Monday, July 23, 2012

Lonnie Frisbee

I'm reading Lonnie Frisbees posthumous Not By Might Nor By Power: The Jesus Revolution which just came out about 20 years after Frisbees death. Di Sabatino's Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher is almost required viewing in our congregation. This enigmatic figure has captured my own imagination since I discovered he was "that young man" from the 1980 outpouring on the Vineyard. Reading his book is evoking mixed feelings within me. I can hear his voice in the words, but I also hear something of a  strained naivete as someone longing for a purity of heart that the damage done to his life might always keep out of his reach. I hear it in the pleading that we believe what obviously was painful for him to have people discredit in the past. But even through this his stories are so inspiring.

I think what I like best about Lonnie is that despite being so obviously broken - he was still profoundly employed by God to do stuff that most of us only dream we could do. He's like the little engine that could - giving all of us hope that we can too. I think he paid a great cost to be that inspiration, but somehow I think he also knew that was a privilege. At least that seems to come out in his writing.

I wasn't really going to review this book, I may do that later, but I did want to ask a few of the questions that Lonnie's life raises for me.

Do we really believe God wants to move in powerful ways today? 

Is Lonnie an example that we want to follow? I think in many ways he is. At the same time I struggle with my own doubts about how much God wants to move. Lonnie didn't seem to have this problem (and there was a time when I don't think I had as much problem with doubt either). It is not that I don't believe in the supernatural - in fact I've seen and experienced too much not to believe that God can and does move in powerful ways. But life ends up being a lot more mundane than I thought it would be in those bright eyed days of faith. I've also learned that doubt is not something to be feared - but something to be embraced as in the possessed boy's father's honest declaration: "I believe, Lord help my unbelief."(Mark 9:24)

What I love about Lonnie's new book is that he is more concerned about sharing Jesus with everyone than he is about miracles - and he is pretty desperate for miracles. I wonder about how much we can be afraid to bring Christ into our everyday lives and I think that our biggest hesitation is that we are not convinced that God wants to touch, heal, restore, convict, or convince all the people in our lives. I'm not talking about forcing that stuff ourselves - but rather expecting that this is simply the natural way that God wants to supernaturally move in and through our lives. I know that in moments where I expect God to move God shows up in powerful ways. But I struggle with why I don't believe God will show up all the time, no matter where I am or who I'm with. The challenge of Lonnie is to expect God to move everywhere we are/go simply because we believe that this is what God wants to do. God loves people, God loves the whole world actually, so perhaps it is time to say "Lord help our unbelief."

Do we really know what the cost is for God to move?

Of course this is going to be costly. One of the things we've learned over the years is that moving in the prophetic is something you grow in - you need to practice listening to God to learn to hear better. I've seen some amazing things as I have practiced this gift. God has led me into some pretty awesome situations. But the cost is that to act on what we are hearing involves risk. I love it when God shows up and brings confirmation, but we don't always get to see that even. And worse, sometimes we just flat out hear wrong. I am so humbled by the graciousness of God to choose such flawed and broken vessels. But didn't Lonnie epitomize that?

The cost of really believing is being willing to see what God is doing anywhere and everywhere - and to do what we see. Sounds nice until you live it. Lonnie talks about how we get spiritually lazy in the free world. I confess that he is right - comfort is a very tempting proposition. When God moves it can get uncomfortable quick. God doesn't box up nicely - and God is not something we use like a tap we turn on and off. Paul tells us the reasonable worship is to lay down everything, our whole lives, and certainly all of our own expectations, before God (Rom 12:1). It is a costly affair this Jesus thing - but why would we expect anything less?

Frank Emanuel - Ontario Region 


  1. Thank, Frank. I identify with so much of what you say. Where did you get the video? I think our group might benefit from it as well.

  2. I have a copy I could loan you Matte. I ordered it online. David also has a new film on Larry Norman that I'm itching to find an excuse to purchase.

    I suspect that many of us in the Vineyard can relate on this. Wanting God to move is in our DNA - but for many of us that passion has been tempered with the pain of previous experience.

  3. David Di Sabatino never knew Lonnie, and never even met him. How can a person really paint an accurate portrait of someone they don't know? Their information is only hearsay. It would be like a person telling me all about Jesus, and even making a film about Him, but not knowing Him. How accurate would that be? How much more clear would it be to read about someone's life from people who know them?

  4. Sister Afrika. A great many biographers do not know their subjects personally but make their assessments through research. This is not hearsay. That doesn't mean David's presentation isn't without personal biases and limitations, but he does draw a lot on first hand accounts. Your comparison with Jesus is not logical either - you can know Jesus in a way that you could never know Lonnie. And you are still limited by what other people have told you about Jesus, mediated through your own experience of Jesus. Knowing someone does not mean your opinions are without bias either.

    But I'm curious. Why are you so concerned about David's film?