It was like most other Wednesday nights when Youth Group was over. It was the early 1970’s. The Vietnam war was dragging on and America was divided racially, politically, and culturally. Yet something very distinctly spiritual was happening among denominational young people as well as Catholic youth-both of which were leaving institutional religion by the tens of thousands-seeking spiritual answers. It was after our weekly youth meetings, that we would go to a restaurant called Lujans, which had a big room in the back, and there we would occupy until closing time, sharing with each other the amazing things that Jesus was doing in our lives. Literally, we would be there until the management let us know that it was closing time. Our passion,love for one another, and expressed desire to share with anyone who would listen about Jesus made us loud and obnoxious at times, but no one could deny that what we had was from the heart and authentic.
We had been touched by a movement, not created by man, but released from the depths of heaven. Some referred to it as “The Jesus Movement” while others called it simply “The Charismatic Movement”. Whatever title you gave it, our youth group, meeting out of a Methodist church and filled with Catholic young people, had given up religious “mediocrity and status quo religion.” We had claimed to be Christ followers, but now everything had changed. We had fallen in love with the one we had professed and the change could not be expressed in words.
During one of our Lujan’s adventures, a young waitress walked over to my table and asked if she could address the whole group. Because there were over 70 of us, it took a moment to quiet everyone down. Then she spoke with trembling lips and tearful eyes. She began, ” I have observed from a distance, for weeks your joy and overheard some of your testimonies. I am not a religious person, but I so desperately need what you have.” That was a night that I will never forget, because right there, in the middle of a restaurant, we shared our faith and led her to Christ.
Those were amazing times. Thousands were being baptized in the Pacific Ocean, through the Ministry of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, revival broke out in all different types of churches, and people of all backgrounds were experiencing something called the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. In a time of national crisis and division, we were unified under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In my circle of influence, it was a time when inviting people to church seemed rather strange, because so many individuals were being drawn by the joy, enthusiasm, and passionate love being modeled, that our bigger problem was finding rides for so many new believers that wanted to go to Youth or Church. More times than not my little Corvair had so many young people in it, that I could still be in jail if the police had stopped me and taken a count!
Recently, I have witnessed more than one church develop slickly produced ad campaigns to get people to come to church. Their people are pressed to “hit the streets” and get the lost to come. With deep nostalgia, I have to admit that such campaigns leave me with a sense of frustration and sadness. Because, you see, “you can’t give to others what you don’t personally possess.” The Good News cannot be mass produced and packaged in such a way that those sharing the message don’t have any personal role in changing lives. It is a Person not a program that touches hearts. Let me explain.
I had received Christ, as my personal Savior sometime in 1968, but for several years I felt that there was more. I knew that in accepting Jesus, my life had changed forever, but I sensed there was something else waiting for me-It was that “something” that had gotten a hold of my heart and those in my youth group years before and filled us with a passionate desire to share our faith.
I want to Introduce you to my friend the Holy Spirit. If you know Him- the Third part of the Holy Trinity, you know where I am headed. The Word tells us that the very Spirit that Raised Christ from the dead dwells in you and me, and that same Spirit wants to flow out of and through you to others Naturally Supernaturally!
I knew that I had received the Holy Spirit when I had received Jesus, but, in my spiritual innocence, I also knew that there was more that God wanted to do. It was when I first met a little old lady who probably weighed 90 pounds dripping wet, that my spiritual walk was turned upside down. I was fearful of her because she and her husband, who was an eye doctor, prayed for people, and they were supposedly healed. This notion was counter to my denominational teaching and background. She asked me if I had the power. Power? What Power? Then she asked if she could pray for me. She began in English and suddenly switched to another language. I had never heard of”speaking in tongues”, but all I knew was that when she asked me to surrender all of me that He might flood me with His overflowing power- my passion, love for others, and desire to share Jesus transformed this shy and introverted guy forever!
My desire in this blog is not to debate whether the Holy Spirit Baptism is a valid experience. For me and a band of youth in the 1970’s and millions of others it has been; whether experienced at Spiritual Rebirth or another time. My desire is to challenge you that if you feel spiritually empty or powerless more times than not, The Holy Spirit wants to overflow out of you as rivers of living water-with Spiritual intimacy that you have never known.
Today, following Jesus, in this culture, is getting increasingly difficult. Therefore, we need every spiritual weapon at our disposal. And it is so simple. He is simply waiting for you to invite Him to fill You with all that He has for you.
Let me conclude with this quote from a seminary professor of mine, Dr.J. Rodman Williams. “In the face of rising secularism, Communist aggression, and Muslim extremism in the Middle East- Believers today must know the Spirit that possessed the Believers in the book of Acts. Our need today is unmistakable- We need all that God has for us to do battle. We need to be reintroduced again to that Spirit that captured the hearts of believers in the early church!” I want all that He has for me, and I hope you do! Spirit Fall on each of us reading these words-NOW!