As a 24-year-old moving to Jacksonville, Florida, I had not only been raised in the church but had a Godly heritage that spans several generations. But to be honest, I had a distaste for the church and for Christians within my family. While I assumed that my move to Jacksonville was job related, God had other plans. The Holy Spirit caused me to meet the sister of one of the members of the world famous rock band called Lynyrd Skynyrd in a night club called “Diamond Head”. At that time Lynyrd Skynyrd was my favorite band and “Freebird” was my favorite song. Their home roots were in Jacksonville. This band member’s sister had been attending church for a brief time and started telling me about her newfound experiences in God. God met me where I was at in my life in a huge way. Because of her influence, it was not long before I was in a solid church, with people who were passionate for God and I was worshipping Jesus in a whole new way.
I excitedly told my mother over the phone about this new joy I had found. How my life was changing. I remember telling her that I was not going to bars anymore, that Jesus was now all I needed in my life and that I was happier than I had ever been. My mother, bless her heart, became deeply concerned. I will never forget the several page letter she wrote me, warning me about cults and false doctrine. She quoted several scriptures in the letter, to which I lovingly replied, and added more scriptures which completely supported my new salvation in Jesus and my being filled with His glorious Holy Spirit. Fortunately, she gradually accepted my change as being a good thing for me and eventually came to realize that there was more to God than she had previously been taught.
My mom then later told me that her pastor had stopped by to visit her and that when he noticed the titles of some books that I had sent on the coffee table he said, “Don’t you know those are books written by a certain group?” Ironically, the group he mentioned was experiencing a great revival of converts across America, and had been for years.
Interestingly, my mother later told me that when some of these same experiences had hit their church years before, they called in a special speaker who believed he had a mandate from the Lord to expose these practices as “from the devil!” I told my mom if this is from the devil then Satan is on the wrong team! Such was the example of a spiritual “gatekeeper” who was keeping out solid teachings of Jesus. Once again, Jesus was trying to teach the church in America, “God’s loving truths are radically different from what you have been taught, and I am here to both tell you, and to show you how different they are!” Just like the self-righteous scribes and pharisees of Jesus' day that considered themselves to be “gatekeepers” keeping out Jesus’ teaching, this pastor was sadly misdirected. A church-ianity experience that had been a huge turn off to me as a child had been replaced by a living encounter with a loving Savior. Many misplaced gatekeepers perhaps need to hear the words of Moses to Pharaoh, saying “Let my people go!”
Gatekeepers of America, spiritual leaders of multiple potential titles, always remember that your belief system is strongly influenced by what you have personally experienced in your own life. I encourage you to develop a Godly fear, to not to touch God’s anointed, and to spend considerable amount of time in prayer before you step in to try to stop something that seems “new” to you! Historically, God always sends revival differently than before. Psalm 78:41 warns that the following actions are both possible and tragic; “Yea, they turned back and tempted God and limited the Holy one of Israel!”(KJV)