Sunday, November 18, 2007

How Did I get So Seasoned?


Whitfield Preaches at the First Great Colonial Awakening


It occurred to me that I am well done and well seasoned. Randy Moody, an old friend from the Jesus Movement at U.C. in the Sixties and Seventies, wrote a long letter telling us he has a bunch of old audio tapes on which many original songs have been recorded. These songs vary in skill and tone but they do help us think about the fun and holy experiences we had so many years go.

There we were in the midst of one of the great revivals of history and we were largely unimpressed. Oh, I dimly remember discussing the amazing things that were happening in us and around the country. Sometimes international speakers came through Cincinnati and spoke about how broad and deep was the Jesus Movement. But for the most part we were not very self conscious about our "place in history".

There was too much going on to be reflective and insightful or terribly academic. Karen and I had two small kids and I was working as Associate Dean of Students while doing a doctorate in counseling. We lived 300 miles from our parents so family demands were great.

And, there were the small things we called, "Campus Disturbances". The Baby Boomers hit campus in 1964 and they shook things up. Viet Nam was a big deal with peace activists threatening to kill folks like me because we were, "Pigs" who needed to be "offed". The Black Panthers were also threatening to protest and the whole world was in an uproar.

The bombing in Cambodia brought violent protests and Kent State exploded into an overwhelming problem when the National Guard lost control and began to shoot students. Sit ins, protests, threats and FBI reports that people had targeted us with bombs and Molotov Cocktails kept us on edge almost every day.

Through all of it The Community of Jesus, a loose association of Christian groups, house churches and hangers on met regularly for prayer and mutual support. All of it brought us closer together in fear, anxiety and excitement about God's love and power.

Many students came to faith in Christ and others re-committed their lives to Christ after having dramatic experiences with the Holy Spirit. It was. as Dickens said, "The best of time and the worst of times." Those youngsters are now grandparents. Wow! Time passed fast.

We saw God work miracles of healing, deliverance and reconciliation. Many of us wanted to stay on the mountain top with Jesus. The people we prayed with and for as well as the things we did together made an indelible impression on us. Thanks be to God who gave us Himself and called us to be His own.


3 comments:

Ron Tate said...

Gary,

I was not involved in the "Jesus Movement". I grew up in a fellowship that had conveniently drawn the wagons into a circle in order to preserve the "truth of the Scriptures". Our view was that everyone was "in error" especially those who caused "disturbances" from time to time.

Every thing was going well until one day in 1972 I found myself in Berkeley California. What a culture shock for someone who grew up in western Indiana!!! In fact, to show that God does have a sense of humor, the first church I pastored was in Berkeley. It was where I met Karen.

I had always avoided the bad parts of towns where I had lived. I did not want to deal with the home-less, the hungry, the least, the last, the lost, the fractured and the broken.

I was a modern day Jonah. If I were to have developed a list of the 250 cities where I would want to live, Berkeley would not have been on the list. It was my Nineveh, that is, until we began to pastor there.

Our ministry was blessed there as we were able to reach many people there (one Sunday we had 119 first time visitors). The problem was that I had violated the church's culture by having "those people" invade "our space".

God's heart for the people of this planet is huge (Ezek.33:11). Our God is a missionary God (Jonah 3:10).

Jonah's attitude was wrong (Jonah 4:1). Our attitudes were wrong. Jonah put personal comfort ahead of concern for people (Jonah 4:10-11). So did we.

God wants to replace my heart with His heart.

Ron

Gary Sweeten said...

The Seventies were a time of great spiritual, emotional and political chaos. However, God poured out His Spirit on so many people and brought them to faith in Him.

It is exciting to see that the Lord could touch you in Berkley, of all places. It was one of the centers of atheism and rebellion yet God was there.

Michael W Cristiani said...

Gary and Ron,

Don't know why, but this post and your comments, and the post "Where are they now?" remind me again of my friend, Frank, who thought he was a cool dude, but he hated lepers, who seemed to be always in his path, though he never really noticed them. Then one day, God touched Frank mightily in Jesus the Crucified, so Frank kissed the leper, started to care for a bunch of lepers. Then a bunch of his peeps wanted to help him out, only they had to turn and become followers of the Crucified One first, so they did. And they became poor beggars for Christ, His hands and feet. They cared a great deal for God's Creation and all life, because they were followers of the Crucified One. Birds and wolves gathered to hear them preach the Good News when they had to use words. Frank and his buds lived the Gospel life.