It happened fifty years ago. In 1966, TIME magazine declared God was dead—but just a few years later, suddenly thousands of my generation were saying the opposite. Jesus was alive and well, and He was moving in miraculous ways in our hearts.
At first, I was sure I’d discovered a secret truth so profound that few knew it. I felt like one of the twelve disciples. Jesus loved me! It wasn’t just the “special” people (like saints long ago that I grew up hearing about) who mattered. Jesus. Loved. Me. Jesus chose me, because—well, just because He loved me. And because He loved me, I was special too. This was a beautiful identity metamorphosis.
When I first heard the gospel, I was fourteen years old, getting high, sitting cross-legged on the grass with my sisters and a small circle of friends at Long Beach City College. Someone told me Christ changed their life and He could change mine too. I believed it. When I prayed, I found Him—or rather, He found me. It was just that simple.
Evangelism (telling someone the good news about Jesus) wasn’t just for preachers behind pulpits. We all shared the gospel because we were called to be disciples. That’s what disciples do. We tell people everywhere.
Jesus loves you.
That Spring night, when I prayed a simple prayer for forgiveness, I felt God’s love. I was new. I was clean. I was forgiven. I was at peace.
The very next day, we went to a small church in Costa Mesa. Calvary Chapel was near the corner of Sunflower and Fairview, directly across from open bean fields. We got there early and the place was already overflowing, packed with teenagers and hippies. I wasn’t the only one! Surrounded by so many new young friends, their stories sounded just like mine.
We sang simple, child-like songs. Sometimes with guitars, sometime just our voices. We clapped our hands . . . a lot.
Happy, happy, happy, happy. Happy are the people whose God is the Lord.
Where does this happy feeling come from? Jesus! Where does this happy feeling come from?
This happy feeling comes from Jesus—every day He more than pleases,
That’s where this happy feeling comes from.
Did I mention we clapped a lot? Nearly every song! The only time we didn’t clap was at the end of each song. That’s when we raised a hand, pointing upward to indicate “One Way.” Jesus is the one and only way, and Jesus got all our praise.
Everyone brought a Bible, and that night, I did too. If you were cool, your Bible was covered with fur or leather. Some carried dog-eared paperback Bibles called Good News for Modern Man. We crowded into seats or sat on the floor to listen as the pastors, Lonnie or Chuck, explained the Bible in a way we all could understand.
I loved every word. It was God’s love letter to me.
No matter where I was—third-period math, or sitting on the sand at the beach—that Bible was my treasured lifeline to heaven. I underlined verses, wrote in it, drew flowers and crosses in the margins.
My life changed. Conflict with my parents, with all authorities, vanished. My vocabulary changed. Gone were the expletives (which I won’t write here) replaced with Praise the Lord, God bless. My priorities changed. My dreams changed.
God was at work and we believed that Jesus could come at any minute. Believing and living in light of Jesus’ soon return will change you. It has to.
Revival was happening and it began in our hearts. We were living in desperate times. We are living in even more desperate times today. I can recall those days with nostalgia and long for another Jesus Revolution—or I can pray now and see another revival coming, beginning with my own heart!
Yes, the Jesus Revolution was beautiful, but that isn’t what brought change into a lost generation. It wasn’t the songs, or the musicians, or the preachers. Trusting all of that can break your heart. The change we were desperately looking for wasn’t in them—it only came through them.
The surprising beauty of the real Jesus of the Bible came through.
Change begins with the simplicity of belief in a loving, powerful God who comes to dwell in our heart by faith. Being open to the unexpected and fresh moving of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives.
The Jesus Revolution changed me and my generation. It changed America and the world. How I long for this generation to experience their own Jesus Revolution!
So I pray. . . do it again Lord!
“Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? Shew us thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us thy salvation.” Psalm 85:6-7KJV