Coffee House

When we were houseparents at the boy’s ranch in 1970, the Jesus movement was going on. It was an amazing move of God like nothing I have seen since. Mostly young people were being saved and drastically giving their lives to God. This was also during the hippie and antiwar protest movement. And this Jesus movement was happening outside of traditional churches. There were Jesus movement bands that started, gatherings and concerts held in the streets or parks. I took the boys to see Larry Norman, a Jesus “freak”singer, at a filled high school football stadium.

We were members of a church that did not believe the Holy Spirit was around today and for sure we did not need any of the gifts of the Spirit because those gifts ceased when the Bible arrived. For some reason, I had many questions about this Spirit that was not around anymore. Now I know it was God who planted a deep hunger in me to learn more about the Spirit. I kept asking questions in our weekly Bible studies and got few answers. My wife and I had become close friends with the associate pastor of this church and his wife. He probably regretted the friendship because all I talked about when we had time together was the Spirit. I peppered him with unending questions. At first he gave me the standard church line. Then I think he realized those answers were not working as I challenged most of them.

We did a lot of scripture study together on the Spirit. And, we had many heated, but loving, arguments. I believe God put him in my life to help me on my quest to discover more about the Holy Spirit. However, I had many more questions than answers.

A big part of the Jesus movement was Jesus coffee houses usually full of young Jesus followers. Back then these Jesus people would hitchhike all over the country going to concerts, visiting coffee houses and preaching in the streets. Notice I did not mention going to church. One Friday night I took the boys to see, ” The Cross and the Switchblade”, a Christian movie. Next to the theater was a Jesus coffee house. It was almost packed so the boys scrambled to find a seat while a female singer was singing Jesus music.

I found an empty seat and started talking with one of those Jesus people. He was a hitchhiker and had just arrived in town. Since the Spirit was always on my mind, I started asking him many of my unanswered questions. He was providing answers I had never heard. I was so hungry to learn and did not let up until I got to the big question on my heart. It had been building for a few months and came to the surface with this friendly young guy. “Can I receive this Spirit?” He said, “Sure.” About that time the vocalist had stopped singing and came to our table. It turns out they were good hitchhiking buddies. “He wants to receive the Spirit. Let’s go outside and pray for him.”

All three of us got in my truck. They simply laid hands on me and asked God to fill me with His Spirit. I sat there for a minute and then wham. It was like a huge bucket of love was poured into my heart and mind. All I could say over and over was, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…” His love overwhelmed me. I started crying then spoke in tongues. They had never mentioned this or prayed for it and I did not know anyone that had this experience. It just poured forth out of this inner love.

We went back in the coffee house but I was a different person. I entered with a deep supernatural love for all of the teenage boys we cared for at the boys ranch. That love continued for the rest of my time there. I shared the experience with my wife later that night and she thought I had gone crazy, literally. She called my pastor friend and told him, asking what she should do. He gave a very wise answer. “If it is God, you will know it.” A few months later she had a similar experience. It was God. He then began teaching me how to walk in this Spirit. Word soon got around our church and this stirred up a frenzy of criticism coming my way. Maybe another blog.

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