Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Mother's Day Part 2

Here I would like to make several comments about the two accounts that John Wimber gave regarding the famous Mother's Day revival.

The Date

What is very odd about Account #1 is that John Wimber (or his ghost writer) uses 1979 as the date when the event took place. This date is almost certainly wrong. The Mother's Day revival took place in the auditorium of Canyon High School on the evening of May 11th in the year 1980. This high school is located just south of Yorba Linda.

The sermon that Lonnie Frisbee preached on that evening is still available on YouTube. Also, the bulk of it was transcribed and recorded in the second book of his autobiography.

At one point in the sermon, Lonnie states that he is age 31. He apparently was thinking ahead to his 31st birthday that would have been coming up shortly in June, which is a very reasonable assumption to make. Since Lonnie was born in June of 1949, this sets the year to be 1980.

Another item that corroborates this is that Lonnie also alludes to a massive gathering that he had attended a few days earlier in Washington D.C. This was very probably the Washington for Jesus rally that was held on April 29th and 30th in 1980. The second book in Lonnie's autobiography specifically mentions this as well.

Why did John Wimber get the date wrong? We can only guess why. Since account #1 was published years later after the event, it is possible that John simply didn't remember the date correctly. Another possibility is that the ghostwriter who assisted him in writing the book, probably from the notes that John had, somehow had garbled the date. We don't really know that answer, but it is almost certain that 1980 is the correct date.

What Was Said

John Wimber gives two somewhat different accounts of what Lonnie Frisbee said.

In account #1, John has it this way:
"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!
In account #2, John has this, which is slightly different:
"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."
I have listened multiple times to the recording of the Lonnie's Mother's Day sermon. The big problem here is that Lonnie did not say either of these things as John remembered them. Lonnie especially doesn't say anything about the church "offending the Holy Spirit" or that He is "quenched."

At one point Lonnie did say and very excitedly:
Let the power of the Holy Spirit, come!
And in another place he said:
Let the power of the Holy Spirit come on your whole body right now!
This is somewhat close to "Holy Spirit, come" or "Come, Holy Spirit" that John Wimber later recollected and which has been memorialized ever since. But it is odd that John didn't double check with the recording, which certainly must have been available to him, unless the recording was temporarily lost at the time and then recovered afterwards. John must have been going just by his memory of what he heard, but it is easy to see how John remembered it the way he does.

What Was Not Said

Both accounts record John Wimber's acute apprehensiveness and great reluctance about having Lonnie preach. Account #2 probably highlights more of John's emotions at the time about the matter. What is particularly interesting to me here is what was not mentioned by John, which was an earlier dinner meeting between John and Carol Wimber, Lonnie, John Ruttkay, and several other people. This is what Lonnie records about this dinner in the second book of his autobiography (page 126):
When we arrived at the Wimber residence, John was so warm and gracious, and his wife Carol was totally sweet and hospitable. Immediately, I felt very comfortable and, most importantly, I felt the presence of God. I definitely felt a sense of destiny in the air, which heightens all the senses, if you know what I mean. … Several of John Wimber's leaders were also there, including Bob Fulton and Sam Thompson. We joked around with each other, and then they served up some incredible food. It was so much fun hanging out with these guys. They definitely threw the welcome mat, and John Ruttkay enjoyed it as much as I did.

They collectively told me, "Lonnie, we know you've been coming around, and so if you feel led, we want to cut you loose! God is going to open some doors for you here. Let's pick a time for you to share your testimony and see where God takes us."
This presents a much bigger problem in my opinion. In his two accounts, John Wimber completely left out any mention that a very friendly "welcome mat" had earlier been extended to Lonnie. It seems clear, going by the reception that Lonnie received, that John Wimber initially had a very positive attitude about Lonnie ministering at his church, although an exact date had not yet been set when Lonnie would preach.

However, when the morning of Mother's Day arrived, John very reluctantly, and with much worry and agonizing, finally gave the okay for Lonnie to come and preach later that evening. And so it appears that by this time John's attitude towards Lonnie must have undergone a drastic change. The question here is what would have caused John Wimber to become so reluctant?

I would like to propose here a possible explanation for the John's shift in attitude. Sometime after that initial, friendly dinner meeting, John started to have second thoughts and decided he needed to do more research and to ask around. In other words, he needed to do a "background check" on Lonnie Frisbee before letting him preach at Calvary Chapel of Yorba Linda. John probably decided to contact unknown persons at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa and ask for their opinion about Lonnie. This seems very likely and reasonable to me because John would have known that Lonnie Frisbee had been actively employed there for a number of years, with two separate tenures. My guess here is that somebody at Costa Mesa didn't particularly like Lonnie and had given John a very negative opinion about him, particularly in regard to Lonnie's charismatic tendencies. As John describes it, he had heard that Lonnie was "strange" and "unpredictable." My guess is that John heard much worse than this, especially given the way that John describes his deep misgivings in account #2 and his shock afterwards. Furthermore, it should also be remembered that there was an ongoing dispute between Costa Mesa and Lonnie regarding the ownership of a sizable amount of money that Lonnie had raised for his 1978 overseas missionary work. Another possibility is that John also may have contacted someone in the Fort Lauderdale Five because Lonnie had been with them for several years before returning for a second tenure at Costa Mesa. Lonnie doesn't provide much information in his autobiography regarding his time in Florida. But several things there do suggest to me that his departure from Florida was probably not on entirely good terms. Therefore, because of the bad report he had received from these possible sources, John developed grave doubts about whether his inviting Lonnie to preach was such a good idea after all, hence the change in John's attitude. But as John explains in his accounts, he nonetheless felt compelled by God to let Lonnie preach that Mother's Day evening.

The Styles

Finally, why are the narrative styles of the two accounts so different? Account #1 is much more toned down. Account #2 is more vivid and emotional in comparison. I think the reason for this is obvious. Account #1 was published in book form and was intended to reach a wide evangelical audience. Therefore, John needed to present things as blandly as possible so as to reduce the shock for his readers. Account #2 was given to a comparatively more sympathetic audience and probably reflects more closely John's emotional reaction to the events that he experienced, and therefore it is more frank compared with account #1. The Mother's Day revival was a severe shock for John in more ways than one, but it was a very pivotal event — his church was hit with "Whammo!"

Tuesday, November 28, 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 [sic], 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 were 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.
There's an antagonism today against the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. More importantly, there's an antagonism against His personhood, against His presence. And when the presence of God comes into your sanctuary and into your life, you'll find that you have antagonism, that you're frightened and put off, bewildered and upset, perplexed and vexed, against the very God you've been inviting to come for years to move among you.

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.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Epistles to Lonnie Frisbee

Letter #4

Seraph Postal - Forever
Dear Lonnie,

My flock is growing and is doing quite well. Now I have gotten as far as buying an Australian shepherd from a professional dog trainer to help me in managing the herd. Though it cost a lot, this dog is truly a canine genius, I tell you, and he likes me very much. His name is Bimbo. He was named after a character in the old Betty Boop cartoons. The county government also has signed a new contract with me, and so I take my flock of sheep to do weed control in various places in the county. Sheep gobble up weeds very efficiently, and my services saves the country government money. Furthermore, a big pharmaceutical company has signed a contract to buy the lanolin that I produce from the wool I shear, mainly because my flock is a very special breed that produces a high-quality hypoallergenic type of lanolin used in dermatological ointments. So the sheep business has been pretty good to me.

Now that I have another batch of lambskin vellum, I am able to write you and address more of the questions you asked me earlier. It amazes me that you are asking for my perspective on things. I would think that you, John Wimber, and Chuck Smith are much more knowledgeable than me, especially since you all are having a great time there in Glory Land. I feel like anything I can say is just so much gibberish in comparison. Oh, by the way, as a special request, Lonnie, please take time to say hello to my dear mother, who recently arrived there, although I don't think she is acquainted with your earthly ministry. Just tell her that you are an epistolary friend of mine (or pen pal), and I wanted you to say hello for me. Tell her that I miss her.

The most recent news concerns your old friend pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest. He announced he is writing a new book. Here is what Greg said:
I’m writing a new book about the last great American Revival.
The title of the book is "Jesus Revolution."

God’s Spirit was poured out on a crazy generation and it changed the course of history, including mine.
I don't have any other details yet about what Greg's upcoming book will cover. I assume that he is referring to the "Jesus People Movement" that happened back around 1967 to 1972. People have attempted in the past to write general histories about the Jesus People. The most recent book I can think of is God's Forever Family by Larry Eskridge. I read it and this book had a lot of information and a gazillion footnotes and also included plenty about what was happening elsewhere, outside of what was going on in Orange County, California — it even mentioned one of my evangelistic cousins. Of course, you were given some space as well, although I found it a bit odd that Eskridge didn't make more use of what was available in your autobiography. Eskridge's book had an "sociology oriented" style, so he wrote from the vantage point of a high up place of "exalted neutrality," which makes the book more scholarly and acceptable, I suppose, for people in the Areopagus (ask Paul). But as you well know, Lonnie, the Lord Jesus Christ said very insistent and divisive stuff like "whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." This blows away any hope academe might have of continuing to hide out safely in the crevice of neutrality and avoiding the question of where one's loyalty will reside. Ultimately "you gotta serve somebody" as the poet once said, and calling on the mountains and the rocks to "fall on us and hide us" won't help.

Anyhow, getting back to Greg Laurie's book, I am guessing that he will focus pretty much on the territory that he is more familiar with, which is what was happening in Costa Mesa and Riverside way back then. I shall be very interested in reading it once it's published. And since Greg is now a Southern Baptist, it will be revealing to find out what he includes and what he leaves out in his book. Are there things that will be too uncomfortably "charismatic" for him to mention? What will he say about you? How sanitized will Greg's book be, given that he would want to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, Baptists and all? Well, I don't know. I shall have to wait and find out.

By the way, Lonnie, I have included with this letter a small snapshot of what Greg Laurie looked like back in those days, when he still had hair. I am sure it will bring back pleasant memories for you and Chuck. Long ago, as I remember, someone told me that I resembled Greg and that some people had confused me for him. That might have been, but I can testify that now I don't resemble Greg in the slightest. Greg is much more ruggedly handsome now than I am, rather like how Sean Connery or Harrison Ford or Tom Selleck have maintained their masculine good looks while aging like fine wine. I have aged more like sour and curdled milk — the uses for moldy cheese notwithstanding.

Since Greg seems to imply the Jesus Movement was the "last great American Revival", I am guessing that he doesn't think any genuine revivals have happened since that time, which apparently excludes everything that resulted from the Mother's Day event or what John Wimber and you and others accomplished in the aftermath, both in this country and overseas. This might be expected because I remember when I was still at Harvest that not even the name "John Wimber" was mentioned. For a long time, I didn't even know John Wimber existed. Your name wasn't mentioned either as far as I can recollect.

And while I am on the subject of revival, you asked me if a revival could happen today. Hey, Lonnie, that's a trick question, because "all things are possible," as you well know. The real question is does the Church here in America really want a revival? That's much harder to answer, but my guess would be "mostly no" with a few localized exceptions. The actual problem here is that when church leaderhip asks for a "revival," they might get what they're not expecting, because one of the main ingredients of a revival is people and people are vexatious and messy. Therefore, when the Holy Ghost sends a genuine revival, it can get very messy very fast. There's a lot of warfare. Strange things can happen. Tables get overturned. Paradigms get busted. People might hoot and holler and get hurled up or down or sideways. Revival is explosive. And once the glory really gets storming, all the surprises can get a little terrifying, and this can cause a big, raging controversy. You know this, Lonnie, from being in the middle of one yourself.

Therefore, when God sends a revival, fierce opposition arises — many people in the Church are offended by what's happening and start bad-mouthing it, and next they publish long, angry books and blogs talking about "counterfeit revivals" and "strange fire" and "charismania," where they attribute everything to mass hysteria, hypnosis, kundalini, the occult, or the work of the Devil. And if the truth be told, most pastors worry about their reputations, and therefore they do not like the ensuing controversy — and you know by painful experience, Lonnie, that controversy can taint your reputation. Pastors instead prefer smooth sailing, maintaining control, predictability, and things functioning according to plan. I am sure that John and Chuck can testify to this as well.

In other words, God's idea about what constitutes a big revival doesn't always match up with what people were shopping for on Amazon. Furthermore, as a friend of mine once explained to me, if a church has managed to become pretty big and successful, if the people are showing up, then most pastors will say "we're already in revival" and just let it go at that, which is a safe way to avoid explosions and other surprises. Simply redefine the term "revival" so it becomes just another synonym for "success."

Am I getting anything here right, Lonnie? It's not like I am some kind of expert revivalist. You know more about this stuff than I do. But how about this thought? The Lord Jesus Christ came full of surprises, which is maybe one reason why He said "blessed is the one who is not offended by me," because many people have a hard time with surprises and are offended by them. I think the same thing holds true about revivals, especially here in America. Because the people here are so easily offended by the surprises revivals bring, God has chosen to send big revivals overseas instead. And so we get to hear about the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, the lame walking, the demons being cast out, the dead being raised, and multitudes turning to Christ all over the world, in places like Latin America and Africa.

We just don't get to do this kind of Kingdom stuff here — or maybe not yet. I am being hopeful, because I can look back and see that you were an example of God doing unexpected things in the least likely places. I say this, Lonnie, because I reside in North Idaho, which is probably the most unlikely and frozen up place in the whole country.

Lonnie, I don't want to be too critical and hard on pastors. You have been around pastors. You know how they are. Since my sheep raising business has expanded, I have been doing more shepherding work. I have been around sheep a lot now, taking care of them and watching over and managing them, and therefore I think I can understand the pastoral mentality a little better now. Keeping my flock "safe" and keeping things running smoothly are my general preferences. I try to avoid too much excitement. I suspect that this may be a possible reason why the church is supposed to have a "five-fold ministry" — you know, the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers — because pastors by themselves don't really have the orientation, psychology, or "gifting" that is needed for handling big revivals. Their tendency is to be risk-adverse and managerial, keeping things more "locked down" or under control (like running a business), which makes it more difficult for them to adjust when big shifts need to happen. This may be the area where the apostles, prophets, and evangelists are equipped to operate. The Church isn't just a flock of dumb sheep needing to be managed; it's also an elaborate, holy temple that's in the middle of being constructed. People with different skills are needed in the building process. Heavy stones get shifted around. The plumbing is very complicated. Unfortunately, most people here don't believe that the five-fold ministry is supposed to exist nowadays, or else they think it's just means "pastor, pastor, pastor, pastor, and pastor."

Much to their credit, however, pastors Chuck and John did recognize, in some degree or at least subconsciously, the catalytic and much needed evangelistic gifting that you had, and they gladly made use of it, although it took John a bit longer to come around after the initial shock of watching you in action on Mother's Day — hey, he was pretty flabbergasted, wasn't he? You were definitely not a pastor, Lonnie, as you always insisted. Instead, you were the catalyst, which God provided back then, the small but essential ingredient that was needed to finally trigger the reaction and tip over the equilibrium, causing it to proceed rapidly with a big release of energy and a high yield. The rest is chemistry or history, as the saying goes. Whether Greg Laurie will mention any of this in his upcoming, new book remains to be seen. Once Greg's book does come out, I will read it and let you know in a letter as soon as I can. I am sure you will be interested to know.

Oops. I just looked and checked my calendar. It seems I have an appointment this afternoon to haul my flock over to do some weed abatement for the county on the fenced-in land surrounding a large water tower. Fortunately, the work has gotten much easier, herding the sheep and so forth, since I have an additional Australian shepherd to help me, Bimbo the wonder dog. I need to go now, Lonnie, and break off this letter, which has gotten pretty long anyhow. As for your other questions, I will try to answer them later.

Keep up the celebrations.

Sincerely yours,
Long Exiled on Earth

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, your ghostwriter. 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 blazing orbs rapidly flying around the place. They are looking at him with a multitude of glowing eyes and sternly say "Roger Sachs, thou sluggard! Hearken and take heed!" Next, they tell him to stop delaying and publish the third book of Lonnie's autobiography, 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, or 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. (I have attached to this letter a small picture of Greg so you can see what I mean.) He lives in a very nice 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 continues to be a great communicator and evangelist, 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 smoggy 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 his 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 believed in and 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 MacArthur.

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 should warn him, however, that Southern Baptists can be a bit ornery sometimes, and he might be in for some criticism 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 ridiculous split that 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 because Greg Laurie is pretty much his own brand name anyhow.

Unfortunately, I am now running out of vellum and don't have enough room left to answer your other questions. 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 about it on the Internet is complete rubbish. I decided to add to the mess and share with you a few of my observations regarding this situation.

Those who forget their history are doomed to being surprised when it repeats itself. No one should have been surprised at what has happened, because 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 too indecorous 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 — or to put it more sweetly, who were invited by Chuck to find the nearest exit — 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 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 to what happened back then.

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 — nobody was twisting Chuck's arm. 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" — or maybe "professional society" might be a fancier term for this. 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 relational network 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, discuss the latest trends, and hang out with the 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. And when you have gathered together a bunch of stout personalities who all believe that they are each the typological equivalent of Moses, eventually there will 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. The old guard at CCA insisted on strictly maintaining Chuck's paradigm, while Brodersen wanted to tweak things here and there a little. Their actual differences seem trivial to me, and 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. They wouldn't take your advice either if you were still here. 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 crazy 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 another letter 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 of acacia wood, 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 available 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 hope that the third book will be published soon and that I live long enough to read it, 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 everything 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 the world 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," wherein a some heavy-duty angels show up and give him a kick in the butt and a solemn word of exhortation. Maybe that will shake him up enough that 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 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 who hate XYZs, 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 come 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 to you, Lonnie, you can't shake it off — with either a crowbar or a blowtorch.

But I think you already understand this whole schtick. 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.

Show me a church that can't keep a grip on "from the beginning of Creation, God made them male and female" and I will show you a church that in the long run won't keep a grip on anything.

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.