Memphis Belle

Untitled Document
Church History Intro
Saga of the Pilgrims
Calvary Chapel Revival
Methodist Revival
Worldwide Church of God
Sabbatarian Revivals
Early Church History
Messianic Jewish Believers
America's Godly Heritage
Baptist History
Churches of Christ Revelation 2 & 3
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Unity in Christ
Introduction
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Does God Exist?
Gospels
Epistles
Prayer
Faith
the Prophets & Prophecy

Psalms

OT History
Early Church History
Church History
Sabbatarian Heritage
The Worldwide Church Of God
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Evangelism


America-Modern Romans


Latin-American Poverty


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A MOST UNLIKELY PROPHECY

During the era when I was still a member of a denominational church, a group of us would meet for prayer together. One of us would sit in the chair and the group would lay hands on him and pray. As I was sitting in the chair with the group praying for me, there was a word of prophecy in which the Lord said that He was changing my name. The new name He was giving me meant "Shepherd," because He was going to make me the shepherd of many flocks and the church would not be large enough to hold all of the people who would be flocking to hear the Word of God.

Then there was another prophecy that followed some years later. The discouraged group down at Calvary Chapel had met to determine whether to call me to minister or to disband. As they were praying, a word of prophecy came to them that I was going to come, that I would seek to remodel the church immediately, that I would be remodeling the platform area especially, that the church was going to be crowded to where it could not contain all of the people. The congregation would then have to move to the bluff overlooking the bay, and would eventually develop a national radio ministry, and become known around the world. A more unlikely prophecy could not have been uttered to sixteen discouraged people ready to quit and throw in the towel.

Chapter 3

As Far As The Eye Can See

In the wilderness of Galilee, where the plains meet the mountains folding in upon them, there is a beautiful but brief phenomenon. For just a few days every year, beginning one early morning, you can look out on what had been a plain, and see a meadow covered with a canopy of wildflowers extending as far as the eye can see--poppies, lilacs, buttercups, all radiating color and dancing in the wind. It literally happens overnight.

One morning Kay and I looked out into the California streets and on the beaches, and we beheld another radiantly colorful sight: human forms, extending as far as the eye could see. The countercultural revolution of the '60's had begun, and the new citizens were the hippies, "heads," and trippers. Their colorful outfits belied the deeper problem that they represented. God was trying to tell us something, as we looked out on that field. We faced the problem of a gap of culture and thought that stood between our generations. I was brought up in old-world piety compared to the fast-track rebellion of the hippies. How could my wife and I cross this gulf?

The Lord clearly impressed on our hearts, Reach out in love. Now we knew that love could never be contrived with a group as sensitive and perceptive as that one. So, to quote my wife, we saturated the air with prayers. She organized late-night prayer groups and morning prayer groups. It seemed that Kay and her friends were praying all the time. Meanwhile I prayed with the elders and some church members. Before too long, we both felt a quiet change in the air, an excitement just beneath the surface.

Kay and I could feel growing inside our hearts, almost independent of our own efforts a growing burden of love and concern from God for these young people. With love would come necessary understanding. Then we would be equipped to minister to the real needs of these estranged youths. Could this be what God had been preparing us for all these years? Were we looking at fields rich with harvest, dislocated souls ripe for almost anything from Buddha to Christ, and only waiting for the chance to commit their lives? The cultural shift had happened quickly between our generation and theirs, like wildflowers suddenly appearing on the Galilean plains. How could we penetrate it?

Kay and I would often drive to a coffee shop in Huntington Beach and park our car. We would sit and look at those kids and pray for them. Where others seemed to be repulsed by these dirty, long-haired "freaks," we could only see the great emptiness of their hearts that caused them to turn to drugs for the answers to life we knew only Jesus could supply. But how to reach them?

Then one day it happened. We met several youths who were hippies, yet they had a different glow on their faces. They were Christians, converted in San Francisco's Haight Ashbury district through a communal ministry called The House of Acts. They were perfect representatives of their generation, having been to all the "Human Be-Ins" in Golden Gate Park, Grateful Dead Concerts, "acid tests," Merry Pranksters events, Whole Earth Festivals, and communal experiments. They had done it all. Then one day they saw the bottom of the elevator shaft within their souls. They glimpsed the ultimate emptiness of their pursuit, and finally called upon Christ to be the center and Lord of their lives.

We invited a couple of these youths to move into our home with us in Newport Beach. They soon moved some of their friends in as well, and it became sort of a communal house for a while. Our four kids accepted them and we began to understand their disillusionment with the church and the adult world that they called Straight Society. They had lost all faith in any values that had preceded their generation. They took it upon themselves to find newer and higher spiritual truths and begin a revolution.

But in their rootlessness, they were supremely vulnerable. Without history they operated out of a vacuum. They were like medieval peasants going into the sophisticated center of London, naive people open to being conned by slick street sellers and card tricksters. They denied the powers of darkness while they trafficked in the occult. Yet, as C.S. Lewis observed, God is equally happy with an occultist who worships him, as he is with a rationalist who denies His existence.

As the numbers of new believers grew, we realized that we had to find a place for these converted hippies to live. For we could not send them back to the hippie communes, knowing that they were not yet strong enough to resist temptations of free sex and drugs that abounded there.

We started establishing Christian communal houses to hold them. The initial elders came from the group that Kay and I had put up for a while. Their own zeal was contagious as they shared the rich truths of their newfound faith. By their zealous sharing about Jesus to those on the beaches, in the parks, and on the streets, they filled the area with the reality and truth of Christ. As we will see in detail when I discuss the lives and ministries of Greg Laurie, Jeff Johnson, Steve Mays, Mike MacIntosh, and others [you have to order HARVEST yourself to read of these amazing men and what the amazing God did in their lives], this urgent and timely ministry took off like a rocket. It was irrepressible. God decided to use people whose lives had been a social engineer's nightmare. And my wife and I witnessed this miracle time and again.

OVERCOMING BARRIERS OF PREJUDICE

Ironically, the only resistance we encountered to this move of God came from the church itself, those from our midst who had grown up with the church backgrounds, those from the "Straight Society." This sudden infusion of rebellious youths met predictable opposition.

Our challenge was to overcome what most churches had not, namely their insistence on respectability, conformity, and a judgmental attitude toward anything that departed from the norm. Many of our members rallied to the challenge, feeding off the zeal of the hippie converts. But there were still some who resisted and disdained these newest members of our church who showed up with long hair, bells on the hems of their jeans, bare feet, and who otherwise looked like wildflowers in their great diffusion of dress inspired by American Indian or Asian tribal styles. It was wildly creative. But it was also threatening, especially to those with young children who did not want them emulating hippies.

The interesting thing is how we saw love prove itself as God's adhesive force time and again. Duane Hart, a man who today is one of our elders, is a good example of the resistance many felt. He was furiously suspicious of the hippie converts. He felt that they were insincere freeloaders and manipulators who were unable to change. Never would they be able to work and support themselves.

Then one afternoon as Duane was working side-by-side with a group of hippie converts at the time we were dismantling a school building that had not been up to code he saw something that pierced his heart. These lean, muscular young men worked tirelessly as they sweat away in the summer sun pulling off the old roof tiles. Long hours went by and they never slowed down. By the end of the day, as they were scrubbing down piles of old roof tiles for use on the new structure, Duane noticed that their hands were bleeding from working so hard. And with their hands bleeding, these young men worked on into the night, singing of their newfound love for Jesus. God so convicted Duane of his judgmentalism that by the end of the day, there was not a word he could utter about them except in their defense from then on.

On another occasion, a renowned surgeon came to Calvary Chapel at the invitation of his future son-in-law, Don McClure. As Dr. Anderson told us later, he had had utter contempt for the hippie movement, and the morning he came to Calvary Chapel he was very ill at ease in the packed crowd. As much as he may have tried selectively to ignore these zealous converts, they were everywhere.

Rigid as a board, the illustrious surgeon mouthed the hymns. When it came time to read a passage of Scripture corporately, this world-renowned man had no Bible. But sure enough, someone near him did, a tall, shaggy, straggle-haired hippie. Reluctantly, condescendingly, he accepted the Bible, perhaps the way a Pharisee might take something from someone ceremonially unclean. As he opened it, he noticed that it had apparently been read with avid devotion, as Scriptures were underlined, starred, colored with felt-tip markers, and notes were scrawled in the margins. Shame and conviction flooded him. By the end of the service something in him changed.

But it really came down to my having to make a statement to men like Duane and some of our older members from straight church backgrounds. It was an issue that could have destroyed our work if we did not head it off. I told them:

"I don't want it ever said that we preach an easy kind of Christian experience at Calvary Chapel. But I also do not want to make the same mistake that the Holiness Church made thirty years ago. Without knowing it, they drove out and lost a whole generation of young people with a negative no-movie, no-dance, no-smoke gospel. Let us at Calvary not be guilty of this same mistake. Instead, let us trust God and emphasize the work of the Holy Spirit within individual lives. It is exciting and much more real and natural to allow the Spirit to dictate change. Let us never be guilty of forcing our Western Christian subculture of clean-shaven, short-hair styles or dress on anyone. We want change to come from inside out. We simply declare that drugs, striving to become a millionaire, or making sports your whole life is not where true fulfillment or ultimate meaning lies. Because the end of all these is emptiness and disappointment."

Perhaps this involves interesting symbolism, but I think that the last barrier to go in our church was the "bare feet" barrier. When we got beyond that, we were home free. The pivotal incident centered on a wide expanse of brand-new carpet that we had just put in. Those who had been inwardly protesting the hippies finally found a target upon which to vent their discontent. Dirty feet soil carpets, and these carpets cost a lot of money. Besides, who wants to see dirt marks on a brand-new carpet? They took it upon themselves, early one Sunday morning, to hang up a sign reading, No bare feet allowed.

For some reason I happened to reach the church earlier than usual, and was in time to take down the sign. It was sad to see division over things this trivial. It was also sad to see what really lay behind the outward demarcations of division: a we/they polarity instead of love. This time, I was the one to call a board meeting, and I would not be overwhelmed in the manner that I reported earlier. Now, not only was I on the board, but I was president of the corporation. This did not make me a dictator by any means, but it meant that I would be free to be God's man with a clear conscience, and I would not be in a position of a hireling.

Then I spoke from my heart to the board:

"In a sense it is we older established Christians who are on trial before the young people. We are the ones who told them about James 2 and 1 John 4:7. The kind of action we displayed today puts a question mark across our faith. When things like this happen we have to ask ourselves who or what it is that controls and guides our motives.

"If because of dirty jeans we have to say to one young person, 'I am sorry, you can't come into church tonight, your jeans are too dirty,' then I am in favor of getting rid of the upholstered pews. Let's get benches or steel chairs or something we can wash off. But let's not ever, ever, close the door to anyone because of dress or the way he looks."

Calvary Chapel jumped over that last hurdle. We were ready to move ahead.

...Before too long, I was sending people out to plant other Calvary Chapels in other parts of California as well as across the country. [And to read about this amazing Revival as it spread across the country order HARVEST for yourself and read it through. It's a page-turner!]

[This chapter is what I call The anatomy of a Christian Revival. These are transferable concepts which Pastor Chuck transferred to the pastors he trained and sent out across the country and now the world. They are just as easily transferable to other Christian fellowships and denominations as they were to Calvary trained Pastors. Are you in a desert experience in your own fellowship and with your own congregation? Try these concepts and see what happens. I honestly believe you will be in for a very pleasant surprise. And you will also become very busy. The Lord will richly supply the labor and the money you need, though. Just feed the sheep. That's it. Now let's see how it was done. We have just read about the results. So we know it works. And if you don't believe me, visit a Calvary Chapel that's been around for five or ten years. They don't stay small for very long. Talk to some of the members. You will find they are deeply committed Christians who know their Bible inside and out, so it's not just a numeric growth, but spiritual as well. Now let's take a good look at those transferable concepts, as explained by the one who first successfully used them in modern times.]

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