There’s something amazing about anniversaries, isn’t there? Moments when we pause to reflect, to honor what God has done in the past and then look forward, with renewed purpose, to what He’s planning for the future.
Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of a church in Wittenburg, Germany, beginning Luther’s public declaration that the Bible is the central religious authority and that salvation is available to the human race only by grace through their faith, not their deeds. It was the spark that lit the Protestant Reformation—and it changed the world.
Fifty years ago, a hippie from Laguna Beach, Calif., had a radical encounter with the living God. Lonnie Frisbee was just 19, coming out of the gay underground and free-love cultures when he met Jesus—and his unlikely testimony was the spark that touched off the Jesus People Movement. Though Frisbee struggled with his sexuality all his life, that revival spread from Southern California all over the globe, touching millions of lives and giving us some of the most revered faith leaders alive today.
Forty years ago, a 25-minute weekly radio broadcast aired for the first time on 40 stations nationwide. Over the last four decades, Focus on the Family has expanded its media reach to include the productions of films, books, magazines and podcasts. Today, 2,000 radio stations carry its 30-minute daily broadcast, there are affiliate offices in 13 nations around the globe, and multiple generations of parents and children have been influenced and encouraged by the resources the ministry offers.
The Bible speaks of kairos moments—the right or opportune moment when time becomes full, streams converge, the wine changes its skin and God sovereignly does something the world has never seen before. In those moments, we need to lay down our ideas of what things are supposed to look like and pay close attention to what God is saying about the next step. In those moments, we shift our methods but not our mission in order to stay in step with Him.
Those moments can be uncomfortable. As Luke 5:39 tells us, no one likes new wine at first! Church authorities certainly didn’t like Luther’s theses or get on board with those concepts right away; the Jesus People Movement and the unlikely people God used within it to change the world certainly made the status quo uncomfortable. Throughout its four decades of ministry, Focus on the Family has incurred all kinds of criticism and critique, even from some well-meaning friends within the church who might, at times, see things differently.
But when we recognize and respond properly in those moments, the results will change our lives, our culture and the world. Nobody likes new wine at first—but as the wedding at Cana showed us, God likes to save the best wine for last.
Here’s to the future.
Originally published in the June 2017 issue of Citizen magazine.