Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Incipit

Autumn tree in my backyard.

The following is my ongoing list of all the things that can happen at Starbucks.

If You Go To Starbucks Often Enough…

  • Your clothes will begin to reek of coffee.
  • You will see young men with Apple laptop computers programming smart phone apps.
  • Ladies will sell each other Mary Kay cosmetics.
  • The homeless will be there.
  • Some of the homeless will bring their own laptop computers.
  • There will be occasional prayer meetings.
  • College students will study for their tests.
  • A genuine lunatic will sit down and talk with you. You won't understand anything he says.
  • You will eventually buy a Starbucks coffee cup.
  • The decor will change at least once.
  • A young man with a book by Dale Carnegie will sit next to you, smile, and compliment your Life is Good™ bill hat.
  • People will play Scrabble.
  • You will hear one of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos.
  • Someone will walk in who is wearing outrageous bell-bottom pants.
  • Someone will walk in who has on a leash a Great Dane.
  • There will a fussy baby crying.
  • You might be MouseJacked and not know it.
  • You will see someone who looks just like Obi-wan Kenobi. Of course, he will be using an Apple computer.
  • Someone will come in, use the restroom, and leave without buying anything.
  • There will be someone who habitually gives advice to other customers about using their computers.
  • A famous celebrity will walk in.
  • Two moms will come in pushing enormous baby strollers.
  • Sure enough, you will see a dude who's wearing his pants so low his underware is showing.
  • Somebody will talk so loud on his cell phone that you can hear every word he is saying
  • You will see a tanned, short, skinny man wearing a muscle shirt who has a filter cigarette tucked on his right ear.
  • A lady will be doing needlepoint.
  • You will encounter someone dressed like a 19th Century mountain man
  • A young man, dressed in a spiffy suit and tie, wearing black horned-rimmed glasses and a very serious look on his face, will be diligently and intently doing something with his Apple computer.
  • Eventually the baristas will remember your name.
  • A old guy who looks like a department store Santa Claus (but without the red costume) will be there, talking yakkity-yak non-stop to someone, who can't get a word in edgewise.
  • You will be next to a table where a young man and lady are talking. He will look exactly like the character Wesley from the movie "The Princess Bride." I mean exactly.
  • You will encounter someone who is severely oppressed by a spirit, as if something had put the poor man's mind through a paper shredder. Very sad condition.
  • After a time, you will achieve enlightenment. And then you will understand why 95% of everything on the Internet is complete rubbish.
  • You will see Hutterite ladies who are in town to do some shopping.
  • You finally will understand that blogging is a pretty useless hobby and that the only way to succeed at it is to be the last man standing.
  • A mother will be discreetly breast feeding her child.
  • A young man will stand by the counter waiting for his drink. He will be wearing a lanyard and a very brightly colored tie-dyed tee shirt having a spiral pattern. On his feet, he will have on a pair of slippers that are shaped like the head of a moose, with little white horns and big eyes. I kid you not.
  • People will be playing chess.
  • And people will be getting tattoos, yes, right there in Starbucks. Can you believe it?
  • A young lady will be there wearing high, bright yellow wading boots while working on her laptop.
  • A young lady, with her hair dyed magenta and an enormous, swirly tattoo on her left arm, will be giving another lady a reading using tarot cards.
  • You will see little putti with spine shingle haircuts flying just above the customers, assuming, of course, that you had added Psilocybin mushroom powder to your strawberry smoothie protein drink.
  • You will sip a grande cold brew, with added coconut milk, in the penumbra of a solar eclipse.
  • You will talk with a lady in her 70s from Alaska who said she was once seriously ill in a hospital, died, had an out-of-body experience (OBE), and came back to this life.
  • You will see a lady sitting at a table and drinking her Starbuck's beverage from a large beer stein.
  • People will bring take-out pizza and eat it there in Starbucks.

Speaking of Starbucks, you will appreciate the humor in these 1st & Main cartoons.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Mother's Day Part 1

I would like to present here John Wimber's own account of the famous Mother's Day revival which happened on May 11, 1980. I will also comment on some of the reasons why these two accounts differ from each other, and how they compare with Lonnie Frisbee's own recollections which he presented in the second book of his autobiography.

Account #1


Here is John Wimber's recollection as it appeared on pages 23 through 26 of his book "Power Evangelism" (1986, Harper & Row).
The first time I experienced a power encounter similar to the one described at Pentecost, I became extremely irritated and angry at God. It was Mother's Day 1979, and I had invited a young man to speak at the evening service of the church at which I had only recently become pastor, what would later become the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Anaheim, California. His background was the California "Jesus People" movement of the late sixties and early seventies and, so I heard, he was unpredictable when he spoke. I was apprehensive about him, but I sensed God wanted him to speak nevertheless. He had been used by God to lead Christians into a refreshing experience of the Holy Spirit, and it was obvious to me that the congregation needed spiritual renewal. I hasten to point out that asking this young man to speak went contrary to my normal instincts as a pastor. I take seriously the admonition that pastors are to protect their flocks, but in this instance I sensed it was what God wanted. Regardless, I was to stand by the decision, whatever the cost.

When he eagerly agreed to speak, I became even more apprehensive. What will he say? What will he do to my church? The Lord gently reminded me, "Whose church is this?"

That evening he gave his testimony, a powerful story of God's grace. As he spoke, I relaxed. Nothing strange here, I thought. Then he did something that I had never seen done in a church gathering. He finished his talk and said, "Well, that's my testimony. Now the church has been offending the Holy Spirit a long time and it is quenched. So we are going to invite it to come and minister." We all waited. The air became thick with anticipation — and anxiety.

Then he said, "Holy Spirit, come." And he did!

(I must remind you that we were not a "Pentecostal" church with experience or understanding of the sorts of things that began to happen. What happened could not have been learned behavior.)

People fell to the floor. Others, who did not believe in tongues, loudly spoke in tongues. The speaker roamed among the crowd, praying for people, who then immediately fell over with the Holy Spirit resting on them.

I was aghast! All I could think throughout the experience was "Oh, God, get me out of here." In the aftermath, we lost church members and my staff was extremely upset. That night I could not sleep. Instead, I spent the evening reading Scripture, looking for the verse, "Holy spirit, come." I never found it.

By 4:30 that morning I was more upset than I was earlier at the meeting. Then I remembered that I had read in The Journal of John Wesley about something like this happening. I went out to my garage and found a box of books about revivals and revivalists and began to read them. What I discovered was that our experience at the church service was not unique; people like John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, Charles Finney, and Jonathan Edwards all had similar experiences in their ministries. By 6:00 I had found at least ten examples of similar phenomena in church history. [John quotes an example from Wesley's journal regarding a gathering that occurred on May 24, 1738 at "Fetter Lane with about 60 of our brethren."]

Then I asked God for assurance that this was from him, that this was something he — not humans or Satan — was doing. Just after praying this prayer, the phone rang. Tom Stipe, a Denver, Colorado, pastor and good friend, called. I told him what had happened that night before, and he responded that it was from God. "That's exactly what happened in the early days of the Jesus People revival. Many people were saved." That conversation was significant, because Tom was a credible witness. I had only heard about these things; Tom had lived through them.

Over the next few months, supernatural phenomena continued to occur, frequently uninvited and without and any encouragement, spontaneously. New life came into our church. All who were touched by and who yielded to the Holy Spirit — whether they fell over, started shaking, became very quiet and still, or spoke in tongues — accepted the experience and thought it was wonderful, drawing them closer to God. More importantly, prayer, Scripture reading, caring for others, and the love of God all increased.

Our young people went out into the community, looking for people to evangelize and pray over. An event that I heard about is a good illustration of what often happened. One day a group of our young people approached a stranger in a parking lot. Soon they were praying over him, and he fell to the ground. By the time he got up, the stranger was converted. He is now a member of our church.

A revival began that May, and by September we had baptized over seven hundred new converts. There may have been as many as seventeen hundred new coverts during a three-and-a-half-month period. I was an expert on church growth, but I had never seen evangelism like that.

Power encounters in the church, in this case without regard for "civilized propriety," catapulted us into all-out revival. What I had thought of as "order" in the twentieth-century church evidently was not the same as what Christian experienced in the New Testament church.

Account #2


Here is John Wimber's account that he gave in a lecture at the 1984 Signs & Wonders Conference, which took place in Anaheim, California. I have transcribed it from a video recording that is still available on YouTube, and in the process I have discovered that transcribing a lecture is pretty difficult to do, even when the audio quality is fairly good. Given the fact that John was often talking very rapidly, there are a few spots where I haven't been able to completely make out what he said. These places are marked below by the word "unclear" in brackets. Also, the reader will note that John uses the interjection "you know" quite frequently. I think this is because he was speaking very excitedly and was rather caught up in his recollection of what happened that day.
The first time the Lord Jesus Christ sent His Spirit in great power among us, I was fit to be tied for days. I was so angry. I was so upset. I wanted to get out of the ministry. I said, "No way am I going to put up … Why that's absurd! — what God did."

Of course, I wasn't absolutely sure it was God, but even after I was convinced it was God, I had difficulty with it, but I want you to know that.

When God began moving among us on this particular night, we were having a church service. And in fact, on that Sunday afternoon, I was coming out of a church service … and it was Mother's Day, of all things, Mother's Day! You'd think it would be safe at church on Mother's Day. I am walking out of the church, and God says to me, "Tell that young man to preach tonight." Well, I am not in the habit of just telling any old young man to preach in my church, and particularly that young man, because I heard he was a little strange. And I said, "Lord, do you want me to have him preach?" And the Lord said very clearly to me, "Yes!"

So I went up to him and I say, "Lonnie — would you like to preach tonight at my church." And he says, "Oh, yeah! I have been waiting for this chance." And I go, "Oh, no." I'm telling you, I died a thousand deaths all afternoon. All afternoon, I'm agonizing, you know. "God, you got me into it again. You got me into a mess. He's going to mess my church up." And the Lord said, "When did it become your church?". I said, "Oh, that's right, that's right, ah huh, ah huh."

So I went to church that night, and I, ah, ha … we worshiped extra long. I found a lot of announcements that needed to be made. But I … As long as I stress it was still time, because he's sitting there all bright and looked like a kid at his birthday party. And I'm thinking, ah, you know, he looks harmless enough. "All right, come on up." So he comes up, and he starts speaking, and I sit down over at the side.

And I am listening to him, and he's great! You know, what was I worried about? Lonnie was giving his testimony. [unclear] … Time to weep a little bit, He'd salute a couple of times, and he'd tell you some great verses. And you're laughing. We're having a wonderful time. And I think, "Wow! what was I worried about? This is great!" You know, God did so good. And then he did the weirdest thing I've ever even heard of. He's going good and then he stops. "Well, that's it," he says, "You know the Church has been offending the Holy Spirit a long time, I tell you. He's quenched, but He's getting over it. And we're going to invite Him to come and minister now. Come, Holy Spirit."

And whammo! The Spirit of God comes! And people start falling … but first of all, he says, "everybody 25 years and under come forward." Well, in our church that's everybody, you know! You know, they're all coming up there. There's hundreds up there all crowded around the stage. And he says "Come, Holy Spirit," and the next thing I know, people are falling and bouncing. And they're laying on the floor, and they're talking like turkeys now, yoola-yoola-yoola-yoola. The one kid he falls, ha … the one kid he falls, and the microphone falls with him. It's laying right by his face. And he's speaking in tongues, you know, yoola-yoola-yoola-yoola. I am not talking about two minutes. I am talking about forty-five minutes he's talking to that microphone. And we're wading through bodies trying to get a hold of him. And we can't get the microphone off. And we can't get to him.

And Lonnie is going like a banshee, running through the crowd and raising his hands. And I am thinking, he's pushing people over; he's knocking them down. But he's not even touching them. He's walking by them, and they're going wham, wham, you know. They're falling everywhere. And I am thinking, "Oh, God, oh, God, oh, God, oh, God. Get me out of here!" And people are grabbing their bibles — "Not me." And they're going out the door. Some of them I never have seen. That was four years ago, you know. And they went out the door.

I want to tell you something. When it finally stopped … Whew, when it finally stopped, then did I get it, you know. I tell you all the staff was upset. I didn't tell you the half of it. [unclear] He can tell you the whole story. Everybody was pretty upset.

I went home. I tried to be civilized and polite — "Thank you very much." So I get home, you know, and I try to go to sleep, and I can't sleep, and I get up. [Opening Bible] I go Genesis through Revelation, you know. And I am looking for "Holy Spirit, come," You know. Wham! Wham! you know. yoola-yoola-yoola-yoola. It's not in the book, man! It's not … I'm obsessed, man! And you know, it's now 4:30 in the morning! And I … I did find a few verses where people fell down. That helped a little bit. Whew. But I couldn't find any standard verse just like that, and so I am just sitting there and thinking, "Oh, God, you gotta do something for me. You know, ah, this is terrible what's happened to me. You gotta do something for me."

Then suddenly, it connected that I remember reading something in the Journal of Wesley where something like this had happened. And so I went out in my garage, and I had a big box of books on revivalists in different times — you know, revival history as well as revivalists. And I got them out and brought them in the house, and I started. And sure enough, some things like that happened with Whitefield. Some things like that happened with Wesley. I found it in the Cane Ridge revival. Then I began going back and forth through church history. And about six o'clock in the morning, I found at least ten different times when this kind of phenomena had occurred, not exactly — not "Holy Spirit, come," wham, but things like that, you know. Things were people showed up and people fell. This sort of thing. So I was feeling a little bit better.

Now it's six o'clock in the morning, and I'm saying, "God, if this is you, I gotta have some assurance. I gotta know, is this you? Is this something you're doing or not?" Just then, the phone rings. And it's my friend Tommy Stipes from Denver. Now Tommy just wasn't in the habit of calling me all that often in those days. But he would call me every couple of months, or I would call him.
[Tommy] "Hey, hey, what's going on, man? What's happening? Did you have a good day at the church?"

[John] "Oh Tom, let me tell you about it, man. You know. This guy Lonnie …"

[Tommy] "Oh, Lonnie! I know Lonnie. Yeah, he used to be … Oh, yeah, I remember him. Wham! right?"

[John] "Yeah, ah huh."
I go, "look, man, this is what he did to me. He gave his talk a little while and said 'Holy Spirit, come,' and people fell down. And people left my church. My staff is mad at me. I'm not sure what's going on. My wife is happy as anything. She likes it all."

And he says, "It's the Lord."

I said, "It's the Lord?"

[Tommy] "Yes, it's the Lord. That's exactly what happened in the early days of the Jesus Movement" — the same kind of power, the same kind of manifestations.

In fact, as we talked, the Spirit of God began gripping his heart, and he began repenting of some hardness that he had toward just this kind of phenomena, because he had sort of grown away from it and become too sophisticated.

And so I got a great deal of assurance because God had given me a witness. A credible witness had called, someone who had been there, someone who had seen it from the inside out. I had only heard about it. I lived there in the community, but I wasn't aware of the totality of the Jesus People movement until much stuff of the movement had already been declining. I'll cover the movement in another study. Ah, the Jesus People movement is over. It's a new day now. And God has given us some new things.

You know, I recognized in that communication that I was in for an interesting time. But over the next few weeks and months, the phenomena continued to occur, often unrehearsed, often without any kind of leading from us. It just happened that way. Our young people began roaming the community in packs. We would see them sometimes in parking lots, and in front of houses, raising their hands and praying for people, and wham they would go. That was in May. By September, we had baptized over seven hundred new converts. Evangelism was occurring everywhere. Those were the ones we baptized. The best we can figure there may have been as many as seventeen hundred new converts in that three-and-a-half month period. But the ones that we baptized, the ones that came to us, that became involved in our fellowship, was approximately seven hundred. God was on the move. I have never seen evangelism like that. I have never known there was that kind of power. The problem was I didn't have any grid to sort it with. Nothing I've ever been taught in my educational background helped me to understand "Holy Spirit, come, Whammo!" and how that related to evangelism — how power and power signs and power activities could bring about conversion in the lives of individuals.

But as I, ah, began dialoguing with people — now keep in mind I grew up in training as a sociologist and so I am used to measuring phenomena, and, ah, looking at things from that perspective — and as I began dialoguing with various people that were visiting, and, ah, that had been ministered during that period of time, I found that there was a commonality: That regardless of what the phenomena was — whether they were slain in the Spirit, or resting in the Spirit, or fell and shook, or stood and shook, or sat and shook, or whether they shook violently or mildly, or whether they had an experience that was somewhat catatonic, or whether they had some other kind of experience — there was a commonality without exception in the experience. No one I ever talked to that had had an experience was sorry. They all uniformly responded with: "It was wonderful," "I feel closer to God as a result of it," "I love the Lord more as a result of it," "I am reading the Bible more now," "I'm praying more now," "I'm sharing more now," "I'm more involved with the church and I'm more in love with the Lord than I have ever been as a result of that experience."

Now I don't know how those experiences brings that kind of results. All I know is recorded from the reverse out. That's what they all said. And so I have difficulty at this point in my life resisting that kind of phenomena, when I see the results in the lives of individuals.

Since the above quotations are fairly lengthy, I will hold off until Part 2 to give my comment about some of the variation between these two accounts given about the Mother's Day revival. Also, I will comment on how the above accounts compare with Lonnie's recollection of the same even as given in the second book of his autobiography. But for now, the accounts are here, side by side, so they can be compared.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Epistles to Lonnie Frisbee

Letter #3


Seraph Postal - Forever
Dear Lonnie,

I received your letter this morning, a bright and sunny day. It came in my mailbox with my other mail, mostly bills, junk mail asking me to buy gold IRAs, supplemental Medicare insurance, and political opinion polling questionnaires. While I was at my mail box, I noticed that your letter stood out in the bunch because it had the Seraph Postal stamp. The envelope also appeared to be made from something like very high quality linen-rag paper, or maybe like papyrus. It wasn't until I took my mail indoors, out of the bright sunlight, that I noticed your letter also glows in the dark. It was brightly phosphorescent in fact. I also noticed that the ink appeared to be golden. So in more ways than one, your letter was very interesting. I suppose that mail sent from Heaven to Earth via the Seraphic Mail Service follows a different protocol, since your letter doesn't appear to be written on vellum, which is what I am required to use to send from Earth to Heaven.

First of all, thank you for putting in a word about Roger Sachs. I imagine that he will be very surprised to get an "angelic visitation" soon from a couple of Heaven's stranger looking angels, who have multiple eyes and wings, with all sorts of burning fire and awesomeness. That will shake him up. I can just imagine it now. Roger is sleeping in bed and wakes up to see the ceiling above him open up, letting in a blinding light from Heaven. He then hears a very loud noise, like a jet engine — or rather like what Ezekiel the prophet experienced when he saw the holy tetramorphs of the Merkabah and heard the deafening roar of their wheels-within-wheels — as the angels descend down into Roger's bedroom and are standing at the foot of his bed, with lots of little multicolored orbs rapidly flying around the place. They are looking at him with a multitude of glowing eyes and sternly say "Roger, thou sluggard, hearken and take heed!" Next they tell him to stop delaying and publish Lonnie's third book immediately, right away, and now — no ifs ands or buts. Of course, Roger will be scared spitless by the sight of these terrifying heavenly beings and promise to publish the third book posthaste. The angels finally blast upwards out of Roger's bedroom and the ceiling closes behind them.

If nothing else, this will prove that they have a big sense of humor in Heaven. Anyhow, Lonnie, I will try to tackle your questions that you asked me, but I am not sure how I am qualified to answer them. I will try to give you my perspective, which is very limited one.

You asked me how your old friend and protégé Greg Laurie was doing. Well, he is doing great, by all appearances. However, I can't say that I ever got to know Greg personally, even though I went to his church for about 15 years. The opportunity just never materialized. Maybe I just didn't try hard enough. He always seemed kind of "busy." In all the festivities up there, Lonnie, did you ever bump into Greg's son Christopher? He might be a good person to ask, and he can tell you much more about Greg than I can. Greg is now starting to show his age, very bald and a bit on the leathery handsome side. I guess the leathery appearance comes from going surfing out in the sun a lot. He lives in a gated community down in Newport Beach, so he's not far from the ocean. Greg is also a smart dresser, very photogenic, and always looks very cool. It's enough to cause me or anybody to have a man-crush on him. He has always been a good communicator, but the one thing I have noticed is that his voice is beginning to sound a little more "raspy" than how I remembered it when he was younger. I think the mellowing of advancing years causes this.

The second book of your autobiography did an excellent job of setting the record straight about how Greg's church actually was started. Fred and Ruth Waugh were the ones behind the scenes who got the show rolling in Riverside. They gave a great testimony about this. Not very many people know about Fred and Ruth or what they did to support you in your ministry afterwards. They shouldn't be forgotten, Lonnie, and it's good that you mentioned them. I am sure you still remember coming up from beautiful Orange county and starting to preach to the kids that gathered there at All Saints episcopal church in Riverside. I especially want to thank you for this, Lonnie, because it was your preaching at All Saints that won my wife over to Christ. The Waughs were also kind to her. As you already know, the Riverside baton later got passed to Greg Laurie, and eventually the church moved to its current location and headquarters on Arlington Avenue. Somewhere along the line its name was changed from "Calvary Chapel of Riverside" to "Harvest Christian Fellowship." Now it is just "Harvest."

Since that time, Greg's Harvest has grown into a huge megachurch, with over 15,000 members, that has seven different campuses, one of which is located in Maui. You can go to any one of them and watch Greg preaching on a big screen simulcasted. Greg is also Billy Graham's de facto successor and does the mass evangelism thing in big stadiums in a magnificent way all over the country. (Billy is now retired, very old, and any day now will be arriving up there where you are, Lonnie, so be sure to give him a big welcome.) Greg is also a major author with dozens and dozens of books to his credit. Who could have foreseen this? I would very much love to be Greg's ghostwriter or editor. Everything about Greg bespeaks enormous success and celebrityhood, in a good way. He rubs shoulders with some of the famous politicians as well. Yes, Lonnie, it amazes me how things have changed over the years because I can remember how things were back when Harvest started and Greg still had hair.

The latest news is that Greg has joined the Southern Baptist Convention. Some people were surprised by this recent announcement because they thought that Harvest was a "charismatic" church, and Southern Baptists are anything but. (I know what I am talking about because I started out as a Southern Baptist; that's where I was baptized.) Well, Lonnie, people shouldn't have been surprised at Greg's recent move, nor should you be surprised. I am not surprised at all. Yes, it was charismatic at one time, many years ago when it first started, but Harvest later became, what I call, strictly pro forma charismatic — in name only. As I recollect, this trend picked up speed after the elderly pastor Keith Ritter left. First, the charismatic stuff, such as speaking in new tongues and prophecy, was relegated to a backroom, out of sight. Next, the stuff gradually got shoved out the back window. Finally, as best as I can describe it, things went through a process of "rationalistic redefinition," in effect where the numinous baby gets tossed out with the bathwater. So now if you were to ask him about these things, Greg will say that "nothing has changed," and I think he would be in his mind quite sincere about this. The terms might be much the same, but the meanings have shifted. However, the proof is in the pudding, Lonnie, so don't expect to see anyone in the Harvest congregation actually operating in prophecy, tongues, words of knowledge, casting out demons, healing the sick, miracles — you know, the kind of supernatural, Kingdom stuff you used to do. Remember?

Well, I remember, which is why I am a little sad at how things developed. Since Greg generally goes around through the Bible, expounding it over the course of time, he'll get to the parts that mention the "stuff." I keenly recollect the last time I heard him deal with this topic from the pulpit. Greg spent so much time expostulating upon the possible "abuses" and all the resulting dreadful horrors that, by the time he was finished with the subject, nobody in the congregation would ever want to touch the stuff again with a ten-foot barge pole. I could hardly blame them — for getting the impression that using the spiritual gifts was like playing catch with bottles of warm nitroglycerin. Though people's skulls are getting stuffed there with plenty of good Bible knowledge, the bottom line, Lonnie, is that the charismatic stuff has effectively ceased to function at Harvest in any practical or meaningful way. We can be big and successful without needing the stuff, in other words. That's why I call Harvest "functionally cessationist," in contrast to the more absolutist cessationism as taught by guys like Warfield or MacAuthor.

Anyhow, Lonnie, what I am trying to say is that the Southern Baptists have nothing to fear and everything to gain from Greg Laurie, and that Greg Laurie didn't have to suddenly change anything in order to become a good Southern Baptist. He had already arrived at that port for a long time now, and he will fit in quite well with little problem. I would warn him, however, that Southern Baptists can be a bit ornery sometimes, and he might be in for some criticisms from the younger, more hot-headed, neo-calvinist Baptists out there, who rather dislike the idea of mass evangelism. So expect occasional flack. But Greg's motives for jumping aboard the Baptist ship are understandable to me. On one level, it was a very smart business move on his part. He can now elicit more cooperation and support from the numerous Baptist churches out there when he is doing his Harvest Crusades in different parts of the country. This will allow him to expand his operations. I wouldn't be terribly surprised if other CC pastors decide to jump ship as well and join up with the Southern Baptists along with Greg.

Oh, by the way, Greg hasn't said anything about the silly "split" I told you about in my earlier letter. So far, the last I checked, Harvest is listed in both the CGN and CCA "church finder" databases. I guess Greg has decided that it's best to play the mugwump for now and sit on both sides of the fence. This might be the best policy.

Unfortunately, I am now running out of vellum and don't have enough room left to tackle fully your other questions — I am a little amazed that you are asking me. But several of my ewes are pregnant again, and so I expect to have some more lambskin soon for processing into vellum. I tell you, Lonnie, I really hate slaughtering these poor little lambs, but protocols are protocols, and the Seraphic Mail Service will accept no artificial substitutes. I have had to take up Greek style cooking and am eating a lot of lamb gyros nowadays. I will try to write as soon as I can. Let it suffice for now to say that Greg would not be enthused about inviting you to preach a service at Harvest, if you were still here today somehow. As John Wimber once wrote about you, "he was unpredictable when he spoke," which was a deadpan understatement if there ever was one. Pastors by and large don't like unpredictable. I don't think Greg does either. And you must admit, Lonnie, that God did some pretty unpredictable stuff when you were here ministering.

Sincerely yours,
Sad and Disappointed

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Epistles to Lonnie Frisbee

Letter #2


Seraph Postal - Forever
Dear Lonnie,

This is my second letter, and I would like to share some recent news about a territory that's familiar to you. Before I do, however, please give Chuck Smith and John Wimber a big hug for me. I am sure you guys are having a great time there in Heaven.

Well, anyhow, a kerfuffle has arisen not long ago about a "split" in Calvary Chapel. Brian Brodersen, the senior pastor at the venerable Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, gathered up his gumption, quit the CCA (Calvary Chapel Association), walked out, and started a new outfit of his own, called the Calvary Global Network (CGN). There has been a lot of undue consternation because of this turn of events. About 95% of what is said on the Internet about it is complete rubbish. I decided to add to the mess and share with you a few of my observations regarding this situation.

I guess those who forget their history are doomed to being surprised when it repeats itself. No one should have been surprised at what has happened. Schisms in Calvary Chapel are really nothing new. As anyone can recall (who's old enough), back in the early 1980s, Chuck Smith kicked out John Wimber, his CC of Yorba Linda, and a bunch of other CCs because — when you boil it all down — papa Chuck just didn't like the idea that somebody somewhere was getting excited or maybe "speaking in new tongues" right out in the open for everyone to see. And as you pointed out in the second book of your autobiography, you were right there in the middle of things when this unfortunate schism occurred, starting with your famous "Mother's Day" service all the way to when Chuck finally lowered the boom on what you had catalyzed. You also said that "as much as I love Chuck, it was not pretty." As you well know, the CCs that got the boot decided to conglomerate together with Kenn Gulliksen's churches, and under John Wimber's leadership, they became what is known today as the Vineyard USA. You would probably agree that the schism that happened back then was a sorry affair and very regrettable in many ways. I imagine that both Chuck and John now realize that they actually needed each other. Chuck needed John, and John needed Chuck. Tacos and hamburgers can do good when combined together, even if it doesn't appear that way at first. Nevertheless, I think this more recent "split" is pretty mild in comparison.

As you probably have heard from Chuck, he picked his son-in-law Brian Brodersen to be his successor at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa. The extensive assets there are now under Brian's control and supervision. I am sure that Chuck knew Brian better than most and knew exactly what he was doing when he entrusted everything to him. And in a court of law, all that matters is what documents have Chuck's signature on them, and I am sure that Brian is all fair and square on this point as well. Case closed. And just like papa Chuck years ago quit the Foursquare denomination, Brian has decided to quit the CCA. Now If Brian wants to use his "Moses Model" prerogatives and to go out and start a club of his own, then there is nothing to stop him, and he has complete freedom to do so, every bit as much as papa Chuck had. Other pastors can join Brian's new club or stay in the old club, or both, whichever they choose.

If you remember those old church bulletins, Lonnie, they stated that Calvary Chapel is "not a denomination." This is the solemn truth, and I think that you would completely agree. The "Calvary Chapel movement" never has been and never will be a denomination. That is how Chuck wanted things. The CCA was never meant to be a unitary ecclesial government. Nor is the Brian's newer CGN for that matter. Each one is a "club for pastors." The CCA club was started by Chuck, when he was still here, to replace the earlier, now defunct, problematic CCOF (Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship), mainly because of legal issues that Chuck very much wanted to avoid. The CCA became a vehicle for Chuck to exert a wide, irenic influence without incurring any liabilities, or getting hit with lawsuits if someone misbehaved. And if there is anything that can be said about the church in Costa Mesa, it was successful, passing beyond even Chuck's wildest dreams — your autobiography shows the pivotal role that you had in all this. Being in the club provides the club members an attractive "brand name" cachet associated with it, and everybody wants to imitate success.

Clubs come and go. And I cannot think of a better term to describe how things actually operate. Each club provides a framework so that "like-minded" pastors can "affiliate" and get together and attend conferences, where they can hobnob and chew the fat, compare notes, swap sermons, and hang out with big name celebrity pastors. Well, Chuck has gone to Glory now, but he was the glue that made it all stick together and the motor oil that kept the CC gears turning smoothly. When you have gathered together a bunch of stout personalities who all believe that they are each the typological equivalent of Moses, eventually there is going to be some friction and a few sparks, especially now that the oil is gone. Lonnie, I don't think anybody should be surprised by this outcome. Most of the time the club members get along, and sometimes they don't. And if people no longer like the club they are in, sometimes they go out and start clubs of their own. This is precisely what pastor Brodersen has decided to do, as I have said earlier.

Nevertheless, I think it is very sad that Brian Brodersen and the CCA could not have worked out some sort of modus operandi for peaceful co-existence. Their differences seem trivial to me. Having a "Calvary Chapel Association" minus the eponymous Calvary Chapel that started everything looks pretty silly. But these guys aren't taking my advice, Lonnie, so I don't bother trying to give it. I don't think they would take your advice either if you were still here. But one thing is certain: there are no schisms up there in Heaven.

In any case, the people in the various CC congregations should not worry, because there was really nothing substantial to split. Each CC church is already completely and totally independent of the others. Absolutely nothing changed about this. Each CC senior pastor is a little version of "Moses" as far as the congregation is concerned. He calls the shots and is not "accountable" to the CCA or CGN or any other outside organization. Therefore, how a particular CC church operates is already determined by the character and methodology of the individual pastor. And I will wager dollars to donuts that, as far as the laity are concerned, it won't make ten cents worth of difference which club the pastor joins. Besides, as you well know, Lonnie, the people in the CC congregations don't have a vote about the matter anyhow.

I daresay that things at the local level will be business as usual. So everybody should just relax. The preaching at a particular CC will continue to be just as good or as mediocre it was before. The quality of the worship music will continue to fall somewhere in a spectrum that ranges from the downright dreadful to the just barely bearable, just like it did before. Nothing will really change. The most that will happen is that the church will get listed or delisted in somebody's "church locator" database. The pastor might get invited to attend a conference over here in this place as opposed to over there in that place. In fact, if he doesn't do anything, his church will end up being grandfathered into both databases. And the pastor's email box will fill up with invitations from both places. The congregations shouldn't fret themselves about this.

Unfortunately, many people believe the nonsense — which gets re-posted on their Facebook pages — coming from the "online discernment ministry" (ODM) bloggers out there on the Internet who are busy pontificating about this matter. The ODMs are mostly crackpots who suffer from special mental tics all very their own. You know this from the rotten treatment they've given you over the years. They're already making it out that Brian is some kind of apostate too. It's the Internet, Lonnie, so not much can be done about this. I try to tell people to ignore this stuff.

Anyhow, Lonnie, I have run low on vellum, but I thought I would share this bit of news with you. Please let Chuck and John know what's going on. I imagine that they would want to pray about the situation. In the end, everything will shake out. I will be writing you again soon, for I still have some Seraphic Postal stamps left. Unfortunately, I have to slaughter another sheep to make some more vellum.

Sincerely yours,
Troubles and Woes on Earth

Monday, October 09, 2017

Epistles to Lonnie Frisbee

Letter #1


Seraph Postal - Forever
Dear Lonnie,

It's been a long time, more than 24 years, since you crossed the Jordan river to the sweet bye-and-bye on that beautiful shore. For us here on Earth, time seems to drag on, slowly grinding and grinding humanity between its millstones. I am sure that 24 years barely seems like a blink of an eye for you now.

Nevertheless, I very much want to apologize for the long delay in writing to you. You see, sending a letter via the Seraphic Mail Service is a very involved process, which requires very strict adherence to protocols. It's taken me many years to finally learn the process and execute it correctly. The holy angels are sticklers for details, and any letter that doesn't meet their exacting standards will be refused delivery to any addressees in the Heavens. All letters must be written on lambskin vellum, and so I had to learn how to raise sheep in order to produce the vellum that is required. That in itself is a long and messy process, for the animal has to be fed a strict diet, must be without blemish, slaughtered, and its hide has to be processed just right. Besides that, I had to learn to make iron gall ink, because that's what you have to use to write on the vellum. The gall itself has to be derived from a specific subspecies of terebinth tree that grows in the vicinity of the Mount of Olives, near Jerusalem. The iron oxide used in the ink has to be dug up from a particular spot near the Hill of Megido (also known as Armageddon). The pen is very specially constructed, having a nib made from a peculiar alloy of gold, osmium, ytterbium, and neodymium. Since at this point I don't have very much vellum and ink for writing this letter to you, I will have to keep things as short as possible. Please bear with me if my words appear to be terse. I don't mean to be harsh. Fortunately, I was able to obtain a good supply of the needed Seraphic Postage stamps.

I want to tell you that I appreciate the chance to read your autobiography, entitled Not by Might Nor by Power. So far I have read the first two parts of it, books one and two. They were fascinating and made me very much regret that I never had the opportunity to meet you personally here on Earth. It is very unfortunate there has been a delay in publishing the final and very important third book, in which you tie everything together. I am at a loss to understand the reasons for this long delay. Your friend and ghostwriter Roger Sachs has never explained why he is dragging things out, in getting your autobiography fully out there for people to read. It is amazing to me that it took almost twenty years for Roger to even publish your first book. Especially now that Roger has more people helping him, you would think that the third, final book would have been published by now. But no. It's still not out yet. I wish somehow I could appeal directly to Roger to please accomplish the finishing of your autobiography, but contacting Roger is a very difficult thing to do. All my attempts have failed. Writing a letter to a departed saint in Heaven is easier in comparison.

I must tell you that I hope that the third book will get published soon, for there are many questions remaining that you have left unanswered. The biggest one is why are you dead, Lonnie? Your passing on to glory occurred at age 43. You must admit this was a youngish age to die, and it appeared untimely or tragic, earthly speaking. Many people have their opinions about this. The Internet propagates and echoes those opinions far and wide, and since everyone believes what the Internet says, everybody assumes that this matter has already been settled. Back in your day, Lonnie, the Internet didn't exist, in all its ferocity. So trust me when I tell you that the Internet is a very hard thing to fight here on Earth. And because your friend Roger delayed things for so long, there had been nothing around to show anyone that you, Lonnie, also had your own opinion about you, Lonnie. To speed up finishing this project, perhaps you can put in a request that Roger gets an "angelic visitation," where a couple of burly angels show up and give him a kick in the butt and a solemn word of exhortation. Maybe that will shake him up, and he will stop procrastinating and finally publish the third book of your autobiography.

Lonnie, the Devil tried to label you all during your ministry, as you have said in your second book. Although he cannot touch you now there up above, people on Earth continue to do this very thing. In fact, the whole labeling business has very much gotten out of hand in today's society, much worse than it was in your day. Everybody gets labeled by being assigned to an "identity group" of some kind, no matter whether you want it or not. This whole operation is very politicized now, with big agendas attached to it, along with complicated rules of "intersectionality" that regulate everything, from where in the hierarchy of victimology you reside to what your utilitarian value will be within the grand social dialectic. Your intrinsic humanity is replaced with a classification label, and the whole meaning of your life is reduced to what collective you have been pigeonholed in. In other words, "Lonnie was XYZ," where "XYZ" is your label, albeit nobody bothered to ask you if you agreed with this or not.

In your case, the XYZ pigeonhole gets utilized on the Internet, broadly speaking, by people in two different ways. One needs you to be an XYZ so you can be used as a poster boy. Then people can point at you and say that you were the poor XYZ guy who was stomped on by some mean old church leaders, and therefore the Church is bad, bad, bad. The other needs you to be an XYZ because this can be used to discredit your ministry and all its results. These will say that Lonnie was an XYZ and therefore of the Devil. And from there it's guilt by association all the way down the stack. Either way, you get shrunk down to being somebody's propaganda weapon, totally without your permission. Unfortunately, even if you came back from the grave (like Lazarus) and loudly declare "you guys are both wrong", they still wouldn't listen to you. For once the "identity" label gets applied, Lonnie, you can't shake it off — with either a crowbar or a blowtorch.

But I think you already understand this whole schtick, so I apologize for going pleonastic on you. It is not the main reason I am writing you. So enough said about this. Besides, I have run out of vellum, in this my first batch. I will need to prepare another batch. Believe me, I don't relish killing and skinning lambs. Although I try to do this as humanely as possible, it's still a yucky business. As soon as I can, I will write you more follow-up letters. It would be good, in the meantime, if your ghostwriter, Roger Sachs, got off his duff and finished publishing your side of the story. Lonnie, is there anything you can do to help speed things up? I know that there is an altar of incense up there, from which the prayers of the saints always ascend like a fragrance before the Holy of Holies. Possibly you can intercede and add a little more incense?

Sincerely yours,
Full of Sorrows.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Vision of America

Heidi Baker's 2016 Vision


Heidi Baker, a missionary who runs an orphanage in Mozambique, had this vision, which was reported back in 2016:
I had a vision in your church and it wasn't what I expected to see…I saw bread lines, soup kitchens, and I saw people wearing beautiful clothing. Their clothing was not worn out. Now in my nation when people are hungry you can tell. I mean they are in shredded rags. They don't have shoes or they have flip flops. Most of them [have] no shoes. They are hungry and they know they are hungry. They come for food, not because they are beggars, but because they are hungry.

I think what Heidi was shown was not meant to be literal. Instead, it shows the severe spiritual poverty that exists in America at this time. The beautiful clothes symbolize the outward appearances of success and prosperity. Many churches run smoothly, businesslike and entrepreneurial, and have slick websites. But the bread lines symbolize the actual unseen state of things, as God sees them. And the situation is truly appalling.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ghost of Pershing Square

The Google Maps camera accidentally captured this eerie apparition that haunts Pershing Square, Los Angeles. He is known in the local folklore as the "topless dead hippie" who walks around Pershing Square, always trying to find the rest of himself. Sometimes he is visible even in broad daylight.