Blast from the Past

In 1969, a movement that was later called The Jesus Movement, began in several places in obscurity. One place was Detroit where a fellow and his wife felt they should go and do what God was leading. In Detroit, with it’s mild summer, hippies were hanging out at a local park. The guy who came from California joined them and sat at a picnic table and talked with those those there.

As the weather became cooler, they rented a 3-bedroom house. Meetings were held there every night and the place was open by day to all visitors. “Come back at 7 if you want to know what’s happening.” The house soon became too small and was filled with people with others outside listening through open windows. And this was in the chilly Michigan winter.

We were just one group but this was happening all over the country. Our group spawned several other houses but no place was big enough. An unused church basement was rented. We used the classrooms for bedrooms and held meetings every night where hundreds gathered. And there were always new people.

Of those involved in this, several became pastors. I saw one of them two months ago doing a funeral, the day before the 2020 lockdown. We were always going out and never stopped to call it a church. The houses followed a simple pattern: a married couple would be house parents and single guys and girls would be divided by gender into the bedrooms. One large house in downtown Detroit had four girls upstairs and 10 guys living in the basement along with one rat who often annoyed us.

After a few years, people were getting married and moving on from the dorm style living. But during this 3-year period a lot happened. Many groups reached out and connected. Many churches and ministries were influenced by long-haired, bible carrying people who had now rejected the hippie lifestyle of sex, drugs and rock and roll. It was marriage, sobriety and Christian Rock for them. Never in that three years did anyone ask for money yet money was donated in abundance. Sometimes we would find bills tucked in the kitchen cupboards after a meeting.

People would say things like, “I read this book by a guy in Europe. I’m going to go study with him.” And he would do it. He came back years later with a Swedish wife. Others would read about far flung mission work and go and do it.

As far as I know, no one from our group or any other people I met ever asked anyone for money to support their ministry work. Guys often picked up jobs and contributed to the houses allowing others to keep the doors open to all.

One couple got married and ended up in China working with an underground movement that influenced many thousands of young Chinese tired of ‘Godless Communism’. Actually, almost everyone was tired of Communism in China. It had not worked at all.

I went visit my friends in Beijing and met many exuberant young Christians. I witnessed two events involving money. Once my friend opened a drawer to give someone some money. The large drawer was filled with Chinese 100 yuan bills. This was money used for ministry. They lived on their salary as English teachers, working sometimes at major universities in Beijing. Again, a fellow stopped by one evening and handed my friend a fat envelope. My friend looked inside and said, “This is a lot of money. Are you sure?” “Just use it for your ministry,” was the reply.

Another fellow ran an orphanage here in the States. He cared for a couple dozen children for two years and never asked for money.

Some started groups they were later kicked out of as the group matured. Others would leave the leadership to others and start something new somewhere else.

Our leader, and my mentor, was a strange fellow. He always dressed in costume and rarely ordinary clothes. He went through various phases and outfits. He maintained a full beard. The last time I saw him, he looked exactly like Santa with a long white beard. He said he couldn’t shave because his hands shook with tremors now. He even kept small toys in his pockets which he would give to children all year round.

He had several well-paying jobs and started two companies. He seemed to have a problem with success. As the company would grow, he would walk away and do something else. He worked for a government agency and set up classes in first aid training after he walked away from a ambulance company he started. The boss called him into the office and told him he needed to use all the money in the budget. But we have created all the classes you wanted and hired all the teachers and staff needed, he countered. But if we don’t use all the money, they will cut our budget next year was the reply. He resigned on the spot wanting no part of inflating costs for no good reason.

Of those I have kept track of, none became famous, few wrote books but just served quietly without fanfare. Some ended their lives in lonely places without giving up their faith.

I can only tell what I saw and heard myself during the years. One last note: a young man named Jordan, at our small, local fellowship, is a third generation result of a fellowship overseen by his Jewish grandfather, who was very important in my life. I still hold his memory dear. I say to myself, “He is no longer here. But I am and what am I doing to fill his space?”

Measure

​He measures us and makes his divinity fit our souls, and our souls are able to take the measure of him because he created us in his image and made us worthy. He alone is complete and can fulfill our every longing. God’s grace restores our souls and teaches us how to comprehend him through love. He is incomprehensible to the intellect. Nobody’s mind is powerful enough to grasp who God is. We can only know him by experiencing his love. 

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jet lag

If you change time zones as quickly as we can, you will experience what is called jet lag. That means your body’s internal clock is different than the local time. Symptoms of jet lag include sleepiness during the day, insomnia at night, poor concentration, confusion, hunger at inappropriate times or lack of appetite, and general malaise and irritability. How can you deal with it?

Four or five days before you leave, try to match your sleeping and eating times to those at where you are going. This can really help if it’s only a few hours different. For big jumps, you need to do more.

Take it easy on coffee and heavy foods the day before you fly. Be sure to drink water while you’re in the air. Be aware that drinking alcohol will dry you out even more. Bring eye drops, moisturizing lotion, lip balm, and wipes with essential oils for your face. Make sure the packaging can be part of your carry on. Avoid liquids in sizes that are not compliant. Check with your airline on what they consider carry-on luggage.

Take things to help you sleep like a neck pillow. Experiment with it before you go. There are several types. Maybe borrow one from a friend to try before you buy one. Sleeping may be easier with a window seat. Ear plugs and an eye mask may work for you. Again, use at home before you go. People buy these things at the airport and find some of them useless after paying high prices. Small pillows and blankets are available on long flights. Alert your neighboring passengers if you want to be wakened for meals. You can bring your own snacks, too.

Try this: bring an extra pair of socks and put them on after removing your shoes. You can walk around the plane and sleep in more comfort. As soon as you sit down, make this change so as not to bother others later. You can add slippers if you can fit them in your carry on.

Move around the plane if you can every few hours. The flight crew don’t like this so keep moving. Or stand in line at a rest room shifting from one foot to another. In the restroom, do a little stretching and dose your face with water. Then move on to another rest room line.

Realize you will not be at your best when you land. Make all your landing and transportation plans before and follow them. Someone will offer you a ride at a higher price as you try and get your bearings.

Speaking of being groggy, use sleeping pills wisely. Don’t try something new or you might miss your connection. Consider taking melatonin instead. You can get it over the counter and this can naturally reset your body clock. 3 milligrams a half hour before you go to bed for several days after you get there can ease the transition. Another pill to take is a low dose of aspirin. Take this a few days before you go to deal with the inaction of your body on a long flight. Low dose is less than 100 grams. 3 baby aspirin will be enough.

If your flight offers breakfast just before you land, great. If not, eat breakfast as soon as possible. Now you can drink that coffee. Resist the urge to sleep all day after you arrive. Don’t drive a car for a couple of days. You won’t know when extreme sleepiness will hit you. Go with others and get outside in the sunlight with light activity in those first couple days. Walking really helps reset your internal clock. Remind friends or business associates that you may have to go home early if your body wants sleep. 

Why Are You Here?

I was sitting in my church when I was handed a flyer. In modern slang, it asked questions about God and life. I turned it over and saw an address stamped at the bottom.

I had to know where this came from so I made my way to this address that turned out to be a house in Detroit. I met some people that were doing something for God but, really, I couldn’t understand what.

Just stay and find out someone said. As it got later, different people showed up. When I say different, I mean very different from me. They sat on the floor mostly and conversed among each other. A guitar appeared and there was some singing. These were spiritual songs but very different from the church ones I knew. The enjoyment of singing these songs amazed me. People just loved singing these songs.

Eventually, a fellow, a few years older than most present, sat himself on a short stool between the living room and dining room. He began what I took to be a sermon. He said that something was happening among young people that was unusual. He described it as a movement. He had seen it in other cities and came to Detroit to be part of what God was doing here.

The young people there were those who had tried to find a different lifestyle other than a conventional one. But they had found that it did not deliver the freedom they wanted. In fact, their disappointment in the counter-culture left them without much. They put off their despair by using drugs but this only pushed the questions to their next sober moment without giving any real answers. And ‘Free Love’ took a toll on your soul as well.

Not that this was all explained at that time, but I will tell you what I learned later. This fellow was indoors now on a cold winter evening, talking to these young people that had been hanging out in public parks during the summer. A few lived there and I learned their stories as I returned in the following days. The comparing of life before and after was the main point. Before, they were wasting their lives and now their lives were full of meaning. It was that simple.

They stunned me with the news that Jesus had found them. Really? In a park? Among fellow drug users? Yes. Their clear-eyed accounts told of a shocking change to their life-style. “I stopped using drugs and started following Jesus.” Really? How? Maybe you should ask Jim to explain.

Jim was a fellow that sometimes went by Smiling Dog. He was called that because he had been like a famous drug dealer named Smiling Dog Henry. He answered to either name. He was quite serious now and said several fellows were going out to talk to others about Jesus.

To the original point, what had I learned about what Christians should do? One thing was: tell others about Jesus. Another was: gather with fellow believers. Yet, there was also: go somewhere and do something. This last was the most vague but maybe the most important.

All these things had some form in churches I knew about: Share your faith with your neighbors. Go to church often. Become a missionary!

I had been exposed to these ideas in churches without any inward response. They were uncomfortable at best. Risky and dangerous at worst. Yet, here were people doing them in a seeming natural way. Effortlessly, it seemed. I joined the group as it gained larger quarters in Detroit.

I learned that there was suffering involved. Jim said it was difficult talking to old friends who did not want to change their lifestyle. They felt they were to live counter to the ordinary as a revolt against something. They thought Jim was not doing this anymore and had betrayed the cause. It all made sense when you were high, I guess.

Several others found that their families thought they had just found a new way to waste their lives though they were glad drugs and sex were not a part of it. To be misunderstood this way made them unhappy at times. They were accused of being in a cult or being too extreme in religion.

They could not go back to either lifestyle, conventional or unconventional. The group multiplied in a form much like the original house. A married couple would be like house parents and several single people would live in the house with them. Some would work and others would be active in places like universities or just on the street where people gathered. Sometimes church groups wanted to know about how former drug addicts could so changed.

Not all had been drug addicts but most looked the part of unconventional Christians. Some conventional churches had become interested in hearing about this activity among young people. What did it mean? It was so different. How could you reject conventional society and embrace a different sort of Christian lifestyle?

Here are two conclusions that came much later: First, we are meant to suffer. Some will tell you that God only wants to bless you and there is no need for any suffering. But what God wants is for us to grow in good character. This can only happen with a certain amount of suffering. You must choose between easy happiness or a struggle to become as good as you can. Did you know God wants you to be good? Selfishness can only be overcome by following Jesus.

The second is to discover how God wants to use you in this world. I marveled at a man who had been a pastor for some years. He had an experience in his office as he was ready to give up on the whole thing. He came out of that room a different man. It was like Jacob wrestling with that man of mystery in Genesis. I thought he would leave the church but no. He put on the church vestments and he told the people how God had met him and changed everything for him.

Another lady who had rejected God had a second divorce and saw herself in her younger son. She became horrified that he was becoming like her when she knew she was unable to find happiness in life. She went to a church and wept as she listened to the sermons week after week. Then she got cancer. The treatment kept her alive but the cancer would return again and again. The treatment was brutal. She did not give up and continued to be somewhat healthy at times and enduring painful treatments at other times.

I knew her before as a rich woman in charge of her life and business. Now she had a simple job that had good health benefits and spent her healthy times working and sick times going for various treatments or tests.

Her change in character was great. She had become a different person. I learned that the suffering that seemed a cruel addition to her life had some incredible value. She had passed others, myself included, in becoming like Christ. This situation had troubled me a great deal. I asked why? Why was she chosen to suffer so much?

I still don’t have an answer for this. I do have questions. It is not ‘Why?’ anymore. They are: How am I conforming to Christ? Do I act and react like him? How am I working toward his kingdom on earth right now? Am I doing my part the best I can?

Then these questions became others: Do I love Jesus too little? Do I believe too little? Love believes all things. It’s the measure of our love for Christ Jesus that answers all the other important questions. Ones about faith, about serving God, about suffering, and about hope. Your relationship with Jesus will never find an end. The limit is your love. He who is forgiven little, loves little. But those that love much are forgiven much. We are forgiven all our sins. But if you love Jesus like the woman who poured out her expensive perfume on him, you receive much more than if you think you only need a little forgiveness and a tiny bit of help from God in your life.

The first command is to love God with all. The new command is to love others as I have loved you. Do you know why he tells us to love? He doesn’t know any other relationship. He only knows this: him loving you and you loving him. Our relationship is as large as our love for him and our service is as much love as we can receive and share with others.

Remember: love believes all things. Like maybe you believe some people are evil and want to harm you. Okay, but do you also believe God is all good and is well able to care for you in all circumstances? Love believes all things. Do you believe some things? Or do you believe all things?

Love Believes All Things

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Two Things That Don't Exist

Did you know that ‘The Media’ does not exist. It’s just what we call a bunch of voices saying different things with various megaphones about various topics. The Media speaks to The People, which also does not exist. The People, is really a method for leveling people. The individual is supposed to see themselves as part of The People. This is to set aside your individuality and become part the nameless mass, The People.

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Now The Media stands up for The People. If there is someone better than or worse than The People, The Media attacks them like a dog that tears his clothes, and bites his leg. This is amusing to watch but becomes boring if done too long. Yes, this is the method of leveling individuals. It condemns the individuality they show by distinguishing themselves from that indistinguishable mass, The People. Now, they can be doing something bad or good. As one of The People, you don’t want to be put in the spotlight like them. If they are doing good, they will at some point do something bad and then that can be shown by The Media. Really, their crime is doing something that distinguished them from The People and so they must be punished by The Media.

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That The Media does not exist can be shown as any individual in it does not want to be spotlighted. “I don’t want to be part of the story!” they plead. When questioned, they say, “These are merely facts I am giving out.” They are selflessly serving The People and do not want to be questioned by anyone. By just questioning, the individual has stepped out of The People, which he has no right to do. And by questioning an individual as part of The Media, he has ruined the game. He is revealing the trick of the magician. He has identified an individual of The Media, who wants to slip back into the place where there is no individual responsibility for their words. We talk to you, The People, and you listen to us, The Media.

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So The Media speaks to The People, filled with unreal individuals. It’s like another ghost called The State. Another group without names. Neither can ever be shown because they are not real. But you are to see yourself as part of The People or The State depending on your country.

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The People is not a generation, it is not a community, it is not a society, it is not those particular people over there, because all these actually exist since they are real; however, no single individual who belongs to The People has any real existence; sometimes during the day he belongs to The People, namely, in those times in which he is listening to The Media.

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In those times when he is a particular person, doing a particular thing, he does not belong to The People nor The State because he cannot. The People consists of such people, who as individuals are not important. And you, you are supposed to be a part of this imaginary thing. Why? So people at the top can do something for the good of The People. It may not be good for you but what does that matter? It’s for the general good and you must believe it is somehow for your general good. The Media will let you know what to think so just don’t worry about it.

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Now, here is the worst part. You as an individual can be sacrificed for the good of The People. In fact, any individual can be eliminated or at least sidelined for the good of The People. But, of course, the ones who will benefit are the people in power. If you, an individual, are removed from The People, well, The People will go on fine without you. Now individuals who know you may be sad, but The People? The loss of one does not change anything. No individual is important. Only The People is important.

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One final note. This is because people are so limited in their thinking. They cannot deal with very many individuals as such. They must group them in some way. But as soon as a group is named, anyone within that group become nobody. There are no real individuals, so to speak. But there is someone who is able to regard each individual as a particular person. This person is God. He is not limited as we are. He can consider you as an individual. He does consider you in this way. His attitude towards you is love. He wants your best. That means two things: he wants you to be the best person you can possibly be and he wants to do the best he can to help you become that best you. He does not see groups. He regards you as one of a kind. That kind is humankind which he modeled after himself. This means you and he can become related.

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