What I Learned From Lonnie Frisbee | by Sandy Adams

by cca

Lonnie Frisbee was the “hippie preacher” that God used powerfully in the early days of Calvary Chapel. The Jesus Movement had begun when Chuck Smith met Lonnie and allowed him to preach to the young people who were flocking to Chuck’s church in Southern California. And Lonnie’s impact was undeniable. Under his preaching hundreds of young people were saved, and believers received the baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Often his laying on of hands and prayer prompted believers to speak with the gift of tongues.

Lonnie’s ministry was highlighted in the recent film, “Jesus Revolution.” The movie has stirred up questions and interest in Lonnie’s life and ministry, and it inspired me to tell my “Lonnie Frisbee Story.” I have just one. We met briefly, but God used the “hippie preacher” to teach me a lesson I have carried with me the rest of my life. My one-and-done encounter with Lonnie has proven instrumental in the growth of my faith.

Lonnie’s popularity at Calvary Chapel was strategic, but short-lived. It stretched from early 1968 to 1971 when Lonnie and his wife left California for Florida. For most of the next decade they were involved in other ministries. Lonnie returned to Calvary Chapel in the late 1970s when our paths crossed.

I came from Atlanta, Georgia to Twin Peaks, California in the spring of 1980 to enroll in the Calvary Chapel Bible College. The Jesus Movement had spread from California to places all around the world, even to the Deep South. I started listening to Pastor Chuck on the radio. It was through “The Word For Today” that I learned of Calvary Chapel and its Bible College.

Having been raised in a fundamentalist Baptist Church I knew very little about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and supernatural gifts like speaking in tongues. But when I gave my life to Jesus I wanted to be His witness, and lacked the boldness needed. One night I prayed in desperation for God to pour out His Holy Spirit on me. He did, and for a blessed moment I spoke in tongues. What happened scared me. I thought, “what’s a good Baptist doing speaking in tongues?” And my doubt shut down my praise. But there was no denying my life changed that night. I had a new boldness to share the Gospel and a strong love for people. I knew what I had experienced was real, and longed for a repeat of both the Spirit’s anointing and the ability to praise God in an unlearned and unknown language.

Shortly after my semester at the Bible College began I heard of a pastors conference that was to be held at the facility. I’m thankful the students had the opportunity to attend. I had just begun to learn that there were Calvary Chapel pastors other than Chuck Smith. And of course, I’d heard of Lonnie Frisbee. People told me he had a special gifting, that he prayed for folks and they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

Again, I was a Southern Baptist branching out. I had come all the way to California to learn from and experience what God was doing at Calvary Chapel. I thought, “I might as well have this Frisbee guy pray for me. If I’m really serious about this why not approach the guy with the reputation.” So one night at the conference I found Lonnie. Someone had to point him out to me. I introduced myself and told him my story; then I asked him if he would pray for me to be filled with the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues.

After a long pause Lonnie ordered me, “Take off your shoes.” I said, “What?” He told me again, “Take off your shoes.” Now it would not have been that difficult. All I was wearing at the time were rubber flip flops. But I was adamant, “I’m not interested in gimmicks. I want the real thing! I want the power of the Holy Spirit, not some charismatic hocus-pocus.” I’ll never forget Lonnie’s response. He was bold, “Man, your problem is pride – intellectual pride. If you can’t figure something out you won’t believe it.”

Then he recited me the story of Naaman the leper. Recall, the Syrian General had approached the Prophet Elisha for healing. Elisha told him to dip himself seven times in the Jordan River. At first Naaman was too proud to immerse himself in the muddy, murky waters of the Jordan. He said if he wanted to dip in a river there were purer rivers in Syria. That’s when his servants called him out for his pride. They ask him, “If the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”

Just as Naaman didn’t understand what his healing had to do with dipping himself in the dirty waters of the Jordan, I didn’t see what taking off my shoes had to do with me receiving the power of the Holy Spirit. But Lonnie saw the connection perfectly. His insistence that I take off my shoes exposed my intellectual pride. If I couldn’t make sense of the instructions, I refused to believe. After a string of excuse-laden responses from me, Lonnie brought our conversation to an abrupt end, “Hey, you asked me to pray for you, and God told me not to pray unless you take off your shoes.”

Well, I was so mad I did something that’s hard to do – I stomped off in flip-flops! No way was I going to get involved in what I saw as spiritual shenanigans. But when I walked up the stairs, and sat down in the lobby of the conference center to sort out in my mind what had happened, God spoke to me, “Sandy, he is exactly right! This IS your problem. If you can’t dissect it, and decipher it, and have it all figured out you won’t believe it. You have a faith that’s limited to your own logic.” Lonnie had hit the nail on the head. My problem was my pride!

So I humbled myself, and took off my flip-flops. And almost immediately, I saw Lonnie walking out the door. He was on the back stairwell. I got his attention and waved my shoes at him. He just smiled. I told him, “Don’t smile, pray! You’re exactly right. I’m a proud man. But I’m humbling myself now, and I really want you to pray for me.”

That’s when Lonnie once more did the unexpected. When I look back on the situation, it’s surefire evidence he was listening to God. He said to me, “God just told me not to pray for you. I’ve done my part.” And with that he gave me a big hug and walked off into the night… And thus ended the only experience or conversation I ever had with the man… almost. For the lesson God taught me that night has shaped my life ever since.

The very next day a group of friends and I went to the baptism at Pirates’ Cove (Corona Del Mar), and after being baptized, as I was walking over the rocks that surrounded the Cove, the Spirit of God moved on me again with power and love, and once more I started speaking praises to God in an unknown language. But this time, even though it baffled and humbled my understanding I went with what was happening. Rather than quench the Spirit as I had done before, I rejoiced! I was grateful! I was experiencing what Peter called “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” It was amazing, a former Southern Baptist was speaking in an unknown tongue! I experienced a wonderful filling of the Holy Spirit that I have never forgotten and continue to walk in to this very day.

And since that day, I have come to realize how vital it is to take God at His word even when I don’t have it all figured out. Prior to my encounter with Lonnie I lived my life with a faith limited by my own logic. If I couldn’t understand the ins and outs of a thing I remained skeptical. I never considered that God was bigger than my understanding. His ways are beyond our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. God is all-knowing, and I am still growing!

And now whether it’s a truth clearly revealed in the Bible that I can’t yet reconcile logically – or a physical tragedy with no apparent explanation – just because I don’t understand it doesn’t mean I can’t trust God. Today, when I comfort a couple whose baby just died, or talk to a man whose spouse has a cancer, or walk through a hard passage with a skeptical student, or encourage a sojourner at a confusing crossroads… I can assure that person that real faith doesn’t need to know why, when it is certain of WHO. You and I can trust God even when we can’t trace Him. I love the saying, “What’s over my head is still under God’s feet.”

I have heard the stories of what became of Lonnie Frisbee. He failed to finish well. But his life affirms the lesson God taught me through our encounter. Just as God works in unusual ways that baffle our reasoning, God uses unlikely people to do His work. God knows the great hindrance to building His Kingdom isn’t foolish men or weak men, but prideful men. God’s plan is to use the foolish to confound the wise, and the weak to shame the strong. He uses humble people who aren’t deluded into thinking the power and wisdom is of them. Often I recall the lesson I learned from Lonnie, and I thank the Lord for “the hippie preacher.”

Pastor Sandy Adams

Women and Church Leadership

by cca

This week, Saddleback Church announced the appointment of three female pastors. This was applauded by many evangelicals. Yet I believe this breaks the heart of the God who made us male and female. Both genders and the roles assigned to each are designed by God to teach spiritual truths. The Bible says that Christian men are to lead and Christian women should follow. This doesn’t apply in the secular arenas of government, business, society-at-large, but in God’s living room – in the church and in the home – this is how He wants Christians to order their relationship with the opposite sex. These roles paint a picture to the world of God’s relationship with His people. Throughout the Bible God speaks of Himself in the masculine and His people in the feminine. Jesus is the groom and the Church is His bride. God leads and Christians follow. And it’s God’s will that every church and marriage serve as a reminder.

This is why a woman’s role in the church is such a watershed issue. It’s not that women are incapable of offering spiritual leadership and biblical instruction. To the contrary, women may be the more suited for service. But giftedness is not the issue. There are times when God’s purpose is spiritual and emblematic, more so than practical and utilitarian. When a woman yields leadership to a Spirit-anointed man she fulfills a higher, holier purpose, than simply the task at hand. The Apostle Paul said her actions intrigue the angels. In the eyes of God any of the pastoral duties she might perform pales in comparison to the beauty and significance of her submission. God wants us all to see and serve the big picture.

And yet Saddleback is not the only church that has allowed the pressure of culture to obscure the purpose of God. Giving women the authority to teach men and pastor the flock is spreading. Even some Calvary Chapels are compromising the biblical ideal.

I want to remind the Calvary Chapels that might be influenced by the example of Saddleback and those likeminded, that our pastor was clear about what the Bible taught. Recently, I ran across a personal letter I received in the early 80s from Pastor Chuck. I was struck by its relevance to today. At the time I was a young pastor prayerfully sorting these matters out for myself. I sought Chuck’s counsel. His reply was simple and gracious as always, but it was also biblical and clear. And as I share it these many years later, I pray its clarity speaks to you!

Pastor Sandy Adams

Calvary Chapel in the Deep South

by cca

Listen to a podcast featuring Pastor Sandy regarding Calvary Chapel in the Deep South with Pastor Anthony Rea of Living Water Christian Fellowship in Dothan, AL.

Listen to a podcast featuring Pastor Sandy regarding Calvary Chapel in the Deep South with Pastor Anthony Rea of Living Water Christian Fellowship in Dothan, AL.

An Encouragement from Pastor Sandy to our Calvary Chapel Family

by cca

Calvary Chapel pastors are different.

Calvary Chapel pastors are the same.

And both statements are true. To prove my point just look at how we’re all reacting to the coronavirus…

On Sunday, March 15th our Calvary Chapel did online services. We decided to cooperate with the CDC and our governor to address what we considered a public health crisis.

That same Sunday a well-respected pastor in another part of the country told his Calvary Chapel they weren’t going to succumb to fear. His Calvary Chapel was open for worship! The implication was that those who went online had succumbed.

The week after, I saw where another Calvary Chapel pastor (again, one I highly respect) posted to the internet that the coronavirus was a leftist plot to take down our President.

A day later I was speaking to a fourth Calvary Chapel pastor who referred to the coronavirus as an apocalyptic plague – a judgment from God and a sure sign of the end times.

It might have been an hour later when I read an insightful article posted by another Calvary Chapel pastor that insisted the coronavirus was God’s way of removing our idols of sports and entertainment, and reminding the church that He is all that matters.

And still another pastor I know suggested that his Calvary Chapel’s forced online services might be creating in His people a deeper gratitude for their more normal worship times that they’ve long been taking for granted.

It was amazing, I wasn’t listening to different news channels, or to blogging pastors from different denominations. I was tuned to Calvary Chapel pastors only, and the result was six very different explanations for the same crisis.

Calvary Chapel is a group of pastors who hold to a set of distinctives. We consider them non-negotiable. I like this about us. I know where you stand and you know where I stand. And people who leave my Calvary Chapel and come to yours are not shocked by surprises. We agree on verse by verse teaching, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, a balanced theology, servant leadership, an emphasis on God’s grace, and the pre-Trib rapture of the Church. These are principles that color us all with one brush. But on other subjects, like the coronavirus, we think differently and often radically so.

Calvary Chapel is not a monolithic movement. We share a set of commonalities, but we enjoy great freedom to think according to our own conscience and convictions. Sometimes we agree. Sometimes not so much. But I for one, appreciate the fact that we are free to be different. I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “Find two people who always hold the same opinion, and you know that one of them is not thinking.”

As a Calvary Chapel pastor I expect my fellow pastors to be committed to the distinctives that have always characterized us as a movement. But just as importantly, I also expect you to think for yourself. Protestants have always held high the priesthood of the believer. You don’t lead me, and I don’t lead you. Jesus is our great High Priest, and it’s His desire to lead both you and me by His Holy Spirit. And what tests our belief in that doctrine is when our thoughts differ, and divergent opinions form. Do we respect or reject each other? A Scripture verse comes to mind, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”

The coronavirus has upset our world and retooled our ministry the last few weeks. But it’s also got me thinking… six different explanations of the same crisis; and yet as I thought it through I saw some truth in each perspective. It reminded me that I’m happy to be part of a family of pastors made up of very diverse and colorful characters who think alike on vital points, but who see other things very differently. There’s another old saying, “Find two people who think alike on everything, and one of them is unnecessary.”

And there’s one more reason why this observation is so important. In the Bible the anointing of God’s Spirit isn’t restricted to the orthodox. God once spoke through a soothsayer named Balaam. Neither does the Holy Spirit limit His power to only the pure. Samson is the poster boy for a compromised vessel who was used mightily by God. But it seems to me that what the Spirit of God most often anoints is authenticity and sincerity. He chooses men with conviction, not who parrot the party line.

This is why I admire men who face a crisis, drop to their knees, and seek the will of God for their church, and then do what they’ve been told. This is the type of man people want to lead them, not a person who checks his inbox or calls human headquarters for instructions.

Pastor, here’s my encouragement for you in light of the coronavirus (as well as any other crisis). We may be moving into uncharted waters that none of us have ever navigated. Seek God for what He wants you and your church to be about in this time. Be wise, but climb your prayer mountain and don’t come down without a word from Him. Then when you get it, do it!

Pastor Sandy Adams

How We Role: Pastor Sandy Adams

by cca

Should women teach in church?  Has God assigned roles to men and women?  What does the Bible say Pastor Sandy Adams addresses these issues in “How We Role.”


This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.

Church leaders go by different titles: reverend, parson, priest, padre, cleric, vicar… to name a few. The NT has more fitting titles: shepherd, servant, slave, steward, fellow-soldier, laborer, elder, brother… Here in 1 Timothy 3:1 Paul suggests two titles for church leaders… The first is “bishop” – the Greek word is “episkope.” It’s a combination of “epi” which means “over, or on top.” And “skope” which means “to see.” Think of the English word, “scope” or “to scope it out.” Put them together and “episkope” or “bishop” means “to oversee or see from the top.” Leaders need to see the big picture of what’s going on in and with a church.

Usually, a head football coach roams the sidelines. He’s close to the action so he can encourage his players, and call the plays, and argue with referees. But his view is limited from the sidelines. Too much happens on a football field. Every play 22 men break the huddle, and position themselves, and shift into motion – and then explode into multiple collisions. Successful plays leverage the angles. And there’s no way a coach at ground level has a broad enough perspective to see the spacing that’s occurring all over the field. That’s why strategy comes from “on top.” A bevy of assistants sit in the press box and radio instructions to the sideline. They see the big picture.

This is the type of leadership needed in the church! Someone on top – in the heavenlies, so to speak – in touch with God – who is able to communicate God’s perspective to the players and coaches on the field.

This is the job of the “bishop” or “overseer…” But in 1 Timothy 3:1 there’s another name given to this leader on top. The second title the bishop goes by is “Mister.” For Paul is clear, “If a man desires the position of a bishop.” And with that concise use of language Paul cuts the prospect pool of potential pastors and elders in half. He limits the position of overseer to males. He reiterates the language in the very next verse when he says a bishop must be the husband of one wife.” It literally reads, “a one woman man.” But again that narrows the field. Implied is that a pastor can’t be a Miss, or a Mrs., or a Ms. A pastor is a Mistera man.

But I can hear some of you say, “O Sandy, don’t be a stick in the mud. Times are a’changing, what’s so wrong with a woman having a place of authority in the church?” Over the last few years even the male-dominated, traditional, unchanging bastion of Southern culture, Augusta National Golf Club, have admitted women into their membership ranks. And people ask, “If Augusta National can do it, why can’t Calvary Chapel pastors? Why do we always have to lag behind the times?” Well, here’s my assertion, what is important at the Masters isn’t necessarily par for the course in the church. Our Master has laid down a pattern. From the beginning, in the home and in the church, the Creator has ordained for men to lead and for women to follow.

Understand, in Genesis 1-2 God’s creation was accomplished by separating and creating distinctions. Genesis begins when God “divides the light from the darkness.” The first strike of creation is to separate… Next, God divides the waters from under the atmosphere, with the waters above the atmosphere… Afterwards, He gathers seas, and separates them from dry land.. God then creates a world of vegetation, and in keeping with His structure of creation each plant multiplies after its own kind… On Day Four, God separates again. This time the day from the night…

Realize, God Himself is an example of unity, as well as diversity. God is one God, but the one God exists in three persons – Father, Son, and Spirit. Each member of the Godhead has a specific role that He assumes… The Father sits on the throne in heaven, as sovereign over creation… The Son comes to earth and becomes a man to redeem and save… The Spirit takes up where Jesus leaves off. He points people to the Son. He lives in believing hearts to impart His power. All three members of the Godhead are equal in importance – but they are distinct in the role they play. The fact the Son submits to the Father, and the Spirit promotes the Son, doesn’t make the Son inferior to the Father, or the Spirit less divine than the Son. All three members of the Triune Godhead – Father, Son, and Spirit – are equal in nature, but distinct in their roles.

And there’s no competition or friction in this divine arrangement. The Son doesn’t complain,“Oh, the Father is worshipped, while I suffer on a cross…” The Spirit doesn’t buck for more attention – “Why do I have to lead people to Jesus? Can’t I grab a few headlines of My own?” You never see the members of the Trinity question or complain about their role. God exists and functions in diversity, yet harmony.

In Genesis 1-2 God reaches the apex of His creation, it’s cap and crown… He creates man, but again His work comes with a significant distinction… Genesis 1:27 tells us, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” God splits the human race into two specific genders – male and female. And in Genesis 2 He explains exactly how this was done… He created the man first. And then from the man He fashioned the woman. From the very beginning an order emerges, and roles are assigned to gender.

This is the background behind Paul’s controversial instructions in 1 Timothy 2:11, “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.” And here’s the reason, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” Before I tackle Paul’s rules in the church and in the home, first note their rationale. There’re two reasons why leadership is ascribed to the man… “Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” One reason was there from the beginning. The second reason resulted from sin entering the world.

You’ll remember from Genesis, the body of Adam was formed from the dust of the ground. God then breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Eve came later. She was the result of the first surgery. God put Adam into a deep sleep, opened up his side, and pulled out “something curved.” That’s how the Hebrew renders it – we’re not sure if it was a rib, or some cartilage, or perhaps an extra organ – we don’t know – but whatever it was God turned it into a woman. Someone described Eve’s creation as “The first splitting of an Adam and it unleashed a force into the world that has never been contained.” Paul’s main point is this, “Adam was formed first, then Eve.”

Please note, in the Bible special prerogatives and responsibilities are always given to the firstborn. This is why Rebekah’s twin boys, Esau and Jacob, wrestled in the womb. They were jockeying to be the firstbornApparently, Esau won the initial struggle, but the wrestling match had just begun. For the title of “firstborn” means a lot more than “born first.”

That’s proven later in the story. When Esau comes home famished, his sneaky brother, Jacob, dangles a bowl of Hearty Campbell’s Soup under his nose. Esau is governed by his appetites rather than his convictions. He trades his spiritual birthright – the title of firstborn – to Jacob for some warmed-over chili. Jacob was born second, but he ended up “firstborn.”

And likewise, generation after generation of humans were born before that first Christmas, when a virgin conceived and brought forth her firstborn Son. Mary laid Him in a manger, and called His name, “Jesus.” Jesus was born first only in Mary’s family, but God awarded Him with firstborn status. In Colossians 1:15 Jesus is called “the firstborn over all creation.” Our Lord is now head and authority over all the universe.

And so it was originally with Adam. God made a choice. “Adam was formed first.” God bestowed on the man the title, and duties, and benefits of the “firstborn.” Eve was as loved by God – and as gifted by God – as was Adam. But God gave the man authority over both his immediate family and the human family. It was a privilege! But as is often the case, with that privilege came an obligation – a heavy responsibility.

The weightiness of the man’s role appeared later, when sin entered the world. It was Eve that sinned first, not Adam. Yet God held the man responsible. In fact, sin passed down to all men through Adam – not Eve. Eve bit the fruit, but Adam got the bigger bite of the responsibility. Theologians have a name for this concept. They call it federal headship. One man takes authority over a family or a race. One man acts on behalf of all men. Later, the Bible teaches that since all men are condemned in Adam, we all can be saved in Christ. Again one acts in proxy for a group. As David and Goliath fought it out for their respective sides, all men fight for their tribe. The man is head. He’s a representative, and acts on behalf of his family.

Don’t misunderstand God holds Eve, and every other sinner, personally accountable for his or her own sin. In this sense, Eve’s sin had nothing to do with Adam. In fact, 1 Timothy 2:14 let’s Adam off the hook morally. “Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” Eve was to blame, but since Adam was head he was responsible. Likewise, Jesus had nothing to do with our sin – our failures are not His fault – yet as our head, our firstborn, Jesus took responsibility for our folly and rebellion. Our Lord carried our sin to the cross, and died in our placeBiblical headship means taking responsibility for what’s not my fault! So when a man becomes a husband and a father – or assumes leadership in the church – he takes on this concept of biblical headship. He takes up grave, serious, weighty responsibilities. He agrees to cover his wife and kids. He stands in the gap for others. He doesn’t grumble about problems he didn’t cause – nor duck issues other folks create. A husband at home and a leader at churchtakes responsibility for what’s not his fault. Though he may not be responsible for the problem, he’s committed to being part of the solution. He’s willing to become accountable for the people under his care.

And this is the responsibility God has given to the man, not the woman. “Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” The mistakes made by the first man and woman were so monumental, God wanted them remembered and immortalized in the relationships between all men and women – at least in marriage and in the church. Both the creation of mankind and our fall gave God reasons to order gender accordingly. In marriage and the church, men are to lead, and women are to follow.

When God created mankind, He did so male and female. The man and the woman were equal in value and status. They both were made in God’s image. And as a result, both have a place in the service of God! Women can occupy many different roles in the Body of Christ… In the New Testament women followed Jesus… They prophesied and prayed in church and were moved by the Holy Spirit in spontaneous ways… In Titus 2:4 older women are instructed to teach the younger women. Obviously, Paul’s intention in 1 Timothy 2 for commanding the women to remain silent isn’t an absolute silence. It’s a voluntary quiet that flows from a submissive spirit… We’ll get to that in a moment… But women also served as deacons. A deacon named Phoebe carried the opus of our faith, Paul’s letter to the Romans, across the ocean under her robe… We also learn in 1 Timothy 5 there was a special order of women, of widows, that served the church in charitable causes.

I like J. Vernon McGee’s observation. He suggested the reason women today clamor for posts in the church that are reserved for men, is because they’ve been denied their rightful place. That could well be true. It reminds me of the Hindu lady who said to the missionary, “Surely your Bible was written by a woman.” The missionary replied, “Why do you say that?” She answered, “Because it says so many kind things about women. Our writers never refer to us but in reproach.” No religion has done more to elevate the status of women than Christianity. The Bible teaches that women are equal to men in regard to God’s favor.

But “equal” does not mean “same.” God made us with distinction, and gave diverse roles to men and women. Realize, masculinity and femininity are not just the result of the society’s nurturing, and educating, and the conditioning of the sexes. Male and female are the result of creation. Gender matters to God! Not only do the biblical roles for male and female nurture and order society, they speak vital truths about God’s very nature.

From the first page of the Bible to the last, God reveals Himself in the masculine gender. He’s never once called “God the Mother” or “God the daughter.” He’s always “God the Father” and “God the Son.” His people – OT Israel or the NT Church – are spoken of as feminine, but the Godhead is invariably portrayed as masculine. Throughout the Bible, God consistently uses gender to display His relationship with His people.

And this is why any violation of gender roles – any confusion of maleness and femaleness – doesn’t just harm the individual and families involved, it mars the picture God is painting of salvation. Marriage is a sacred snapshot. And God is serious about His pictures! Most wives treasure their wedding photographs. If their house caught on fire their wedding album would be the keepsake with the top priority! They would want to save that collection. And the same is true with God. He too values His wedding pictures. The biblical roles of male and female are God’s wedding photos.

One of the most exciting spectacles in college football is performed by the Ohio State Buckeye Band. It’s called “Script Ohio.” It’s been a tradition since 1936. Before a packed stadium of 105,000 Buckeye fans the marching band spells the word “Ohio” on the field. The climax comes when one of the sousaphone players dots the “I”. He struts to a tuft of grass marked out by the drum major – then bows to the crowd. The stadium goes nuts… well, see for yourself… If you’re watching this from the sidelines – from ground level – the band’s movements look chaotic and confusing. It’s only when you’re high in the bleachers, or in the blimp, that you see what’s being spelled out.

And this is true with gender. We’re actors in a divine drama. God has a role for women to play – and a role for men to play. By each gender’s faithfulness we spell out heavy, eternal, spiritual truths. But these roles can only be understood and appreciated from God’s vantage point. You’ve got to get above human logic. Christians need to realize God has a purpose for the sexes, and it’s embodied in the roles He’s assigned us. And far more than 105,000 fans are looking on… Our neighbors, and children, and future generations are in the bleachers. In discussing these matters with the Corinthians, Paul says even the angels learn from gender roles. The heavenly host sit in the upper deck observing the symbolism our relationships represent…

When a husband loves his wife, or a man stands up to lead His church, he illustrates Christ’s care for His own. When a wife follows her husband’s leadership, or a sister in the church falls in line behind the pastor and elders, she teaches the world our attitude toward Christ. Pastor Chuck and Kay gave us a tremendous gift that we didn’t even recognize at the time. Papa Chuck was the father many folks never had – an assertive, but loving man. Kay was the beautiful example of a strong woman who let her man lead. They were great role models of the role play God has established for men and women.

But when men won’t lead, or women refuse to let them, it distorts and dilutes the Gospel message. How can we possibly think this no big deal to the Lord who saved us? God teaches big truths through gender! This is why Paul tells Timothy “do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence” for when women exercise authority, more often than not, men let them. Men willingly take the back seat. This was the problem in the garden of Eden – not just that Eve was deceived and sinned, but that Adam didn’t step up, and protect her, and take leadership. Genesis 3:6 is a haunting verse, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” Adam was standing right by her side, and the ole boy did nothing to stop her. And this is the fatal tendency in all men, to remain silent and not lead.

Paul’s impetus for ladies being silent in the church is not to repress women, but to embolden men. Women are more verbal than men. They’re more nurturing and apt to instruct. Often they’re more perceptive. This is why it’s easy for women to take the reins of leadership. Women are more prone to be teachers than men. And here’s what a lot of ladies don’t realize, women have to show restraint if they want the man to lead. Ladies, if you’re always asserting – and doing the talking – and taking over… your man won’t fight you for  the leadership, He’ll let you lead and just go fishing. Men are taught at an early age never fight with girls. I’ll never forget Becky standing on our back porch knocking on the door. She told my mom I had hit her. I don’t remember what I did, but I doubt I balled up my fist. Yet mom made me stand there with my arms behind my back, while Becky slapped me right across the face. Fifty years later it still stings. But I’ve never hit a girl since. Men learn early on, never to fight with girls. That’s why if a woman is determined to lead, a man will let her.

That’s why for men to step up in church, women need to take a step back. Competition is not what the sexes need. God has given us roles to complement each other.

And here Paul is asking the women to not teach or take authority over men – for if they do, there’s no hope of the men in the church taking the initiate themselves. Women are to be in submission, and what does that mean? It means just what it says, “sub mission.” “Sub” means “under.” Thus, women are to be “under the mission” that God has ordained for gender roles.

This is why, show me a good husband who leads his wife in respectfully, and steers his children lovingly, and I’ll show you a smart woman who’s learned to step back – at times and in ways – that help him step upShow me a church with strong male leadership, and I won’t just show you determined men, I’ll show you strong women – probably more talented than the men – who wisely and deliberately took a backseat, so the men would be inclined to grab the wheel and steer. And show me a church where the men are absent or missing in action, and I’ll show you a church where unwise women have competed for leadership.

There’s a crisis today in Christianity. Walk into any Orthodox Jewish Synagogue, or Muslim mosque, or Hindu Temple, and you’ll find a preponderance of male worshippers… But not so in the typical church… Statistics show that 60% of church attendees today are women. Author David Murrow writes, “Of the world’s great religions, only Christianity has a consistent, nagging shortage of male practitioners.” And trust me, the way to address our male shortage is not to make it easier for females to lead. If we want men to step up, they have to be convinced their service is needed, and their initiative will be appreciated.

Whatever you do, don’t let anyone tell you the NT teaching on gender was meant only for ancient culture… Please don’t buy the liberal dribble that Paul’s world was permeated with fertility cults that stressed female dominance, and his writings were an overreaction. Paul anticipates this argument. In verse 12 he writes, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.” Then he follows it up in the very next verse, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” He takes his readers all the way back to Genesis.

Whenever Paul explains gender roles he reverts back to creation. Male leadership is a creation principle, not an cultural accommodation. The biblical roles of male and female transcend all other cultural arrangements. Paul meant what he said, and makes it applicable to all Christians, in all eras. As in the home, likewise in the church, a woman is not to have authority over a man.

And this is why a woman is not to teach the Bible to men. She shouldn’t be in the pulpit while men are in the pews. The optics are wrong. And it’s all about optics: God is painting a spiritual picture by gender roles. Thus, Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:12, as to teaching in the public assembly of the church, a woman is to be silent. She can teach children and women, but not men. Christine Cane, Kay Arthur, even Anne Graham Lotz might be gifted communicators, but when a woman stands in the pulpit to expound on God’s Word, heaven shutters. Expedience has won out over Scripture. We’re revealing our ignorance of a huge, overarching issue. Perhaps the best Bible teacher I’ve ever heard was Kay Smith, but if a man ever walked in on her study, he’d be asked to leave. Men would try to attend, but they were run off. Kay understood the biblical roles.

God is teaching heavy spiritual lessons through gender roles, and the picture gets marred when women take authority over men… And if teaching on a Sunday morning from the pulpit of your church isn’t a demonstration of authority; then you have no authority. For the only real authority any of us have is the explanation and proclamation of the Scriptures. The real issue goes far beyond can a woman have the title of “pastor.” It’s her exercise of authority over men that God forbids. The title is just part of the bigger issue.

Of course, some people bring up the exception to try and disprove the rule. They’ll point to Deborah in the OT, or women in church history that God used to lead. And God will use women to lead when He must. The cause of Christ shouldn’t be setback just because there’s no man to step up. When courageous men are in short supply why shouldn’t God use a gifted woman! The story is told of the famous preacher, Harry Ironside. He was walking in the park where a woman was preaching. His companion said, “Isn’t it a shame that a woman is preaching in the park.” Ironside said, “It is a shame there is not some man to take her place.” When men fail in their leadership, God will use women. But in keeping with the bigger picture God wants painted, ideally men should lead and women should encourage them to do so – not take their place.

The Greek word translated “submission” or “hupotasso,” means “to rank under.” It’s a military term. And everyone who’s ever served in our armed forces has had the experience of meeting someone of a higher rank who had lesser skills and smarts than they did… but because of military order you submitted. And this is what God is asking of the females in the fellowship. Men are to lead not because they’re better, or braver, or brainier… In reality, there’s only one reason for male leadership… because God said so!

I’ll never forget a quote I read from the former mayor of Ottawa, Canada. Charlotte Whitton was advising young girls on what it takes for women to succeed in politics. She commented, “Whatever women must do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good.” Then she said, “Luckily, this is not difficult.” And I agree. Typically, women are smarter than men. It reminds me of the time after the fall of man when Adam and Eve got into an argument. Adam shouted at Eve, “How in the world could God have made you so beautiful and yet so dumb at the same time.” Eve answered, “God made me beautiful so you would marry me. And dumb so I would marry you.”

And it’s the superiority of women over men that cause women to struggle so with this concept of submission. Wives are tempted to take the reins from their husbands, since it’s so easy for them to do so! Usually the man is dense. A wife is quicker to figure things out and size things up. That’s why the idea of a female submission isn’t as much logical as it is biblicalAnd this is my point, there’s really only one reason men should lead and women should follow – it’s because God said so! This is God’s order for marriage and the Church. It’s the role-play He wants exhibited.

And this is why this subject is such a watershed issue. It tests our commitment to the Bible. Are we going to take our cues from culture or the Scripture? Listen to the conversation that occurred several years ago on “Pastor’s Perspective” – Pastor Chuck’s radio call-in show. One day, he answered a call where he dealt with this issue. Listen to the simplicity of his answer…

Hear what Chuck said? “All we have to stand upon is the Word of God… Either it’s God’s Word or it’s not God’s Word… It’s either our guide or it’s not our guide… I don’t have to agree with it, I just need to follow it.” And I hope we will. But trust me, our conviction will be questioned, and criticized, and tested in the days ahead. 

Recently, I saw some ads published by the United Nations (unwomen.org) opposing the abuse of women around the world. But notice the oppressive language… Here’s the ad, “Women should stay at home. Women should be slaves. Women should be in the kitchen. Women should not speak in church.” And another, “Women cannot drive. Women cannot be bishops. Women cannot be trusted. Women cannot speak in church.” Apparently, the United Nations equates the Bible’s instructions in 1 Timothy 2:12 with human slavery.

God, our Creator, has defined a woman’s role in the  church and in the home – not in the government, or in the workplace – but in the church and in our marriage. And this world can’t leave it alone. Satan picks a fight. He hates heaven’s perspective. And most of all the devil wants to mar God’s wedding photos. He wants to deface the spiritual picture God wants portrayed through gender – of Christ’s relationship with His church. That’s why I see biblical gender roles as a hill worth dying on.

Years ago, there was a billboard near our church that advertised Virginia Slims cigarettes. A pretty woman was blocking the path of a young man. The ad’s caption read, “Who cares who wears the pants?” And every time I drove passed that billboard I would  roll down the window of my car and scream as loud as I could, God does! God cares who wears the pants!

A-century-and-a-half ago Charles Spurgeon was bemoaning the sorry state of manhood in his day. He said, “There is a notion, somehow, that if you become a Christian you must sink your manliness and turn milksop.” Sadly, that’s still the belief of some men. Just because the NT calls the Church “the bride of Christ” doesn’t mean Christian men should buy a skirt! “The bride” is an idiom for the whole Church – but when Paul refers to individual males like Timothy and others, he calls them, “man of God,” or “fellow soldier.”

For the church today needs strong, dedicated godly men. Men willing to step up and take responsibility – even for stuff they didn’t do and was not their fault. And we need men who are willing to oversee – men who’ll stay in touch with God and lead from on topThere’s an elderly lady at church who once told me, “Pastor Sandy, Oh for the days, when men were men and women were proud of it.” That too is my prayer. Church leaders go by titles like “bishop” or “pastor” or “elder,” but first of all they should be called “Mister.”

Core Values: God’s Word

by cca

      One of Calvary Chapel’s core values is our approach to teaching God’s Word. But my concern may not be what you think. Whether or not a pastor tackles his teaching verse by verse, chapter after chapter, book upon book is up to him. There are Calvary Chapel pastors who do it different ways at different times. Some pastors take big portions of Scripture, while others tackle smaller slices. Some read a text and organize their thoughts, while others apply their thoughts as they read the verses. Over the years I’ve done it differently myself.

      I believe when it comes to Spirit-filled and Spirit-anointed Bible teaching, the last thing we want to do is to force a pastor into a man-made straight-jacket. Spirit-led and straight-jacket would seem to be at odds. Here’s what I think is the crucial issue: In the pastor’s heart, does he respect the Bible for what it truly is, and what it is able to do? If a pastor holds a high view of Scripture, he will handle the Bible properly.

      All pastors of all churches should believe that the Bible is inspired, inerrant, and infallible in the original writings. I agree with the Jewish rabbis who expressed their lofty confidence in Scripture. “When Messiah comes, He will not only interpret the passages for us, He’ll interpret the very words. He’ll even interpret the letters. In fact, He will even interpret the spaces between the letters!” These rabbis believed that the Bible was God-breathed down to the very spaces between the letters. Like Jesus, they trusted every jot and every tittle.

      And if you believe this about your Bible, you will realize that ALL the Bible – the whole enchilada – is important. Leviticus is as inspired as Luke, Ruth as God-given as Romans. Some folks have a “dalmatian” approach to Scripture. They pay attention to a spot here, and a spot there, and become the arbiter of what is important. I’ve heard some short-sighted pastors say that all Scripture is equally inspired, but not equally instructive… Says who? Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Notice, all Scripture is inspired and profitable. Calvary Chapel pastors believe that God’s people need the whole of God’s Word, not just part and parcel. And this has profound implications on a pastor and his teaching. This is why a pastor spends eight weeks in Leviticus, talking about menstrual bleeding, and what happens if a fungus gets into the walls of a house. Trust me, he would like to stay in the Gospel of John, or in Philippians (the joy-filled letter). That would be much easier! But if he believes “all Scripture” is both inspired and instructive, he will find a way to tackle it all. God speaks lessons to us that we need to know, not only in the breath-taking narratives of Mark, but also in the gnarly judgments of Isaiah and Ezekiel.

      Yes, Old Testament Israel was an ancient, agrarian, eastern culture. We live in a modern, urban, western culture. It certainly takes a little effort to see how laws that related to a neighbor’s donkey impact us today. But it’s doable! In fact, as Paul says to Timothy, it’s “profitable!” In Acts 20, on the beach at Miletus, Paul breathed a sigh of relief when he said to the elders of Ephesus, “I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” Paul believed it was his job to preach it all!

      And if we truly believe all Scripture to be inspired and profitable, we will let the Bible speak for itself, and trust it to set the agenda in our churches. Who is the pastor to pick and choose what his people need to hear? That’s God’s job. When does the patient prescribe his own medicine? We should teach the Bible in a consistent, systematic fashion that honors the text itself, and its divinely inspired structure; then trust God’s Spirit to apply God’s Word in miraculous and surprising ways. Doesn’t it make more sense to move through the Word of God as it was written, rather than just skipping a rock across its pages, and diving in where it drops? That’s too random. A divine Book deserves a more refined approach – one that honors the actual text.

      Pastors, even Calvary Chapel pastors, can develop a Pandora-like approach to Scripture. Have you ever listened to music on Pandora? Type in an artist or song you like, and an algorithm creates a playlist of similar sounding music. As each song plays, Pandora allows you to “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” the song. This helps the algorithm further tailor your music to your “likes” and “dislikes.” And this is how some pastors treat the Bible. They read of God’s love, and click “like.” But the Bible’s stance on sexuality… oops, that’s a “thumbs down.” The parable of the prodigal son, a “like.” The slaughter of the Canaanites… oooh, a “thumbs down.” Hope for the hurting, a “like.” Sobriety and holiness, that’s another “thumbs down.” And as with a Pandora playlist, this shapes the pastor’s teaching. Rather than deal with “the whole counsel of God” he gravitates toward his own personal tastes. And the result is a church that’s a mile wide, and an inch deep, or a church that reflects the same carnalities as its pastor. No wonder Christians today are so anemic.

      It may contradict the latest church growth strategy, and it may not accommodate modern man’s puny attention span, but I don’t think you will hear the Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” if you don’t turn off Pandora, and let the Bible speak for itself. Rather than use the Bible to foster my agenda – or as a launching pad for some feel-good thoughts – I want to teach the Bible, as is! I believe its truths are both timeless and timely. Pastors today often use the Bible to address what they think are people’s felt-needs, but that’s short-sighted. I believe we need the Bible to tell us what it is we really need in the first place. The Bible should set the agenda, and define the issues that matter to us.

      Each week when I teach the Bible I let a lion out of its cage. And the Bible has proven its power over and over and over again. I have gotten into a text, at the time wondering how this is relevant to anyone, only to have a person explain to me afterwards the wonderful way God spoke to them. The Bible is a mighty sword in the hand of God! Pastor, trust it’s edge! It can renew a mind, transform a character, create a new outlook, break old habits, produce sensitivities, spawn self-discipline, and grow faith!

      Psalm 119:9 asks the question, “How can a young man cleanse his way?” In other words, what can tame a young man’s lusts and corral his selfish passions? There are a thousand shortcuts… pray for him, cast out the demon, slay him in the Spirit, get him into an accountability group, hype him up with Christian music… But the Psalmist answers his own query, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed to the Word of God.” The Bible is our only real help and hope.

      There is a reason dumbing down his approach to the Bible might become a temptation to a Calvary Chapel pastor – over time he can lose confidence. His church hasn’t grown at the rate he thought it would, so he trades Scripture for “cute and clever.” Pastors start doing feel-good, self-massaging sermons that seem less offensive – more palatable to modern tastes. To me, there is no more pathetic picture than a pastor who has lost trust in the Bible’s sufficiency. He is like a cop with no badge, or a sniper with no ammo. The pastor who no longer trusts in the potency of Scripture is like a sheared Samson wrapped in Philistine twine, unable to shake loose. The secret of his strength now eludes him. He has become prey to the enemy. Pastors, we believe in the Bible’s authority, now let’s also trust in its power. Keep teaching it with all your heart. Be a man who is mighty in the Scriptures!