Did you ever have a Sweet Tart? You know that candy that is both sweet and tart and has been around for what seems like forever? There is something incredible about this candy and its simplicity. It is a small round candy; semi hard that will eventually melt in your mouth and in some kind of strange way is able to encompass both a sweet and a tart or sour flavor. It was really the candy that was the predecessor of all the sour candies around now. While newer sour variations have attempted to replicate the old fashioned Sweet Tart, none have perfected the balance of sour and sweet as well.
This weekend was like a Sweet Tart weekend for me. There were some goody moments but also some that left a tart or sour taste in my spirit. Let me digress and explain, hopefully keeping you along for the read, but also challenging you to think about your own life.
The weekend started off kind of sweet, I had just received the DVD Frisbee The Live and Death of a Hippie Preacher in the mail from Amazon. This biographical documentary is actually a DVD I wanted for over a year. I don’t know why I didn’t order it earlier, maybe I was too cheap or couldn’t find it, I don’t know. I decided a few weeks ago to try and find it after I was asked about it by a good friend Mark. I could show it at the church I pastor, Mosaic.
Lonnie Frisbee was a hippie back in the 1960’s and 1970’s that became a Christian while doing LSD. He became one of the most influential pastors of the last hundred years or so. Many would say any Christians who practice in a contemporary fashion owe Lonnie Frisbee a great deal of gratitude. He is accredited with the growth and development of two primary Christian movements that changed the face of Christianity. It is a movement where I came to know Jesus and made the decision to follow him.
Many have called it the Jesus Movement or refer to the Jesus People. Frisbee is largely responsible, some would say solely responsible, for the growth of Calvary Chapel and The Vineyard, yet, many within those two groups have no idea who he is, or what he did because the history books of those groups have essentially written him out of their history. That is a shame, because while Lonnie Frisbee had weaknesses and at times gave into sinful activity which ultimately cost him his life, it should not take away from the contributions he made by allowing himself to be used by God. Our Bible is written in part, by and about men and women who were far from perfect; yet, God still used them and touched them. Lonnie Frisbee should be a reminder to all of us, of how God through brokenness can still work and change lives.
There was also the sweet this weekend of taking time to spend with my daughter, son in law, and my wife. We drove a few miles north of Wichita to North Newton Kansas. It had been some time since I spent any quality time with my daughter and wanted to do so. We walked around the wonderful little town of Newton, ate lunch at a nice Mexican restaurant, purchased a gallon of freshly made apple cider, literally made as we ordered it and walked into some great stores including A Thousand Villages store and an Et Cetera store. In both establishments the proceeds go to help in fair trade mission work and legitimate income and mission work to third world countries. We returned to my daughters, where she had made some wonderful Bierocks a wonderful Mennonite bread pocket stuffed with hamburger and cabbage and a fresh peach crisp for desert. I know it sounds simple but it was really delicious. After a good supper, we all decided to sit down and watch the documentary mentioned above, Frisbee.
During moments of the film, I wept as I reflected on the actions of the church to one of the forefathers of my faith. In the end, I was challenged by this man who was used by God to transform the lives of people like me. It was a reminder to what God had called me to and of the things I needed to do in my own ministry. I feel like I have been torn from that lately, and that didn’t feel well. I was challenged to move forward with the ministry God has called me into.
After awhile, my wife and I returned home and upon getting home I had one of those moments where I got a sour taste in my mouth. I had recently been talking to my wife and others, some of you may even know of the struggles over the last year I have written about regarding the desire to spend time with my mother. My desire was that before she became ill, before something happened to me, or her, I would have the opportunity to develop a mother-son relationship in whatever way we could.
Many know I was abused in various ways by my mother; most know it has been difficult for me. Please don’t say I should forgive and have things be “normal.” For those who would say that, read my book, and then tell me what I should do. Those things aren’t always possible. I have struggled because I know God would have me love those that are unlovable.
My prayer is that God would use my life, allow it to be transformable so people could see and understand, that one walks among them who is willing to take the chance and let God be God. Not the judgmental, hateful God so many follow, but the God who gives strength to forgive things that seem so unforgiveable. My relationship with my mom would be such an example. The fact that I desire that to some may be example enough, but for me, I want more.
As I had been speaking to my wife and others over the weeks, and even that day, my desire was to build this relationship so I could have a mother and have a relationship that only God could provide for at least a small period of time in my life. I covet that relationship, I thirst for it, and I hunger for it. Every child must want this with their mother or father. I know I do.
Upon arriving home from my daughters I had a phone call from my sister. She requested I call her as soon as possible. I have had those phone calls before, maybe you have. There is something about the tone of voice, the mannerisms of how a message sounds that you know something isn’t good. My assumptions were correct.
As I spoke to my sister she informed me that my mother had had a stroke and had according to some “dangerously high” blood pressure. My sister was hurting though, and soon I would be. The hospital refused to share anything with my sister and me even though we are the next of kin. My sister and I, mainly my sister, had been scrambling to find things out. I would begin to gather information that night, but my sister already had a full day’s head start on me. I felt also for her. She lives closest to my mom in Johnson City Tennessee as she lives a few hours away in Augusta South Carolina. I living in Kansas was reminded again of the sacrifice many make when they are involved in ministry. I, like many others in ministry live from week to week, sometimes, like now, barely having the funds to get across the state lines. Yet, here I am some 1,000 plus miles away, feeling I need to be with my sister, and to take what time I have left to give God the chance to work a miracle of healing for my family, and yes, in a selfish way, even for me.
Things go on though, I still have obligations, and I still have commitments. I had to go to church Sunday morning and preach a sermon, that is if you call what I do preaching. I encourage people to talk back to me, that way we can learn, I also share and teach more than I preach. Heck, God knows I am not worthy to talk down to people, I have seen so many pastors do that, I was likely one that did that.
Today’s message was one I had scheduled months ago; it was the History of Revival from the Prayer as a Prelude to Revival series I have been speaking on. Today though, the story of watching the history of the Jesus Movement Revival that had an effect on so many old hippies like myself was fresh, it was fresh because over the last 20 or so hours I had reason to reflect on what God had done for me, on what I still wanted God to do for me. From Lonnie Frisbee and an appreciation of the ministry God had given him that effected and changed my life, to the relationship and desire for healing I still had with my mother.
One of the things that impressed me on the Lonnie Frisbee story was how God continues to use broken, imperfect people to accomplish his will. There is no doubt, that many in the “established church” think and present the need for perfection. They did so with Lonnie Frisbee, he had moments of weakness and suddenly he is cast out of the church, written out of history books, and suddenly it was as if he never existed. This from a man God used to reach tens of thousands of hippies during the 1960’s and 1970’s with the life changing message of Jesus. This from a man many say was as close to a modern day apostle as any human being they had ever met. This from a man who never forgot about the salvation offered by Jesus, and who realized and believed that Jesus really is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.
One thing I was reminded of when watching the movie, especially after my evening regarding my mother, was my need to pray the prayer Frisbee prayed before he spoke. I had every intent of doing that today at church; I knew I needed to pray this prayer after arriving at church. I took time to meet with several people prior to church, to pray for them to lift them up, to encourage them. I was going to say something prior to my speaking today. I was getting ready to do this prior to the conclusion of worship when one of the wonderful ladies of the church, Rebecca, sort of beat me to it. Well if the truth be known, she didn’t sort of beat me to it; she did beat me to it. She interrupted before the completion of the last song to have our worship leader, Brandi, do another song, encouraging people to spend time in prayer.
For me, I still felt the need to pray that prayer that Lonnie Frisbee prayed before he spoke, I knew the need for it. Right as Brandi had finished the song, I stepped up on stage, Brandi started to take her guitar off and I told her, “don’t take that thing off yet, we aren’t done.” I shared with the church of my experience with my mom. I tried as I always do to be honest, real, and, vulnerable. I shared how I had been touched by the video Frisbee. I wanted to make sure Mosaic wasn’t the kind of church that spoke a good game of loving others, but we weren’t one that practiced it. In doing this, people needed to be vulnerable themselves, and hopefully, they could see that if their pastor was willing to do that, then it is okay for them. It was after sharing this I told them, “I am going to pray a prayer that is similar to what Lonnie Frisbee used to pray.” I then prayed in all sincerity, and in all honesty. “Holy Spirit Come, Holy Spirit Now.” The prayer was simple, yet sincere; it wasn’t a formulated structured prayer, but a prayer that I sincerely desired for our church.
To those reading this, I am going to say something that you will find hard to believe unless you were at Mosaic on the morning of September 14, 2008. Please understand, I am a skeptics skeptic, I have issue with things like this sometimes as I don’t believe them. I don’t believe in emotional tricks to get people to respond. Lonnie Frisbee didn’t either; it is one of the things I appreciated about him. That said, immediately after the prayer was over, people moved. People came up front to have prayer. I had purchased a couple of weeks ago, some anointing oil to put on people as I prayed for them. I don’t understand the magnitude of why God has us do this, but I can’t change the fact that my Bible tells me to anoint people with oil as I pray for them, so I decided to be obedient, then one after another people came up. People were crying, some weeping in the church. There is no doubt that the Holy Spirit heard and responded to the prayer I had modeled after Lonnie Frisbee. It was obvious that others had been praying for revival, there is no doubt that the most simple of prayers, prayed with sincerity and desire was something God would use. There is no doubt that in all of the struggles of the night, that in the sour moments I had experienced, that God, through his Spirit wanted to have not only the sweet taste of salvation in my own mouth, but in the mouths of the people of Mosaic.
Today at Mosaic, God moved. Sure, it was obvious there were a few skeptics to the events of our day. There are the more educated, more structured, more highly seminary trained that will somewhere along the line find reason to be critical of a service that had weeping, praying, and sharing prior to the regular sermon time, but there is also no doubt that those things that prohibit some from feeling and experiencing the free working nature of God’s Holy Spirit also prevent them from being the church that God has called them to be.
I don’t mean this as a slam or put down on any one, on any church. I simply say this because the Jesus we read about in the Bible, the Holy Spirit we read about in the Bible. The Revival fires that took place across the history of the church, are still things God desires for us, but we have to wonder, do we really want those things, or, are we so prohibited and concerned about what others think that we squelch the power of God’s Holy Spirit?
Yea, the last 48 hours or so now has been a roller coaster ride for me. It has been like a Sweet Tart if you will. I think that is going to continue for awhile but that is not such a bad thing as I know that God will be with me on my journey.
I still value your prayers, I need them. That is one of those honest things, I don’t need to beat around the bush about, none of us do, it is a part of what really loving each other is all about. For those of us who have had issue with the “established church”, it is one of the things we don’t have to give in to. We can let the same Holy Spirit that changed lives in the book of Acts, continue to work and change our lives through their power.
As to the things I ask you to pray for, here is where I can be specific. First, I have some needed changes I need to address for my health, but mainly for the ministry God has called me to. I won’t share much here for now other than to say if you want more detail, email me privately. Much of the additional stress and difficulty regarding my health is centered on this area.
I ask and covet prayer for my mother. Her name is Geneva and she is in the Johnson City Medical Center. She has had what they think is a stroke, very high blood pressure that has come down, but still high, and they have found a mass on her left lung which they are doing a biopsy on this week. I pray for her health, I pray for her to come to have a relationship with Jesus, I pray for the opportunity to have a mother son relationship with her, if only for a little while, but ultimately for all of eternity. I pray that it be longer than short, but I pray the Holy Spirit move like never before in her life and decision making process. I pray for direction, the funds to go to Tennessee to provide support for my sister, and to be there some with my mom. The truth is, she could be here for a while yet, but we already know things won’t be the same, currently don’t look good, and in all likelihood my sister and I will have to decide on her care. She may never be able to live alone again.
My mom has her friends and a few family members left in Johnson City. That said neither of her two children lives there. We are both more than willing to have her come live with either of us, but that takes her away from all she grew up with, all she knows, her friends, and I could go on. As you can see, if you think about it, this leads to the need for wisdom, and yet a love that respects the desires and wishes in whatever way we can.
I also request prayer for my sister. She has it harder than my wife and I as she is single and don’t have the highest paying job in the world. She is a sweet girl, and one that is involved in her church and God has touched her through tough times. But as her big brother, I still don’t want her bearing the load. I admit I feel bad about this; I want the best for my sister. While I have had issues with my mother, my sister, (her name is Andrea, but I never called her anything but Sissy) is one who went through much of what I did, she had to live the life I did but I left home before her and she had to endure in some ways, more. I have never forgotten that and struggled most of my life that I should have been there more for my little sister. Please pray that God would give her wisdom, strength, and the finances she needs to meet her needs.
I will leave it at that for now; there are many things here to pray for. There is work to be done but you know what? My God, My Jesus, and the Holy Spirit that fills and lives in my soul, is as I mentioned earlier, the same yesterday, today, and forever. They would choose that none would perish, but experience and obtain everlasting life, and experience it in fullness. May we all, care enough for each other to love, and enough for God to serve and be the Jesus to the lost and dying world he so much loves. Thanks for reading, and hopefully you have gotten something out of this you can use in your life. May the God that made us all, who provided us with the hope of salvation through his son, and gave us His Spirit to Lead us, be glorified, lifted up and praised.
The following includes some wonderful historical videos of Lonnie Frisbee, as well as some comments regarding Lonnie's impact. Just double click on the video, if the video don't appear, just click on the link.
Reflections on Lonnie Frisbee
God Can Use Us All, Even the Homosexual
Lonnie Frisbee's Conversion
Lonnie Frisbee Mothers Day Message 1980
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