The inspiration for the title of this blog comes from Joshua Chapter 4. Briefly, God had parted the Jordan River so that the children of Israel could cross over into the Promised Land. Afterward, God commanded Joshua to have one man from each of the twelve tribes carry a stone from the middle of the river and set it up as a memorial on the other side. Why? So that when their children and children’s children would ask what the stones meant they would recount the wondrous things that God had done.
STONES OF REMEMBRANCE
Over the years my children have asked to hear stories of my early walk with Jesus, during the revival days of the Jesus Movement. They have told me that the stories are like those in the Book of Acts, but that those kinds of things aren’t happening nowadays, at least not in the US. I would disagree. The Holy Spirit is alive and well. He is still moving in people’s hearts, still drawing them to Christ. Travel to Brazil today to see what God is doing there. I think what my kids mean is a matter of scale, of numbers. I would agree with that.
During that too-brief decade of the late 1960s and 70s, God’s manifest Presence was everywhere apparent––on school campuses, in coffee houses, on street corners, beauty salons, bus stations, grocery stores, in the military, even military brigs (as you shall see in future posts). Significant numbers of young people surrendered their lives to Jesus. They were called “Jesus freaks.”
I became one of them in a Marine Barracks in Naples, Italy, Feb 11, 1972 (part 2 and 3).
I miss those days. I miss the One Way Jesus stickers, the “Maranatha!” greetings, the Bible tracts that everyone carried along with their Thompson Chain Bibles, Scofields and Living Bibles. The very air seemed charged with the expectancy of the Second Coming. We listened to Jack Van Impe tapes, read Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth, and a host of other modern day “prophets,” warning everyone of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. Those that came to Christ were happy that they’d “made it” before the final curtain fell, and were zealous to share the Gospel with everyone before it was too late.
Larry Norman’s I Wish We’d All Been Ready captured the zeitgeist of the age.
“Witnessing” was the ministry of the day––didn’t matter where––on the street, on the beach, in bus stations, in halfway houses and bars (yes, bars), in college dorm rooms, in military barracks and ships. The locations were irrelevant. The Spirit was everywhere. He was relevant, working, drawing sinners to Christ. So many came!
THE END OF REVIVAL
By the late 1970s, early 80s, the revival wind that fell upon the beaches of Southern California and blew across the continent and over into Europe, was mostly gone. Only a breeze remained. A whisper. The revival fires died down to embers.
What happened? Did the Holy Spirit run out of gas? Where did the revival go? What happened to all the Jesus people, to that great Movement that made the covers of Life and Time and caught the world’s attention? Ed Underwood (pastor of the Church of the Open Door) addresses this very question in his book Reborn to be Wild. It’s a compelling history of the Jesus Movement, its rise and demise. In short, we became gentrified. Tamed. Absorbed into the mainstream status quo.
I have many stories to tell of God’s work and grace in the lives of young people during that time, and will tell them, Lord willing, over the next several months. They are my Stones of Remembrance. My hope is that they will both inspire and encourage believers today to pray, to read their Bibles, to boldly go out onto the dark streets with the blazing fire of the Good News, shouting it from the rooftops! Jesus changed the world with a handful of committed disciples that boldly went into the streets of Jerusalem with a very powerful message.
CAN IT HAPPEN AGAIN?
Without question. There are so many more handfuls of disciples today than in those early First Century prayer meetings. But are we as committed as they were? Or the Jesus freaks, for that matter. Do we care as much about our lost neighbors, coworkers, and family members as we once did? I am a Christian today because a fellow Marine had the courage to say to an outrageous sinner: “Mike, Jesus loves you!”
I still weep at God’s mercy and grace.
O God, fill us anew with Your Holy Spirit! Fan into flames Your holy fire! Revive us again, O Lord, so that we will have stones of remembrance to teach our children’s children.
Begin with me.
Next post– A Lost Marine is Found