RIOT FOR BREAKFAST

Animal-House-Food-fight“For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21).

I went back to High School and found it was easier to preach to unsaved people about Christ. As a fiery young convert I would reprimand the youth group in my church for their worldliness and met up with resistance. So, fellowship was slim. But God opened up the hearts of people from all different Christian backgrounds to be our fellowship.

We met a group of teens who were from various evangelical backgrounds and got hooked up with a group called the High School Born Againer’s or Hi BA’s. Rod Burnett and Rick Kirschman sacrificed their time and energy to equip us to be missionaries in our High School. They were a huge encouragement and resource to this group of teenagers in Staten Island and in fact, had influence in all five borough’s.

It was agreed by the group in our High School that we would meet in the cafeteria for Bible study in the morning before classes. We started meeting during breakfast. I know that several different people were leading Bible study and we had every intention of keeping it a public witness. I arrived one morning at the end of that week and the cafeteria was full of rowdy teenagers. I had the feeling they were waiting for our group. Teenagers can be so obvious. We had a good crowd for Bible study. I was elected to teach Bible study that day for some reason.

None of the things that followed were my intention but they still took place in reaction to my preaching.

I guess how things got started was there were no chairs left at our table so I decided I would stand. At this point in time, I cannot remember what text I used, but I as I began to teach, some kid behind me starts mocking. The crowd started laughing like patients in an asylum for the deranged. I realized that I would not be able to teach Bible study without addressing them with the only defense I had, the Word of God.

I continued to speak and tell the kids about how Christ died for them and their need of salvation. Some of the kids were listening intently others were just acting nuts. I felt the Holy Spirit guiding my words. I looked and saw another kid walking around and yelling saying, ‘Hallelujah, pass the offering plate!” Then they started proving the inevitable result of the school’s policy of teaching the theory of evolution: they were making baboon like noises, banging garbage cans and then the food started flying-bagels were on the menu that day-it figures. One got real close to my face and hit one of my friends.

The Bible group was shocked. Everyone in the cafeteria went crazy.

Out of no where four of the school police surrounded me. I thought, “OK I am suspended.” I asked them why they taking me away. I had done nothing wrong. They said it was for my protection. They asked me to grab my books and follow them and I complied. My friends were deeply concerned for me and wanted to go with me but the school police would not let them. The escorted me through the teachers lounge and up the stairs to the deans office.

The guards explained the situation to the Dean and he contorted his neck as he looked out of his office.  I sat there waiting. Later he came over to me he looked at me and asked me, “You will make sure this does not happen again, right?”

I said to him, “We will talk about it later.” He looked at me surprised because he did not expect that reply.

I realized now the chutzpah it took to say that. I would not agree to stop preaching the gospel even if it meant my suspension.

Their solution at that time was send me to our very eccentric guidance counselor. She pulled out my records of course and there was no instance of misbehavior. She called my home and my mother answered and she explained to her that I was proselytizing in the cafeteria and we had caused a riot. My Mom was the wrong person to tell that, “What’s wrong with that we have freedom of speech.” The guidance counselor had to listen to my Mom for a while, and attempted to stutter her replies, so it was not a pleasant experience for her.

It was almost 3rd period and asked me to wait in study hall so I went to library. Everyone who I passed on my way there saw me knew what happened.  Everyone in the library looked up and knew what had happened. It seemed as the entire school knew. I was excited because the gospel was getting noticed! I sat down and opened up my Bible and I began to read this passage Paul wrote while under house arrest:

“But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places. And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.  According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:12-21).

I was allowed to go into my bookkeeping class and everyone looked at me there as well. They knew all about what happened. The expected some response from me so I told them,  “We have them heaven!” I said.

The teacher smiled,  but had a nervous look on their face like he really wanted me to sit down-who knows what he thought I would do in class and the kids shook their heads and I continued on with my day.

Later we ended up meeting the principal, my Pastor and parents. They agreed to let us have a classroom room before curriculum time.  When I left that high school the Bible study continued until they stopped it because of politics- only to have to reinstate them because of the Equal Access Act passed in 1984.

It is amazing how God can use anyone in his service-even a person like me. The news of God’s exploits in my life were getting around. I was now a radical Christian for sure and I liked it.

©2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney, give credit where credit is due.

WIRELESS CONNECTION

lion“The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” (Prov. 28:1).

I could not in my own strength and power reach my High School. I needed to accomplish God’s will, God’s way. At 15 years old God chose two weapons out of his arsenal for me: prophesying scripture and praying scripture.

One day while cleaning the church I went up a long passage of stairs to the attic and some of the folks were cleaning it out. I was wondering what treasures I would be able to plunder. I saw books! There were two books there. One was called They Teach us To Pray by Reginald E.O. White and the other The Gifts of the Spirit by Harold Horton. They let me have them. It was gold to me. The one prayer book was about the ABC’s of prayer. My favorite chapter was about Moses and the Benefits of prayer and how his face shined with the presence of God, along with Stephen the martyr and most of all, Christ. I wanted people to see Jesus in me. The prospect of having my face shine after I was done with prayer to let people see the reality of Jesus thrilled my soul. I knew prayer was going to be the key in my life. God saved me for his glory, so I could pray and have communion with Him through the Holy Spirit. Prayer was my wireless connection to God through the scriptures.

I was reading The Gifts of the Spirit and the gift of prophecy kept being placed on my heart. I knew the Holy Spirit gave gifts according to his will but since the Bible spoke of, “covet earnestly the best gifts” (1 Cor. 12:31)  I asked God for that gift. I loved preaching and the thought of prophesying, “to edify, exhort and comfort” excited me (1 Cor. 14:3). I did not want it to be me speaking but the Father, Son and the Spirit speaking through me. I began to pray about this gift and God’s will for me. It was then while I prayed it felt like God dropped a large coin in my Spirit. Something happened-and as all of God’s dealings with me anytime he did something big it was at first quiet, like a gentle soft breeze. Then later the results were huge. Prophecy was my wireless connection with God through scripture,“The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord GOD hath spoken, who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:8).

One summer I met Rev. Loren Wooten. He came for our first revival. I did not know what a revival was but it sounded good. He was an older, seasoned man and they called him an evangelist. He preached different than my Pastor who was an excellent teacher. Brother Wooten seemed to be able to communicate the gospel in another capacity. Watching this man in his late sixties preach with the animation of a young man blew my mind. One night he said something about the account of David and Goliath that I can still recall to this day. He was illustrating how David confronted the Philistine, “He calls him an uncircumcised Philistine. You see what he is saying? I’m a little boy and I have a covenant. You’re a big giant and you don’t have a covenant. I am coming in the name of the God of the covenant and God will give me the victory-I can’t lose!” I had never heard about a covenant before-but it I found it was God’s commitment to us because we belong to Jesus.

He was big on the topic of prayer. He gave us prayer journal loose-leaf and every day of the week had a specific theme which would have a great influence in my prayer time. Brother Wooten would hear me pray and all I would do is quote scripture in prayer and pray in the Spirit. He liked that so much he made me quote 2 Corinthians 10:6 in front of those people. He told the church he had not seen young men like Mike and I so on fire for God in a long time. To God be the glory.

The only time I heard a prophetic Word, or interpretation on tongues was when Brother Chris Olsen would do it. He looked like he was seven feet tall as he reached up with one arm to the ceiling and rocked on his feet to his toes. I remember would say something like, “Yea, the Lord the God is in the midst of thee this morning!” He would weep and I was in awe.  Not long after that during Bro. Wooten’s meetings I prophesied the first time. It was a few short biblical sentences that came to my mind and I thought my heart would explode. I gave the forth telling prophecy taken I believe from John chapter 10 and my Pastor was saying, “Praise God, praise God.” It was both wonderful and frightening. I learned to how speak out the Scriptures in prayer and prophecy by the leading of the Spirit. I was learning to speak the right thing at the right time-a skillful word in season. This would prove to be  invaluable (Prov 15:23; Isa. 50:4).

After that I drove our pastor crazy because I would ask him if I could use to church to pray. I liked being alone in church because I could let out my heart to God in private. He eventually surrendered and made a key for me to get in church. Oh God was so good to me! He gave me the key to his house! We had an altar railing back in those days and I would slump over it and weep. I would pace around the church sanctuary and worship until I felt to pray for others. I began to prayer two or three hours a night. Wednesday nights was intercession night I would get to church early before Bible study. I had a list of 168 people.

Friday night was supposed to be prayer night-but no one ever came, except one night, at one all night prayer meeting.

©2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney, give credit where credit is due.

Revival

“It is not surprising that the Puritan movement in England believed so firmly in revivals of religion as the great means by which the Church advances in the world…When the Holy Spirit is poured out in a day of power the result is bound to affect whole communities and even nations. Conviction of sin, an anxiety to possess the Word of God, and dependence upon those truths which glorify God in man’s salvation, are inevitable consequences….to the Christians of that era, however, the explanation was entirely different. They read in Scripture that when the Spirit is poured from on high then the wilderness becomes a fruitful field [Isaiah 32:15].

They read also, ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts’ [Zechariah 4:6], and they attributed all the spiritual renewal of their age to the mercy of God. In taking this view they understood at once that all the successes of the Reformation were repeatable — as repeatable as the victories of the apostolic age — for Scripture places no limitation upon the Spirit’s work of glorifying Christ and extending His kingdom.

Thus there was recovered at the time of the Reformation belief in what may be called revival Christianity, and the attention which the Puritans who followed gave to this area of truth profoundly influenced the following centuries and gave to the English-speaking world what may be called the classic school of Protestant belief in revival.” (Ian Murray)

Some pastors teach that revival is not necessary since Christians are already alive in Christ.  But they forget that even Christians can very easily experience a decay in their passion for Christ that used to be like a great fire can become just smoking embers among the ashes of past experience. Their people are not There may be a great intermission or formality in the discharge of commanded duty. The mind, which once with delight and admiration, could meditate upon God and Christ, and the covenant, and things that are above, may come to lose its relish for these things, and to dote upon the transitory fading vanities of a present world. The common gifts of the Spirit, through carnal ease, and defect of employment, may be in a great measure blasted: and, which is worst of all, the saving graces, and fruits of the Spirit, may come to be woefully impaired as to their former degrees and acting. But now, this partial death of believers, again, is twofold: there is a deadness which is felt by God’s people, and a deadness which is not felt; “gray hairs are here and there upon them, sometimes, and they do not behold them.” The Lord was departed from Samson, and he wist not, Judg. 16:20. But then there is a deadness which is felt, when God’s people have a sense of their deadness, and are lamenting it. And it is an evidence of spiritual life, or of some revival, when the Lord’s people are beginning to cry out with the church, (Psa. 85:6:) “Wilt thou not revive us again; that thy people may rejoice in thee? — Why hast thou hardened our heart from thy fear?” (Isa. 63:17).