Things I Think…

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91 Responses

  1. Donner says:

    Obey and follow Jesus, empowered by the Spirit for the glory of God.

  2. LInn says:

    i need to confess that after reading Lonnie Frisbee’s info article on Wikipedia, I’m not impressed. That kind of double life doesn’t fit well in the pastoral context, not to mention the normal Christian life. I had the same reaction I had the first time I read about the real Jack Hyles (much venerated in the Independent Fundamental circles in which I became a Christian in ’73). Just one big yuck!

  3. prodinov says:

    Michael, CC had their promoters, as a youth in the Southern Baptist structure of the late 60’s, early 70’s, and trying to follow much of the CC as possible, the Southern Baptist were elevating Sammy Tippit (who claims on his website that he was known as the leader of the “Jesus Movement” in Chicago, and Arthur Blessit, as their very own. Lots of interesting crossover when you read the history and see that the coffee houses in California that started to spring up, pre Costa Mesa, were being hosted at Southern Baptist Churches. Of course history as you have pointed out can be distorted and not accurate. It was Teen Challenge in Germany, back in 69-71 that was feeding us as much CC as possible via music and teaching.

  4. Michael says:


    The problem with that is that Frisbee was the gas that propelled the engine of this movement.

    Frisbee and Smith were both (allegedly) involved in moral failure before it all hit.

    Frisbee was not the only gay man involved in the greater movement.

    God has yet to explain all this to my satisfaction…

  5. filistine says:

    We saw the JR movie yesterday and it was better than I thought it’d be, but I had really low expectations. Audience was primarily people I recognized from churches I’ve been in, especially Applegate, CCGP, and a local AG church. I’m jaded in many ways, but my takeaway was that God can do whatever He wants, whenever, through whomever, wherever. Flawed people populate the planet and the pews & pulpits on Sundays. It’s a wonder anything happens that produces glory for God.

    I’m looking forward to reading Beth Moore’s book–I ordered the hard copy because I’m old school. 🙂 Currently reading Peter Enn’s book “Curveball.” Liking it so far.

  6. Michael says:


    I’ve always noted that CC and the SBC are kissing cousins…

  7. Michael says:


    I think you made the right application.

    Those are the people I expected to see the movie…and another reason I won’t go… 🙂

  8. filistine says:

    At least no one asked me, “Where are you fellowshipping now?” I still haven’t generated a non-snarky go-to response. If I felt they would engage and were curious, I’d simply be truthful.

    As for applications–it is the conclusion I’ve arrived at through much else–and the film simply confirmed it. I especially liked that Kay Smith’s character delivered the best line in the flick–something about God being big enough to work despite our screw-ups. I also enjoyed hymn #420 on the board in the back of the platform.

  9. Michael says:


    Thirty some years after the fact they still look at me with contempt…and most have no idea about this site .
    That would really cause some come aparts…

    They assume I’m the heathen they were told I was.

  10. filistine says:

    I think that speaks to your #3 above–about inclusion and exclusion. I think that was the best section of the movie and it can be convicting today if one has the ears to hear it…but too many ‘believers’ don’t want to be the person God uses to reach someone marginalized or outside the camp because they really don’t want them to be a part of their circle. If you were, indeed, the heathen they thought, they would be compelled by the love of Christ to reach out to you and me and so many others. But that isn’t what compels most today. That is way too much to ask. But it also a big ask for me, too, if I’m honest. It is a big fat struggle that shows I’m still the flawed fool Christ reached out to with a grand gift all those years ago.

  11. Linn says:

    Michael at 2:27

    Hence my issues with revival movements. I like to see the fruit before I get really excited.

  12. Michael says:


    It’s a big ask for me to…I want to exclude those who excluded me…and it doesn’t work that way.

    Grace is a bear…

  13. Michael says:


    The issue for me is that there was fruit…and we have to accept that God used people we don’t approve of to grow it…

  14. Alex says:

    I was there. I knew Lonnie, personally. I loved him, in his wild abandoned way of offering Jesus to everyone. Everyone. Come one and all. Come just as you are. You are loved. God will deal with you but first and forever God will love you. That was Lonnie.

    He was sincere, genuine, ‘on-fire’, and hopeful that God would change everything and everyone into followers of Jesus, in purity and truth… even Lonnie himself. He believed that. He was not a hypocrite or a false leader, as others were and are. He struggled and was aware of his failings and continually put them before God. I know this personally. I am sorry that he lived in a time where his failings had to be so hidden… but they were not hidden to him.

    I am reminded of the men and women that Jesus called to himself, closely and intimately… tax collectors, prostitutes, murderers, self-righteous religious, etc. I wonder if Jesus would have called a gay man? Given his track record, I believe he would.

    Lonnie was broken by the religious system in so many ways – used up and thrown out. His story is now told by others and those others have a slant to them. Some versions of their stories of him stink a bit as attempts to cover up, or distract away, from their own failings.

    I would think that many here would be able to relate rather than have a yuck factor reaction.

    I loved Lonnie and I still do. I thought several times before I wrote this, but I must confess that I’m weary of people’s’ judgments on things that they did not live through themselves.

    Haven’t seen the movie. Likely won’t, or if I do, I’ll wait til it streams. Don’t know how they portray Lonnie and others. Tales abound. Consider the source.

    Thank you for your balance, Michael.

  15. Alan says:

    Is jadedness a major descriptor of this community? My own tendency is to flow in and out of that realm. The result of becoming jaded is to deny the call of Christ to a childlike spirit and to thereby shut down my reception of the grace that brought me to Him. I don’t like the person I become nor does the Spirit within me bear witness with that spirit.

    But I will admit, every time my heart softens some merchandiser of men exploits the open door. Likely, I will run out of miles before I run out of that cycle.

    That being said, I loved the movie and the Asbury movement and the hope that a new day of harvest may be near.

  16. Alan says:


    Thank you.

  17. Michael says:


    Thank you…that was really well said.

  18. Michael says:

    “Is jadedness a major descriptor of this community?”

    Does a bear relieve itself in the woods? 🙂

    Of course I’m jaded…I’ve spent the last few decades in the evangelical sewer.

    That doesn’t mean that I don’t recognize that God has moved in special ways at times and be thankful He does.

    I don’t see any great end times harvest in Scripture…the opposite , actually…

  19. Josh says:

    Historically, how white is CC?

  20. Michael says:


    Predominately so…but why do you ask?

    There is a Latino presence in many places now…

  21. Kevin H says:

    “Does a bear relieve itself in the woods?” – Staying on topic with this week’s Things I Think, do we need to watch the Cocaine Bear movie to get that question answered?

  22. Josh says:

    You mentioned a connection between my former denom and CC. As I thought about it, All of the CC pastors I know of, including those highlighted in this movie, are white. Just another parallel. No significance other than the fact that I did not recognize that before.

  23. Michael says:


    This, and many other mysteries are disclosed in “Cocaine Bear”…

  24. Michael says:


    There are a few black pastors in CC…but not many.

    I think that’s mainly because of the demographics of the areas they are popular in…

  25. Kevin H says:


    From what I have seen and experienced in my geographic area, which is not nearly as CC concentrated as Southern California, but is probably one of the most CC concentrated areas outside of the West Coast, the pastors and congregants are majority white, especially in the pastorate. There are a good many other races/cultures mixed in, but that is more reflective in the in the congregations. For the most part, they would seem to be a reflection of the demographics where they reside. This includes the big CC where I used to attend.

    I can tell you however, that without a doubt the cultures of these CC’s are dominantly white.

  26. Kevin H says:

    Michael, I would presume that Cocaine Bear must be quite a deep and profound movie.

  27. Michael says:


    I’m sure it’s a cinematic triumph… 🙂

  28. Kevin H says:

    I can also say that I know of two black senior pastors out of the 20+ CC’s in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Almost all the CC’s in my area are affiliated with the CCA and not many keep a dual affiliation with the CGN. This is likely due to Joe Focht’s influence and dislike of Brodersen and the CGN and their “liberalness”.

    However, of the two black pastors, one is not associated with the CCA (I think he may be the only Calvary Chapel in the Philadelphia area not associated with the CCA) and the other black pastor has dual affiliation. Without having any insider details, it does make one wonder if these circumstances are the result of culture that is strongly white, especially on the conservative side of things (CCA).

  29. Alan says:

    Chuck’s original lament that the hippies should take a bath and get a job resulted in him baptizing and employing a lot of hippies. Beautiful irony using a man to amend that over which he complained.

  30. filistine says:

    the “jadedness” question and the defecating cocaine bear answer is my new PP gold standard of self-identification.

    part new crew, part nite crew.

  31. Michael says:


    It shows we’re ever evolving…into what, I’m not sure…

  32. Dave Rolph says:

    Michael, you know we’re getting old when we agree on so much. I try to rejoice when the gospel is preached, as Paul exemplified to the Philippians, but it takes me awhile to get there. All history is revisionist, with events adapted and adjusted according to the agenda of the storyteller. I feel like I’m in a better place today than I was over 50 years ago, when I opened my life to Jesus, and a ton of people had a part in my development, including Lonnie, Chuck, Tom Stipe, Greg, Romaine, Larry Norman, Love Song, Keith Green, Bob Dylan, Richie Furay, Oden Fong, Billy Graham, and countless other friends including you. I’m thankful for the process that got me here. It was a crazy road. God uses messed up people because it’s the only kind He can find.

  33. Michael says:


    Good to see you…especially on this thread.
    You will cheat us if you don’t write a book on this history from your perspective…

  34. Dave Rolph says:

    Michael, what I should really do is write a fiction novel about my history. Then I wouldn’t have to defend it against the flawed recollections of others. And when people get pissed at me my response would be, “Yeah right. I made that all up.” One of my funny fictional stories would be about a pastor who badmouths a particular blogger while concurrently leaking information to said blogger. But who would ever believe that? 😉

  35. Michael says:



  36. filistine says:

    perhaps Rolph verifies the maxim “part new crew, part nite crew.”
    A real encouragement to see Dave here today. Thanks for the wisdom that comes with all that experience.

  37. Alan says:

    I’ve never read a story in the news paper that matched the facts if I knew the reality on the ground. A movie is always a fictionalized account and never accurate to history … Bravehart anyone? Rudy? Movies have to entertain … not to mention the points of view that Rolph references.

    But hey, a story was told and Christ was the hero of the story… not Chuck or Lonnie or even Greg and Cathe … Jesus did a thing and of his grace have we all received.

  38. Officerhoppy says:

    The night crew! Those were fun discussions.

    Made some friends (and enemies) there. But mostly, friends.

    The reason i liked the movie is because, very honestly, it took me back to the days when i knew next to nothing except i was forgiven and saved.

    As i said, i was at the front end of the jesus movement but not a part of CC. It wasn’t until 1974 that i ever attended Calvary as a student at Vanguard.

    But i am grateful that regardless the staying power of “revivals” like we saw in the 70’s or at Asbury, that god still stirs the hearts of people. Maybe 1 out of 10 continue with jesus (and i am speaking as a skeptic) but I’ll take it

  39. Captain Kevin says:

    Fil said “nite crew!!”

  40. Captain Kevin says:

    Hoppy, Fil, Rolph. Now where’s London?

    Night Crew seems like a whole generation ago.

  41. Pineapple Head says:

    I believe #7 to be true, and it saddens me. Why is it our experience is valid, but other’s experiences come under withering scrutiny?

  42. Nonnie says:

    Thank you Alan for what you have shared! And thank you Officer Hop!! I love that….”.I knew next to nothing except i was forgiven and saved.” I’m 47 years in and that’s how I feel today. Things I was so sure about, I now question or completely reject, but I don’t fret, as I’m pretty much…..a “just give me Jesus person” and “God help me love my neighbor person” I haven’t seen the film. I don’t go to the cinema anymore. I don’t enjoy the side lights shining in my eyes, the booming sound, the booking online, and not being able to stop the film and go to the bathroom. 😂. I’m happy to wait for films to come online these days. I was one of those kids that had her life radically changed by the “Jesus Revolution” and I’ve been in leadership and am old enough to have seen the immorality, hypocrisy and misogyny in the church, but I’ll tell you….. Jesus has never disappointed me. Yes, I’ve questioned, I’ve cried, I’ve wondered, but He has always remained faithful and met my every need. When my heart is overwhelmed, He has always been my strength and comfort.
    I always read the comments here when Alan or “Dread” has commented, and I always come away edified and/or challenged. Blessings to all.

  43. Michael says:


    It’s a generational thing…the old Presbyterians were aghast at the Great Awakening…I spend most of my waking hours aghast…

  44. Michael says:


    If we last much longer, it will be a generation… 🙂

  45. pstrmike says:

    Night crew!!!! 😎

  46. Bob Sweat says:

    The “Night Crew” rocked”. Stantheman, Erunner, Mr Potato Man.

  47. JD says:

    I guess we’re all connected together after all.

  48. josh says:

    I got here in 2008 and people were already reminiscing about the night crew. That must have been a heck of a party. 🙂

  49. Dave Rolph says:

    The night crew was special. We should make a movie about it. 😜😂

  50. Reuben says:

    “9. I have no hope in or anticipation of revival…historically, they do as much damage as good in the long run.”


    Josh, Calvary Chapel prided itself on the mild manner, laid back style. The music was… bland. There was no appeal to Black People there. Culturally, Black churches were known for blowing the roof off twice every Sunday. The Jesus movement was not geared for Black People at all. An interesting observation.

    Another thing bugs me after reading Alex speak of Lonnie. Still, nobody uses the actual words when speaking of him, as of his sin is still unspeakable. Be honest, he was gay. And he was a powerhouse nonetheless

  51. Reuben says:

    I remember the night crew!

  52. filistine says:

    Rolph–that’s hilarious.

  53. Bob Sweat says:

    The night crew morphed into the unforgettable Efest’s! Erunner, if you’ve reading this, drop me an email.

  54. Captain Kevin says:

    Dave, that gave a chuckle that I needed this morning!

  55. filistine says:

    “Nite Crew” with a special appearance by Greg Laurie

  56. Officerhoppy says:

    Night crew with a special appearance from Lonnie Frisbee!!


  57. Captain Kevin says:

    Fil and Hoppy, LMAO!!

  58. victorious says:

    My highlights: Night crew, Efest, The PP Annual Prophecy Updates and engaging with the multiple personalities of Joe Sabolick.

  59. Captain Kevin says:

    Wasn’t Costco Cal also part of the Night Crew?

  60. Michael says:

    This thread is triggering my PTSD…

    Costco cal was indeed part of the frivolity…

  61. Michael says:

    Joe Sabolick is still at it…what stories I could tell…

  62. Kevin H says:

    Yes, Michael, but to stick with the theme of this thread, you would need to tell those stories through the medium of a movie.

    You could title it, “Who Is Crazier: Joe Sabolick or a Cocaine Bear?”

  63. Michael says:


    Whether you fully understand or not…that’s the funniest thing you’ve ever written.

  64. Michael says:

    That would be a classic such as “Alien vs. Predator”…

  65. Kevin H says:

    I don’t fully understand it as Joe Sabolick predates my involvement here, but hopefully that one was a happy laugh. 🙂

  66. Reuben says:

    AVP is one of my favorites

  67. Officerhoppy says:

    Joe and Cocaine bear—-hahahaha. You guys are killing me!!

    The night crew is the legacy of the Phoenix Preacher. You may not agree but it was PP’s finest hour. I used the moniker Sola Fide.

    I spent many and a late night hour conversing with those fine folks

  68. Officerhoppy says:

    Some times we yelled at each others, and at other times we cried. But mostly we just learned thru it all

    How many years ago was that? I’ve been back in the Valley for about 6 years and it was probably at least 6 or so years before that

  69. Michael says:


    It was a high water mark in terms of community.

    By the time that got rolling at night I was in bed or dealing with the hundreds of emails that had come that day and everyday.

    It was a grind…and incredibly stressful.

  70. filistine says:

    Nite Crew was certainly a time of blowing off considerable steam–and rightly so, but it was also sessions of true honesty and transparency which many of us sorely needed. In many ways, we were a bunch of junior high campers run amok while the counselor was away. I refer to it as a season when I finally found my voice.

  71. filistine says:

    BTW I finished Beth Moore’s new autobio and it is well worth the read. Like the JR movie, better than I expected, though my expectations of the book were higher. 🙂

  72. Dave Rolph says:

    I always thought of it as how the disciples acted when Jesus wasn’t around. 😉 But they were seriously special times. Even when I took 💩 for being a CC pastor it helped me see our “movement” (not bowel) from a balanced perspective. God help us if we can’t listen to our critics. The only thing that prevents churches from becoming cults is listening to the voices of your critics.

  73. Officerhoppy says:

    Interesting article regarding lessons learned in the Jesus Movement:

  74. filistine says:

    Rolph–that’s why you’re a pastor and I’m a junior high teacher. 😉

  75. JD says:

    I often wonder if when the disciples were with Jesus they farted and laughed like we have done so many times on a men’s retreat.
    I also learned today that you can laugh to death.

  76. Sylvia says:

    I think you’ve assessed it all pretty well.
    I saw the movie yesterday afternoon. I’d say the best thing about it is that it managed to be just a movie, a decent movie. The characters were cleaned up and flattened out, but it came off as serving the storytelling rather than serving an agenda of “do ye likewise” or an altar call.
    One thing I’ve found interesting is that different people with significant Calvary Chapel experience have pretty diverging views as to which characters really worked and which didn’t. To me the Lonnie Frisbee character was completely unrecognizable as “that guy” and was a bit much all the time, but within the story he functioned well as a moving piece.

  77. BrianD says:

    The night crew kept me going spiritually at a time when my life was dominated by my work — where I often felt demeaned and disrespected and sometimes less than human — and my only friends besides close relatives were here at PP. The humor and irreverence helped me remain open to God longer than I would have had there not been the blog, or an internet

  78. filistine says:

    BrianD–well said, and always good to ‘see’ you here. We certainly shared plenty of humor and irreverence…and probably caused Michael an ulcer or two.

  79. BrianD says:

    fil, I remember being down when the night crew died out. I should have realized everything has its time and place and many things don’t last for a long time. That said, it wasn’t just hilarious, it wasn’t just irreverent, and it wasn’t just community, it might have even been redemptive. There was a lot of pain and anger on the blog at that time; I think the night crew acted as a kind of valve that relieved pressure that otherwise might have built up and expressed itself more destructively

  80. filistine says:

    I agree completely. There was an egalitarian spirit as well, not a hint of pecking order to my recall.

  81. Linn says:

    #5 So to understand the posts better, I watched the Lonnie Frisbee documentary. It is very well done. I was a bit young when the Jesus Movement hit (6th grade), but part of my spiritual formation did come through the music of Calvary Chapel. It was being sung everywhere by the mid-70s.

    I’ve been in two churches that were literally blown up because of pastors and sexual sin. In the first one, the pastor was gay and had a number of affairs.When he was found out, most of the church walked. He also died of AIDS in the mid 90s. The next church, ten years later, had a pastor who was a serial adulterer. We were his third church, and it was a “pass the trash” kind of arrangement. He went through different churches because everyone thought he was such a wonderful preacher and people responded so well. He was also besties with a guy in our church who was sexually abusing boys on his soccer team. Yes, people were saved through these guys, but the collateral damage was terrible and permanent. Neither of the churches has ever recovered, nor have some of the people who were in them.

    So, when I hear about a”great” Christian like Lonnie Frisbee my visceral reaction is a groan. It’s apparent that some good things happened, but I again wonder about the collateral damage. I also wonder if Chuck Smith felt justified in hiding his marital unfaithfulness because Lonnie could hide his homosexuality.

    Just my thoughts…I have a hard time justifying a “great work” of God when the people involved are all in kahoots around obvious and flagrant sin.

  82. Alan says:


    God does seem to bless the labors of a lot of bad actors. And he allows many others to bear scant fruit.

    He hardly ever checks to see if we’re ok with it.

    Frankly that’s the one you may be challenging. The LORD seems to let this happen. He actually seems to keep blessing lying philandering skunks until they’re caught.

    BTW I think Lonnie’s bad behavior was dealt with both severely and fairly by the church.

  83. Linn says:

    I’m sorry. I don’t agree. He is merciful and will give some fruit, but He has given us the Word and Hus Spirit to help us make good choices. Churches I have been in with good oversight usually have good outcomes.I was in “professional” ministry for 15 years and have had a leadership role in every church I have ever been in. The good ones have always followed the Timothy and Titus passages to guide and sometimes discipline leadership.

  84. Michael says:

    The mystery here is that the last great awakening in this country was led by two men who had committed sexual sins.

    That is the simple reality.

    I don’t like that truth, but it’s truth, anyway.

    It’s a truth that has led me to wonder often if this was a real move of God…but I know way too many who were there and know it was.

  85. Linn says:


    I know God can bring blessings out of the worst of circumstances, but we can make other choices. I think we often forget that we have that option.

  86. Michael says:


    Depends on how much you believe those choices were “free”.

    Lonnie Frisbee was repeatedly molested and abused as a child and abandoned and rejected by every adult male in his life with familial influence.

    He was a broken person…and God used him to birth two movements that exist to this day.

    The majority of big name pastors I’ve known over the last 25 years were jerks…maybe not involved in sexual sin, but filled with avarice and pride.

    God knows this offends me, but it is what it is….

  87. Dave Rolph says:

    Life would be so easy if it were fair. But then it would cause us to do the right things for the wrong reasons. In 2 Samuel we see David failing miserably, committing adultery and murder, then seeing his family destroyed when he failed to act as his oldest son raped one of his daughters. God told him there would be horrible consequences and there were. I’d be the first one to “like” a post calling for his removal from leadership. But there it is, on the last page of my Bible, Jesus bragging about being related to him. I hate that! (Sort of.)

  88. Victorious says:

    One of the biggest fallacies that has reached epidemic proportions and is systemic in our day and age is that we assume that God primarily uses the ones that climb on a stage, grab a mic or that we put on a pedestal and we esteem (in our very limited and tainted capacity for evaluation) as the ones God primarily used to bring people to Jesus. From this flawed data we arrive at very wrong conclusions. God “uses” a multitude of people that span time, seasons and even generations to act as the body of Christ, accompanying Him in His work of salvation. ICorinthians 3:5-15 tells us otherwise. IPeter 1:9-10 declares that communally we are a royal priesthood. Peter declares on Pentecost at the birth of the Church that all ( spanning age and genders and statuses) are recipients of and ministers of the once limited and isolated prophetic gift. Drill down into the details of every salvation story and you will find it to be true. God has chosen and does utilize a multitude of people to bring someone to Christ and build someone up in Christ. If those details of some stories are not available today, they will be made available and will be told the at the judgment seat of Christ and beyond . . . We utilize severely limited and distorted data, make wrong assumptions, drawing wrong conclusions and teach it and share it as the traditions of men. We try to tell stories of salvation with Old Covenant paradigms when Christ has abolished that and instituted the New order.

  89. Em wWegemer says:

    Victorious, AMEN, AMEN, AMEN! ! !

  90. pstrmike says:

    I was telling my elders some of this same idea yesterday. There is an older man in our church who for whatever reason, responded to an invitation to visit our church. He didn’t grow up in church, rather, he was hippie who lived in the Green Triangle for many years. He is very different than most of the others who attend our church. We accepted him, gave him space to learn something about God, and tried to stay out of the Holy Spirit’s way. I’m seeing fruit in his life now as evidence of conversion—and I don’t do alter calls. What we are doing as a church is not news worthy in the sense that the local paper would never want to do an article on us, but it is pointing others to God in way that is expressive of the Kingdom.

    The Wind blows where It will…….

  91. victorious says:

    @Em glad you were blessed!!

    The beauty of leading/ guiding in a way where this man’s experience of Christ includes a healthy bonding with the body and with you as a servant also within the body. Chances are much greater that he will grow into both a healthy individual and group identity because he experienced it rather than being only instructed about it. You are helping him experience what the Word describes about Christ and His beloved people.

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