(Click here for a video of John reading this Catch.)
11. Young people showed up gifted and ready to go.
In the early 1970s I was working with high school kids at a church in Palo Alto, California when the Jesus Movement started. In a matter of weeks, our attendance went from 30 to 300. And they didn’t come to youth group to socialize or play volleyball. They came with their Bibles and wanted to study the word. There was a huge hunger for spiritual things.
That was remarkable, but even more remarkable was the fact that they came with already gifted leaders among them. For example, in our group there was Ernie the Prophet and Lloyd the teacher. Ernie would preach during lunch hour at Palo Alto High School and Lloyd would teach them the Bible, and then they’d come to youth group at the church for more. We didn’t train these guys. We didn’t even know where they came from. We just encouraged them and gave them opportunity to use their obvious spiritual gifts. For a while there it was like we were just directing traffic.
But there’s also some not so good news that might say something about the nature of a spiritual movement to look out for. I heard that both these guys later struggled with their faith and walked away from it. Whether it was a permanent departure, I do not know, but I think it might indicate that when the Spirit moves, it’s possible to get swept up in it and blow right past your own personal faith development. Who knows that they may have passed over a couple important steps in their own search that they had to go back and find. Paul mirrors this when he said, “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27). In other words, watch yourself. Realize that the search is never over. (See our recent interview with Os Guinness about The Great Quest.)
So what does this mean for us today? It means that the process of asking, seeking, knocking is never over. That we should be aware of the fact that people can be spiritually gifted beyond their grasp. That we all have to pay attention to our own spiritual process. And finally, there’s no resting on your laurels — the laurel wreath of past victories. There are no laurels to rest on. Rest comes at the end.
Very good Catch Pastor John & TY 4 it…
And I pray for Ernie the Prophet and Lloyd the teacher that they both did find their way back to the Lord… I can some what relate to them. Not that I was neither a Prophet or a Teacher, yet for a few years after I had accepted the Lord & became a follower of His, I was “on-Fire” for Him. Then I just kind of got burnt out & fell away & stopped going to the Church where I became a Believer.
And it was kind of strange too, in that what I LOVED about that above Church was it was non-denomination. (Berean Bible) Then this one day an old fellow race car neighbor / buddy found out that I had became a Christian, so this one time he invited me to his Church. Faith Baptist and it didn’t take long at all for me to start loving the people & Pastor there. Also, to get involved w/ the Children’s Bus Ministry, which I’m sooo happy that I listen to the Holy Spirit prodding me to go there. Because it wasn’t that much longer when I got into a very serous car accident that killed my girlfriend and put me into a coma for 3 month, which eventually led to a lot of my family members becoming Christians too – They tell me what got to them was the loving & caring those 2 Churches showed for me…
A powerful testimony Mark. Bless you for sharing.
I remember when I was saved at seventeen and then for years backslide off and on as we use to call that. Took a long time to really find my way back and at times still have to watch the temper. I am grateful that I was blessed to live so I could find my way back even though at times felt like I didn’t matter. Thank God each and every day for great blessings and for sending his Son to us.
Here’s what I think, though I can’t say I know for sure.
When someone loses the faith, it might be for a number of reasons.
1. Unanswered prayer. They can’t understand why God said no. They had mistakenly thought the Christian life meant all problems would be taken care of quickly and became disillusioned with reality.
2. They didn’t really believe in all that is true to begin with. Well-meaning Christians can embrace all sorts of heresies without realizing it. Then when they question all that they were told, which is good to do, they throw the baby out with the bath-water and doubt Jesus is real.
3. Thier heart was never really touched by God in a divine way which could never be doubted later. Perhaps the excitement of belonging or the thought that they had learned unquestionable truth was paramount instead of a true personal connection with God which was their own.
What I DON”T think caused it is peer pressure. Being around too many non-believers had an influence on them. Neither do I think it was worldly temptations into sin which led them astray. In other words, I do not blame all of the things most Christians would tend to blame.
Most of all I don’t think God gets mad at them for this betrayal and refuses to be there for them. Instead He is the Father who runs to His child when He sees them from a distance on their way back home.
Unfortunately John, sadly sometimes it is other Christians that drive us away. We don’t lose faith in God, but lose faith in “church,”