In the late 1960’s and early 70’s, God presented the organized church with a unique opportunity - to be a major player in the course of church history. The church failed.

Not to glamorize the sex, drugs and rock n roll scene, but those were exciting times. The hippie movement was sweeping the nation, the music industry was being revolutionized and an intersection (Haight-Ashbury) became synonymous with love.

But the most exciting product of that era was the tens of thousands of young people who were born again. The Jesus Movement, as it came to be known, was a movement that could not be ignored. Even Elton John sang about the "Jesus freaks out in the street" in his 1971 hit song, Tiny Dancer. I was, in fact, saved in 1972, myself.

But there was a problem – the inability of the organized church to recognize a legitimate move of God. Because the Jesus Movement was so closely identified with the hippie movement, many churches, ministers and Christians in general passed the Jesus People off as just a by-product of the times.

I’m not a prophet or a scholar, just a student of history. But I sincerely believe the organized church was judged, found wanting and punished in the 70’s. In Matthew 18:2, Jesus used a small child to illustrate a point. However, the message of Matthew 18 is clearly not restricted to children, as evidenced by the later referrals to little children when covering such topics as the lost sheep.

The little ones also include the newly converted, the weak and the spiritually immature. It is indeed a dangerous thing to offend or despise (verse 10) even one of the little ones, and the church offended and despised thousands.

The most obvious judgment was missing out on the great blessing that would have been the result of accepting and assimilating the Jesus People into the church. In Mark’s account (Chapter 9), Jesus wrapped his arms around a child in the presence of his disciples and told them that receiving a little one was the same as receiving Jesus himself. Again, I’m no scholar, but the obvious conclusion must be that rejecting the little ones is paramount to rejecting Jesus, which would pretty much guarantee judgment of some type.

Another judgment, at least to the mainline church leaders of the 70's, was the Charismatic
Movement. It came full bloom on the heels of the Jesus Movement and proved to be a real pew problem, leaving no denomination untouched. Again, the Charismatic Movement was a scourge to mainline churches, but a blessing to those who were desperate for fresh air.

However, I don’t want to give the impression that no one reached out to the Jesus People or that nothing really came of the movement. Let's not forget Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel, The Vineyard, Johnny Herrin and the Resurrection Band & Jesus PeopleUSA, the Chicago based ministry still going strong. And of course, my man, David Wilkerson. I still have an old Jesus People Manual, that I got at a David Wilkerson crusade in Daytona Beach, at Easter, 1973. But, the window of opportunity did come and go for the organized church, the Jesus Movement just not fitting into its plans.

And now, forty years later, the church again finds itself in a very critical position. One would have to be living in a spiritual vacuum to not sense, or at least be aware of, this unprecedented global movement among young people. Even without the corporate gatherings, such as the recent Nashville Call '07, there is stll a righteous rumbling taking place in the hearts of young people everywhere.

The love beads have been replaced by rings and studs and the flowers are now tattoos, but my prayer, is that the church will accept the young this time around. But won’t they need a lot of nurturing? Of course, but no more than the middle-aged guy, sitting on the third pew, who can’t find Ephesians with a compass. But won’t they bring a lot of baggage? Sure, but no more than the soloist, whose having an affair with the choir director.

The bottom line is - to receive such a one is to receive Jesus and to offend, despise or ignore such as these is to do the same to Jesus.

We stand at a pivotal place in history, with not much time left to make history. God, grant the church the courage to accept the little ones and, in public, as Jesus did, wrap its collective arms around them.


Ever talk to yourself? I don't mean calling yourself an idiot when you mess up. But talking to yourself spiritually. How about singing to yourself? You know, it is a very biblical principle.

The apostle Paul instructed the Ephesians (ch. 5), “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord."

In Joshua 1:8, we read, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”

The Hebrew word for meditate carried the idea of: 1) to imagine, 2) to mutter under the breath and 3) speak out loud. God’s word is to so consume our thought process that it spills out into our speech, to the point we actually mutter, mumble and talk to ourselves like someone who others might consider “mentally touched,” which would actually be a fairly accurate assumption.

In I Samuel 30 we read where David found himself in, what Everett told Pete and Delmar, was a "tight spot." Verse 5 tells us that, “ …David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” David spoke to his soul (Ps. 42). Not only did he speak but he actually asked his soul a question: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me?” He followed the question with a statement to his soul, “Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.”

The discipline to encourage yourself when there is no one else around to do it, or sadly, when there is no one else who will do it, can prove invaluable to your spiritual and even physical well being.

In the spring of 2006, I began preaching to myself on the way to work every morning, the same exact mini sermon every day. Lots of days I don’t feel much like hearing it but I make myself preach it anyway. It is based on Psalms 118:24 and has had such an impact on me I thought I would share it, just as I preach it to myself.

This is the day the Lord hath made: I will rejoice and be glad in it. It’s not yesterday and it’s not tomorrow. It’s not some day in the sweet bye and bye. This is the day, not another. And it’s not a day – it is the day, a specific day. This day didn’t just happen by chance. God made this day. It took a creative act on his part to bring this day about. Just as he made the heavens and the earth, he made this day. Before the workings of man, in eternity past, God made this day with me in mind.

And not only did God make this day for me, he filled it with opportunities for my good. Today, I have the opportunity to hear a little louder his voice concerning my purpose. Today, I have the opportunity to see a little clearer his vision for my future. Today, I have the opportunity to grasp a little tighter, a little piece of my destiny. “Behold, now is the accepted time. Behold, now is the day of salvation.”(2 Cor. 6)

What happened to me yesterday has no bearing on today. Paul said in Philippians 3, “...this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Paul didn’t say ten things or five things, but "this one thing I do." The value of developing an ability to forget the past is of great importance. Well, that sounds stupid, of course, I can't forget. The Bible says that God forgets our sins, remembering them no more. But God is God and He can remember whatever He wants. The point is God "chooses" not to remember our sins.

Paul certainly had some things in his past that could have had a bearing on his future, but he chose to forget them. He did some horrible things, like hunting down Christians and turning them in for punishment, even execution.

Context of scripture is important, and Paul had just spent several verses listing his great accomplishments in the Jewish faith. Paul was saying, and I now say, that I will forget those things which are behind, both good things and bad, and focus on today. I have done nothing so bad as to cripple my future and I have done nothing so good as to cement my future.

Messing up today has no bearing on my future, either. Why? Because when I get up tomorrow morning it will be TODAY all over again. The Bible says that His mercies are new EVERY morning.

So, today I do confess that the favor of God is upon me. Today, God’s favor will go before me and open doors that no man can shut. Today, I will seize every opportunity He places in my path.

PS: Ulysses Everett McGill, Delmar O'Donnel and Pete Hogwallop (O Brother, Where Art Thou?).