Friday, December 28, 2018

Epistles to Lonnie Frisbee

Letter #9

Seraph Postal - Forever
Dear Lonnie,

Thanks for sending me the angelgram. Yes, I did get it. Since this was the first one I have ever received, getting an angelgram was a strange, new experience for me. I was sleeping the other night, and something like the twinkly sound of a small bell woke me up. I opened my eyes and was very startled to see a bright pinpoint of light floating in the air about two feet above my head. Then I heard a feminine sounding, almost musical, voice say, "Request delivery of an angelgram from Lonnie Frisbee. Do you accept delivery?" The voice seemed to be coming from the point of light. Though I felt very unnerved, I managed to blurt out, a "yes, I accept." Next, the point of light expanded into a bright square of light. Then words started appearing inside the square, written in English. The nearest I can describe it, it was like looking at a chyron on the bottom on the screen when watching the news on television. As the words were being spelt out on the square, I could hear the voice reading the words to me. The message was pretty simple:
Don't worry about it, Bro. Thank you for your effort, but there is no need to write me any more letters about Greg Laurie's new book. I already know what's in the book. It's been shown to me. Please save your stamps. Greg will come around eventually. Blessings to you. Bye.
At that point, the square shrunk back down to a single point of light, which then gradually rose up to my ceiling and disappeared into the wall, and I was left there in the darkness, wondering about the strange sight I had seen. It seemed too vivid to be a dream. I take it that angelgrams are sent from Heaven in case a short message needs very quick delivery.

Lonnie, since you already know what's in Greg's book, Jesus Revolution, I guess I don't need to fill you in regarding all the details. And indeed I had made a lot of notes. There were a even a few instances in the book where Greg and his co-author simply got their facts garbled, probably due to sloppy research. But your angelgram has saved me from a lot of work trying to explain everything. And you have saved yourself from having to read another burdensome load of my stodgy prose. It is very good to hear that the saints in Heaven are not totally in oblivion regarding what's going on down here. Thanks for sending me the quick angelgram.

Just as I guessed, there is already a movie in the works, though it is not clear if it will be a documentary or a biopic. (What actor would portray Greg? Or You?) So far his new book is getting about 97% four-and-five star reviews. Let me say that, though you had forewarned me ahead of time about what to expect, I was still taken aback by what Greg Laurie had written about you. And because his book is backed up by an advertising budget, a well-oiled book publishing company, and Greg's own celebrity branding, it probably will become for the majority of people their picture of what must have happened, no matter how unfair or inaccurate or distorted the book's depiction of you might be. I think this is sad and very unfortunate, especially when I consider that in your autobiography you had said complimentary things about Greg. But if someone were to ask me today to concisely describe Greg's stance toward you, going strictly on the basis of what's in his book, more than anything else I would say it's like a hostile witness at a court trial.

You said, "Greg will come around eventually." Lonnie, I am not sure what you meant, and you have me a little confused. I assume that what you said is a good thing. Were you saying that Greg will be coming up there soon? Or that he will have a stadium crusade somewhere in my vicinity? Or did you mean that he'll change his mind about something he wrote in his book? I hope the later is the case.

Lonnie, this reminds me of something else: On the day I sent my previous letter to you, I had a peculiar dream about Greg Laurie. In my dream, which was in color, my wife and I were back inside that "bombed out shell" of a church building, the very same one on Arlington Avenue that Greg moved into after leaving All Saints. I could hear music playing in the background, which I think might have been Love Song playing "Since I opened up the door." We were inside, standing underneath the balcony at the back end. There were many other people present, as if there was a church service going on. I believe that the building originally had a small balcony, which was later remodeled to become a second floor. Now Greg came into the back to start talking to my wife, who was at my side. I was looking at him, and although I knew it was Greg, I noticed that he seemed different somehow. I then realized that he appeared to be regrowing hair on his head. The hair color was surfer blonde.

If I were to interpret this dream, I would say it meant that Greg, who is very bald, will reclaim something that he had lost or neglected. And this would lead to some kind of renewal in how he ministers to people. Or maybe he is going to receive his heavenly crown soon? That's about as much an interpretation I can put on this, but does it relate to what you told me about Greg coming around eventually?

In other news…

Lonnie, you remember Phil Aguilar? He is the "biker" pastor down in Orange county who has tattoos and a flamboyant personality and a tad of notoriety. I am sure he is pretty unforgettable. I recollect seeing an interesting video recording of you preaching at his church, years ago, where you spoke for about fifteen minutes to the people. Well, Phil has reported to everyone that the third book of your autobiography, Set Free, will finally be published in February of 2019. He might be in a position to know, so I hope this is true, but I don't know whether to believe it, given how many times that Roger Sachs has delayed publication with no explanations why. Lonnie, will I live long enough to ever read the third book? Are you allowed to say? More than ever your side of the story needs to be completely told.

There is nothing new to report about the Fireman. I am still waiting for his "prophecies" to come true. People take the few interviews the Fireman has done so far, and they cut them up, re-assign the slices new titles and dates, and then re-post them on YouTube. This makes it difficult to tell if he is saying anything new. I also noticed that now there is a discussion group on Facebook about his prophecies. Is it being run by dastardly Russians? Who knows? However, I am still keeping the Fireman in category #4 (indeterminate fruitcake) because when it comes to the "501(c)3" issue, he is definitely kooky and paranoid. So I am not going to hold my breath waiting for his "predictions" to come to pass. At most, he might get lucky on some of them.

As for other "prophets", I am currently starting to investigate a young guy named Charlie Shamp, if anything because he is an interesting case and has an outstanding hairdo, his thick black hair being pomaded and richly stacked up high on the top of his head. His "prophecies" are vatic in nature, specific, and often dealing with countries overseas and not just the United States.

I will mail you again as soon as I can. Lonnie, can you believe how short an epistle I have written to you?

Rejoice and be glad.

Sincerely yours,
Enduring the Long, Dreary Winter

Friday, December 07, 2018

Larry Norman

A Book Review
Title: Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music?
Subtitle: Larry Norman and The Perils of Christian Rock
Author: Gregory Alan Thornbury

This is a mini book review, and so I will try to keep this as short as possible. I only write lengthy reviews if I have had the chance to read a book at least three times. At this point in time, I have other projects I want to complete first.

Thornbury wrote an interesting rock'n'roll biography of the late musician Larry Norman (1947–2008). There was really no better person to write about Larry than Gregory Alan Thornbury, who has a doctorate from Southern Seminary, as well as many other academic honors, and who is currently Vice President at the New York Academy of Art. Additionally, if Wikipedia is to be believed, Thornbury was ordained as a Baptist minister, and he has authored several other acclaimed books. Besides all these, he once managed a small radio station:
When I was in college, I found myself thrown into management at a small radio station on our campus, which unfortunately, in my view, played adult contemporary Christian music. I hated virtually everything I heard. [250]
I imagine that it would be difficult for any competent writer not to write a modestly interesting biography about Larry Norman, mainly because Larry was, to say the least, a very, very peculiar amalgamation of seeming contradictions combined into one person — a man who actually took Xnty seriously but was also a highly talented and creative songwriter who took rock'n'roll music seriously — a highly volatile but fascinating combination. And because Larry Norman had kept a very extensive archive of documentary material about nearly everything he had done, a biographer would find an embarrassment of riches to draw from. I think it would be a worthwhile project if the Norman family were to publish in book form some of Larry's unpublished manuscripts and letters, maybe calling it the Larry Norman Compendium. Larry's own writing, as sampled in Thornbury's book, was intriguing, sometimes piercing and perceptive in its observations, and often displayed a wry humor. Since I have plenty of free time, maybe I could volunteer for this project?

I wonder. If he were still around, what would Larry Norman have thought of today's CCM, now that Hillsong United and Bethel Music and their imitators have taken over?

I highly recommend this biography to everybody. It is a well written book. There were only a few minor blemishes, which I will briefly mention without belaboring the point too much:
  1. When providing a photograph of yourself for the jacket cover blurb, do not use a picture where your head is tilted back in such a manner as to accentuate your nostrils, while wearing a bow tie. It gives you a hoity-toity appearance that is not appealing.
  2. Nietzsche sucks. Do not quote him as some kind of proof of something.
  3. Sometimes good Homer nods. But be careful about depending too much on Wikipedia; it is notoriously unreliable. It might be useful as a starting point of investigation if there are references provided which can be tracked down and verified. For example, in the book, footnote 22 for chapter 6 is a flub because the information provided in Wikipedia concerning Wendell Burton and Vineyard has no reference at all. Some anonymous wiki editor just stuck it in there with no proof or citation.
  4. Occasionally, the author lets seep a tad of, well, snottiness. For example, on page 182, speaking about the Daniel Amos band, the book says, "A mid-'70s clip shows the group … playing under the Maranatha! Holy Spirit “dove” logo before a packed room of docile white kids." [emphasis mine] Now most people would have perceived merely an audience of younger people who were politely appreciating the music they were hearing. But for some reason the author curls his lip and sneers at the "white kids." Really? What does being white have to do with anything here? It doesn't make much sense and just makes the author appear to be supercilious.
Other than these very minor quibbles, Gregory Alan Thornbury's book about Larry Norman is excellent. Of course, I don't agree with every opinion the author might have expressed. But everybody with half a brain and a serious interest in Larry Norman should read the book.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Epistles to Lonnie Frisbee

Letter #8

Seraph Postal - Forever
Dear Lonnie,

I apologize for taking so long to answer you. There are several reasons for the delay, which I shall explain, but I do want to acknowledge that I did receive your letter, and I thank you very much for your very helpful recommendations.

Besides the fact that your letters naturally glow in the dark, there were this time additional peculiarities about the letter you sent me that I should mention. First of all, after I checked its postmark, it appeared to me that there had been a 21 day delay before it arrived in my mail box. This is unusual because the Seraphic Mail Service normally transports mail on a "next day delivery" basis. Secondly, the angelic letter carrier had attached a sticky note to its envelope. The note was written using Hebrew characters, and so I assume this is the language that angels use for official business. It took me a while to get the note deciphered because I don't know how to read Hebrew, but once translated, the note simply stated that "special circumstances" had held up delivery of the letter, "those which required the intervention of archangel Michael to overcome unexpected opposition," and "please accept our sincere apologies for the unfortunate delay." Lonnie, I am guessing that, despite your being up there enjoying the Beatific Vision for all these years, you are still getting hassled, albeit indirectly, by those nefarious "principalities and powers" who were attempting to sabotage your mail enroute. But your letter did finally reach me.

Now concerning the subject of the prophetic, I hope I understand correctly what you wrote to me. You said that my five categories were a rough but workable sketch of a complicated picture, but they needed more refinement. You also indicated that I needed an additional category called "Balaam." As you said, this is because in their endeavor to "turn prophecy into a money-making professional career," some people had acquired very unwholesome motives and therefore had fallen into "the error of Balaam, who concocted bogus stuff that sounded like prophecy or who would tell people what they wanted to hear, all for the sake of money or gaining influence." Of course, Balaam was the prophet-for-hire who had to be rebuked by the talking donkey he rode on. I should have thought of this category before. Thank you for your suggestions. Finally, you mentioned that Heaven is very much aware that the prophet situation here on Earth has gotten "very overgrown" and was due for some "radical pruning soon," and that "too many people were attempting to get in on the act who really had no business being there." I have to agree, Lonnie, that things are a mess, a smoking dumpster fire.

Let me say that, while researching this subject, I also discovered, much to my surprise, that within charismatic circles there has been an on-going recrudescence of Postmillennialism in various forms. After taking this into account, it became easier for me to understand why some "prophets" were saying what they were saying (especially those in category #1 and #3). And I suspect that this may also explain many of the things the Fireman has been "prophesying." Nowadays Postmillenialism has many variations, and this letter would become too lengthy if I tried to cover them all in any detail. But roughly speaking, I would say that it's the notion that the Church is somehow entirely responsible for implementing the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth. Consequently, the Second Coming will happen only after the Church has been completely perfected and has somehow "christianized" all levels of society in all nations. But I need to put off talking any more about this topic, Lonnie, because I need to move on to the main reasons for this letter to you. There is only so much lambskin vellum to write on.

The last time I checked, someone told me that the third book of your autobiography, "Set Free," would come out before the end of this year. Should I believe this or not? I don't know anymore, given the miserable track record so far for unexplained delays. Lonnie, if you have any leverage at all, up there in glorious Heaven, please try to apply a little pressure on your ghostwriter Roger Sachs to get "Set Free" published. It's way past due. Maybe you can put in a request: If Roger were to get a friendly visit from an archangel…oh, wait, that might be too terrifying — I don't want to give poor Roger a heart attack, given how elderly he is, but you understand what I mean.

In your last letter, you told me that Greg Laurie's new book would be out very soon, but you added a word of caution. You said to me, "You should not be too surprised if Greg gets several things wrong." Well, sure enough, his hardback finally came out this September, and the book is entitled Jesus Revolution. Ellen Vaughn is the co-author, and the subtitle is How God Transformed an Unlikely Generation and How We Can Do It Again Today. Greg has been actively promoting this book with plenty of advertising and fanfare. I immediately bought me a copy. And I have been carefully reading through it and taking notes. So far I have gone through the book three times. Taking time on this is an additional reason for the long delay in writing an answer back to you.

If I were to make a guess, it would be that the coauthor Ellen Vaughn did most of the actual keyboard grunt work producing drafts of the book. And she probably was responsible for most of the research while putting together the background material regarding what was happening in America in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. However, I think it would be nearly indisputable that Greg Laurie was the person who had the final say about the content and objectives of the book, especially the biographical parts regarding himself and his wife, and the events surrounding pastor Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel. This is why, hereinafter, I shall often refer to it as "Greg's book," not that I want to deny Ellen Vaughn her proper credit.

You see, Lonnie, I don't think that your place in history can be erased, at least not entirely. However, people can engage in various degrees of historical revisionism in an effort to spin things in certain directions. Now that I have read Greg Laurie's Jesus Revolution, I was disappointed to discover that his book is yet another example of this being done. I don't have any Seraphic parcel postage stamps; for if I had, I would just mail you a copy of Greg's book so you could read it for yourself and see what I mean. But you are entirely correct. What I shall give you here, in this and future letters, is derived from my notes, where I wrote down my observations and criticisms as I was reading Greg's book. Some relevant quotations from his book will be included along with my comments.

Before I begin, however, let me first state that overall Greg's book is an interesting and curious hodgepodge. I would not be surprised if someone tries to turn it into a movie. True, the book does contain a thumbnail history of the 1960s and 1970s, and hippies and Calvary Chapel and Chuck Smith — mainly for the benefit of the Millennials, who were born too late to know about this stuff — but it was obviously not intended to be a detailed, chronological history of the Jesus People Movement in Riverside and Orange counties, down in SoCal. If people were expecting that, they would be disappointed. The lives of Greg Laurie and his wife Cathe, told in the third person, are the book's primary focus, though not much more is revealed about them than what has already been made known publicly. Greg is really a very private person, and he doesn't disclose personal details other than what fits into some evangelical objective of his. A better subtitle for the book could have been The Adventures of Greg and Cathe During The Jesus Movement and Beyond, or How You Too Can Have Explosive Success in Your Church Just Like Pastor Chuck Smith Did. The book finishes with the funeral of Chuck Smith, followed by three more chapters of sermonizing about America and revivals, which mostly repeats the conventional, evangelical wisdom on the subject. And I must say that it was a strange feeling for me to read about people and events which in some cases I have witnessed for myself, if only as a bystander in the crowd. As books go, it was passable, notwithstanding that Greg pretty much depreciates the charismatic aspect of Calvary Chapel and spins the narrative when it comes to your own involvement.
There is a long-haired teenage boy. He looks like he's about seventeen. He's more quiet and reserved than the girls, as if he still carries the burdens of the past dead ends of drinking, drug use, and skeptical despair. A bearded pastor in a flowing tunic, sopping wet, dunks the young man down in the cold water for a long moment. It's as if he's been buried.

Then the hippie pastor raises the kid up, and the teenager bursts out of the sea, water streaming down his face and hair and shoulders. His heart is on his face, and he is weeping. … [12]
Lonnie, here on page 12 in the prologue is probably where you are first mentioned in Greg's book. However, you have been shifted into being a nameless "hippie pastor" that baptizes Greg, who is likely the "kid" being mentioned here. There were not many "hippie pastors" at Calvary Chapel who had a beard and a trademark "flowing tunic." It was obviously you. Of course, it really doesn't matter who baptized Greg. But did Greg intentionally leave your name out, being careful from the very start to maintain a certain amount of distance between himself and you? I suspect this might be the case, especially when I consider the overall effect of what gets written about you further along in Greg's book. As I share more and more of my notes, you will see what I mean when I say that there is a pattern that develops — the cuts get a little deeper as the pages turn.
Some were like Samson — mightily blessed by God, but then they fell off his wagon. [17]
You remember, Lonnie, that your funeral at the Crystal Cathedral was packed out. But didn't it seem odd to you that so many people turned out for it? Where did all these "friends" come from? Where were they before in those few years before you died? More than one person came up and eulogized you, and one of them drew a comparison between you and Samson. A little later, pastor Chuck Smith came up to speak, and he carried this simile farther down the road. So from that time forward, people have only remembered Chuck as the one saying this about you. Anyone who knows the Bible knows exactly what they were implying: that just like Samson, though you were "gifted," you were a moral failure, who ultimately did yourself in by your own reckless behavior. Consequently, Lonnie, this is how you have been viewed ever since, notwithstanding what actually happened in the last few years of your life. I think it is unmistakable that you are the one that Greg had in mind here when he wrote this. Do you see what I mean?
One of the younger people who floated into San Francisco that summer was a seventeen-year-old art student named Lonnie Frisbee. Lonnie was from Southern California and had dropped out of high school there to enroll in an art school in San Francisco.

Lonnie told his friends he'd had an awful childhood. His biological father was a serial adulterer, a drunk who beat Lonnie and his mom and eventually left her for another woman. Lonnie's mother tracked down the other woman's husband and eventually married him. The new stepdad hated and rejected Lonnie and his brothers. Then, beginning at age eight, Lonnie was sexually molested by a seventeen-year-old guy from the neighborhood who babysat for the family. The adults in Lonnie's life did not believe his story.

There was one bright spot: a godly grandmother who took Lonnie to church and encouraged him to dream. So, though he'd been born with clubfoot, he dreamed of being a Mouseketeer and dancing on television. … As a teenager Lonnie worked on his dance moves, and his dreams almost came true when he was recruited to be a regular dancer on a local afternoon TV show that featured live bands. It was called Shebang, and it was as groovy as afternoon TV could get.

Lonnie got into drugs in his early teens, first acid and other hallucinogens, then dope. (He as initially scared to try marijuana because of a drug deterrent film called Reefer Madness that was routinely shown in the public schools. Anyone who took the movie's message to heart knew that dope was the certain doorway to death, destruction, and insanity.)

But eventually Lonnie succumbed to reefer madness as well as the madness of every other drug on the streets, which was saying a lot. He went out to the desert, tripping, looking for UFOs. He protested the Vietnam War, hitchhiked up and down the coast of California, and spent a lot of time seeking God in a canyon near Palm Springs. One time he and a hundred of his closest friends were arrested for doing so, only because they were all naked and smoking dope at the time.

So in 1967, Lonnie Frisbee was just another vegetarian nudist druggie on the scene. But that was about to change, and he would become a key figure in California's Jesus Movement. [62-63]
Here on pages 62 to 63, you can see a sample of the book's breezy, journalistic style, in which Greg basically repeated, in a summary way, much of what you have already told us in your autobiography about your early life. There were no big surprises here. However, Greg completely left out details regarding your experiences at church and Camp Seely, which you considered the actual starting point of your relationship with God, though as a teenager you would later drift away for a time. Maybe these details were left out merely for the sake of brevity. However, I think I can show that in several other places Greg left out critically important information in such a way that causes the reader to get the wrong impression about you.
Like Lonnie Frisbee and everybody else in that era, Greg had seen the films in his public high school warning about the madness of marijuana. [64]
This is possibly one thing that Greg, you, and I have in common on an earthly level, besides being artistic types who had various degrees of difficulty in our family life when growing up. Yes, Lonnie, I too saw the educational film Reefer Madness. The only difference is that I never tried the stuff, but the film had nothing to do with deterring me. I do confess that once in the middle of a vast crowd at a Deep Purple concert, long ago, at the Orange Show Event Center in San Bernardino, someone offered me a "hit." I speak the truth, Lonnie, when I say that I politely refused. That was that.

I have many more notes to share with you about Greg's book, but I see that I am now running out of lambskin vellum on which to write this letter to you. Though my rams are as busy as possible, my ewes can only produce so many lambs per month, and the process of slaughtering a lamb and preparing the vellum, according to the Seraphic Postal specifications, takes time and painstaking effort. Please stand by, Lonnie. I am sure you are patient since you have plenty of time now. When I have another batch of vellum, I shall write back to you, and you will understand a little better my reasons for agreeing with your initial assessment.

Shout Glory.

Sincerely yours,
Exiled in My Own Personal Idaho

Monday, August 27, 2018

Bethel Music

A Few Observations

According to, Bethel Music is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation (FEIN 47-4005681), whose mailing address is 5090 Caterpillar Rd., Redding, CA 96003-1412. Its stated purpose is:
Production, publication, and sale of assets exclusively for the benefit of Bethel Church of Redding (FEIN 94-1514037).
The most recent information is that Bethel Music holds approximately 1 million dollars in assets, and its annual income is 10 million dollars.

Yes, you have read that correctly. Its annual income is 10 million dollars. The purpose of Bethel Music is to benefit Bethel Church. That's probably a whole lot of benefit, even when you subtract out the operating expenses. I was surprised.

So if there are any church leaders out there who dislike pastor Bill Johnson and Bethel Church but don't mind paying Bethel Music licensing fees to use its copyrighted worship music — because it is trendy and "top of the charts" — well, be aware that those fees ultimately are used to benefit Bethel Church. This may or may not have been your intention.

My personal feelings are pretty much limited to the modest opinion that Bethel Music music is starting to be played to death (the same goes for Hillsong music). For example, "Reckless Love" gets kind of old after you have heard it in church about two or three dozen times. I think we're overdue to move on.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Santa Cruz Sentinel Obituary

Lonnie Frisbee

Published 1993 March 30 in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

A memorial service is set for Friday for Lonnie Frisbee, a Pentecostal minister who lived in the Santa Cruz area in the 1970s and founded ministries here. Widely known as the "hippie preacher" for two decades, Mr. Frisbee died March 12 at his Newport Beach home of a brain tumor. He was 43. Mr. Frisbee was a leader in the Jesus movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s and gained international attention from his ministries to young people. He was a native of Santa Ana who moved to Santa Cruz in 1972 from Costa Mesa. Mr. Frisbee first gained attention at age 16 when he began preaching in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco. His unorthodox ways, long hair, beard and bare feet gained him the title "the hippie preacher." In Santa Cruz, he helped establish a church, several discipleship homes, and a Christian commune on Soquel Avenue known as The Land that existed from 1975 to 1985. He preached often at the New Life Center. He moved from the area in 1977 but returned frequently, most recently in January. In the 1980s, Mr. Frisbee traveled to South Africa to aid in the founding of churches. He also started an orphanage in Brazil. Mr. Frisbee was recently was on staff of the Set Free Christian Fellowship, in Anaheim, a radical outreach ministry to the dispossessed. Mr. Frisbee is survived by his mother, Jeanette Graham of Banning; and brother Stanley Frisbee of Costa Mesa. A funeral was held March 17 in Garden Grove. The memorial service will be 7 p.m. Friday at Lighthouse Christian Fellowship, 4525 Soquel Drive, Soquel.

This newspaper obituary is interesting because it brings to light a few facts that were previously unknown to me. Santa Cruz is located on the northern side of the Monterey Bay area in California. Also, it also reports that Lonnie had done some ministry work in Santa Cruz, and that he was for a time on the staff at Phil Aguilar's church in Anaheim. I am still in the process of trying to track down more details, but at this point I believe that the "New Life Center" may possibly be connected with someone named Steve Stiles.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Epistles to Lonnie Frisbee

Letter #7

Seraph Postal - Forever
Dear Lonnie,

I was doing weed abatement for the county. When I checked over the property, I missed a patch of wild Lupine. Well, my sheep ate some of it, which is poisonous. So I ended up with some sick sheep. It took time for things to recover, but I now have enough vellum to write to you again and still have Seraphic Mail stamps. Please continue to cheer for me as I go through these various trials and tribulations down here on Earth.

The retired fireman from Florida, whom I told you about in my previous letter, is still making the circuit and has gathered a sizeable following, or so it seems judging by what's on YouTube and the Internet. I would say that at the minimum he is a "prophet wannabee," who has gotten attention because of the "Jean Dixon Effect." He had predicted, way back in 2011, that DJT would become president, although when I read the actual prophecy, the fireman appeared to have missed when this would happen. He was off by one election cycle. Nonetheless, he did get this one prediction correct back when the very idea of DJT ever becoming president was inconceivable.

I have listened to him being interviewed, and the fireman is very sincere, and he can sound almost convincing. He describes himself as very "mission oriented," which I suppose firemen are trained to be. However, I haven't found out what church community he is a part of, and so I can't reference any testimony about his overall track record or his character. His launching pad to fame was a single book (The Trump Prophecies) somebody co-authored with him, which got the attention of some big-name people who run websites and streaming TV. They're even trying to turn it into a movie. Furthermore, the fireman has made other specific predictions, which I'll mention further down in this letter. Of course, just being "sincere" and getting one prediction right doesn't necessarily establish that somebody is an authentic prophet. So can you ask around, Lonnie, up there in Glory Land to see if anybody has heard about this fireman? I was hoping you could write me back and tell me what the real story is. The guy's name is Mark Taylor, in case you need to know.

As you remember, when you lived down here back in the 1960s, you saw for yourself what freaked-out crazy times we had here in America. Nowadays, many years later, I daresay that things have gotten much worse, even in my memory, compared to that bygone era. We're now living in an Age of Misinformation and Paranoia. That's how I would describe the times. There is hardly anybody you can trust and believe anymore. The news is all fake. Everything is bogus. Everybody is suspect. People increasingly talk about "cold civil war" — indeed, there is a cultural civil war that's raging. And today's church is in omnishambles too, in my opinion. The Devil really doesn't need to do anything much to destroy Evangelicaldom in America, other than just tweaking things to maintain the current trajectory; because, all things being equal, it will simply devour itself. "There's a bad moon on the rise" — that's how it is going in America, Lonnie. And I think this general, all-pervasive malaise we feel might be one of the reasons why some people are giving this fireman "prophet" so much attention.

In fact, the last presidential election provided us only two dismal choices: Do we vote for HRC, the harridan who will give us an even more Stalinesque version of the previous administration? Or do we vote for DJT, the brash but successful real estate mogul who has a rather disorderly past as far as sexual morality goes? This was not a great selection to choose from. However, there was one big difference between them: HRC openly despises us Bible clingers and calls us "deplorables"; therefore, it was not likely that under her regime we would have been left alone and allowed some measure of "peaceful coexistence." On the other hand, for all his faults, at least DJT doesn't hate our guts. So what else could we do? Our situation seemed precarious. I can tell you, Lonnie, that all the pundits were cocksure certain that the harridan had the election in the bag — they never thought she would lose. Yet, miraculously, it was the mogul who won and became president, to everybody's complete, slack-jawed astonishment. But you can understand why the evangelicans had to "hold their noses" and vote for DJT.

Well, along comes the fireman, and what was his core message? His message was that God has "chosen this man" and "anointed him as President for such a time as this." Then he goes on to say:
This man I have chosen, will be a faithful world leader, and together with my army, will defeat all of America's enemies in the spiritual and in the natural. You will see it manifest before your eyes. I will use this man to shut gates, doors, and portals that this past president has opened. He will open gates, doors, and portals this past president has shut.
As you can tell, Lonnie, this hearkens back and is somewhat similar to what Isaiah said about Cyrus (Isa 45:1). If you think about it, you can understand why the fireman has gotten attention from a lot of people. Because if what he says was true, it would seem to validate for many people the choice we had to make, and that DJT is serving a larger divine purpose, which we don't see in its entirety yet. One thing is certain: there's never been a dull moment since DJT was elected president.

Also, when you read his prophecies, you will find that one of the fireman's peculiarities is his habitual use of rhyming words — it starts to sound a little like "Dr. Seuss." Another peculiarity is his vehement insistence that all churches everywhere immediately give up their 501(c)3 tax classification, which he calls a "demonic contract" or a "covenant with Baal". He is pretty extreme when it comes to this subject. After all these years, I guess the 501(c)3 is suddenly a big issue now. But I don't know of anyone else out there who is also calling for this. Finally, the fireman denounces anyone preaching "doom & gloom," which I suppose means anything that predicts the soon destruction of America, our only escape being martyrdom or the Rapture. As I said in my previous letter, I had the fireman classified under category #3.

There is, however, one very big problem — the fireman has made a slew of other predictions that have not come to pass, at least not yet or not completely. I will briefly list for you a few of his more salient predictions:
  • DJT would serve two terms and not be impeached. [I recollect the fireman emphatically saying this in interviews.]
  • "Even mainstream news media will be captivated by this man … and they will even begin to agree with him".
  • "America will prosper like never before in her history as a nation."
  • America and Israel will be energy independent, and "a gallon of gas will be one dollar and below". OPEC will no longer be needed, "for your wells will go dry and your finances too".
  • "The national debt will be dealt a death blow from what I am releasing in the natural and the spiritual." [It would be nice if this actually happens, considering that the debt is currently 20 trillion dollars.]
  • "The Supreme Court will lose three, and my president shall pick new ones directly from MY TREE."
  • "America will be loved once again, even by some that used to be her enemies".
  • "The Clintons, the Clintons, your time has come to an end … you will not escape prosecution". [The fireman also reaffirmed in an interview that "they are going to prison".]
  • "For this man who holds the title called the President of the United States will begin to lose his grip from it and be stripped of it, for I the Lord God will rip it from him." [In interviews, the fireman explains that BHO will be later prosecuted for treason and therefore will be stripped of his title, although he has now already finished his second term.]
  • Corruption in all levels of government will be exposed. The problem will be so deep and widespread that it will require "military style tribunals" to handle it all.
  • "5 Supreme Court Justices will be appointed by my new president, my anointed."
  • "My court will overturn Roe vs. Wade".
  • "The ties that were severed between America and Russia will begin to mend".
  • "A lightning strike and a great wind shall topple the so called great monument, and they will not be able to mend". [The fireman has said that he is referring to the Washington Monument, which he calls a "phallic symbol to Baal."]
  • News outlets will go bankrupt and be rebuilt using "my righteous people".
  • "Two will be taken and three will be shaken! For I will remove two from the evil crew of 32 and the other three will be shaken to the core. The 32 years they have altogether served and empowered that entity called Baal, and the covenant they had holding up his house with the Illuminati and the New World Order, shall come crumbling down. For when the first one is taken, it will be a sign that the New World Order shall die. When the second one is taken, it will be a sign that anyone calling himself Mine but comes against my Israel, sympathizing with her enemies, will not be tolerated. The three that will be shaken will be a sign that no one is above the Most High God, not even those that hold the highest office in the land. These among many others that have tried to exalt themselves above Me and My Law will be exposed and imprisoned by me for the entire world to see." [The fireman has made it very clear in interviews that he is referring to the five living former presidents: two will die and the other three will face prison terms.]
  • "Russian and China will be put in their place … You will no longer be considered a threat or a superpower."
  • "Many are saying that this is the last Pope, but it's not for the reasons they think. This will be the last Pope, for what I the Lord God am about to do. I will expose this Pope and all those under under his command for all the corruption he and the Vatican have been involved in for centuries."
  • "There is a dig, an archeological find that is coming in an underground vault, which will be so cataclysmic that it will ROCK the Christian World. The answer lies between Jerusalem and Vatican City." [The fireman suggested in an interview that what might be discovered are "lost books of the Bible," whereupon the interviewer quickly steered away from this topic since it was skirting uncomfortably close to heterodoxy.]
Please tell me what you think, Lonnie. You probably have Seraphic postage stamps enough to write me back with your opinion. I think that the fireman might get one or two things right, if only by chance. However, newbie prophets can also mix in plenty of junk because they haven't yet learned to properly distinguish the difference between a genuine revelation from Above and their own wishful thinking. In other words, they get too eager and run ahead of themselves. Scio fuisse prophetas deficere, as the old saying goes. Lonnie, I was wondering, and this is my big question: How long must we wait before concluding that the fireman's predictions are bogus and never going to happen? At this point in time, none of what I listed above has occurred, at least not in any spectacular or obvious way as far as I can tell. For example, the price of gasoline has never dropped below a dollar per gallon, the Washington Monument hasn't toppled over lately, there hasn't been any "military style tribunals," BHO is still running free, and the mainstream news media hates DJT more than ever.

On second thought, because he has made so many unfulfilled predictions, perhaps the fireman should be classified as an "indeterminate fruitcake" (category #4), at least temporarily until the situation changes. My gut feeling for now is that there is something loopy going on here, and his "prophecies" possibly reflect whatever flaky teachings happen to be endemic to the church he is attending. What makes me suspect this is his odd fixation about the 501(c)3 tax status and the Washington Monument, along with some of his "conspiracy theory" terminology and his kooky ideas about DNA and weather manipulation. Furthermore, the fireman sounds as if he were speaking from the position of an Old Testament prophet (e.g., Samuel) who is sent to direct the entire people of Israel. Lonnie, if you remember, you did some prophesying to people on various occasions when you were still here on Earth, but you never went around trying to dictate how churches throughout the entire country should operate — such as changing their incorporation status. I think the fireman might be mixed-up partly due to misunderstanding how prophecy is supposed to function nowadays, under the New Testament. However, if you have any helpful suggestions, I would much appreciate hearing them.

In other news, there has been no new news regarding the final, third book of your autobiography. Apparently, your ghostwriter friend, Roger Sacks, has delayed things yet again. Oh, I had hoped the final book would have been published by now. I must say that I am deeply disappointed and very frustrated. It's been over 25 years, and your autobiography still hasn't been completely published. What is holding things up? The problem is I don't know whom I can complain to. Can you complain to anybody up there in Heaven, Lonnie? Please put in a word about this because I very much want to read the final book.

By the way, congratulate me on my retirement. The only thing I got going now is my small sheep business and writing these funny epistles to you. I am still getting adjusted to being retired. It's not easy, and I am trying to keep my mind busy and to exercise. I will let you know if anything new comes up.

Keep rejoicing.

Sincerely yours,
Troubles So Hard.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Epistles to Lonnie Frisbee

Letter #6

Seraph Postal - Forever
Dear Lonnie,

By now you are probably tired of hearing about my sheep business and all its travails. I will refrain myself, leave off talking about that, and just say that I have processed enough lambskin vellum to write you another letter using the Seraphic Mail Service. It is important that I get straight to the point.

Before all else, I sincerely apologize if my previous letter offended you. Believe me, Lonnie, I only meant to tell you truthfully how I assessed the current situation. As you remember, you had a difficult time in the ministry back when you were still here. It's not that Chuck Smith and John Wimber wanted to treat you badly. They just didn't always know how to handle an out-of-the-ordinary person. They had their particular mindsets on how things should operate, and you never quite fit into the system as they envisioned it. And so they might have made mistakes that ended up causing you emotional pain and injury. I think that your autobiography shows this, and that you endeavored to learn the important lesson of forgiveness. That's how I read it. You and I have also made enough mistakes of our own. All that I was saying is that if you were still here you would have even more severe problem working within the church system today. It wouldn't accommodate you very well. I hope that you understand.

Now, getting to one of those questions that you asked me in the letter you sent me earlier, I gave it some thought and have decided that my answer is pretty simple: No, I do not want to be a "prophet." And please, Lonnie, I beg you, don't suggest to anyone in Heaven that I should be one. I really don't want the job, for numerous reasons, which have to do with the current situation in the "charismatic movement" nowadays. Let me explain why.

First of all, after spending some time attempting to survey the overall situation, I can say that the church already has an overflowing abundance of "prophets", or at least people who are calling themselves that. Most of these prophets have ministry websites, and you also can find them on YouTube. I am trying to compile a list of everybody I find, and already my list is getting quite large, and there doesn't seem to be any end of it. Therefore, what good would it do for me to join the crowd? I think it would be just adding to the confusion.

While researching this subject, it's been difficult for me to avoid developing the kind of attitude that disdains prophecy altogether. Lonnie, as you well know, near the end of his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul the apostle said — oh, by the way, say "hello" to him for me if you get the chance (he was a good letter writer) — well, he clearly said we are not to quench the Spirit or despise prophecy, but we are to test everything and hold fast what is good. However, it's a very confusing situation just from the overwhelming abundance of stuff. There is so much "prophecy" nowadays getting published on the web, like a flood, and I am still learning how to "test" things, so I can distinguish the good stuff, sort it out, and separate it from the mediocre and bogus stuff. It's not easy to do, but I am trying very hard to maintain the correct attitude about it. My general feeling is that the Church needs fewer and better prophets than it has now — heh, better prophets instead of better profits.

Now to give you an idea of some of the crazier things going on, I remember one video I saw. I won't mention the guy's name, but in the video he was making a big deal out of an old painter easel you once owned years ago and that somehow was passed down to some elderly lady, whose house you were boarding in at one time. Anyhow, this fellow made it sound as if your easel were a holy relic and that somehow he could confer your "mantle" on people. I am not kidding, Lonnie. Unfortunately, since you don't have Internet access there in Heaven, I can't show this video to you. If you saw it, I am sure that you would either laugh or cry. On second thought, not having Internet access in Heaven might be a good thing.

Although I am still studying the issue, I think that at this point I can break down the current "prophetic" scene into the following categories:
  1. Glittering Generalists
  2. Gloom and Doom
  3. Big Revival Soon
  4. Indeterminate Fruitcakes
  5. Miscellaneous
Remember, Lonnie, that this is just a preliminary assessment. I might change my mind later and re-adjust these categories. But for now let me elucidate what I am saying. You have a much clearer perspective. Pardon me if I mess up this endeavor.

It appears to me that most of the prophets who have the highest visibility and biggest ministries fall under category #1. I call them the glittering generalists, because much of their prophesying is usually worded in very broad and positive terminology. And since it is often published on the Internet for all to see, there's no discrimination about who the intended audience is. The glittering generalists often use vague terms such as "season of suddenlies" or giving "birth" to something or obtaining a "destiny" or opening "portals" to somewhere. One of them talked about "accelerated acceleration," and another mentioned "exfoliating anointing." (Huh?) What is often lacking in this category of prophecy, however, is anything hard and specific that can be pinned down. And because it is so general and hazy, it becomes difficult to determine objectively if the prophecy ever gets "fulfilled" or not — it's like trying to nail Jello to the wall. (Some people derisively call it "fortune cookie prophecy.") Furthermore, to whom does this prophesying actually apply? Everybody? That is okay, I suppose, as far as general exhortation or preaching goes. We all need encouragement, but why does preaching need to be fancied up by calling it "prophetic"?

The next two categories are more vatic, in that they deal with future events, usually involving the United States. But they appear to be inconsistent with each other. The gloom-and-doom prophets (category #2) basically predict that America, because of its great wickedness, will be destroyed, any day now, by a series of very terrible cataclysms, such as nuclear war, economic collapse, etc. There might be few persecuted survivors in the ruins, the ones who having taken heed and thereby forewarned had done the necessary "prepping" ahead of time and stockpiled toilet paper, guns, ammo, and freeze-dried food. David Wilkerson's "vision" from years back and later John Paul Jackson's "perfect storm" might be very good examples of this category of prophecy — Lonnie, next time you run into him, tell David that he used to know my famous evangelist cousin and that she's doing well. Anyhow, I think many of the older prophets, like Wilkerson, fall under this category. For example, I remember another one who said he received a detailed vision of Russian submarines, just off the coast, launching their nuclear-armed missiles that would destroy America. This kind of prophecy is still around, though maybe not as much today as earlier, and if anything has varied in this category, it might be the additional focus on objurgating apostasy and ecumenism in the church. In any case, no matter what, America is toast as far as these prophets are concerned. At best, we will all die as martyrs or be raptured. And, meanwhile, most of the world will go to perdition.

On the other hand, the big-revival-soon prophets (category #3) are more sweetness and light, and they often tends to merge into category #1. Category #3 seem to be a little more predominate nowadays, and generally speaking, they prophesy that, despite its many problems, God isn't done with America. There might be some housecleaning and judgement on corruption in the government and in the Church, but the final result will lead to a very great revival in the near future, which in turn will lead to a "great awakening" in American society overall and an unprecedented spread of the Gospel across the world — a "billion soul revival" is one term that is used. One prophet, a retired fireman, who falls under category #3, and whom I am currently tracking, has had some accuracy in the past. He has made very specific predictions about the future, although they haven't been fulfilled yet. At least his case should be fairly easy to test.

Lonnie, you do see the basic problem with categories #2 and #3? They appear to be contradictory to each other. How can we have a big revival going on in America when we're all hunkered down in fallout shelters and everything is highly radioactive? We're either on the verge of a great end-time revival or else a great end-time apostasy, but it's hard to see how we can have it both ways. Do you understand what I what I am getting at? Besides, I have observed that there is sometimes open hostility between these two sides, each side denouncing the other as "false prophets." It's a sad situation.

Moving on to category #4, the indeterminate fruitcakes, these are prophets who seem to delight in deliberately being odd, or they are otherwise very problematic or kooky. There are a few of these. But I am at a loss to understand how to test this category. Should one pay them any attention? As you know, Lonnie, some of the Old Testament prophets were required to do some very weird things (ask poor Ezekiel what he went through). For example, there is one prophetess currently running around the circuit who seems to get a personal tour of Heaven practically everyday and is eager to tell everybody about it with an enormous amount of details. She says she was required to dye her hair magenta. Tell me, Lonnie, how do I go about testing this sort of prophesying? Maybe if you wrote me back and included the official "Encyclopedic Tour Guide of Heaven," or at least the "Heaven for Dummies" paperback, I could use it to verify if this prophetess is telling the truth or if this is simply a mild case of mental illness.

I don't mean to say that everyone in category #4 isn't at all prophetically gifted. They might be. It's just they have mixed in so much questionable stuff into what they are saying that it's very hard to "sift the wheat from the chaff." Or it would be like trying to sieve through a mountain of worthless slag to find the occasional flake of gold. That is why I use the word "fruitcake" to describe this category — it's many fruity and nutty things mixed together. But as I have said, Lonnie, I am still sorting things out. I don't have all the answers.

My final category #5 covers everybody else, for lack of any better way of sorting things. If I can say anything at all, Lonnie, I think these prophets tend to be more specific, but they usually address individuals. So there is more of a "word of knowledge" component involved in this category, and therefore only the individual being addressed would be in a position to determine if the prophet had been spot-on and had been personally encouraging and beneficial. I confess, Lonnie, that I have received a few of these prophecies myself over the years, but they had been rather confusing for me, and I can't say that they were ever confirmed. Over time, they tend to fade from memory. I need to remember to write things down.

Apostle Paul once said that we know in part and prophesy in part. This is true. The same is also true regarding these categories that I have mentioned above. I must say, Lonnie, that my understanding is only partial at this point, and I might change my mind as I get more insight into this matter. Any help you can suggest would be much appreciated. Anyhow, because I am a little short on lambskin vellum — some of my ewes unfortunately miscarried because of an illness, and I am nursing some sick sheep — I need to cut short this letter to you. I will try to write you later.

Cry out Amen and Amen.

Sincerely yours,
Partly Confused Here on Earth.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Epistles to Lonnie Frisbee

Letter #5

Seraph Postal - Forever
Dear Lonnie,

Well, my sheep herding has expanded further since I last wrote you. My wife has now opened a small cafe, which specializes in lamb gyros, souvlaki, Byzantine desserts, and specialty coffee roasting. I supply the lamb; she roasts it on a spit and carves it up for sandwiches and gyros and other tasty dishes. She named her cafe after my Australian shepherd dog. It's called "Bimbo's Coffee Pot" on the big sign in the front and is located in a strip mall next to a Verizon store. There are lots of customers already and business is booming. The interior of the cafe is done up in themes from the old Max Fleischer cartoon characters. Naturally there are pictures on the walls showing Bimbo, who is Betty Boop's most committed admirer. Another character is Koko, the lovable, non-scary clown. There is Popeye the sailor, who loves seafaring, spinach, and roughhousing. Of course, there are many pictures of the famous, multi-talented Betty Boop. I realize that the decor seems incompatible with a cafe serving gyros and mochas, but she loves the old cartoons, and customers have told us they like the decor. So in that department, things are running smoothly, and I have enough lambskin vellum to write you this letter.

First of all, there's very good news, Lonnie, about the third book of your autobiography. Apparently, the visit those angels paid to your ghostwriter, Roger Sachs, has worked very well in encouraging him to move things forward to completion. I managed to contact someone at Freedom Crusade who apparently has information about the situation. She emailed me back and said:
…I can assure you that we have a team currently working on Book Three diligently. There is a process of interviewing and editing required that depends not only on our schedule. We want to do justice to this time period of Lonnie's life. And I'm sure people like you who are interested in Lonnie will appreciate the work we're doing now.…
She also gave me the time frame when they expect the third installment would be published. I am excited because it will be fairly soon now. It makes the wait a little easier.

I must confess that I evaded directly answering one of your questions you had asked earlier. There was inhibition on my part because I wasn't sure how you would react if I gave a complete and frank response. But it occurred to me, since you are living up there in the Beatific Choir, that you can handle the truth with serene equanimity because now you have a much clearer perspective on things. So I apologize for beating around the bush in my earlier letter.

Although he left out a few details, your friend Greg Laurie to his credit does own up to the fact that it was you, many years ago, that preached the Gospel to him, as he said here:
…Then a young man named Lonnie Frisbee stood up with a Bible in his hand. He was a youth pastor with Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, where the Jesus Movement was in full swing. With his shoulder-length hair and beard, he almost looked the way I had seen Jesus depicted in paintings and in the movies. He opened the Bible and began to speak. Although I listened to what he said that day, I don’t remember any of his comments except for one statement: Jesus said, "You are either for Me or against Me." What side are you on?

That really struck me. Never before had I heard that faith in Christ was an either/or deal.…
However, as I hinted in a prior letter, I very much doubt that Greg would invite you today to preach the Gospel at Harvest. But I don't think you would be invited anywhere, for that matter, if you were still here. This is very sad to say, but nonetheless I think it is the case.

But your preaching days are over, Lonnie, and now is your time to rest. You were granted rest probably sooner than is most common. I trust that what I am saying is not shocking for you now, but please forgive me if I sound a little harsh. To explain my reasons for what I am saying — that is, your no longer being welcome here to minister — I need to set down for you, as best I can, an explanation of how things actually operate in churches nowadays.

After many years of observation and experience, I have come up with five basic principles, which I call "The Five Mottoes of Peak Evangelicaldom," for lack of a better name. If you remember these basic mottoes and how to unpack them, you can understand why things happen in church the way they do here in America, at least on a visible level. These mottoes are as follows:
  1. Excellence of Intellect
  2. Ingenuity of Governance
  3. Preeminence of Reputation
  4. Astute Money Management
  5. Irrefutability of Success
Lonnie, what I am trying to tell you, ahead of time, is that today you would be considered less than acceptable, going by the standard of these five basic principles. I will try to explain why. Please try not to laugh at me too much if I stumble in this endeavor.

You must admit, Lonnie, that you were never very "intellectual." You never went to college, but you did drop out of a prestigious art school. You never went through seminary. Sometimes, provided they have built up outstanding reputations, ministers can get "honorary degrees" conferred on them. For example, your old friend Greg Laurie holds two honorary doctorates, one from Biola University and another from Azusa Pacific University. But you never reached that far; your life was too short. You have only one book to your credit, which is still in progress and awaiting the third installment, and even then you had to employ a ghostwriter to do the actual nitty-gritty work of putting things together. People with successful and solid ministries often write dozens of books that are widely marketed. And finally, while your preaching was at best simple and straight forward, it never had any theological or exegetical sophistication, which many churches rate as very important to have. Therefore, Lonnie, you must admit that going by motto #1 above, you were pretty much a flop.

You know perfectly well that during your life here you had problems complying with pastoral governance. You did surprising and unpredictable things, and that's putting it mildly. Sometimes you broke the rules. I think that you would completely agree with me about this, and so I don't need to elaborate too much on this aspect. But pastors generally don't like rule-breakers and people making waves. So going by motto #2 above, you would be considered too erratic, someone who doesn't fit into a smooth-running organization.

Nowadays, Lonnie, having a celebrated reputation is mandatory. You can't go anywhere in a ministry without reputation. But you know what controversy can do to a reputation, and you know that yours is pretty much shot to pieces now. Perhaps once your book is finally completed, it might serve to repair or rehabilitate your reputation in some small degree. But given how the Internet operates nowadays, I doubt that your autobiography will help very much. As I said in my first letter, once the identity label gets applied, there's no way to pry it off. Therefore, going by motto #3, you stumbled very badly.

As for motto #4, churches nowadays greatly value prudent financial dealing. (Ask about Hillsong, for a good example.) But in your case, Lonnie, it's a wash more or less. You never had any big financial successes and never showed any special talent in this area. At one point, you were living on food stamps and dumpster diving. And when you were doing your mission work in Africa, back in 1978, apparently pastor Chuck Smith didn't like how you were spending your mission funds, and so he had to play his "Moses Model" card and clamp down and cut back the cash flow. Therefore, when it comes to motto #4, you would have nothing to recommend yourself. You had no business acumen.

Finally, motto #5 is possibly the most important. Everything about the church nowadays is entrepreneurial, which is the best general term that I can find to describe how things really function. Big successful ministries have slick websites and high-quality marketing and wide-area networking and trendy, well-run conferences. Most churches operate like big businesses — in my estimation when you reach a certain scale it is unavoidably how things have to operate — and at this level the most important parameter is Success. How big? How much? How many? What is The Bottom Line? What are the statistics? And who can argue with Success? I don't know, Lonnie. You tell me. In any case, you fell short on all five levels.

I think that I have said enough so that you will understand why you don't fit the system very well. You were an aberration. On the other hand, the Lord didn't care about any of this. He decided to use the least likely person. But as I said before, your preaching days are finished now, and the system doesn't matter anymore for you. You have passed it by.

Finally, Lonnie, it looks like (Lord willing) that I shall have lived long enough to read your completed autobiography. I am hoping to see what's in the final, third installment, which will be coming soon. There are many questions that I have which maybe the third book will answer. One of the things I am curious about is that sermon you preached at pastor Tom Stipe's church in Denver. It was an odd sermon. How did Tom react to it? I hope that your third book clarifies this.

I have to take off now and end this letter. On my agenda today is picking up from our vendor a 100 pound bag of Kona coffee beans to deliver to Bimbo's Coffee Pot for our specialty roasting. The stuff is unbelievably expensive, but the customers love it. My flock of sheep is thriving. Bimbo the Wonder Dog also says "hello." A picture of his namesake is enclosed. I will try to answer some of your other questions in a future letter.

Shout glory.

Sincerely yours,
Weary and Worn Here on Earth