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Oct 3 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

September 30, 2018 – 1 Chronicles 12:32

Fifty Years Later

This past weekend I was asked to address a conference regarding the Jesus Movement and the rapid spread of the Christian faith. One of seminars of the conference featured the documentary, “Lonnie Frisbee: The Life and Death of A Hippie Preacher.”
The theme of the conference was a prayer, that God would cause a similar spiritual tsunami today. My first inclination was to ask, “Do you really want to be part of something like that? Have you counted the cost?” But when I thought about the people I was addressing and how hard their lives were up to the present, I knew they would not be afraid of doing whatever it might cost them to build this tower and mobilize all their energies to take on this challenge (Lk. 14:27-33). If you are not interested in the subject matter, do not waste you time reading these notes. C. S. jr.

Intro: When my brother and I were kids, assembled model cars

Painting the plastic parts, gluing them together, and applying the decals
– when finished, we would display them on a shelf in our bedroom
• but as soon as we got our hands on a few firecrackers,
• those model cars were used for special effects explosions
– I am going to do something like that this morning
• I will describe some of what I witnessed of the Jesus Movement (c. 1967-1971)
◦ specific conditions related to the movement will be highlighted
◦ these highlights could be considered pieces of a “revival” model
• and then I’m going to blow up that model

You know that after David fought Goliath and before he became king,
– he was considered an outlaw, hiding at first in a cave in Adullam
• we are told,

Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them (exactly the kind of church the world needs today, 1 Sam. 22:2)

◦ later on others joined him, bringing with them certain skills
• those skills were mostly military
◦ the exception was what the troops from Issachar brought to the party:

Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do . . . .1 Chronicles 12:32

– these are two complementary skills – and both are necessary to be of any use
understood times – it is unusual to grasp the significance of the present moment
◦ “times” are more clearly seen in retrospect
◦ but these sages discerned the drift of society in real time
• still, that insight would be worthless with out knowledge of what to do
◦ specific times have their own character, demanding an appropriate response

To everything there is a season,
and a time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted . . . . (Ecc. 3:1)

◦ so, what time is it now, and what should we be doing?

The prayer of this weekend is, “Lord, do it again”

Do what again? What are we asking for, exactly?
– we will give this some thought
– first we dip into the past

Have you ever heard someone blame all our social ills on the Beatles?
– the Beatles appeared in a time of radical social change
• but those changes were already underway prior to the arrival of the “fab four”
• they would not have had the impact they did if our culture had not been primed
– in 1980, Landon Jones published Great Expectations
• it is a detailed study of the Baby Boom, which he described as the “biggest generation in history”

Jones observed how our “collective purchasing power made fads overnight and built entire industries.” We may think of companies like Disney, Mattel, or Hasbro; trends like Hula Hoops and Duncan Yo-Yos; or movie and music industries.

• television helped to unify us and create a collective consciousness
◦ we watched JFK’s assassination and soon after we saw Lee Harvey Oswald get shot
◦ we moved through the mid-1940’s to the 80’s like a swarm of locusts, changing the landscape of the nation

I would describe the late 1960’s as an apocalyptic era
– this generation grew up under shadow of atomic bomb
• in 1962, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring 
◦ if her voice did not launch the eco-revolution, it certainly announced it
• we were drafted and dragged into a war that made no sense
• Boomers very existence was a threat to the world
◦ the media was constantly publishing “scientific” predictions of doom resulting from overpopulation
– here is a rather clear example of apocalyptic interest (or paranoia);
• the remarkable sales of Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth (1970)

Ted Wise was one of the people interviewed in the documentary on Lonnie Frisbee
– he welcomed Lonnie into his communal home in Novato, California
• Ted and his wife had followed Timothy Leary to San Francisco
◦ they were attracted to Leary’s quasi-spiritual philosophy of expanded consciousness
◦ but later broke off from Leary when Ted met Jesus when on LSD (!)
• hippies converged on San Francisco in 1967, “The Summer of Love”
◦ thousands attended a free concert in Golden Gate Park
◦ Haight-Ashbury located an area of the city that became the hippy epicenter
◦ at first young people were drawn to the dream of a new society
(an enlightened utopia, without violence or hate)
◦ the message was anti-war – free drugs – free love
◦ a landmark event was the Monterey Pop Festival
(the youth generation could claim rock-n-roll as its own unique expression)
◦ traveling up and down the West Coast was like a pilgrimage for hippies
• however, by the winter of 1967, the dream had begun to collapse

One of the factors, as Lonnie and Connie Frisbee explained it to me that when they first came to San Francisco the drugs were free. People were handing out marijuana and LSD on the street. But then Organized Crime moved into Haight-Ashbury and addictive drugs like heroin and cocaine flowed into the streets. Now people had to pay for drugs, which created the problems of violence against those who failed to pay and crimes committed by those who were desperate for money to buy more drugs. The whole tenor of chemical enlightenment degenerated into addiction survival behavior.

◦ people were having more and more bad trips — mentally going away and not coming back
◦ our heroes began to drop one-by-one from drug overdose
◦ the early visionaries began to disperse from San Francisco
(there was no longer a “center” to the movement)
• in 1969 the Rolling Stones hosted a free concert in Altamont, California
◦ the Hells Angels motorcycle club provided “security” and killed a young man
◦ this event was later referred to as “the death of innocence”

Hippies had left the “Establishment” to create a new order

But now they found themselves stranded in a defunct counter-culture
– having dropped out of mainstream society, they now needed a way back in
• they wanted to get jobs, establish homes, and raise families
◦ but they had wandered far from home and it was a long way  back
• besides, they did not want to abandon their non-materialistic values

During the unrest hippies felt in 1967, Lonnie came home to Orange County, CA
– my parents instantly took to Lonnie
• they introduced him to their small church, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa
◦ on a Sunday night, a handful of people prayed over Lonnie
◦ they asked God to use him to bring many hippies to faith in Jesus
– Lonnie and Connie were daily going to the main hubs of hippie activity
• in Orange County, primarily Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, and State University campuses
◦ the message to hippies was, “You don’t have to give up the dream
◦ your just have to turn your faith and hope from drugs to Jesus
• the response was instantaneous
◦ within a week, thirty new converts were living with the Frisbees in a communal house

The pattern at first was to take new converts into a commune
– in a few months, there were homes in Santa Ana, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, and Costa Mesa
• the young men would work together as crews doing construction, landscaping, etc.
• the young women would work together planting vegetable gardens and domestic chores
◦ every night they were in Bible studies, either at Calvary Chapel or in their communal homes
◦ the communes were run according to a literal reading of scripture
– as for the church, Calvary Chapel could not build, remodel, or expand fast enough
• when converted began to return to their hometowns, they took their faith with them
• they led Bible studies in parks, homes, school yards, and anywhere they found open space
◦ eventually, churches formed in those areas, mostly in Southern California
◦ however, within two decades Calvary Chapel churches crossed the nation

Lonnie Frisbee was a central figure in the Jesus Movement

At least, in Southern California
– Lonnie had a childlike and complete belief in the Bible
• he read it as if God had written it for him specifically
– Lonnie could go straight from the Bible to whatever was in front of him

Lonnie also seemed to have a dynamic relationship with the Holy Spirit
– he believed God could move through him anywhere and any time
• and that God was moving through him everywhere, all the time
◦ it was like what he said in the documentary,

“I can feel the presence of God coming down on me and on the person being baptized.”

• frequently, it was if Lonnie could see the invisible

Lonnie responded with calm confidence to everything
– when he preached in church or public places,
• he welcomed interruptions and distractions
• I think he looked forward to them
– for him, spontaneity created more room for the Spirit

The first wedding I performed was for a couple who attended meetings in Riverside where Lonnie preached every Sunday night. The groom, Glen, who is mostly deaf, was drawn to the meeting when he and some friends saw a lot of people their age driving into the church parking lot. When they saw them carrying Bibles, they began making fun of them. When Glen’s friends left, he decided to stay and try to figure out why all those people were there. He stood behind a large glass window that separated the foyer from the auditorium where Lonnie stood in front of everyone, holding a Bible and preaching. Glen could not hear Lonnie and had no idea what was going on. But a moment came when Glen was suddenly filled with panic, and he burst through the back doors of the sanctuary and ran screaming down the aisle until he reached Lonnie, where he fell to the floor. The audience was stunned at Glens disturbing behavior and for a moment the whole room was agitated. But in a reassuring voice, Lonnie told everyone they could calm down. Then helping Glen to his feet, Lonnie announced, “This man is powerfully under the conviction of God’s Holy Spirit.” Then, in front of the crowd, Lonnie spoke to Glen, invited him to give his life to Jesus, and prayed with him. That was over forty years ago, and the last time I heard from Glenn and Anne, they were still strong in their faith, love for God, and gratitude for Lonnie.

Lonnie was willing to go anywhere God sent him
– eventually his travels included Sweden, Denmark, Britain, South Africa, and I don’t know where else

Lonnie was a very charismatic
– I do not mean only in the spiritual (Pentecostal) sense
• Lonnie had a charisma what was winsome and compelling
• his personal presence exuded warmth and the life of God

A Jesus-People model

There were many people whom God used during the Jesus Movement
– here is what I observed in those who seemed to be most effective:

  • They talked, thought, and lived Jesus all — the — time
  • They took the Bible literally and sought to do whatever they found in it
    – they spent every spare minute reading it
    – and they shared with others what they had read
  • Their prayers were intense and focused
  • They were not afraid to face anything
    – they expected spiritual resistance and encounters with evil
  • Every hippy that became a Christian, became an evangelist
    – they celebrated every new convert
  • Some were the least likely to be used in a big way, yet they were
  • They were loving
    – people would remark on how social boundaries were blurred at Calvary Chapel
    ◦ conservatives would join hands with hippies
    ◦ an elderly person would be sharing a Bible with a barefoot youth
    ◦ it was very much like Paul described in Galatians
    For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:27-28 — one could wish this were still true of all Calvary Chapel churches)

Conclusion: This is where I blow up the Jesus Movement model

Again, the question is, “Do what again?”
– we do not need for God to part Red Sea
• nor do we need to be able to call fire down from heaven or kill giants
◦ we do not to repeat a revival of fifty years ago
◦ those times have passed
• what is the new thing? what will it look like?
– I have no idea
• I have no idea what he’s preparing or what kind of person he will use
◦ God moves his work forward – with or without me
◦ sometimes through me; most often in spite of me
• this much I know, since the dawn of time God has been at work
◦ and it is always a big work

Perhaps the big question most of us are asking is, “What is my part?”

When Israel was overrun by their Midianite enemies, an angel appeared to Gideon and told him, “The LORD is with you, mighty man of courage.” Gideon asked, “If the LORD is with us, then were are all of his miracles that our fathers told us God did so long ago?” The angel’s answer was simple, “Go,” he told Gideon, “Go and deliver Israel. In other words, when Gideon asked, “Where are all God’s miracles,” the angel answered him, “You are God’s next miracle.”

– I’m pretty sure that is what God says to anyone who asks,
“Will God do it again? Will gather tens of thousands of people to himself?
Will he work another miracle?”
• yes, he will, and you are that next miracle
– Lonnie Frisbee did not create the Jesus Movement
• he just made himself available
• YOU–ARE–ENOUGH — God does all the “heavy lifting”

Do we need thunder and lightning?
– perhaps we need first to hear the still, small voice
• sit in silence and listen for God – use your “built-in caller ID”
◦ when anyone you know well calls your phone, your recognize their voice
◦ what facial recognition is for our eyes, the voice is for our ears
• we can learn to recognize the voice of God’s Spirit
– bring your awareness to what God is doing in your world already
• maybe it isn’t mass baptism
◦ maybe it is volunteering to work with adolescents in a rehab clinic
• when you find something that seems like it fits you, join them
◦ stick to God’s priorities: widows, orphans, strangers
◦ mercy, compassion, faithfulness, love
Do this, and you’ll see enough miracles

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