Beginnings

Pizza and Bonanza night.

Pizza and Bonanza night.

We remember when the Beatles first crossed the ocean, and when the Beach Boys started surf music. We sock-hopped to Chubby Checker and slow-danced to “Theme from a Summer Place.” We know all about bobby socks, cruising, the twist, pompadours and low riding. And we remember where we were when we heard President Kennedy was shot. We were in high school in the early ‘60s and this weekend I will attend a roughly 50-year reunion of friends who were in high school graduating classes from around 1961 to 1966.

It’s not your typical reunion of a particular class from a particular high school. It’s a reunion from an era, and represents a number of high schools because it’s not a school reunion, it’s a church reunion – a church youth group reunion to be exact.

Obviously it was a pretty tight group to be still in touch in some form today. For many of us, our social life then revolved more around the church than the school. We got together regularly: twice on Sunday, once on Wednesday night with some kind of social gathering on Saturdays for a beach trip, roller skating, day in the park, pool party, volleyball and pizza in the church gym, or just hanging out at someone’s house. And then there were the camps – summer camp, winter camp, Easter week missions trip – these were seriously bonding times. One of our most popular regular get-togethers was at a sponsor’s home after church on Sunday nights for pizza and the Bonanza television series. And I’m sure if others could contribute to this article there would be many other things that stood out that I have forgotten.

I do remember we fell in and out of love numerous times – sometimes with the same person. I looked over the list and my high school sweetheart will be there, as will my fifth grade heart throb who gave me sweaty palms on the couples only skate on roller rink night. (I’m getting sweaty palms just thinking about this. Maybe I won’t go …)

Speaking of heart throbs, Marti will be attending with me and she had no part in this, nor did she experience anything like it, in that she didn’t become a Christian until the early 1970s. It will be a chance for her to get a slice of my life unknown to her.

And on the serious, more lasting side, our youth director and his wife will be there, and I anticipate an outpouring of love for this couple, because if most people are like me, these were the people who first got us excited about God. These are the ones who not only taught us, but showed us that Christianity was not just about the moral codes we all grew up with, it was about a living relationship with the living God. It wasn’t just about a social group having fun, it was about setting a course for the rest of your life.

That’s what will make this more than just your ordinary class reunion, for though I’m sure that we will laugh through much trivial nonsense as we remember the stupid things we did, we will also touch on something very deep – the beginnings of the spiritual journeys which we are still forging today.

That’s why I call this “Beginnings,” and I think it would be good if we could all stop and think about the people who first influenced our faith, and pray for them and thank God for them. Who knows where we would be today if they hadn’t been faithful.

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12 Responses to Beginnings

  1. Mark Seguin says:

    Amen Pastor John to this: “..think about the people who first influenced our faith, and pray for them and thank God for them.” Mine was my first Pastor Roland DeRenzo and I luv him and often thx God 4 him too – He’s w/ the Lord now, yet I’m still in touch w/ his wife and a few of his children, all of which had a big impact on me and my christian walk.

    I still remember his “alter call” in December of 1979, the Christmas service – He said if anyone would like to know how to get to heaven – come forward… I remember having the splint second thought of: If this guy knows something I do not know, i believe my mom didn’t raise a fool – and i’ll go see jus what he has to say. As I walked he said: Let’s make the nineteen 80’s something for God – and I thank God and His Son Jesus my life as never been the same since… 🙂

    PS so a bit before President Kennedy’s assassination, yet I can recall his brother Robert’s… 😦

    • Bill in KCK says:

      I agree with Mark concerning the last paragraph of today’s Catch, and maybe its partly because Im almost 82yo that I have plenty to look back of happenings in my lifetime and wonder what a different course I might have taken if it hadnt been for those around me that led me to become of follower of Jesus Christ. But when I start to let my mind wander I also think about all of His followers that protected and passed on the Word through generations and centuries and millennia And many of those times those followers were brutally persecuted, especially as we read the stories of those in the First Century under Roman rule. If everyone hadnt done their part in the survival of Christianity then its possible that those around me in the late 1930s wouldnt have had the message of salvation to give to me. Hebrews 12:1 tells us that “we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses [from ancient times to the present]” that all did their part in their generation and are counting on us to carry on and win the race for Him.

      • Mark Seguin says:

        I enjoy reading your post Bill in KCK: i also noticed this: “…almost 82yo..” so let me plz ask and i hope you don’t mind me asking you when do you turn 82?

        PS and would i just luv to sit down with you and have a cup of coffee and listen to you talk about: “…have plenty to look back of happenings in my lifetime…” it would be a grand time, i do think / believe… 🙂

      • jwfisch says:

        Amen!

  2. Bill in KCK says:

    Thanks, I always hope and wonder if what I write makes any sense to someone else! My birthdate is June 12 and I was born in StLouis in 1933 the second oldest of what eventually was 9 kids but we settled in Kansas City, Kansas when I was too young to remember anything else. You know that you are getting old whenever ancient history is a period of time that you are able to remember living during those days!

    • Mark Seguin says:

      Now I’m laughing a bit too hard to type over your comment: “…wonder if what I write makes any sense to someone else!” Plz don’t feel alone in that regard… 🙂

      You’re welcome for telling me your B-day, appreciate it & you. Plus wow, you’re from a good size family, but i guess back then it was more ‘normal.’ I have 3 brothers & 3 sisters and I take it KCK = Kansas City, Kansas… – Good ball team, sorry ‘they’ didn’t win, yet a great World Series to watch – plus they have a very nice gentleman in their Athletic Trainer – Mr. Nick Kenny.
      God’s speed & blessings to you & yours

  3. Lois Taylor says:

    It sounds like a wonderful time will be had by all attending. Remembering good times and making new memories is what reunions are all about. Reuniting with others who have a relationship with Jesus will make it all the more joyous. You are blessed, John.

  4. kevinm1957 says:

    Took me on a trip down memory lane today. I was about 10 years behind you John, but still much of what I experienced in my church was the same. We met twice on Sunday, once on Wednesday, and I have lots and lots of camp memories. What stands out most in my mind though is wonderful lady named Mrs. Goodrich. Our church had the teachers move up with the classes as they got older so that you always had the same teacher most years. She was always stopping me in the hall and asking me, “you know God loves you don’t you Kevin?” Somehow she saw through my defenses and knew that I always had trouble with that one.

    I just couldn’t believe He cared about me. When I got to teen age years, hypocrisy and lack of christian behavior was all I could see in our church. I won’t go into all the stories, but the icing on the cake was when they took the missionary fund that we had worked so hard to raise for an area in Africa and spent it to pave the parking lot. I lost faith in the church and did not return for quite some time.

    Meanwhile, I continued to struggle to believe that God cared about me and fell into sin in many areas of my life since I know longer had any support structure around me. I never forgot what Mrs. Goodrich asked me so many times though, and that question eventually brought me back to God. It brought me back with an honesty that caused me to see that I was just as big a hypocrite as any I had judged back then. I finally realized that no one can love God as much as He loves us, and that we all fall down in some way. The trick is to forgive each other, extend each other grace, and help each other back up.

    We can’t do it alone. We need each other just as much as we need God. That’s how He made us.

    I love you all, and thank you for being part of my life with Christ.

    • Mark Seguin says:

      Thx God for Mrs. Goodrich, eh…. Kevin1957 and got a lil chuckle over your needed 2nd post becauz of forgetting to check that box, LOL done that a few times myself – and love you too, now we or i sud ‘say’ i need an edit box to check too – i’m a bad proof reader and like Bill in KCK i often wonder if anyone can make sense oiut of my post…

  5. kevinm1957 says:

    I always forget to check the box to notify me of comments, so posting this just to mark the box, LOL.

  6. KeithInAK says:

    John,
    My church experience was similar to yours but about 20 years later. Life revolved around church. Our youth group was small and our youth leaders were volunteers who were farmers, well-drillers and carpenters who loved teens. It is easy for me to look back at the inconsistencies in that church and be critical, but when I look at the people and their love my heart is softened. I didn’t leave the church entirely, but I distanced myself from that “brand” of Christianity. I saw them as narrow-minded and judgmental (some of them were), but our youth leaders loved Jesus and loved us. I can get a little narrow-minded and judgmental myself, but I want to be remembered as someone who loved Jesus and loved people.
    Thanks for the reminder John.

  7. Pull a sheet of scratch paper out of your memory bank and see how well you do with the following questions:

    Who taught Martin Luther his theology and inspired his translation of the New Testament?
    Who visited with Dwight L. Moody at a shoe store and spoke to him about Christ?
    Who was the wife of Charles Haddon Spurgeon?
    Who was the elderly woman who prayed faithfully for Billy Graham for over twenty years?
    Who helped Charles Wesley get under way as a composer of hymns?
    Who were the parents of the godly and gifted prophet Daniel?

    Okay, how’d you do? Before you excuse your inability to answer these questions by calling the quiz “trivia,” better stop and think. Had it not been for such unknown persons—such “nobodies”—a huge chunk of church history would be missing. And a lot of lives would have been untouched.

    Nobodies. What a necessary band of men and women . . . servants of the King . . . yet nameless in the kingdom! Men and women who, with silent heroism and faithful diligence, relinquish the limelight and live in the shade of public figures.

    As Jim Elliot, martyred messenger of the gospel to the Aucas once remarked: “Missionaries are a bunch of nobodies trying to exalt Somebody.”

    Praise God! We’re among that elite group mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12: “some of the parts that seem weakest and least important are really the most necessary. . . . So God has put the body together in such a way that extra honor and care are given to those parts that might otherwise seem less important” (vv. 22, 24, TLB)…

    Nobodies . . . exalting Somebody.

    Are you playing a behind-the-scenes role? Thank God for giving you that opportunity.

    Excerpted from “Day by Day with Charles Swindoll” – “Nobodies” 1 Cor. 12:19-25
    http://www.insight.org/resources/devotionals/nobodies.html

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