Monday, June 19, 2023

Love Song: Where Are They Now?


Following up my earlier series on the Jesus Revolution (it starts here) I found that the pivotal Jesus music band "Love Song" is still together. They're actually working on finishing a documentary about their band and the role it played in the Jesus Movement.  Recently, they were featured on Mike Huckabee's show. He interviewed them and then they sang a couple of their songs.

I found it worth the watch! And I look forward to the coming documentary.  Here's the link to their interview/singing on Huckabee's show. These guys have to be approaching 80, yet they can still sing!

Monday, February 27, 2023

A Second Chapter: the Lynchburg Revival of '73

 In the fall of 1973 a supernatural awakening took place on the campus of Thomas Road Baptist Church, which also housed Lynchburg Christian Academy and Lynchburg Baptist College (now Liberty Christian Academy and Liberty University). I was a freshman student there in college that semester.  

In my opinion what took place in Lynchburg was a continuation of what had been happening across the country for the past 3 years.  Like the Jesus Revolution, it was both an awakening with Christ becoming the Savior of many, and a revival with Christians repenting of sin in their lives.  


I find myself fortunate to have been in both places, in Southern California as the Jesus Movement exploded and in Lynchburg as a college campus and church were radically changed by the Holy Spirit.  


By the way, this Lynchburg revival started with high school students!

Here is an account of that revival. May God do it again!

Saturday, February 25, 2023

My Thoughts on Jesus Revolution - the Movie

 Post #9 on the Jesus Movement as I remember it in Southern California.  


As the movie trailers for "Jesus Revolution" began to pop up in my FB feed a month ago or so, old 50+ year old memories came flooding back. And they continue to "pop up" in my head.  Since I enjoy writing, it seemed a good use of those memories to catalog them in my rarely used blog.  After all, I'm retired and have the time!  All the while I was hoping that the movie would not only be true to the story, but would be well done in acting, directing, photography and overall production.  The anticipation of the film's release grew within me.  I wanted it to be that good.

I'm no Siskel or Ebert, so this isn't going to be a critique as much as a subjective review, not of the "movement" but of the film's narrative.  I wasn't sure what to expect. Would it be a drama? Would it be more documentary?  It's both, really. 

It is not an over-arching documentary on the Jesus Movement as a whole.  The Movement actually had its start among the hippies in San Francisco in the late '60's.  But it focuses simply on what took place in Orange County - mostly Costa Mesa where Calvary Chapel is located - and "Pirates' Cove" - an indentation in the rocks on the channel between Balboa (Newport Harbor) and the Pacific at Corona Del Mar State Park.  For those who know, that location is directly south of The Wedge and the former home of John Wayne.  But, back to the movie.

The story begins sort of where it ends, at the Cove with Chuck Smith answering a question from a reporter.  At the end young Greg Laurie is about to set off on his future gig as a Calvary pastor in Riverside, but not before one more baptism scene.  


There are essentially three story lines in the drama.  One is the dilemma of Pastor Chuck Smith, dealing with an aging, traditional and self-centered flock who want nothing to do with hippies coming to their church services.  The second is tied to that and is the story of hippie preacher and self-proclaimed prophet Lonnie Frisbee.  Lonnie challenges Pastor Chuck to welcome the hippies and watch what God will do.  The third story line is of wannabe hippie high schoolers Greg Laurie and Cathe Martin and their search for truth that eventually leads them to Jesus.  All three stories are skillfully interwoven, including the use of flashbacks in Greg's story.

There is a theme of acceptance throughout the movie and that the doors of the church should be open to all seeking truth.  There is the theme of rejection, especially in Greg's struggles from being abandoned by his father and Lonnie's battles with ego.  All three of the main characters, Chuck, Lonnie and Greg demonstrate that Christians are not perfect and all have flaws, yet even so can be greatly used by God.


I was asked a lot of questions by other movie-goers at the theater.

  • Was it accurate?  As best I know (and I've read a lot to go along with what I knew and heard back in the day0, it was very accurate.  Not perfect, but the minute inaccuracies did not alter the story.  I've seen lots of footage from those days, and the film portrays it well.  Even the scene with Kathryn Kuhlman was scripted right from the real moment.
  • What did I think?  I thought it was great!  Easily it was the best Christian film I've seen in the last 50+ years.  Remember "A Thief in the Night"?  "Jesus Revolution" was well done.  If I had more thumbs I would give it that many thumbs up.  Go see it.
  • Did I see myself in any of the pictures?  That's funny.  No.  I didn't attend Calvary Chapel and wasn't baptized in the ocean.  But I have friends who did and who were.  But I have gone through the cave at Pirates Cove and Gail and I rode the ferry from Balboa Island to the beach. I don't remember any kissing, however.
  • Was I a hippie or a "square"?  Again, I'm laughing.  I lived in the home of a Marine gunnery sergeant and went to an independent fundamental Baptist church.  What do you think?

Disappointments?  The band Love Song in the movie looked nothing like the real guys.  I wish they had lip-synced their music.  


Early scenes at a "happening" at Laguna Beach might not compute with the younger generation.  LSD being dropped from a plane; Janis Joplin; Timothy Leary.  That might need to be explained to younger viewers. 

What most impressed me was it was well-written and acted.  Really well.  Kelsey Grammer should get an Oscar nomination from this.  Jonathan Roumie as well.  Why not?  He was a convincing hippie.  "This house has a great vibe".  And then, although it wasn't preachy, I think the Gospel was presented clearly enough for non-believers to get it.  

Lastly, I wondered if I would get emotional.  That was a life-changing period of my life.  My wife will tell you I only cry in movies about dogs.  But, at my first viewing I was choking up just listening to the producers talk about it before it started!  At my second viewing it got me at the very end.  Oh, to see it happen again.  One way!

Friday, February 24, 2023

A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

 This is part 8 of my series on the Jesus Movement as it manifested itself as a spiritual awakening in Orange County, CA.  These are my memories, motivated partly by the movie "The Jesus Revolution" about those days.

 In Orange County, CA in '71-'73 (when I was there) God was at work in an unusual, and for our generation (and our parents' and grandparents' for that matter) unprecedented way.  Suddenly it seemed "Jesus" was more popular than the Beatles, with thousands of young people turning to Him as their Savior.  I read that in the first 7 or 8 years of the '70's that Calvary Chapel baptized an average of 500 per month.  Just one church.  But what was happening wasn't confined to one church.  It was a spiritual awakening that spread to other churches.  And that included mine...reluctantly, I must say.


Our church on Cambridge in Orange, was just ten miles and less than 20 minutes from "the tent" on W. Sunflower and Fairview in Costa Mesa.  The tent, of course, was the temporary home of Calvary Chapel, which had rapidly outgrown its "little country church" building.  So, what was happening there wasn't in a vacuum.  It was the talk of the town, and the young people who were going there were joyfully spreading the news, both about Jesus and about the home of their new found faith.  It couldn't be ignored, even if our church leadership sort of hoped it would be.

I remember asking.  I don't remember who exactly I asked, but it was a church leader.  And my question was something like, "What about Calvary Chapel?"  I knew what I was seeing at school.  I knew my first day at school I had been witnessed to by a Jesus freak from Calvary. I knew my high school had no shortage of born again Christians, and mostly the products of the Jesus movement and Calvary.  I knew it was different, yet in so many ways the same. So, what of it?  I genuinely wanted to know.

Even though the answer was essentially "look but don't touch", the impact of the awakening taking place filtered through our Independent, Fundamental Baptist safeguards to the teenagers at our church. Honestly, telling a teenage me "don't" was a challenge to "do".  Our family visited the church on our first Sunday in Orange, and my parents settled on it right away. And why not? And incredibly gifted preacher. A vibrant worship service and a big, growing youth group.  Those are indeed, healthy signs.  In the short time we were there the church building was expanded twice as it grew.

And this is only my opinion. I'm no expert on "revivals" or "awakenings". But there was a spiritual hunger and fervor in Orange County during those years and it benefited churches all around.  Frankly, in my previous five years as a believer I never saw the kind of spiritual passion among the youth in the two IFB churches I attended prior to moving to California that I found there.  Nothing close.  I don't mean this in some mystical way, but there was "something in the air" in the OC.  (I don't think anyone from there uses that term - the OC, btw.)

While the epicenter of the quake was at Calvary Chapel, the shaking was felt far beyond.  Seeing other kids excited about their relationship with Christ and about their church - even about their middle-aged pastor (!) emboldened others of us to seek the same passions and excitement.  One of our young adult youth leaders taught a series of classes on sharing our faith and then we did just that.  On the streets of Orange, in Eisenhower and Hart Parks and even in downtown Santa Ana at night we could be found talking to total strangers about the salvation found in Christ.  And we did so with enthusiasm and boldness.

A Friday night youth evangelism service was started at our pastor's urging.  The service was totally led by teenagers.  We invited our friends.  We still sang hymns from the hymnals - but for us that was all we knew.  And the Gospel was preached, although feebly.  And somehow lost teenagers were saved.  It's where I cut my preaching teeth as a 16 year old.

I had been to youth camps in the mountains of Virginia for the previous two summers.  They were fun, mostly.  But the summer of '71 someone in the church paid for my sister and I to go with our church youth to a camp in the Sequoia National Park.  And that week for me was life-changing.  It was then and there I put down my stake and said to Jesus that my life was His.  And I can't imagine that didn't have something to do - a lot to do with the Jesus Movement.


God was at work in that decade of the '70's and America's youth were more open to Him than ever before.  Take a look at Explo '72.  


In Chesapeake, VA in the fall of '71 my then high school senior/cheerleader future wife heard the Gospel,  and convicted of her need for Jesus' forgiveness and life accepted Him as her Savior. Prior to that, Jesus wasn't on her radar.  ('71 was a great year for both of us, a continent apart.) It happened to be in one of those churches that would never have acknowledged the Jesus Movement as being a spiritual awakening.  Yet God has this ability to overcome even our skepticism to accomplish His will.  That boat was, I believe, lifted by the tide.  Sometimes He works His best stuff in spite of us.

For that, I am eternally grateful.  

Up next will be my thoughts on the movie.



Monday, February 20, 2023

Signs of the Times

 This is the 7th part of my remembrances of the spiritual awakening that happened in the US in the late 1960's and early '70's.  My memories come from the years '71-'73 as a high school student in Orange, CA, just about ten miles from the epicenter at Costa Mesa's Calvary Chapel.


It seems it was in the early 70's (maybe a few years earlier) that bumper stickers became a thing in America.  Of course, they weren't caused by an avalanche of Christianity upon the country, but soon bumper stickers, posters and new art were proclaiming Jesus. Here are some I recall.


 The Ubiquitous Fish
The one pictured was very cool for a couple reasons. First, who knew what those Greek letters meant? Then, there was history behind the usage of the fish symbol by 1st century Roman Christians during persecution. Third, it looked like chrome and had an adhesive backing, allowing it to be affixed to your car.  Better ask Dad first.

The fish sometimes had "JESUS" instead of the Greek "ichthus" inside, sometimes just the outline of the fish.  But it quickly became the hot Jesus people symbol.  You could find it on t-shirts and bumper stickers.  It seemed to be everywhere.  In fact, it is still being used a great deal by the Christian community as an identifier.  The Greek letters, by the way, stand for "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior".


Bumper Stickers

While I'm thinking of it, there were lots of them proclaiming faith in Jesus.  "Hooked on Jesus" - for those coming out of drugs that was a natural.  That one particularly rubbed my mom the wrong way.  "Smile, Jesus Loves You" and "Honk if you love Jesus".  There was lots of honking in Orange County, but it was different than I've experienced on the streets of Manhattan!


One Way 

My first encounter with the index finger pointed upward is told in part one of this series.  To me, it was my first inkling of something happening among the youth culture in my new home. It was contrasted to the hippie/war protest "peace symbol" of the two-fingered V...which had also been Winston Churchill's symbol for Victory in the waning days of WWII.  The "one way" sign was seen in large gatherings, like worship and concerts, and in passing greetings on the streets.  It was derived from Jesus' words to Thomas in John 14:6, where He declared "I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me."  Always an orthodox Christian belief that there is no other means to eternal life, it was elevated in the Jesus' people's evangelistic efforts.  It's why they were called "Jesus people".  It was all about Jesus.

The Cross

I could always remember ladies and girls wearing dainty gold crosses on gold chains.  But with the advent of the movement the cross became more than a piece of jewelry barely visible.  It was being worn larger and shown on the bumper stickers and posters.  I had one - wooden and on leather it hung around my neck.   In my senior year of high school I attended a Bible study in a home, and the young son of the hosts admired my cross so much that I gave it to him.  Wearing it was another way of saying, "I'm not ashamed to be a Christian."

The Way version of The Living Bible



The Living Bible came out in 1971 and was quickly accepted by the Jesus people due to it's simplicity in language.  No "thee's or thou's", it was actually a paraphrase (meaning not a translation from the original Hebrew and Greek) written by Ken Taylor for his children.  Soon after, Zondervan publishers put the LB in a different soft-cover, making it more appealing and affordable to young people.  For me, it was the Bible I carried with my books in my senior year of high school.  


The name "The Way" was appealing to the Jesus people because it was one of the first names attached to the earliest Christians in Jerusalem (Acts 9:2).

New Jesus Art

Suddenly it seemed that new renderings of what Jesus looked like were appearing everywhere.  And instead of looking sad and gaunt, He was looking happy, welcoming and friendly.  It was a reflection of how this new generation saw their Savior.  He was like them.

(This photo is from Explo '72, sometimes called "the Christian Woodstock".)


Two that I recall floating around the campus at Orange High were the "Living Water" tract, written and drawn by teenage Jesus freak Greg Laurie and the "underground" Hollywood Free Paper, (short video you should watch) produced by Duane Pederson, who by the way is credited with coining the terms "Jesus people" and "Jesus movement". Pictured below are Pat Boone (a friend of the Jesus people) and Pederson with a copy of THFP.

In my next post I'd like to talk about the Jesus' movement's reception or lack of it by the churches and the college I attended.  Not every Bible banger was happy with what was going on.

More to come, including the Jesus Movement's impact on me personally and a review of the movie "The Jesus Revolution" (after I've seen it a second time).

Saturday, February 18, 2023

More About the Jesus Music: Pioneers

Part 6 of my series on the Jesus Movement as I experienced it in the early 70's in Southern California.  It's in anticipation of the release of the movie, "The Jesus Revolution".


 Little did the bands and solo artists that emerged from the early days of the Jesus Movement realize that they were the start of something that has lasted more than 50 years.  While much of the evangelistic fervor and zealousness for the return of Christ has lessened, the music grew.  Today CCM (the eventual result of the Revolution's musical expression) is what must be a multi-billion dollar business.  Frankly, some of that is good news, some not so much. But, that's my opinion.  I remember a simpler time when money, record labels, contracts and celebrity were not a motivators.

And in the beginnings of the movement not all music came from unknown kids practicing in garages. That's  not at all to say what they did was inferior.  But, there were some leaders of the movement's music who had previously been successful in the secular world of rock and folk music.  So successful that they had "charted" before turning to Christ and devoting their talents to spreading the Gospel.  Here are three  examples.

Chuck Girard (whose story, along with the other members of Love Song is told in the movie) had been a member of the quartet "The Castells", who in 1961 charted with the love song "Sacred".  Then in 1964 he joined a new group called "The Hondells" and again charted with the hit "Little Honda" (written by Beach Boys Mike Love and Brian Wilson).  Here they are on the TV show Shindig - I remember watching this! Chuck's conversion came at Calvary Chapel in 1970.

Barry McGuire was a member of the popular mid-60's folk group "The New Christy Minstrels".  He sang lead on their biggest hit song "Green, Green" (1963).  And then he went solo with a huge hit "The Eve of Destruction" (1965).  Later he performed for a year in the Broadway musical "Hair".  Then, in 1971 Barry met Jesus and everything changed for him.  My kids' generation will remember his album "Bullfrogs and Butterflies".  And in 1980 I sang Barry's part of Peter in the Jimmy and Carol Owens' musical "The Witness" in our Tulsa church.

Larry Norman, with the psychedelic band "People!" scored a major hit song with "I Love You", shown here on American Bandstand in 1968.  A Christian since childhood (in a Southern Baptist home!) he became fed up with the rock culture and devoted himself to spreading the Gospel with music, not without controversy!  Larry's style and lyrics were more confrontational than winsome, and he endured plenty of criticism.  Yet, by most he is considered the "father of Christian rock music", putting out his first Christian album, "Upon This Rock" (on a secular label) in 1969.  Here's a great example of his lyrical style in "Only Visiting this Planet". 

The music of the early days of the Jesus Movement reflected a much simpler time, sans managers, arenas, light shows, marketing and for the most part radio play.  They mostly played in churches (that would allow them) and coffee houses without contracts, maybe getting a few bucks in "love offerings".  But the little they received would get them on to their next gig, often in broken down old vans!  Nancy Honeytree, another Jesus people musician wrote a great song about those days called "Pioneer".  Then I found this video of part of her story that I found so telling of the idea of simplicity in representing the Lord.  We could use a revival of that spirit.  They truly were trailblazers.  And today so many of our churches' music (including mine) is indebted to what they started.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Maranatha - Our Lord Cometh

 This is the 5th part of a series on my personal recollections of the Jesus Movement, a revival that swept like wildfire across the nation, and nowhere more fervently than in Southern California where I found myself at age 15 in 1971. 

Part and parcel to the vibe of the Jesus Movement was the belief that Jesus Christ was returning and that His return was both imminent and likely soon.  It was easy to believe that in the early 1970's the world was indeed in "the last days" spoken of in the New Testament.  The war in Viet Nam was still dragging on, racial tensions wrought violence in riots across the country, students were shot down demonstrating against the war on the campus of Kent State University.  And the ever present Cold War threat of nuclear mutually assured mass destruction only grew stronger.  And then there was Israel.


On a personal note, it was our pastor's sermons on the return of Christ in 1966 that convinced me of my need to accept Jesus as my Savior.  So, that doctrine played a great part in who I would be in the years to come.  And as I met the Jesus Revolution face to face in '71 I had already been a believer for nearly five years.  But, until that time without the passion I saw in these kids in California.


Preachers and authors were able to tie current events to both Old Testament and New Testament writing and teachings from the prophets, Jesus and the Apostles Peter and Paul.  They found Russia and China in the Old Testament prophecies.  Armageddon was a real place in Israel. and much of what was happening was determined to be "signs of the times" - things Jesus warned would come prior to His descent from Heaven.  Along with their new found faith in Christ, the idea that Jesus was coming back (and soon) only served as gasoline to the Jesus People's fire, giving greater urgency for evangelizing the world.


Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel's preaching seemed to center on the 2nd Coming.  That resulted in songs being written and sung about the same.  The earliest in my memory were Larry Norman's "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" and "Unidentified Flying Object" along with Love Song's "Maranatha"(with its haunting violin) and the guitar driven "Cossack Song" about Armageddon.  Adding to the flame were books like Hal Lindsey's The Late, Great Planet Earth and Salem Kirban's fictional novel 666.   I read both as a teen.  I wanted to be ready!


The eschatology (the doctrine of things to come) of the "people' was strongly a pre-tribulational- rapture of the church view.  That made their passions strong and acceptable on that count to most evangelicals. Not only was it exciting to know Jesus loved them and gave them eternal life, but to know He was literally returning was just "far out"!  In 1973 the Christian movie "A Thief in the Night" came out and lent itself to church youth group evangelism throughout the '70's.  


In 1977 country/rock Daniel Amos (at that time a band on the Maranatha! label) composed a rock opera style telling of the Tribulation on side 2 of their "Shotgun Angel" album.  Definitely one of my favorite albums ever, by the way.  Super-creative, with songs like "He's Gonna Do a Number On You" ("Can you choose the place, my hand or my face") and the Eagle-esque "Posse in the Sky" continued the 2nd Coming theme into the later part of the decade as the movement had slowed down from its early years.


And me? I'm still looking up!  I'm really not far from the movement. Even so, come Lord Jesus.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

With a Brand New Song

 Part 4 in my series on the Jesus Revolution (not the movie but what happened in the early 1970's. But I do have tickets to see the movie!  Sorry for all the ads on the links.


Of the three primary themes I've suggested that punctuated the Jesus Movement, perhaps none has had a longer impact on the church than the music.  It is generally accepted that today's Contemporary Christian Music started with those new converts who wanted to sing to God about their love for Him.  They had no idea what they started!


My first introduction to the music part of the revolution actually began not in California, but in a little Baptist church in Alexandria, Virginia.  A young college aged guy in the church - a talented singer - put together a little combo of bass guitar, organ and piano and somehow got the pastor (who was also his girlfriend's dad) to let them come to an evening service and play and sing. This must have been about 1969.  


Nothing but traditional hymns out of the hymnal had been sung in that church prior.  Sure, we learned some good ol' camp choruses (that had been around for decades), but nothing really new.  Until that night when we heard "Amazing Grace" sung to the tune of "The House of the Rising Sun"!  I loved it.  But I don't remember that group singing at church again...  More than a few people apparently were offended! But something was happening in embryonic form and happening across the nation.


In the late '60's a long-haired rock and roller who had grown up in church then found some success in secular rock music decided it was time to change gears and sing about his faith in Christ. He boldly asked the question in one of his songs, "Why should the devil have all the good music?" And said, "Jesus is the Rock and He rolled my blues away."  Larry Norman became the pied-piper of singing about Jesus with the music these hippies and young people knew.  And it not only drew crowds, but the kids listened to the Gospel as it was sung and preached by these "rock and roll preachers". 

There in Orange County, especially at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa young people with guitars were writing and singing, forming bands and playing wherever they got the chance. And in those days there was no commercialism.  The Second Chapter of Acts, a trio of two sisters and little brother - who wrote some of the last generation's best known music (I'll bet you've heard "The Easter Song") began to travel and in their 15 or so years of doing so only charged a dollar per person to pay for the venues, depending on love offerings to meet their needs and get them to the next gig.

One mark of these groups and singers was that they placed themselves under pastoral leadership in the local church.  With rare exception they weren't renegades and mavericks. 


I learned about the myriad of musical groups coming out of nearby Calvary Chapel when I was at the home of some friends (1971) and they pulled out "The Everlasting Jesus Music Concert" (also known as Maranatha 1) and put it on the stereo.  I was hooked.  The new Christian music wasn't being sung at our church, but all of us in the youth group were into it. Soon I began showing up at Teen Challenge on the Circle in Orange where on Monday nights different groups played their songs.  Soon the band stand at Hart Park was opened to these Christian bands one night a week - and I was often there.  All free. All so they could share their faith in Jesus.

One night a group from our church were out going around neighborhoods inviting people to come to church and maybe get a chance to share the Gospel.  We got near one house and could hear music coming from the garage (that was open).  Found out it was one of the new bands called "The Way", playing at band member John Wickham's house.  John was a student at Orange High where I went.  (He's got a son named Phil. Maybe you've heard of him.) When their album came out, I was sure to get it, along with those by Love Song and The Children of the Day, whose anthem "For Those Tears I Died" was soon being sung by church youth groups across the country.  

The music spread across the nation.  Bands like Petra in Indiana, Resurrection Band in Milwaukee and an already successful guitarist named Phil Keaggy in Ohio were singing about Jesus.  In 1972-73, back in Virginia I heard a band called The Sons of Thunder a couple of times.  And the California groups began touring everywhere.  Marantha! Music began producing albums of praise songs, some of which you can find in the Southern Baptist Hymnal!

Of course, the music wasn't without controversy.  Most evangelical/fundamentalist churches stayed away from it - some even declaring it was devil music.  Electric guitars and drums, you know. It's interesting to hear those musicians tell their stories of showing up to sing and play only to be told that unless they cut their hair they could not.  Newness is frightening to many.  That was true in Jesus' day - He was certainly doing some "new things" and it's still true today.  I could easily start preaching here, but I'll refrain! But gradually over time what began in coffee houses, Bible studies and some churches has caught on to those who have the ears to hear.


I still have a bunch of those old albums.  Since I don't have a phonograph I resort to a play list on Spotify to hear them or find them on Youtube.  When I retired from pastoring a wonderful church in the Spring of 2021 Gail and I were given tickets to a Phil Keaggy concert.  I've been fortunate to not only hear so many of these artists but to meet many.  


There are far too many artists from those days to mention here.  But back in the late '90's a producer got the idea to bring a bunch of them together at a retreat and record them singing and sharing their stories.  If you're really interested in the beginnings of modern Christian music you should watch "First Love". It's a two part video and takes a while to watch in its entirety, but is so good at telling the origins of the music that changed the church and reached a generation.  And the music is great!




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!