Give them what we had

(Click here for a video of John reading this Catch.


Series: Characteristics of the Jesus Movement for Today

10. There was a very literal interpretation of Scripture

It was a beautiful spring day in Palo Alto, California in 1970, and the First Annual Sweet Jesus Roll Away the Stone or Rock Concert was underway. An audience of around 4,000 filled the outdoor Frost Amphitheater at Stanford University with an air of celebration and a little bit of curiosity as to what these Jesus Freaks had cooked up. The smell of pot in the air and the bras flying as flags of feminine freedom indicated this was far from what you would call a Christian audience. After some music from Love Song, Wilson McKinley, and the Salt Company, Ron Ritchie, one of the pastors at the nearby Peninsula Bible Church got up and taught the Bible from 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality …” 

What? I was fairly new to this group and I was a little shocked at his choice. Is this really what you want to tell a couple of thousand non-Christians — that they should abstain from sexual immorality? Is that where you start? Shouldn’t this message be a little further down the line after people became Christians? Do we want to hit them right off the bat with where they are messing up? 

Honestly, it wasn’t a sermon, it was a teaching; and he taught it straight up the way he would teach it to anybody. He taught it as God’s will for how we were made to treat our bodies and each other. And here’s the real surprise: 500 people became Christians that day after hearing that message.

I believe this says two things that are true any time, any place. 1. People respond to the truth of the word of God. It doesn’t matter what the topic is; the truth is the truth. And if you are seeking God and you hear the truth from the word of God, the Spirit inside you says, “Yes!” 2. People are hungry for the word of God. They are looking for an authority they can trust. People don’t want to hear a TED talk; they want the word of God. Even in this postmodern age, where truth is relative, the word of God is the word of God. It is self-authenticating. And that’s as true in 2022 as it was in 1970. Where the word of God meets the Spirit in a seeking soul, there is an awakening.

Open the Bible and teach it. Millennials, GenZ, GenX, Boomers … makes no difference.  Today, more than ever, people are hungry for the word, many of them before they even know it. 

Just this week I read, “What causes fights and quarrels among you” (James 4:1)? Is that not the question of the day, politically, culturally and personally? We are quarreling over everything; we are divisive. We are fighting and going to war. There is a pandemic of animosity running loose in the world, and no amount of masking and social distancing will help, because the disease is in the heart. Where does it come from? The word of God has the answer.

“Don’t they [quarrels and fights] come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight” (James 4:1-2). It’s all caused by selfishness and envy in the human heart.

And the word of God even gives us an answer. “You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:2). There it is. If you don’t have what you want, ask God for it. The word of God tells us that God is eager to give us the desires of our heart, and He works with us to conform our desires to His will. It’s a much better way to live than to fight and quarrel. 

We [the older ones] are the voice of Christ to the younger generations and we must give them what we had, and what we had was the word of God, pure and simple. 

[Be sure and take in our very important interview with Kristin Kobes Du Mez, author of Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted A Faith and Fractured A Nation. Note: the interview is in two parts and you need to come back to this email to link to Part II.]

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8 Responses to Give them what we had

  1. Sue Drescher says:

    Thank you, John, for this post. I remember that day SO well! Several friends from church in San Jose and My Dad attended. It was fabulous! Dad became a big fan and wholeheartedly embraced the movement.

  2. Mark Dennis Seguin says:

    Loved Today’s Catch! And absolutely agree with you Pastor John and I too think with the type of audience Pastor Ritchie could have chosen MANY other Scriptures to talk or to teach about… Yet it did shown me once again as God claims His word will never return to Him void!

    Also, thought the Blog Talk was good and LOVED the truth she told you in response to your question concerning Jan. 6th (to paraphrase her) Not ALL of them were white nor Christian…. Let me plz also remark about how you mentioned YET ANOTHER President Trump errors! In regards to the Inside Edition of Billy Bushes interview where Trump made that very foul remark! My first thought was you NEED to SEROIUSLY consider re-reading your book the 12 step recovery for a Pharisee! Also Trump apologies for his locker room talk!!! Yet you can’t accept his apology!!! .WHY??? Think about YOUR OWN sins! Before you continue trying to remove the speak out of another person’s eye! And what our Lord taught about the woman caught inn Adulty! He without sin throw the 1st stone.

    PS Maybe consider Politicians lie – it’s any occupational hazard, LOL

    • jwfisch says:

      Mark, please consider my comment about Trump not as a judgment, but as a sociological observation about the things known about him at that time that were at odds with Christian morality.

      • Mark Dennis Seguin says:

        LMAO, a great way to try & escape judgment to claim it as “sociological observation” from CNN’s Don Lemon’s ear to God…

        PS I’d think a man of God would know how to admit an error on his part! As opposed to NOT being able to accept a fellow human being’s apology!

    • Sandie says:

      Mark. Please, in all seriousness, read your last sentence before the PS. Please drop the stone, as I have had to too many times to count. Focus on what we agree on, and leave the rest in Jesus’ hands.

      • Mark Dennis Seguin says:

        Sandie TY for your input… but it’s part is just of my “sociological observation” LOL

  3. Toni Petrella says:

    The word of God is the best thing anyone can have to make life more fulfilling. I cannot imagine life without the word of God. I was ten back in 1970 and thru these lessons I have learned so much about the Jesus movement of that time and has helped me to be closer to our Lord now than ever before and hopefully more folks will be inspired by the word of God thru the great technology of now.

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