really love you and wish you many more years of fruitful service.

    Charles & Hilda Simmons

  20. Pastor Olen,

    Where do I start?! I have loved serving you for the past 7 years. It has been an honor for me. Thank you. I feel that I owe you so much! Who I am today has been greatly shaped and molded by you. I treasure in my heart the many stories of faith, the many sermons preached, and the many words of counsel as we walked miles in your old neighborhood. I am, like so many others here, a spiritual daughter and you are my spiritual Father. Thank you for living a life of sincere devotion.

    You said once that God didn’t have favorites, that He has intimates…You are that-His intimate. And it has been contagious to me. I have caught it and I am ruined. Thank you for being more than a boss. Thank you for pouring into my life on a daily basis. You have taught me much — some by word, more by example. It’s true what they say about parenting…”more is caught than taught.”

    Happy 70th Birthday! And may I say, you preach like a 40 year old! Here’s to many more sermons, many more walks, and latter years filled with a great personal revival!

    Much Love,
    Marci Purtell

  21. Pastor Olen,
    Can you believe it? Dennis and I have been married ten years! I remember the very first time Dennis introduced me to you, as his pastor and syble. My first impression of you was LOVE. I was a widow and when Dennis and I married I agreed to leave my church of 12 years and come to Shady Grove with Dennis. It was a hard move for me needless to say. I left friends that had walked with me in the pain of losing my husband so suddenly and well it was just hard. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me that you welcomed me so at Shady Grove….everyone there made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. LOL The transition was a little easier for me because of the love shown me there through all of you. Dennis considers you one of his heros and a legend of all time in is Chistian walk. Thank you for giving him so much he needed from a father that he never received. He really looks up to you and loves you very much for seeing him through some really tough times as well. Well, what can I say in our eyes Syble this man can do no wrong. LOL We love you both dearly and thank you for loving us.
    Big Hugs,
    Diana Terry (Dennis Terry’s Wifie)

  22. Pastor Olen,
    Since Ron and I walked into Shady Grove Baptist Church in Dec. of 1974, the years have flown by.You have become a valuable part of our lives. Our children grew up at Shady Grove Church and consider you to be a good friend as well as their pastor. As Ron says, you ARE a friend closer than a brother. You have imparted to us a vision of worship, increased our understanding of Gods Ways and been a big influence in establishing us in spiritual truth. We look forward to our 70’s walk with you and Syble. May God bless you with every spiritual blessing and lots of material ones also. Happy Birthday Bro. Olen, Lots of love,
    Ron and Gayle

  23. Olen, you are only 70 years young. We both love you and Sybil. We consider it an honor to be your friend . Your smile is infectuous and your love for the Lord shines thru your beautiful blue eyes. You have such a sweet sweet spirit and touch so many lives. We are very lucky to know you , And you have enriched our lives so much. Love Bobby and Sandy

  24. When you came to our house in Childress in 1976, who would have guessed the road we have traveled. The joy, the laughter and the tears that we have shared have all been a treasure that God has allow me to be a part of. Olen and Sybil, thank you for being my friend, my sounding board, my teacher and so much more in my life. Happy Birthday and many, many more!!! Love, Judy

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