Monday, February 6, 2023

Bring a Friend

 In my last post I outlined three main themes of the revival being portrayed in the movie "The Jesus Revolution".  In the next days I want to elaborate a bit on each.  

 

Evangelism is the telling of the Good News.  It comes from the Greek word for "Good News", euangel (or something like that).  And of course, the Good News is that God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. That's how Jesus explained it.

 

Suddenly, young people were hearing the Gospel and believing in Jesus Christ. And their lives were being radically changed. And in a natural, or perhaps better said, supernatural response to their new lives they wanted to share it with their friends. No, not just their friends. With anyone who would listen. The result being hundreds if not thousands of young evangelists went to their homes, their schools, their jobs, their neighborhoods telling the Gospel in a simplistic manner. One of the evidences of a genuine revival must be the natural sharing of the Gospel.

 

I say "simplistic" because these kids were not theologians (although many, like Greg Laurie would become pastors) and had little if any training on how to share their faith. Yet without the training and grounding in doctrine, God used the simple Gospel mightily. It was as though their sharing of Jesus' love and sacrificial death for mankind was irresistible. So many being caught up in the fervor couldn't be ignored, so others listened, wondering if this was real.  

 

A teenage artist and newly saved boy there in Orange County, Laurie used his talents and what he understood about the Good News to write/draw a cartoon styled pamphlet called "Living Water". Someone saw it and decided to publish it, and soon it was all over the place.  I can't tell you how many copies I saw floating around at school, and surely I must have given a few away myself.


These new evangelists not only told their stories, but in the "Philip style" invited their friends to check out what was happening in their churches, in Bible studies that sprang up, in free concerts by new Jesus music groups. Most of all I think it was their overflowing joy that caught the attention of others to learn more about Jesus.  

 

As I shared in my first post in this series, I was "evangelized" by a Jesus freak (I use that phrase because that's what they were called) on my first day of school at Orange High.  "Rick, do you know Jesus?"  And it blew me away.  Someone came up to me, a stranger and dared to ask me such a thing. And like Nathanael in the story in John 1 I marveled at his boldness.

 

That urge to go and tell caught fire in me. A Christian for 5 years at this point I had never shared my faith with someone outside of my church group. That was too scary a thought. But when I saw it happening by kids much younger in their faith than me and with so much boldness it moved me to take a big step of faith. And before long I was witnessing to a friend at lunch, walking a circuit on Tuesday nights just to stop and share the Gospel with others on the sidewalks of Orange, carrying my Bible to school and sharing my faith story in my public speaking class at school.  Truly I was caught up in this revolution.  And when I preached my first "sermon" to about 40 teens on a Friday night two guys who had been invited by their friends put their faith in Christ.  Trust me, it wasn't because of the preacher. It was part of something bigger.


One of the new songs that came out in those early days of the Jesus people was called "Two Hands". I first heard it sung by The Children of the Day, a sort of folk quartet.  Here it is as recorded by Love Song in 1972. It says it well. Bring a friend.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Three Themes that Identified the Jesus Movement

 As I recall there were at least these 3 major themes of the revival called the Jesus Revolution or Movement.

  • Evangelism.  Although most revivals are an awakening of the church, this one was more about reaching the unchurched with the Gospel - the Good News that Jesus came to die and pardon those who receive Him as Savior, giving them the gift of eternal life.  True, it greatly impacted believers. But by and large it swept over Orange County, CA, the West Coast and across America as an evangelistic movement.  

And it was pretty simple actually. Young people who heard that God loved them and accepted His love through Jesus simply shared it with their friends and anyone who would listen. The baptisms of new believers at Corona Del Mar by Calvary Chapel illustrate that evangelistic emphasis.  Thousands, just in that region of Southern California were professing faith in Christ. My guesstimate is that 25% of the student body at my high school were born again believers, and most of them new in their faith.*

 
  • A second theme that arose was in music that declared their faith.  Most of the new converts to Jesus had little or no church background, so the old hymns were mostly unknown to them.  So from their cultural context new songs were being written.  Bands and musicians now Christian weren't putting down their guitars and drums, but now writing songs that declared their faith using their music and instruments.  To this mid-teen boy it was so refreshing!  
Let me quote from just a couple of those composers in the very early days...well before something called CCM came to be.  "Sing unto the heavens with a brand new song" (if I'm not mistaken that's pretty much a quote from the Bible). And a piercing question from another, "Why should the devil have all the good music?".  
 
  • The third theme would have been a fascination with the end times.  And I would say it was a healthy fascination.  The Jesus Freaks not only heard that Jesus had come to save them, they were also hearing that He was coming back for them.  And that was exciting Good News.  Their conversation was abuzz with words like "rapture", "2nd coming", "tribulation" and "anti-christ".  
As I recall Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel - ground zero in SoCal for the movement - preached long during these days on the return of Christ.  Books like Hal Lindsey's The Late, Great Planet Earth and Salem Kirban's 666 flew off the shelves. Larry Norman (whom I consider the father of Jesus Music) had a haunting song that lamented, "I wish we'd all been ready".

Evangelism and a fascination with Christ's return put the Jesus People in the company with other evangelicals - even fundamentalist Christians.  If it were just those two I suspect the evangelical/fundamentalist churches might have more easily supported the revival.  But, the music! There was a dividing line that some, even today 50+ years later refuse to accept or cross.  


More on these themes coming.  And if you have an recollection of those days, feel free to comment here.  If you're simply a troll or a negative Nancy, just know that Jesus loves you!

Listen to Chuck Girard's song "Full Immersion Baptism By the Sea".

Friday, February 3, 2023

One Way. The Mantra of a Revolution.

 Daily I see trailers for the movie "The Jesus Revolution".  From what I gather it is a re-telling of a spiritual awakening that came in the days of great social unrest that was boiling in the baby boomer generation in the late '60's and early '70's.  Hey! That was my time! Out of the Viet Nam protests, free love, the hippies and Woodstock a hunger was growing among the boomers for truth.  Lots of songs sang about love, but it seemed hard to find and define.

 

Then God intervened in a big way, not at first in churches so much, but among the hippies, college students and high schoolers.  I'm greatly interested in the movie because I saw it happen all around me as a high school student in Orange, CA.  At first I was like the Israelites when they woke up and saw manna - bread from heaven - sent by God to feed them in the wilderness.  Like them I thought "what is it?", which is what manna means. As a fifteen year old sophomore I was suddenly and unexpectedly seeing and hearing things that caught me off guard, even as a Christian - the born again kind. (Is there any other?)

 

With the trailers popping up, my memories of living in the epicenter of that spiritual earthquake are floating to the forefront of my mind.  So, before they vanish (those my age will understand) I thought I should write them down.  This is as good a platform as I have.

 

It started for me on that first day at OHS (Orange High School) as the second semester started.  Our family had just moved to Southern California from Northern Virginia (two very different cultures, for sure) due to my Marine dad's orders.  So, I went to a school where I knew no one in a town where I had never before been.  I didn't know how much my life was about to change. But, something was very different here.

 

There are three distinct memories - well four now that I think about it - that I carry from that first mid-January day. First, outside around the amphitheater before classes began I saw what must have been a dozen or so students in a huddle, arms around each other's shoulders.  And they had their heads bowed.  Honestly I thought, "This is California. Must be some kind of a cult gathering."  But on the back of one of the guys' jean jackets was an unmistakable graphic that made me wonder.  In the center of the graphic was a fist with the index finger pointed up. And around it were these words: "One way to God. Jesus".

 

What the heck was this? I believed that too, but NEVER had I seen an open display of faith like that on a school campus.  That was my first clue.  And I had to find out more. But, I had to find out where my classes were, so the second memory (and the least important as I look back at it), was being taken around the campus to all of my classrooms by a stunning blonde girl - a senior at that. And she was nice to me!  I was going to like this school.

 

The third memory was during lunch, which was also outside.  (I hear there was a tiny cafeteria, but never ventured there.) Seems it never rains in southern California, so much of the day is outside.  All the classrooms opened to the outdoors.  What I saw at lunch were several gatherings of students, sitting cross-legged on the ground in groups of maybe ten to fifteen, eating their lunches with Bibles in their laps. in each group one of the students seemed to be leading. Bible studies at lunch! I had never seen anything like that before!  What is going on here?

 

And the fourth perhaps most profound memory from that first day was in band class.  Again, I knew nobody, and for whatever reason the band wasn't practicing or playing anything that day, so we just sat and talked.  Seated by myself on a folding metal chair, minding my own business a guy comes over and sits beside me, and introduced himself.  Everyone else had to notice there was a new guy, but only Jim bothered at first to meet me.  "Hi. I'm Jim." "Hi, I'm Rick".  Innocent enough.  But then the next question out of his mouth shocked me.

 

"Hey Rick. Do you know Jesus?" I'm sure my jaw dropped.


Of course I did. I had been saved when I was ten and I knew what that meant.  But NEVER had anyone outside of the preacher at church asked me that question, and NEVER EVER anyone at school.  Yet it was so natural for Jim to ask.


"Yes, I do. Do you?" My question surely revealed my surprise.  And his answer was just as surprising.  "I do, too. And there are lots of us here who do."  


I didn't know about a revolution or movement and had never heard the phrase "Jesus freaks", but I was about to be introduced to something that still impacts me today, 52 years later.


If you have a personal Jesus Movement experience, feel free to share it in the comments!


Monday, September 12, 2022

Some of my Heroes

Early in my ministry God took us to serve in Tulsa, OK at the Tulsa Baptist Temple, a large church led by Clifford Clark.  Pastor Clark was a champion for world missions like none other I've ever known.  And while I received a great indoctrination into the priority of world evangelization at the churches I grew up in and served, TBT took that up a notch.  

 

It was in this church in 1965 that youth pastor Roscoe Brewer took a large group of American teens to Mexico to distribute Bible in a program he called SMITE - Summer Missions Intern Training for Evangelism.  Brewer would take SMITE with him to Lynchburg Baptist College (now Liberty University) in the '70's and it became the world missions arm of the young college.


Each January the church hosted a world missions conference, and missionaries from all over the world were brought in to share what God was doing where they served. At those conferences I was privileged to sit and converse with and mostly listen to "hall of fame" missionaries like Manuel Arenas, Granny Holdeman and Rachel Saint.

 

In the picture, from a Tulsa Baptist Temple newsletter, Rachel Saint is center front row and Granny Holdeman is on the right front row, standing next to Pastor Clifford Clark.  I'm there, too, on the far right of the third row. The guy with no tie...can you believe that? 

 

My days at this church ('78-'80) were instrumental in forming my own missions strategy which I put into practice in my 30 years at Nags Head Church.

 

(Click on the picture to see all of it.)

 

 



Monday, April 4, 2022

Still Doing Some Preaching!

 


 

Yesterday I had the privilege of filling in for my friend Russ Howard at Cape Hatteras Baptist Church. Doing it since I was 16, I still love teaching the Word whenever and whenever I get the chance.  Here is the link to the service.  (I start around the 14 minute mark.)

 


Also got a picture with my friend Adrienne.  She's a member of the church and we are both alumni of the same high school in Orange, California.  Truth be told, she wasn't even born when I went to Orange High 50 years ago!

 


Monday, March 28, 2022

Nothing Could Be Finer

 

After the dust settled this past Sunday evening with the Men's Elite Eight tournament, the Final Four have been determined.  What a great tournament so far!  Who wasn't pulling for little St. Peter's University, the number 15 seed (that's one up from the bottom in their region) to get so record-setting far?  But, they ran into a Tar Heel team playing like they should and it was more than the Peacocks could handle.

 

Now two of the four headed into this weekend's tournament are from the Old North State.  And amazingly, for the first time ever the two huge rivals will meet in the NCAA Tournament, much less the Final Four.  

 

The Tar Heels are led by their first-year coach Hubert Davis, himself a former Tar Heel player with Final Four experience.  The Blue Devils are led by legendary coach Mike Krezyzewski, who retires at the end of the season...which will either be their next loss or their national championship. 

 

It is being pegged as “the biggest game in college basketball history.”.  It well may be.


Either way my state wins and gets into the championship game on Monday.  (By the way...NC State's team is in the Women's Final Four.)


And who says the ACC is in demise? Tobacco Road is hopping.

 

More on Coach K and why I am a Duke fan later.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

A Year of Transition

 



I did not realize that it has been a year since my last blog post!  How did that happen???

So here's a bullet point list of the last year...

  • Thus far Gail and I have avoided COVID in any form.  A year ago we got our first vaccines and then followed up with a booster. (Please take a debate elsewhere.)
  • On April 18 I preached my final sermon as Lead Pastor of Nags Head Church and officially "retired" on April 30 after nearly 40 years of full-time ministry and 30 at NHC. Our new Lead Pastor, Nathanael Stevens came aboard six months earlier and we teamed up for that time of transition.  Check him out!  He's great!! 
  • In mid-June Gail and I flew to Juneau, AK and Glacier Valley Baptist Church, where I filled in as interim pastor until mid-October.  If you've never been to Alaska you just gotta go! Beauty beyond description.  Alaska in the summer is paradise. And we made some great friends there.  Gail also (after a 40 year break) got back into quilting while we were there, and is going strong with it now.
  • My first Social Security check arrived in November!!  WooHoo!
  • It was great to be back with our family for the holidays!  
  • We spent 3 days in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC that included a Phil Keaggy concert! 
  • In December I had MOHS surgery on my nose that I had put off while in AK.  With my shaggy hair and full beard I indeed looked rough.

  • Since being home I've had several invitations to preach at churches in the northeast NC area. One even had me back for a second time!  I hope to be able to continue that kind of ministry as long as I'm able.
  •  After a year's absence Gail and I will be back regularly next month at Nags Head Church to do whatever we can to serve there.  She plans to rejoin the Milepost 13 Band and I'll be joining the parking team!  
  • In the meantime we're staying busy around the house and yard, spending time with the grandkids, reading (me) and quilting (Gail).  Oh, and I'm loving naps.
 Hopefully I'll do better with the blogging and find a useful purpose for it, using my teaching gift to benefit others.  

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Seuss and Huck

 

 

 

Been reading about Dr. Seuss becoming a victim of the cancel culture.

It reminded me of literature I read in my youth.
 
I recently found a very old (early 20th century) edition of Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn". I read this book over 50 years ago (along with Tom Sawyer) and understood then the times were different, and that the racist language and imagery reflected those times, not that the times made racism right.  
 
But reading them was very educational for me, a jr. high boy in the mid-60's... a time
when we were learning to move away from those past injustices.
 
Context is everything. We can teach our children a lot by remembering, not canceling history.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Finding the line between conspiracy and truth

Recently I was challenged on social media to expose and condemn a group known as QAnon.  I had no idea who or what that was, partly because I don't spend time reading conspiracy theory claims that pop up, often from my Christian friends.  And those theories, as you know, abound.  Then I saw where some of the arrestees from the recent mayhem at the Capitol were identified with this group, so my curiosity was peaked.

 

My personal philosophy is to emulate the words of Paul, the Apostle.  He wrote, "Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things." (Philippians 4:8)  If I'm going to be balanced and well-focused, those are the things with which I need to fill my mind.


Today this showed up on my news feed.  It's an article from a trusted source about QAnon.  Since I was challenged to expose/condemn them, I felt it wise to learn about it.  And I realized not only did I have no idea about it, I think I have many friends who have swallowed this particular flavor of Kool Aid.  And I am sure that such conspiracy nonsense and mindless biases lacking reason are on both sides of the spectrum.


Anyway, here is the link to the article.  And remember, "there is none so blind as he who will not see".  Beware of false prophets.


Friday, January 22, 2021

Fist Shaking is Not the Answer

 

While watching current events unfold (and reactions to them)...
 
American evangelicals have (for generations) had a "worldview" that supposes God treats us as His favorite children. We watch horrible persecution of Christians in other countries and we pray for them. But, when a little persecution begins to percolate on our shores we proclaim the Rapture is almost here, as though hard times for the American Christian are more than God can bear, so He must act now.
 
We're so full of ourselves. Rather than shake our fists at the world acting like the world, perhaps it is time to repent and become full of Christ.