Hey there. Thanks for listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast, a ministry supported by Harvest Partners. I'm Greg Laurie, encouraging you. If you want to find out more about Harvest Ministries and learn more about how to become a Harvest Partner, just go to harvest.org. My guest is Pastor Greg Laurie, the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship with campuses in California and Hawaii. I was just there in Hawaii.
Nice. Not to visit your church, but to visit the water. And his show, A New Beginning, is heard daily on this station as well. Pastor Greg began his pastoral ministry at the age of 19 by leading a Bible study of about 30 people, and it's grown into Harvest Church. But his story is being told in a new feature film called Jesus Revolution, opening in theaters on February 24th.
Tickets are available now at jesusrevolution.movie. Pastor Greg, welcome to Southern California Live. Thank you, Scott. Thanks for having me on. It's great to have you on again.
Thank you. And, you know, I'm excited about this movie and I think what it means, so I'm looking forward to talking about it. You're quoted as saying, we don't need a political revolution, we don't need a moral revolution, we need a Jesus revolution. And we've talked about this before. There's a lot of despair. A lot of people haven't come back to church even since the COVID. And I think even amongst Christians, we feel like maybe this is it. You know, maybe a lot of people think Jesus is coming back this week and, you know, obviously things are the end.
But I'm not sure about that. That's all in God's timing and if that's happening, that's great. But in the meantime, what if that's not what's happening? What if this is a time for another Jesus revolution? Well, let's just play that out. Let's just say Jesus is coming back at any moment. I believe that.
I believe he could come at any time. But what am I supposed to do? Live in despair?
No. You know, Jesus said, when you see these things begin to happen, look up for your redemption is drawing near. And in the book of James, he specifically tells us that as we await the Lord's return, we, like a farmer, need to be patient for the rains to come. And we also need to be living godly lives and we also need to be getting the gospel out to people. And I think this is one of the greatest evangelistic opportunities, Scott, this movie, because it's going to be in theaters around the country and ultimately on streaming platforms. I'm told that in its theatrical release, 10 million people will see this film in a theater.
And when it goes to streaming, 100 million people will see it. Here's what's unique about this film is it has the gospel in it. And that was something we were very intentional about, putting the gospel in it. And we even have a moment where my character, Greg, played by Joel Courtney, is baptized by hippie evangelist Lonnie Frisbee, played by Jonathan Rumi, who's best known for playing the role of Jesus on The Chosen. And they pray together. And Jonathan, as Lonnie, leads Greg in this prayer to accept Christ. And, Scott, I believe when that moment happens on the screen, there could be thousands of people praying that prayer all around the United States, people that maybe wouldn't go into a church but would go into a movie theater. You know, I think what you'll really notice as we kind of go back in time to the late 60s, early 70s, as we tell this revival story, how parallel that time is to the times we're living in now. I think that's very interesting, something we've really got to see.
What would you say? You were there, so what are the parallels between then and now? Well, the parallels are that there was a hopelessness among the older generation. They didn't understand the younger generation. What's wrong with these kids?
Right. And why are they behaving this way? And why are they turning to drugs? And why are they so despondent?
And what is happening? And that is presented in the portrayal of Chuck Smith by actor Kelsey Grammer, who really brings it to life. But Chuck's wife Kay, and this is all a true story, had a burden for these hippies that were turning to drugs. And she said, Chuck, we need to reach this generation.
Ultimately, Chuck forms a friendship with hippie evangelist Lonnie Frisbee, and it was sort of like nitromed glycerin. So I think what we need to realize is the times we're living in now, they do seem bleak, and I've even heard them described as post-Christian. Let me describe them another way. Instead of seeing the time in which we're living as post-Christian, why don't we see it as pre-revival? Yes, I think that's a great way to look at it. It's so much more positive, right? Post-Christian, what do we do?
We'll wring our hands and just stay in church. What would you say are some differences today that we should be aware of between then and now that would be just different in what the Lord will do in this pre-revival era? Well, I think the drug epidemic that we have today started in the late 60s.
I think the breakdown of the family that we see today, which is at the root of almost all of our societal ills, also really started in the 60s. There are so many things that started there that we're reaping the consequences of today. It's like we sowed the wind and now we're reaping the whirlwind.
But the Bible says when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Lord will raise up a standard against him. And I think it's time for us to pray. We've launched a new campaign, Scott, that we call 714. We're asking everyone to set their phone to 714, either a.m. or p.m. Sit their alarm to that. And when the alarm goes off, we're asking you to pray.
Why 714? Well, 2 Chronicles 714, God gives his prescription for the healing of a nation when he says, If my people, which are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my faith and turn from their wicked ways, then the Lord promises I'll hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land. So that's what we want to see. We want to see our land healed. Well, what does God tell us to do? He says we need to humble ourselves and pray and seek his faith and turn from our wicked ways. So we're asking our Christian friends out there to pray every day at 714, morning or evening or both. Pray that God would send a spiritual awakening to our nation and pray that God would use this film, Jesus Revolution, as a spark and also as a tool to bring people to Christ. You know, I think it's a great idea to pray a.m. and p.m., so morning people and late night people.
We're all covered with that. This film, something about it is, I think that a lot of Christians are going to go. I'm going to go.
I'm excited about it. But the opportunity here is to bring your non-Christian friends. And what are some things that I think you could communicate to your non-Christian friends? For example, this is a quality film, right? It's not, honestly, there's some Christian movies that look like we filmed the dramas that we used to do in church in the 90s.
Remember those? And that's not what this is. This is well done. Well, this is a film being released by Lionsgate. Lionsgate, the studio that releases John Wick and Hunger Games and other films. And they're throwing their full weight behind it. You'll start seeing promotions for it, commercials for it.
And it's sparking interest. And here's what I would do. I'd say, let's go to the movies tonight. My treat.
We'll go out to dinner afterwards. Here's the trailer. Show them the trailer.
It's so good they're going to say, oh, that looks kind of cool. And I think that non-believers will be immersed in it because it is the most un-Christian Christian film I've ever seen. So let me explain that. By un-Christian, I mean it doesn't have the cliches and trappings of a typical Christian film. It's not always tidy. There's some loose ends in this movie.
There's some conflicts that are ultimately resolved. But it shows the humanity of people. But it's also the most Christian film I've ever seen because it has the gospel in it.
This film has artistic integrity. It's going to move you. You're going to laugh out loud.
I think you're going to shed a few tears when you watch it. You're going to be deeply moved by what happens in this true life story. It's my life story. As a young man searching for God, how I met my wife-to-be, Kathy, it's her life story. It's a love story.
It's also the story of two unlikely characters, Chuck Smith and Lonnie Frisbee, that came together. And the explosion, the spiritual explosion that happened as a result. And I think as you watch it, you say, wow, I'd like to see that again. And I've had a lot of young people watch it and tell me we want our own Jesus revolution. So it's been said that the theme of revival spreads the flame of revival. So we're telling a revival story, a true story about the last and what many historians regard as the greatest spiritual awakening in American history. And we're hoping that it will spark interest where people would start praying and say, Lord, do it again. I think that the scenes with Pastor Chuck Smith, who's played by Kelsey Grammer, who's perfect, I think, in this role, actually.
And Jonathan Rumi, who I think also is perfect for Lonnie Frisbee. I'm hoping that that really bridges a gap with audiences of older people and younger people today who are very similarly different. And in particular, church people. What happens when we get older is we protect our turf and our way of doing things.
And it's harder to understand younger people who are creative and who have a different perspective on the world. And yet the truth of Christ transcends all of that. And that's, I think, a big key. I hope that's something that people get out of this movie. Do you feel like that people are going to see that from that relationship in the film? I think so.
And I think we can talk about it all day long. But there's something about art and film and telling a true story that can convey it in maybe a more effective way, where they see it played out. And the challenges that came with that. It wasn't always easy for Pastor Chuck. And the movie's very honest because after he opened his door and let Lonnie come in and start preaching and let these rock bands start playing music.
And we take that for granted today. But back in the day, the only musical instrument you would see in most churches would be an organ and a piano and the occasional acoustic guitar. But, you know, amplifiers and drum kits and all that were unheard of. But Chuck opened his church up. And Chuck was not like what I would call a hipster pastor. He didn't like rock music.
He was a salt of the earth, you know, hardworking man of another generation. But he wanted to see God work. And he left his comfort zone and opened the doors. And a revival came in. And I think there were other churches of that era that did not open their doors.
They kept them closed. And you know what? The revival didn't go in those churches. And I think God will send a work of his Spirit. And the question is, will we leave our comfort zone and let God work? And so this movie shows what happened.
And it shows how a generation was changed as a result. And I believe that God wants to do it again. So I think when we're praying for a spiritual awakening, we're praying according to the will of God. So we should all be praying about this. And here's a great tool.
So I would encourage you to just go to your Christian, or excuse me, go to your non-Christian friend. Say, here's a movie I want you to see. Here's a trailer.
Check it out. And the reason I say take them to dinner afterwards is you are going to have an incredible conversation. That's right. They're going to want to talk about what they saw on the screen. They're going to want to know more about these people. And I've written columns on every one of the main characters in the film, from Chuck Smith to Lonnie Frisbee to Greg and Kathy to others. And so you can get the behind-the-scenes story with more details than you'll find in the film.
And you can find all of that if you go to our website, harvest.org. Yeah. I think that's exactly right, to spend that time and that conversation. That's part of it. Don't just go home. And, you know, something with a good movie is you've got to talk about it, right? That's what you do. You come out and you talk about any good movie.
You're listening to Southern California Live. I'm Scott Farrow. My guest is Pastor Greg Laurie. Pastor, what's it like having somebody play you in a movie? Yeah. Well, first of all, Brad Pitt wanted the role, but we said, sorry, Brad, you're too old. Well, he signed on to do my film, obviously.
Yes. Maybe that's why. Yeah, that's why.
He was not available. Well, you know, it's interesting. I did not cast this film. The casting was done by John Irwin and Brent McCorkle, who directed the film together. And when they cast Joel Courtney as me, I didn't really know much about Joel. So, I watched some of the work that he's done and I thought he was a very talented young man. But I think he really captured who I was, you know, because I was a very closed-off young man. I was disillusioned.
I was angry at the world because of the way my life had gone up to this point with my mother being married and divorced seven times and never knowing my biological father and the search that I was on. And it shows that search in a very powerful, effective way. But so, when you get to the scene where I'm converted in the film, which is the halfway point of the film, you know, you've kind of followed me on my journey. And I think this will connect with certain viewers. They'll say, wow, this is me or this is someone I know. And then other folks will connect with Pastor Chuck, played by Kelsey Grammer, and someone else.
They're going to connect with Kathy because it's her search too. We came from the most different background. She came from a very stable, loving home.
I came from a home that was just completely almost nonexistent. And you couldn't find two more opposite people. And it has our love story in it as well. So, it's very tender. It's fun. It's insightful.
There are moments where you, I think you will cry in a good way because you'll be moved and touched. And, you know, I'm biased, I'll admit. But I think it's the greatest Christian film I've ever seen. And the only exception to that would be The Passion of the Christ, which is in its own category. Showing the death of Jesus directed by Mel Gibson. But I think of this genre that we call faith films or Christian films. I think this is the most effective one I've ever seen.
Because it's honest, it's truthful, it's powerful, it's artistic, and it has the gospel in it. That's a dynamic combination. It is. And it'll be in theaters on February 24th. And after that it'll be on streaming services forever. That's right. So it's going to be ongoing.
Yeah, let me just throw in one thing, Scott. We're going to kind of do a little pre-release on February 22nd. So this is going to be a special showing if you can find a theater near you showing it. Because I filmed a special, a brief presentation of the gospel complete with a prayer that a person can pray to accept Christ. So if you want to take a non-believer to see this, boy, February 22nd is a great date to go.
But if you can't make that, February 24th, it opens nationwide, and it will be in the theaters as long as people want to see it. Let's all go. Because this is something we all should support. And just think about this. Isn't it cool that we're going to see Jesus on marquees of theaters?
That's right. Jesus Revolution. It's already popping up on billboards. There's so much power in the name of Jesus. And I love the fact that this is what the movie is called. And I love the fact that a major Hollywood studio like Lionsgate is backing a movie called Jesus Revolution. Where the gospel is genuinely presented. That's right.
And not skewed. Yes. You know, I think that's a big deal.
And it's going to be authentic. Yes. I think people need that. Greg, I appreciate your time. Thank you. With us. Can I pray for you? Yes, please. And the film here before we go?
Yeah. God, I thank you for Greg and his life and how you have used him and continue to use him in his church and now in this film and the other projects that he's been doing. That you protect him and his wife and his family from spiritual attack and just keep their health and everything.
We are so grateful for this. And we pray, Lord, that this film is more than just a movie. I pray, Lord, that your church will be moved to take non-believers to it. That it won't just be a film that Christians go to, but a film where people become Christians because they hear the gospel. And that your church has provided this opportunity to share the gospel with their friends and see their friends accept Christ and see them get baptized. This could be such an amazing year, Lord, if it is your will, if this is your plan. We ask, Lord, for revival. We pray that you would use this film revival in the church and revival for all the people that you send in our lives.
Yes. I thank you for Pastor Greg and his ministry in Jesus' name. Amen. Thank you, Scott. Pastor Greg, thanks for being with me today. Great to be with you.
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