Back When Pastor Jerry Osborne was 40

Posted by Michael La Framboise on Friday, October 25, 2019 Under: Meditations
I turned 40 this year, and I can’t help but think of what my grandfather, Pastor Jerry Osborne, was up to when he was 40 back in 1968. He and my grandmother celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary, and they had four children living at home ages 16, 15, 12, and 10. His ministry at the corner of Norwalk & Alondra was doing well after 16 years, although Jerry was still driving a bus for the school district to make ends meet. His ministry was truly a family affair and I believe his surviving children would attest that this era was filled with precious memories.

As I thought about my grandfather, I wondered what he might think if he was still here at 91 years old. What would he think of the football players kneeling during the national anthem? What would he think of the various police shootings of unarmed people? How would he view the degradation of society in our films and music? How would he react to the gay rights movement and trans-genderism? What would he think of the current political climate? More importantly what would he have to say about the current condition of the American church which has lost its voice, its influence, and its gospel? How would he interpret the closure of thousands of churches per year? What he have to say about the mega church movement and the dismantling of the community church?

Well, it turns out that when grandpa turned 40 the country around him was in chaos. In fact 1968 was one of the most turbulent years in American History! While Laugh-in dominated the television ratings and people were still tuning into Bonanza, the news was filled with massacres in Viet Nam as the Tet Offensive went into full force. The photographed execution of a bound Viet Cong officer in the streets of Saigon would not only win the Pulitzer Prize, but greatly influence the country and sway public opinion against the war. Protests and clashes with police became common place on the evening news, anchored on CBS by the legendary Walter Kronkite. The Civil Rights Movement reached its apex and the Civil Rights Act was signed into law. In the same year both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated, Saddam Hussein became Vice Chairman of the Revolutionary Council in Iraq after the government was toppled, and the Zodiac killer took two more lives. In the midst of all of this Apollo 8 orbited the moon on Christmas Eve as the astronauts read from Genesis chapter one on national TV. The Summer and Winter Olympics were both held that year, and in Mexico City two medal winning athletes raised their fists at the podium in solidarity with the Black Panther movement when the national anthem played. Hey, Jude by the Beatles was the number one song and 2001: A Space Odyssey was the number one film. President Johnson did not seek another term in office, Nixon was elected, and the United States congress repealed the Gold Standard.

On the Christian front it was the era of Billy Graham crusades, and the late sixties would see the burgeoning of the Jesus Movement and churches across the country would experience growth. At the same time however, the influence of the Church would markedly decline as seen in the removal of school prayer in public schools in 1962, the sudden commercialization of R-rated films in 1967-68, and of course, the infamous Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in 1973. As churches increased in membership numbers, and with the dawn of the mega church on the horizon, the actual conduct of Christians quickly began to mimic the world around them rather than influence it. This is better observed in hindsight, and yet it still provides a meaningful window into the spiritual state of the time.

The point is that much of what we face today, both socially, politically, and spiritually is not so different than what Jerry Osborne faced back in 1968. If you want to know how he would react to the headlines today, just see how he reacted to similar news back in the sixties: “My blood boils as I see what the murderous, God-denying, Christ-hating, home-wrecking [liberals] are doing to my country. Can you see it? Or are you duped like so many?... Yes, America is very needy. Foremost, to return to the God and Saviour of our Fathers."

I think I can rightly speculate that Pastor Jerry Osborne would encourage every Christian today to fall down on their faces before almighty God and repent of their sins, actively support their churches, and consciously uphold the glorious standard of Christ in their lives, whether at home, at church, or at work. 

Political corruption is nothing new, so Jerry Osborne would still say pray for America! He was not interested in making His church into a political action committee, but he strongly and fervently preached that Christians should make their presence known in this country at the ballot box and even in office if they should be elected.

Churches compromising the gospel for the sake of popularity is an old problem, and Pastor Jerry Osborne would preach that we must stand firm for the truth of Jesus Christ and the word of God whether or not it is popular, and all the more as the Enemy advances upon the kingdom of God. We have the sure promise of our Lord that the gates of hell shall not prevail against us, but we are called nonetheless to be "stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord" and to "fight the good fight of faith"!

Pastor Jerry Osborne ministered at a time of turmoil and upheaval in our country back in 1968. He was contending with many of the same political and moral issues that we yet are confronted with today. Grandpa preached the timeless message of the eternal gospel, which is why his message would need no updates, alterations, or amendments today. His words would ring as true as ever because they were founded upon the unchanging word of God. Jesus, his Master, is the same yesterday, today, and forever! May we take a lesson from Pastor Jerry Osborne, and commit ourselves ever more to seeking first the kingdom of God no matter what comes our way. 

        Can you still hear him? "It takes three to thrive: Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. Make sure you are in church and serving the Lord, for there's no business like soul business!"

In : Meditations 



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