Julie Schofield – Jesus Freaks

I recently watched a documentary called Jesus Music about the beginnings of Contemporary Christian music. It included old footage of Love Song, a band of long-haired hippie musicians I saw at my church when I was a teen. The lyrics they sang and the way they spoke about the Lord was moving and powerful.  I felt Jesus calling to my heart, but was hesitant to walk that aisle in front of Terri, a friend I invited to tag along with me and my family. I found out later that she felt the same pull. We both regretted our choice to ignore Jesus that night. Little did we know he had another plan.

God was doing a brand new thing in the lives of the Cali kids in the 70’s. Many had discovered that the peace, love, and rock and roll experience had left them disillusioned—either addicted to drugs, homeless or both. The summer of love was over and the air in Northern California had chilled, so they went south, where Chuck Colson, the pastor of a church in Costa Mesa, along with his wife, had a heart for the kids living on the beach.

Many members of Pastor Colson’s church had difficulties getting past the long hair and the unwashed smell of the young hippies coming through the doors, but soon they couldn’t deny that God’s Holy Spirit was on the move. Thousands were being baptized in the Pacific after accepting new life in Jesus.

Greg Laurie was one of them. A neglected teen searching for love and acceptance, he soon found it in Jesus and his followers. Laurie went on to be the pastor of one of the largest ministries in Christianity today and continues to be a faithful servant and disciple of Christ.

Laurie went on to write a book about his experience, detailing one of the greatest revivals in the history of our faith. It’s called “The Jesus Movement.”

Reading about this time was very personal to me. I didn’t live on the beach or get baptized in the ocean, but my life was changed forever by an encounter with one of the hippies that did. Not what you would call stellar students, my friends and I were cutting class and smoking cigarettes in the bathroom at school. There was a girl sitting on the floor with us and she asked us if we knew Jesus.  Mainly to shut her up, but also because all of us had grown up going to church and had heard our parents talk about God our whole lives, we said yes.  I truly thought I knew who Jesus was, but as she spoke, I realized that I didn’t know the guy she was talking about. Her face and eyes shone as she told us about her Jesus. How he loved us and came to save us. There was such power in her words it seemed as if I was hearing the Gospel for the first time. When she asked us to come outside and hear more, my friend Terri got up, looked at me and said, “I’m going this time,” and I followed.

As we walked down the street, we saw a very familiar sight. The Jesus Freak van! A wildly painted VW bus full of hippies, it served as a mobile church of sorts, and those in it handed out tracts telling us to how to get saved. Instead of running away, this time we knelt with those beautiful people and changed the course of our lives and our eternities. Jesus saved my soul that day through his followers, a group of Jesus freaks who stepped out in faithful love for God and shared the good news with us.

The Jesus Movement happened during a time of great turmoil. The Vietnam War, civil unrest, racial tensions, the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, and the mistrust of the government all led the young people of this country to rebel against authority. They thought the answer would be found in drugs, free love and dropping out of society. Instead, they found that Jesus was what they were searching for all along.

Our country faces many of the same problems today and Jesus is still the answer. We have been born for this time and in this generation for a reason. People are frightened, angry, and divided, yet God can do a mighty move once again if his people will humble themselves and pray. People are searching for the answer but have trouble trusting in religion and the church.

There’s an old song that said they will know we are Christians by our love, but that is not our reputation today. Unfortunately, and often warranted, Christianity is known for judgment and intolerance.  If we want this to change, we have to take his command to love seriously. It is up to us to pray and ask God to move. He is still the same God who brought that great revival in the seventies. He can do it again.

 

Julie Schofield has attended WCC for over twenty years. She is a wife, mother and grandmother to three of the best kids ever. In April, she retired after thirty-three years at the public library. (And loving it. “Retirement is all it’s cracked up to be!)

 

 

Sean Gutteridge – Take Out the Trash

I hate taking out the trash. It used to be a whole thing between Rene and me. I know, I get it…how hard is it to take out the trash? But I just didn’t like it. I think the only thing I hated more was mowing.

Here’s the thing about trash: SOMEBODY must take it out. I mean, sure…you can let it sit there, but it takes a special kind of dysfunction to be impervious to an over-spilling trashcan—especially when it stinks. MOST people—even trash–hating–taker–outers like me—cannot stand to live with the filth and stench of a full, overflowing trashcan. There comes a breaking point where the trash MUST GO OUT.

For Rene and me, we just had different breaking points. Hers was at the point before the kitchen trash bag is hard to get out of the trashcan, whereas mine was typically when you could no longer give it the old shove-it-all-down-cram anymore. I mean, I could usually get at least two or three good shoves and get that trash nice and smashed together, where the old fish juices and coffee grinds would leak as you pulled it out, while the bag, bulging at the sides, slowly began to rip away. Rene’s silly logic was that perhaps if we took out the trash when it was three quarters full, maybe the bag wouldn’t rip coming out and we wouldn’t have to clean up an unnecessary mess in the kitchen. (And by “we” she meant “she.”) But I was convinced of two things: One, I was making the trash bag last longer. And I had a decent success rate of getting even a ripped trash bag outside BEFORE it completely came apart.

Let’s be real clear, here: the reality was far more simple than two opposing world philosophies on when exactly you should take out the kitchen trash. The truth is, I am lazy. And I hate taking out the trash.

But if I’m honest, I’m like this spiritually, too. I don’t like to take out the trash in my life.

You know, we’re human, but even if we can walk the best walk with Jesus, or do all the spiritual disciplines almost perfectly, we still have stuff, spiritually, to clean out. We still accumulate garbage in our lives. That’s the truth of it. What we feed ourselves spiritually, what we’re exposed to daily, what we think about, how we struggle, and on and on…there’s no way we can avoid trash getting stuck in our minds. The problem is, we often fail to flush out the trash or in a real sense, take it out. If the mind is the battlefield for a spiritual walk with Christ, somewhere up there is a trash can for the trash. As Christ followers, most of us probably do a pretty good job of throwing out some of the trash that comes in. The question is, do we ever TAKE the trash out?

Romans 12:2 says: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is good, acceptable and perfect.” Renewing isn’t something we do once. “Re” suggests that this is something we should be doing often, even daily. A lot of trash comes into my mind daily. And like my kitchen trash, it doesn’t take much effort or time to walk it out to the big trash containers.

The difference here is that I’m creating space in my mind that can be filled with better things, better thoughts, better ideas from God. When I’m taking out the spiritual trash in my mind, I’m asking the Lord to fill that space with His thoughts. I think, maybe, this is one way Psalm 51:10 works in my own life when I pray: “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right thinking within me.”

We are always going to struggle with our thought life on some level. Some of us, like me, struggle more than others. It’s okay, it just means I get more exercise taking out the trash!

I really do want to have more of God’s thoughts and ideas in my mind because not only am I able to walk in more peace with Him on a consistent basis, I’m also able to be more at peace with the people around me. Yeah, just like at home, I still must be reminded that the spiritual trash needs emptying. But unlike before, I kind of enjoy taking out the trash. It actually feels pretty good!

Now mowing the grass…well, I guess that’s a whole other devotion!

 

 

 

Aubree Secrist – When Life Really Begins

Today’s blog post was written by WCC’s own Aubree Secrist, who has recently become a new mother! But the astounding wisdom she shares today about being a young and aspiring Christian can be applied to all of us as we search for God’s will and fulfillment in our lives. – Rene

 

When you’re young, growing up is one of the most exciting things to think about. With a young, adventurous mind, your thoughts can wander to all the amazing things you can accomplish. It comes at different times for everyone, but you finally decide what you’re going to do with your life. The anticipation of starting the rest of your life keeps you constantly excited. In your mind, this is the turning point of when life really begins. 

What happens when those dreams and aspirations don’t come to fruition? What happens when your plans are interrupted by life events? What happens when the door that leads to your future is continuously closed? Or what if that career you thought would be perfect for you, doesn’t give you the fulfillment you just knew it would?

As for me, I’ve always worked hard. I’ve had a job ever since I was able to. My mom took me back and forth to my first job, since I was too young to drive. There were even times throughout high school and college when I had multiple jobs. My parents always pushed me to have a strong work ethic and reminded me that my hard work would not go unnoticed. So that’s what I did. I decided on my career early on in high school. I kept my head forward and didn’t let anything get in the way of the life I wanted for myself. I put time and effort, and then even more time and effort into getting to where I wanted to be. Then the day finally came. All my hard work did pay off. This is when life begins, I thought. 

My mindset quickly went from I just scored my dream job to, this isn’t for me. A state of confusion came. There were so many why’s. Why me? Why does this not make me happy like I thought it would? Why did I work this hard to get this result? I can’t say that I wasn’t frustrated with God for a while. Many times, I thought, “God I prayed for this so much, so why did you lead me here if you knew I would hate it?” After all the other roadblocks I’ve had in my life, I thought it would have been nice to have one here if this wasn’t supposed to be for me. 

The excitement you once had about growing up becomes daunting. The thought of “this is what you have to do for the rest of your life, so you better like it” becomes scary. Then the fear comes. The fear of being stuck. The fear of telling the people around you and what they might think. Will you let them down? Or worse, will they not understand? All these thoughts become consuming and almost put you into what feels like an identity crisis. It makes you wonder, who am I? Who am I supposed to be? What is my purpose in life?

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that what Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:1-2

It can be so easy to get caught up in our identity in this world, that we can forget our identity lies in Jesus Christ. The One who created us, is the only One who knows our hearts and that only He can truly fill them. We make the mistake of letting not only careers, but possessions, relationships, materialistic things, etc. define who we are. This commonly leads to us searching for what’s next, wanting the next best thing, or thinking we “failed” when things don’t go as planned. We have good intentions and think we know what will make our life perfect. As the Bible tells us, God has a divine plan for each and every one of us before we come about this Earth, yet we still try to make it on our own. Limiting ourselves to what we have in mind, only takes away from the gifts God wants to share with us. When we let go of our own plans, God can reveal His perfect plan, which is far greater than anything we could ever imagine. When hard work, time, and effort are put into a relationship with our Maker, that is when life really begins.

Amy Frazier – Seeds

Today’s blog comes from one of our city’s most prolific and well-known worship leaders, our own Amy Frazier!  As her city-wide worship event UNITE OKC approaches, Amy’s been on a wonderful spiritual journey. Here are some thoughts she’s sharing with us today. — Rene

 

Seeds….to plant or not to plant…

 

Sitting across the table from me was a gentleman I just met.  We exchanged information about our ministries and I invited him to participate in our UNITE OKC event on September 11th.  We were talking more about the event and why it was important for all denominations to come together in worship, and then all of a sudden, he interrupted me and said, “Amy!  I see you visually planting seeds at the park!  You are planting seeds and watering them.  You’re a farmer and I see others farming with you.”  I remember laughing and being a little disappointed because I wanted him to see some full-grown crops in his vision!  But I thanked him and didn’t think much about it as I left to go home.

 

Fast-forward two days later, on a Friday afternoon, I decided to go on “my date” with God.  I was planning on going to Will Rogers Park but the Lord said go to Scissortail.  As I arrived at the park, I immediately started praying for our event in September.  I had my phone out and I was filming the Great Lawn from the Love’s Stage when I heard the Lord say gently, “Ok Amy, go plant some seeds.”  I remember immediately the vision my dear friend had at our meeting.  I smiled and started to plow.  Praying for seeds of deliverance, seeds of repentance, seeds of unity, seeds of love and joy, seeds of reconciliation and restoration, and seeds that we don’t even know which needs to be planted.

 

I go to the park every Friday now, and will continue until September 11.  I find it so enjoyable to pray over our city, our leaders and other worshippers.  I also noticed some seeds in my own life that needed watering.  You see every time we set ourselves aside to follow Jesus, the enemy is hard after us.  When this happens, many things about us are exposed and seeds that haven’t been planted well are seen to need nourishment or to be uprooted.

 

My husband and I live on a farm and I have always wanted to plant a garden at our place.  Due to being lazy I have not accomplished this task, but once I get my energy back, I will.  My mom used to plant cucumbers, green beans and other produce for canning.  She would make delicious salsa and bread and butter pickles!  My mouth is watering just thinking about it!  Our home at that time had a basement where she would keep the jars after canning.  It’s truly hard work to plant a garden, water it and maintain the produce afterwards.  It takes a lot of determination and persistency.

 

Last week I had a friend text me a link to a sermon by Jentezen Franklin called, “Seed Power.”  In it he describes how important planting seeds really are!  Here is a quick overview…

 

Battle is the seed for territory

Thankfulness is the seed for joy

Confrontation is the seed for change

Listening is the seed for knowledge

Honor is the seed for access

Presentation is the seed for acceptance

Words are the seeds for feelings

Order is the seed for productivity

Confession is the seed for mercy

Repentance is the seed for forgiveness

Today is the seed for tomorrow

 

What a beautiful description and truth of what seeds produce!  In Proverbs we see what not to sow.  Prov. 29:11 says, “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.” Or Prov. 29:20, “Do you see a man hasty in his words?  There is more hope for a fool than for him.” And yet another in Prov. 28:13, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”  These are just a couple of examples of what NOT to plant, but whatever we plant will produce something….

 

Jesus was a perfect example of a seed planter.  In my bible study called, “Time with God,” a written insight was given by Max Lucado which says, “Never underestimate the power of a seed.  God didn’t.  When His kingdom was ravaged and His people had forgotten His Name, He planted His seed.  When the soil of the human heart had grown crusty, He planted His seed.  When religion had become a ritual and the temple a trading post, He planted His seed.”

 

May what we plow and sow bring a harvest that gives plenty for Christ!  A harvest that fills the barns and nourishes everyone we see for the Glory and Honor of Jesus.

 

Keep planting as Jesus did…