|Photo Credit: A Shared Lens|
Orange County California was an exciting place to grow up during the late 60s and early 70's. Everything around us was changing, even the way we did church.
I experienced firsthand the beginning of the Jesus movement. My parents were involved with teen ministry which meant I had the privilege of seeing it all up close. I grew up singing the songs that changed "church music". As a teen we would drive to Saturday night Maranatha concerts in Costa Mesa. Several years later my new husband and I attended both Downey and the original Calvary Chapel. We spent our first eighteen years of marriage attending or affiliated with them in some way or another. We even planted a church in a small community just east of here around 2001.
Pastor Chuck Smith and his wife Kay were well known for being committed to teaching God's Word. What helped it grow is that they loved people where they were at. In my early days of church it was unheard of for women to wear pants to church and men wearing jeans was just as frowned upon. Attending church down the freeway from Costa Mesa, it didn't take long for the influence to reach us. Eventually it led to women wearing pants in the evening services and in the hot summer you might even see some wearing shorts. Church gatherings became less about the clothing and more about making disciples.
When the new building in Costa Mesa opened, a few elders in the church became concerned about the carpet. This "all are welcome" approach brought scores of young people in from the streets, many barefoot which meant the carpet became filthy. Pastor Chuck came in one day to find a box of flip flops one of the elders had purchased by the door in the sanctuary to make sure that no one got the carpets dirty. Chuck was heard saying that he would yank up the carpets before he would tell people what to wear to church. As the story goes, the box of shoes disappeared before the next service started.
The popularity of the Christian faith, at that time in our history wasn't about telling people how to act. Politics played no role in fact, it was about bringing a Savior to a hungry world. The message that changed lives spoke into brokenness and brought healing focused on the heart of a person. It brought hope to a world filled with turmoil, war and uncertainties. Hope didn't come from showing people where they were wrong. It grew out of leading people to what was good and pure and right.
I'm thankful for God's presence in my life every day. When our nation is divided, I find comfort in Him. When the storms rage around me, the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart, "Peace, be still".
Where do you go to experience God's presence in your life? Have you found a way to experience peace in the storm?