Saturday, November 1, 2008

Eye 2 Eye: Those Were the Days

By Bishop Charles Scott
I hate to admit it. I am having difficulty facing it. I am trying to deny it. I don't like it. I can't do anything about it. I'm getting old. I am staring at a new decade and it is having a drastic impact on my face. There's just something about living; you don't get any younger – you just get older. I'm even starting a "bucket list." (Hey Jon, just 19 more baseball stadiums to go!)

Something about getting more mature; the older we get the better we was. As a matter of fact, as we age, the better everything was. Now I realize I'm not old yet; I mean, Pat Wilson and dirt still have a few years on me. But I find myself looking back a bit more. Thinking about how things were and recollecting about those good ol' days.

One of my fond memories is the time right after I graduated high school. I had a dramatic conversion experience to Jesus just prior to my senior year. After graduation I had another dramatic experience: the baptism of the Holy Spirit evidenced by speaking in other tongues. I had been raised in a Southern Baptist church under the pastoral leadership of one of the greatest pastors ever, Dr. William Bennett. I had a zealous passion for Jesus, which lead me to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. That passion also lead me to a Spirit-filled church, an Assembly of God (Can I put that in The Messenger?) church in Fort Smith, AR.

A precious couple in their late 70s attended that church, Brother and Sister Craig. I soon developed a friendship with these wonderful people. I worked in a department store in the mall and their home was in short driving distance. They invited me to come to their house for lunch, and on multiple occasions I was privileged to dine on cornbread, fresh delectables from Brother Craig's garden, and sweet potato pie made only as Sister Craig was anointed to make. The real treat was sitting and listening to Sister Craig recall the weeks her family spent in Hot Springs, AR at a camp meeting that was known as a genesis for the Assemblies of God. (I did it again. Can I get by with that twice?)

Sister Craig had reached that point in life where she could remember 50 years ago better than 50 minutes ago. She recalled with explicit detail the singing, the preaching, the signs, the miracles and the lives changed by the power of God. She would re-enact for her audience of two (two physical but a cloud of unseen witnesses) the mighty move of God, describing people falling out under the power, shouting, dancing, speaking in tongues, gifts of the Spirit in operation, healings, and, most of all, men, women, boys and girls being born again and delivered from sin by the grace of God.

I would stay as long as I could. I could not get enough. I would beg her to tell me the same stories over and over. She would slightly protest but eagerly repeat the recitation. She would at times get so caught up in the moment that she would lift her hands and begin to praise the Lord until she would start speaking in tongues in ecstasy. I would drink it all in. More than 50 years separated us. Background, tastes and preferences separated us. One thing united us: a passion for Jesus.

By now you are wondering what all this has to do with an issue dedicated to prayer and worship. I know one of my weaknesses is to over-simplify, but isn't worship just an expression of the soul's passion for Jesus? Whether it was a century ago at Azusa Street or last week at church, whether it was a hymn from a songbook or a track from Israel Houghton, isn't worship a passion for Jesus? And doesn't a heartfelt passion for Jesus always receive a manifestation of the presence of God?

So I'm adding new items to my bucket list. (Just how high is Mt. Rainer, Dwayne?) Someday when my hair is gray (OK, completely gray) and I have time to piddle in my garden, I cannot think of anything better than a group of teenagers coming to the house, and Janice cooking up some fried potatoes with onions, beans 'n' cornbread and banana pudding (some things must be passed to the next generation). One of those young bright faces will shine with anticipation as they ask, "Tell us about the good ol' days. Tell us about when God visited the PCG with a revival that transformed every community in America. Tell us about when the anointing was so strong in the PCG that missionaries were sent around the world. Tell us about divine demonstrations that caused people to give their hearts to Jesus. Tell us about when the passion for Jesus was so strong in the PCG that there was no division over bylaws, no politics or power struggles, no strife over methods, just a cry for Him." I can't wait to see them eye to eye.