Lonnie Frisbee, a founder of the Calvary Chapel and Vineyard movements gets “High on Jesus.”
High on Jesus
Ever since I first became a believer, I have had a constant addiction to the presence of God. I do not know of any other way to live the Christian life, apart from a loving compulsion to continuously be near this God of gladness. One of the primary things the Lord showed us years ago was that intoxication on Him is the very essence of “first love.” God is not interested in your dispassionate praise or disinterested service. He is going for the depths of your heart strings. The thing that intoxicates you to the core is the very thing you worship. There is a deep, inner craving that draws us outside ourselves and into the realms of divine ecstasy. This is our inheritance as children and lovers of God. The only kind of love that will lay down its life is a love that has transcended life itself.
Heaven should be the prevailing norm. Ecstatic trances may seem strange or unusual to the natural mind, but they are the ordinary effect of Heaven’s joy poured out on the average believer. Wherever the church has failed to set the standard in this regard, the enemy is ready to offer a cheap counterfeit.
Everyone is created for love’s delirium, and this is why drug addiction is such a major draw not only for our youth, but in every sector of society today. Mind-altering drugs, like many occultist religious practices, do induce trance-like states. But these are illegal means of channeling spiritual activity, and they open adherents up to demonic influence. Pharmaceutical means to altered states of consciousness are direct counterfeits to the ordinary state of bliss humankind should experience in Christ. Adam was created to walk in bliss with God in Eden. Humanity was not created for depression, toil and the curse of a fallen world. People unknowingly pursue drugs and alcohol to recapture this lost sense of the presence of God that man remembers from the garden. As we know, these addictions only provide a fleeting, momentary sensation that is followed by devastation to health and homes, ending in broken families, poverty, suicide and destruction for future generations.
Even the temporary pleasure offered by drugs is shallow and utterly incomparable to the surpassing ecstasies of the Living God! Only believers have access to the purest stash of open Heaven delights. Though they do not realize it, drug addicts are trying to find this pleasure for which they were created. But most believers are also clueless to the infinite kilos of ecstasy available in their own bellies!
We are tired of seeing the church forfeit over inner trance experiences to drug culture, new age and the occult, which can only offer imitations at best and demonic counterparts at worst. As believers, we should be the most intoxicated people on the planet – blissed out on the God of ecstasy who has rivers of pleasure flowing at His right hand! We were never created for a dry, boring, sober religious existence. True spiritual “sobriety,” of which the apostle Paul speaks, is coming into a vivid awareness of the unseen realm of Heaven. In Acts 2 and elsewhere in the scriptures, this “spiritual sobriety” looked like complete drunkenness to the natural eye. The new wine of God’s Spirit is the daily fare of the believer. The church started in the heavy drunken glory on Pentecost, and we are moving from glory to glory. God would never give us a lesser experience for a greater one. What the apostles tasted in part, we will overdose on in full!
There is a supernatural bliss the world longs to see demonstrated in the people of God. To live by the rules and regulations of naturalistic religion, without encountering the Spirit of God Himself, is to already be drunk on the ways of the world. The scriptures have long commended us to be inebriated without limit on God, as we are told to “Eat, mates, and drink, and be drunk, brothers and sisters!(Song of Sol. 5:1, Septuagint).
We want to be those who partner with Heaven to see a redemption and restoration of true supernatural, mystical experience by finding our intoxication in the Holy Ghost! God will never put a limit on your joy levels. It will take all of eternity to explore the depths of God’s gladness.
God is truly restoring all things in this hour. For instance, he is bringing the arts and media back to the church. The church was always intended to be the most creative arts center of the community. Likewise, all the sciences originated in the church, and prophetic scientists are again going into Heaven to make new discoveries. All major genres of music started in the church. And many people want to take these back. Furthermore, there are many people focused on taking back the government, taking back the education system, and taking back the courts. It is time for restoration.
I love all of this. I love the restoration movement, as God sends the spirit of Elijah to restore all things. But my question is this: why did we give all of this stuff away to begin with? Quite honestly, we cannot continually play defense. I think it is time that the church takes the offensive by going out and taking the devil’s stuff. Instead of waiting for him to take something else, let’s put him on the run for a change!
This is something our ministry has determined to take: drug culture.
Taking it to the Street
When I go out for evangelism these days, I rarely ever start with the “four spiritual laws” or try to convince people they are sinners. I say this not to criticize anyone else’s evangelism method. If it bears fruit for you, go for it. But most people already know they are sinners.
More often than not, I ask young people on the street if they want to get high! And more often than not, they do.
“Presence evangelism” is the most effective mode of making true converts, because people are not simply making intellectual decisions based on points of doctrine. Instead, they are truly encountering the Lord of glory through a tangible experience, and the explanation follows. Yes – of course we must give a rational exposition of the gospel. But without tangible demonstration, the gospel will be all talk and no show. Everybody is looking for interior fulfillment at a heart level, and we are carriers of that to a broken world. We pray, and people get rocked. They feel. They taste. They see.
It is amazing how drug culture and all manner of sedation are so prevalent in our society today. At best, everyone is addicted to television, food and materialism. But more common than you realize, even in the church today, people are addicted to mind-altering substances such as Prozac, Xanex and alcohol to marijuana or hard street and party drugs. I cannot begin to count how many people we have seen set free when the liberating pleasures of the Holy Spirit are released. The anointing breaks the yoke (see Isa. 10:27). We have seen many thousands get rocked who once suffered from depression that also led to physical ailments such as chronic fatigue, chronic pain and fibromyalgia —all because the joy of Jesus broke a spirit of heaviness from their lives!
Humankind is designed to live in an alternate state of reality. You were made to walk in the Spirit. If someone is not plugged into the ecstasies of Jesus, they are naturally going to look for their fix in a perverted form. Although the source of our intoxication is two worlds apart, secular people at least understand the principle of intoxication. There is an issue of relevance and reality here. Although religious spirits hate it, I have no problem drawing parallels between the ecstasies of God and a drug-induced state of consciousness. The latter is only a counterfeit of the former. My goal is to bring the spiritual principles to street-level language, where people need the revelation. Most nonbelievers think God wants to take away their fun. I encourage them to “Toke the Ghost” or take a psychedelic trip with Jesus. Not by using drugs of course, but by imbibing on the Spirit of God.
A Personal Testimony
Drug-induced trances are only shallow, deadly substitutes for Holy Spirit trances. We can convince people that they don’t need drugs by getting them high on the Most High. Then and only then, freedom and deliverance are simple, if not instant. The best way to convince them is to give them a taste of what they are missing out on! This is the “one-step program” for deliverance. But this is not just for the street – the majority of Christians are missing out on the trance realm as well.
I am living proof of this principle. I received an instant deliverance from drugs as a teenager, and I was the worst substance abuser of all my friends. The thing that finally broke my addiction was getting whacked by the thrilling pleasure of the infilling of the Holy Spirit! How could I ever choose a lesser substance after tasting divine bliss? Most of the strongest drug addicts consequently have the strongest call to raptures and the seer realm. Consider how every class of drug specifically imitates something produced in rapture. Sedatives only counterfeit the deep, supernatural peace of God. Stimulants, or uppers, only imitate the power and stamina of the breaker anointing when the Spirit of Might comes upon you. Hallucinogens only simulate the visionary realm. It is completely normal that people would want to experience peace, power, and see things! These are God-given desires, but we should fulfill those desires in Him, rather than substances. Bono, from the rock band U2, makes a great point when he sings: there’s nothing better than the real thing!
We have taken it as a sort of personal mandate to influence the church toward the ecstasies and living a lifestyle of spiritual drinking. This is because the new wine has everything to do with intimacy, and love is the highest way. God wants junkies, and I have resolved to be a Holy Ghost pusher. Pharisees often get offended when I talk about smoking “Jehovah-wanna,” popping a “taste and see pill” or drinking “Godka.” Of course we never have nor ever would encourage the partaking of drugs. But we strongly encourage the partaking of God! Hearing these sorts of analogies is like sweet water to the thirsty soul who was born to live an intoxicated lifestyle. There are many desperate people out there who are ready and willing to embrace a God who is tangible, loving, joyful and full of mystical surprises and intoxicating delight. This revelation of first-love intoxication drives young people through the roof. They know that this is what they were made for: to live more whacked than their friends who are on drugs.
The truth is that we are not really comparing God to drug use. The world has already done that! The very existence of a drug culture shows that the comparison has already been made. We are simply reversing the comparison by choosing the true experience of divine ecstasy. You do not need to inhale marijuana when you can inhale the ruah – the very life-breath of God’s Spirit! We are simply reversing idea that substances (or anything the world offers) can fill a void of pleasure and experience reserved for God alone.
We have seen numerous drug users set free, prostitutes converted and countless people filled with the spirit, simply by offering them valid impartation in a language that is accessible. Entire secular schools have been turned upside down as God has invaded the marketplace with His mystical presence.
Imbibing on the pleasures of God is the most critical, key component for the preservation of society. Finding God as our holy “addiction” goes much further than a tactic for ministering to drug users. We must all learn to love God at the deepest, most compulsive levels of our existence. All of mankind is called to find its identity as lovers of God.
The essence of true love goes far beyond our works or service. True love must find pleasure in the object of its affection. While Christianity is full of cliché terminology to describe love, joy, worship, adoration and the like, it is sometimes more effective to use shock language and wild demonstration to convey how extreme is the joyful possession He offers us!
We have many pastors ask us to “tone down” the vernacular when paralleling God encounters with drugs. But by the grace of God I will not tone down an ounce of what He is doing until the day I die. Jesus never toned it down, and he never held anything back. One of the very reasons we use this type of language is to dismantle religious strongholds that keep people from “going too far” in the Spirit. Heaven is all about a great party. Even the great evangelist Billy Graham has made the analogy between conversion to Jesus and drug use. Taking the stage at the request of rock concert promoters in the late 1960s, he encouraged young people coming to hear the Grateful Dead and Santana to “get high without hang-ups and hangovers”…on Jesus.1 Graham used to quote the testimony of pop star Cliff Richards in interviews saying, “When I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior…this was 10,000 times more of a turned-on experience than any trip I took on LSD.”2
It was very common for converts in the Jesus People Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s to make these analogies as a way of relaying the pleasurable ecstatic experiences of the gospel. As former dopers flushed their drugs down the toilet in Arthur Blessitt’s Sunset Strip headquarters, a typical convert would be heard to say, “I don’t need this anymore. I’m high on the Lord.”
“Blessitt became one of the first to adopt the argot of the street for his evangelistic pitch. If the jargon of the ‘Jesus trip,’ ‘Jesus the everlasting high,’ ‘dropping Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,’ ‘dealing reds’ (Blessitt stickers, not pills) had its origin in one man, it was Arthur Blessitt,” notes the historical work, The Jesus People. 3
Blessitt is the same man who led later-to-be U.S. President George W. Bush to receive the Lord in a Texas restaurant in 1984. 4 Blessitt would often approach a junkie and strike up a conversation: “Hey, man, let me say a word about Jesus. Man, He's out of sight. He really is. You think you've got a high? Man, Christ can take you higher, all the way to Heaven. You ever think of getting spaced-out on Jesus?” In his book, Turned on to Jesus, Blessitt addresses his audience, “You're spaced out on acid, some of you are high on speed, or you've been smoking grass. Some of you are loaded on downers or maybe you've hit up and felt the rush of heroin. Let me tell you, brother, if you really want to get turned on, I mean, man, where the trip’s heavy, just pray to Jesus. He’ll turn you on to the ultimate trip. He'll give you a high that will keep you for eternity.” 5
Jesus is Better than Hash
In the Jesus Movement, the commonly heard term “just drop Jesus” replaced “dropping” acid for many hippie converts. Thousands upon thousands of new believers were being added to the church, as some of the fastest growing denominations were birthed in this movement, including Calvary Chapel, Vineyard Churches and Hope Church, along with parachurch organizations like Jews for Jesus and the massively influential contemporary Christian music industry (CCM). Hundreds of thousands of copies of the Hollywood Free Paper were distributed in California and beyond, a Jesus People magazine that regularly touted Jesus as a better alternative to drugs. A 1971 issue of the Free Paper, for instance, heralded the edgy front cover headline: “Jesus is Better than Hash.” Another popular Washington-based magazine of the day, Truth, had a massive influence of the revival culture. Here is an excerpt from a 1971 issue of Truth titled “The Parable of the Parsley and the Acapulco Gold.” It is emblematic of the language one would regularly find in the magazine and other Jesus Movement publications of the day:
To what can we compare the Kingdom of Heaven? … Do you smoke dope? Have you ever smoked bad dope? You know, full of stems, maybe mixed with parsley and catnip. Yeh, you burn your throat, and the only way you can get high is hyperventilating.
Let’s say you just bought a lid for fifteen bucks. Bad dope. You’re sitting there, puffing away. Maybe you’re getting a little high hyperventilating. Maybe you’re getting a little bummed out because it’s a burn.
I come tripping up to you, and I have a big sack of Acapulco gold. Say it’s one of those plastic garbage sacks full. And I say, ‘Man, if you’ll just throw down that lid, I’ll give you this Acapulco gold, free. It’s already paid for, but the only way you can get it is to throw down your lid.
What would you do?
Well, that’s what Jesus is saying to you. He’s just saying, “Man, if you’re getting a little tired of your trip, of getting burned. If you just give up your trip and accept My life, I’ll give it to you free with all the love and all the joy and all the peace that comes with it.”
You know, only a fool would smoke parsley when you could have Acapulco gold.
Not only were thousands coming into the Kingdom through the church’s invasion of popular culture, but secular journals were forced to take note of this unlikely revival among hippies and drug users. “The word ‘trip,’ as used by the counter-culture and now by the Jesus People, is a synonym for experience; a ‘high’ is an experience. To be high on drugs means to have a drug-induced experience. To be high on Jesus means to have a certain religious experience. When those in the counter-culture talk about being turned on to Jesus, they are referring to an emotional experience that, for them, has striking similarity to the emotional experience induced by drugs,” explain The Jesus People authors. 6
Secular social science magazine Society ran a 1972 article titled, “Mainlining Jesus: The New Trip,” analyzing the Jesus People, their drug culture metaphors and the spreading movement among the young. The magazine commented, “The Jesus trip is The Great Awakening of 1740 (Jonathan Edwards) revisited; it is American frontier religion revisited with Volkswagens and amplifiers supplanting the horses, wagons and saddlebacks of Cane Ridge, Kentucky, 1801.” The magazine estimated that of the many thousand new converts being baptized along the coasts of California and elsewhere across America during this revival, most had a high incidence of past drug use, “with 62 percent of those over 18 and 44 percent of those under 18 having used dope. Only a few individuals were extremely light users, usually of marijuana. … A common description of the conversion experienced is: ‘It’s a rush like speed.’” 7
The music of the era likewise invaded drug culture by using common metaphors understood in popular culture, and focusing listeners toward Jesus as a better, alternative experience than substances. Artist Marj Snyder produced a hippie ballad in 1972 titled “High On The Love Of Jesus,” while pre-CCM era Mike and Karen Johnson released a track the same year titled “I’m High.” His slurred vocals did sound as if he was high, but the song was an anti-drug tune with references that encouraged people to get their fix on Jesus. As late as 1976, a Jesus People song from the U.S. Apple Corps was titled “Get High on Jesus.” The Joyful Noise band also produced a “High on Jesus” song in 1971. Overall, there are literally dozens of albums, spanning nearly every genre of music – from country, to rap to reggae – that have some derivation of a “get high on Jesus” track. Popular billboard charting bands of today still get away with these edgy metaphors, such as Plumb’s “Drugstore Jesus” or Grammy nominated CCM band Skillet, whose song “Better than Drugs” screams:
Your love is like wine
Feel you comin' on so fast
Feel you comin' to get me high
You're better than drugs
Addicted for life
Feel you when I'm restless
Feel you when I cannot cope
You're my addiction, my prescription, my antidote
The Ambrosial Drug of the Jews
These types of analogies have a much deeper history in the church. Philo was an ancient Jewish Bible commentator whose works shaped the thought work of the early church in the first centuries. Consider his writing, as he said:
And when the happy soul stretches forth its own inner being as a most holy drinking vessel – who is it that pours forth the sacred measures of true joy but the Logos, the Cup-bearer of God and Master of the feast – he who differs not from the draught he pours – his own self free from all dilution, who is the delight, the sweetness, the forthpouring, the good cheer, the ambrosial drug … whose medicine gives joy and happiness 8.
Ultimately, there is even scriptural precedent for making such typological analogies between God’s presence and mind-altering substances. Proverbs 9:1-5 (NKJV) reads:
Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn out her seven pillars; She has slaughtered her meat, She has mixed her wine, She has also furnished her table. She has sent out her maidens, She cries out from the highest places of the city, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” As for him who lacks understanding, she says to him, “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.
The Holy Spirit is, of course, the Spirit of Wisdom. But what is the mixed wine of the Spirit? For this, we must look into the customs of the times. According to Bible commentator Adam Clarke, “probably the yayin masach, mingled wine, was wine mingled, not with water, to make it weaker; but with spices and other ingredients to make it stronger. The ingredients were honey, myrrh, mandragora [an aphrodisiac], opium, and such like, which gave it not only an intoxicating but stupifying quality also. Perhaps the mixed wine here may mean wine of the strongest and best quality, that which was good to cheer and refresh the heart of man.” 9
Clarke is essentially saying that the Holy Spirit has mixed “opiated wine” for the believer. Of course, God is not endorsing the use of opium here. We must remember that this is symbolic of “tripping on Jesus.”
Mystic writer John of the Cross further draws this analogy between the mixed, or spiced wine and the interior graces of divine love:
“The spiced wine” is that exceedingly great grace which God sometimes bestows upon advanced souls, when the Holy Spirit inebriates them with the sweet, luscious, and strong wine of love. … such wine is prepared by fermentation with many and diverse aromatic and strengthening herbs; so this love, the gift of God to the perfect, is in the soul prepared and seasoned with the virtues already acquired. This love, seasoned with the precious spices, communicates to the soul such a strong, abundant inebriation when God visits it that it pours forth with great effect and force those acts of rapturous praise, love, and worship … and that with a marvelous longing to labor and to suffer for Him. … the spiced wine continues for a considerable time, and its effects also; this is the sweet love of the soul, and continues occasionally a day or two, sometimes even many days together, though not always in the same degree of intensity, because it is not in the power of the soul to control it. Sometimes the soul, without any effort of its own, is conscious of a most sweet interior inebriation, and of the divine love burning within, as David says, ‘My heart waxed hot within me, and in my meditation a fire shall burn.’ 10
1 Chris Armstrong, “Christian History Corner: ‘Tell Billy Graham the Jesus People Love Him.’” Christianity Today, Vol. 46 (Dec. 2002).
2 The Woody Allen Show, Interview of Rev. Billy Graham by Woody Allen (Sept. 21, 1969).
3 Ronald Enroth, Edward Ericson and C. Breckinridge Peters, The Jesus People: Old-Time Religion in the Age of Aquarius (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1972), 73.
4 Tim Dickinson, “A Prayer for W: Meet Arthur Blessitt: The Man Who Helped George W. Find Jesus,” Mother Jones (The Foundation for National Progess, 2005), http://www.motherjones.com/news/outfront/2005/12/prayer_for_w.html (accessed Sept. 3, 2008).
5 Arthur Blessitt with Walter Wagner, Turned on to Jesus (Hawthorn Books, 1971).
6 Enroth, Ericson and Peters, The Jesus People: Old-Time Religion in the Age of Aquarius, 164.
7 Robert Lynn Adams and Robert Jon Fox, “Mainlining Jesus: The New Trip.” Society, Vol. 9, No. 4 (New York: Springer, February 1972).
8 Philo, vol. 5, pp. 554-55, translated by F.H. Colson and G.H. Whitaker “On Dreams.”
9 Adam Clarke. “Commentary on Proverbs 9” The Adam Clarke Commentary (1832), http://www.studylight.org/com/acc/view.cgi?book=pr&chapter=009 (accessed Sept. 1, 2008).
10 St. John of the Cross, A Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ, translated by David Lewis, stanza xxv (Wincanton, 1909).