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Tag Archives: Kenneth Copeland

  • John MacArthur's Call to the Church - Beware of Strange Fire

    Posted on August 7, 2013 by John van der Veen

    John MacArthur is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, as well as an author, conference speaker, president of The Master’s College and Seminary, and featured teacher with the Grace to You media ministry.

    In 1969, after graduating from Talbot Theological Seminary, John came to Grace Community Church. The emphasis of his pulpit ministry is the careful study and verse-by-verse exposition of the Bible, with special attention devoted to the historical and grammatical background behind each passage. Under John’s leadership, Grace Community Church's two morning worship services fill the 3,500-seat auditorium to capacity. Several thousand members participate every week in dozens of fellowship groups and training programs, most led by lay leaders and each dedicated to equipping members for ministry on local, national, and international levels.

    John and his wife, Patricia, live in Southern California and have four adult children: Matt, Marcy, Mark, and Melinda. They also enjoy the enthusiastic company of their fifteen grandchildren.

    John is type of author that evokes emotion in the reader. Some try to avoid his books and others can't stop reading them. His prayer would be that emotion would drive one to a specific place - the foot of the cross. Or, simply put, the Gospel of Jesus.

    In his new book, Strange Fire, John lays out a call for the Church to repent of it's "casual" approach to worship. After reading Strange Fire, one can understand that worship is a serious matter. God is to be enjoyed for sure, but in the direction that He gives.

    In our recent conversation, I asked Dr. MacArthur about his new book and what I found is a man still living under conviction. While in his mid 70's, there is a fire that burns in this man. Strange it is not. For it's a passion for the glory of God.

    John, I am curious, when you set out to write a book, who do you write your books for? Are you writing for a particular group of people? Are you writing for your church? Or are you just writing for the evangelical community altogether?

    John M.: Yeah, primarily, I'm writing for the broader evangelical community; in particular, the pastors and leaders and influencers. When I write a book, particularly a political or issue-oriented book, I do that for the benefit of the church: to make a truth clear to the church, to warn the church. So the audience is typically the broader evangelical community with a focus on those in leadership to help them understand the issues and the impact that they're having on the church.

    John: So, would you say that you're writing in response to something that's happening in church culture, or are you kind of thinking, "Hey, maybe this is what could be happening in church culture, so it needs to be addressed…"?

    John M.: You know more often than not, John, I react. I look at my books, or many of them anyway, as kind of a correction, a clarification, some discernment applied to an issue in the church that the church needs to be aware of. That might be more frequently my motivation but not exclusively. There are times when I think the church just needs clarity on a doctrine or an issue, and so I’ll write more from a positive affirmation side. That would be the lesser of the common motive, though, as usually I'm looking at the church feeling concerned about the direction, the lack of understanding or the church's exposure to something that is dangerous--something the church needs to understand more clearly to fulfill its ministry. So, I'm usually coming off of something that I think needs clarity or needs correction.

    John: Before we jump into your new book, "Strange Fire," I'm curious, John, have you ever written anything that you wish you would not have written? Have you ever changed a viewpoint on something that you would have liked to go back and refute?

    John M.: I would say no. I've never written anything that I would like to get back. I think the Lord really prepared me through my training and upbringing with a sound framework of theology so I kind of have the borders pretty much in mind for the truth and sound doctrine. Obviously, I've understood things in a clearer way. There are certain verses I would interpret differently now. There are some details maybe in handling the word of God that I might express differently. There's been a lot of refinement and a lot more clarification, but there's really nothing through the years that I would say would reach the level of "I wish I'd never written that."

    John: So, you have a new book coming out called, "Strange Fire.” I am curious, is this a follow-up to "Charismatic Chaos"?

    John M.: It is definitely in the same category and the same genre. It is addressing the charismatic movement, but it isn't that book. It isn't like that book, "Charismatic Chaos," which by the way is still in print--I just received the final word on the publication of that book in Chinese. So that book has been consistently in print since it first came out. But it addresses the same movement; only it addresses that movement in its current form. The "Charismatic Chaos" book is ... I don't know how many years old, but it's 15 years old or more, and the movement has morphed and changed and gained momentum on a global level. So while the same issue is addressed, which is the charismatic movement, this is a completely independent book that has nothing to do with the prior book. This one addresses the movement in a way that is consistent with its present form and, of course, since the time that I wrote that book, the prosperity gospel has just gone like a wildfire and so that's an element, and there are other elements as well that have changed.

    John: "Charismatic Chaos" was and is a fantastic book, and I have recommended it many times to many of my friends and I'm sure you have seen many comments by people who are being challenged by it. So hopefully we will see the same thing with "Strange Fire" as well.

    John M.: I will say this John, the book through the years has had an amazing ministry in helping people come out of that movement, and I would say that is the manifest impact of that book, letters upon letters, tens of thousands of them through the years coming to our ministry, the people in multiple languages reading that book, and coming out of that movement. This book is directed more at the leaders of that movement, the purveyors of that system, false miracles, false prosperity gospel, misrepresentation of gifts and all of that kind of stuff. This book really goes at the leadership and exposes the movement at that level, as well as its aberrations on a popular level. So, I'm praying that it will be an indictment whereas the "Charismatic Chaos" book was not so much an indictment of the leadership, but that it will also at the same help people to come out of that movement to the truth.

    John: You start "Strange Fire" with a story, the fantastic story of Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron. They are both priests, as you know, part of Israel. They, as you clearly point out, understood the teachings of God, were highly regarded, etc., and then the unbelievable happened, they went within this context of worship for them to present a, in a sense, sacrifice to God, and they did it in a wrong manner. God responded by sending fire and consumed both of them, both of these brothers. My question John is, do you think to some extent, the greater evangelical community, or at least maybe the charismatic community is in danger of doing the same thing?

    John M.: I think the charismatic community does the same thing. I think it offers strange fire, that's the point I make. In the ninth chapter in that same context, an offering was given to God appropriately and rightly, and God burned up the offering, and immediately after that, the offering was made inappropriately and God burned up the offers, and what that does tell us is that God feels very strongly, even judgmentally, against false worship. That is, worship which dishonors him; and I think the charismatic movement is filled with that.

    Now, I understand, we're not living in Old Testament times. God doesn't open up the ground and swallow up false prophets. God doesn't send a bear out of the woods to shred young men who mock a prophet. Obviously, God doesn't bring judgment the way he brought judgment in the Old Testament era; but he has the same attitude, and while judgment may not come in a temporal way, it will come, because God feels exactly the same about unacceptable worship. In fact, if you go back to the Ten Commandments, the first commandment and the second commandment are about no other God and how we come to God, how we approach God. The Old Testament is clear that we are to fear God and that we are to worship Him in a way that is consistent with His decree and His will and His commands.

    So, I just think--and it's a sad thing--that these charismatic churches and charismatic groups are full of people who do not understand that they can't play fast and loose with this kind of supposed worship. They can't say the Holy Spirit is doing something He's not doing, or saying something He's not saying. They can't ascribe to God fake miracles or fake revelations and make up things and say that God said them and the Holy Spirit said them.

    This is the most serious kind of conduct, negatively speaking, that any human being can commit. It is to blaspheme God, it’s an affront to God. I say in the introduction of the book that Jesus said the leaders of Israel had attributed the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan, and I draw a parallel, kind of an inverse parallel, that the modern charismatic movement attributes the works of Satan to the Holy Spirit. There are so many things that are obviously not of God at all that are being attributed to the Holy Spirit. This is very, very serious, and that's why the book doesn't hold back because the seriousness of dishonoring approaches to God demands a serious confrontation.

    John: So my mind goes in a couple of different directions here and there based on what you just said. Is God adhering to His forbearance then, as He approaches the Christian community, the charismatic community?

    John M.: Well, first of all, yeah, we have to understand that God is always forbearing, and He doesn't give us what we deserve when we deserve it. We are all alive because of His grace, and God by nature as Savior, even temporally, He withholds his judgment, He is merciful, He is gracious. I think many of these people aren't Christians, they're false teachers, false prophets, charlatans and frauds, and many of the people that follow them are nonbelievers who are deceived and duped, and certainly the Lord withholds judgment on them. Obviously, their judgment is the judgment of eternal condemnation when it does come.

    But even among believers, you know, there are many sins that believers can commit and do commit, and there are many unfaithful believers who don't have the ground open up and swallow them or who aren't struck down by God, although that can happen because we know from the New Testament, there is a sin of the death and there can be a sin in the life of the believer that will cause the Lord to take him home.

    But I think that's correct; I think God is patient even toward his own, and that's one of the functions of pastors. Paul, you remember, said to the church in Acts 20, "I have not ceased for three years to warn you with tears and to warn you that of your own selves perverse men will rise up, will lead you astray and from the outside wolves will come in with deceptive teaching." Paul writes his letters to churches and continually talks about error, and he said to the Galatians, "Having begun in the Spirit, are you perfected in the flesh? Please don't fall into legalism." All of those epistles have warning sections. Thessalonians, you know, warns about misunderstanding the second coming and believing lies. That's just part of ministry.

    So, we would say that while the Lord is forbearing with His own people who truly belong to him, it is the role and duty of pastors and leaders of the church to expose the false teachers, to expose the false doctrine and to preach sound doctrine. In fact, you shouldn't even be a leader in the church unless you are capable of exposing error. According to Paul's standards for leadership, 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, you have to be able to recognize error, expose it for error, and teach sound doctrine. That's part of being a leader in the church. It's not necessarily popular in this kind of environment where everybody calls for tolerance and acceptance. And nobody has screamed louder for that than the charismatics, because they have to have that in order to succeed. They have gotten what they wanted, but it's true that the Lord is patient, especially with His church. But that raises the importance of those who are leading His church to speak the truth and warn the people.

    John: In the book, you suggest a few questions to help test the authenticity of true works of the Spirit. You ask the readers to ask five questions. One, does it exalt the true Christ? Two, does it oppose worldliness? Three, does it point people to Scripture? Four, does it elevate the truth? And five, does it produce love for God and for others?

    Now, when I am reading those questions, my thought is, to some extent, we could have a pastor or a leader within the charismatic movement, being asked those questions on one side and John MacArthur being asked those questions on one side and both of them and looking at the acts of what's happening in the charismatic movement would answer those questions in the affirmative. Does it exalt the true Christ? They would answer yes. Does it oppose worldliness? They would say yes. How does someone within a Christian community approach then these two conflicting viewpoints and say, "Well, wait a second here, you both can't be right. I hear someone on TV telling me that what they're doing is truly of God, and yet I have MacArthur on one side telling me no, what they're doing is not of God, it's of the devil." How do we reconcile that, John?

    John M.: Those five questions basically came from Jonathan Edwards, and he was using those five things to evaluate the legitimacy or illegitimacy of certain things that were happening in the great awakening, and in every case it all depends on how you define the terms. If I ask the question, "Does it honor Christ?" the guy can say, "Of course, it honors Christ." A Mormon can say Mormonism honors Christ, A Jehovah's Witness can say Jehovah's Witness ministers honor Christ, but that begs a definition of Christ. Who is Christ? And what does honor Christ? That is the compelling issue.

    For example, when Kenneth Copeland says that Jesus on the cross became a sinner, died and went to hell, and was punished for three days, that's heresy. He may ask somebody, do charismatics honor Christ? Does Kenneth Copeland honor Christ? Sure, off the top of their head, they would say, “Yes,” but when you look more deeply, to say that Christ became a sinner and went to hell to pay for sin for three days and then God raised him, that does not honor Christ.

    So, all those questions then have to be defined. The terms in all those questions have to be defined. Before you can answer the question, "Does it honor Christ?" you have to show who Christ is, what Christ has done, and what the Bible says honors Christ, and then see if based upon the biblical definition of honoring Christ, they are honoring Christ; so in every case, a superficial answer, we expect that. We expect them to say, "Oh yeah, this demonstrates love for God, this demonstrates love for others." But upon closer examination, when you compare how the Bible defines those terms and what the charismatics do, it is not hard to answer the question.

    John: So, context defines the meaning here.

    John M.: Context and definition is everything. Sure, you could say to a Muslim, "Do you love God?" and he could say, "Yes," but he better talk about who you're talking about, what God you’re talking about and what you mean by love. So yeah, all those words beg for explanation, and in the book, those questions have a very carefully laid out biblical context in which they have to be answered.

    John: Yeah, they do, they do.

    John, the question was asked once of a TV preacher, "Why do amazing miracles like people being raise from the dead, blind eyes being opened, lame people walking again happen with greater frequency in places like Africa, and not here in the U.S.? So now I'm asking you John, would you agree with that statement, and then how would you answer that question?

    John M.: I would answer it by saying who said that and based on what evidence? I have absolutely never seen any legitimate evidence of anything like that going on anywhere in the world. People being raised from the dead claims, sure. People have made the claim that that has happened, that they have seen that happen, but there is literally no evidence, no genuine evidence for things like that. You have near-death situations where people come near to death and maybe are revived, we would all understand that, but nobody goes to a funeral and raises somebody out of the casket after they have been embalmed.

    So, you know, those kinds of claims are basically meaningless. They’re as meaningless as all of these claims about people going to heaven and seeing Jesus and seeing the Holy Spirit as a blue fog and Jesus riding a rainbow horse. That's why Paul said to the Corinthians, "I was caught up to the third heaven," but it's not profitable to talk about that, because it's not verifiable. They love the unverifiable. They love to make claims that no one can ever substantiate. People have done vast studies trying to track down the supposed miracles of well-known healers and all the evidence has come in through the years that there's just nothing there.

    John: What do you hope happens? I mean you kind of answered this at the beginning, but what do you hope happens as this book launches, as it goes out into the Christian community? Just what do you hope the response is going to be?

    John M.: First, I hope that those people who are sitting in these environments and know something is wrong but have been intimidated, that they have open minds and know this isn't right. That they know they're dying of cancer, they've got heart disease, they're going through a divorce, they're struggling with sin, they're not getting rich, and they're questioning why the guy at the top of the Ponzi scheme pile has a jet and two Mercedes and they can barely exist—or even can't exist. I hope those people who are full of anxiety and doubt will find reason to run and reason to flee the error and see and expose it for what it is.

    Secondly, I hope people will understand the danger of the influences that they're under. When Jesus was denouncing the Pharisees, he said they produce sons of hell. It’s an amazing indictment of those that the populous of Israel felt was representative of God, and what Jesus said is they don't produce sons of heaven, they produce sons of hell. I think it was more on Jesus' mind at the end of his ministry, in the final discussion he had before the cross with the disciples and the populous of Jerusalem that they flee from false teachers because they have such deadly influence. So, I hope people will see the corruption. If you start with Charles Parham from whom the movement came and see that he was arrested for sodomy and you just progress through the scandals of the movement, I hope it exposes the corruption that's at the top of the movement.

    The third thing that I would hope and pray for is that the movement would receive such a blow that it finds it difficult to recruit. And that's asking a lot because it's a big wide world and most of the Christian world doesn't even know I exist, but I would love to have this book slow down the growth and then obviously I would hope that even those that are fully convinced in the movement and fully convinced leaders in the movement, God might see fit to rescue them from it.

    John: We're going to jump off of topic of the book here. The tagline for "Grace to You" is Unleashing God's truth, One Verse at a Time. You have been a proponent for expository preaching, obviously for a long time. I'm curious, do you believe that's the only way to proclaim Scripture?

    John M.: Well, I believe initially the only way to proclaim anything from the Scripture is to interpret it correctly. So let's just say that however the sermon comes out, whether it's a theological sermon, or a sort of exhortational sermon, or an exposition of a given passage, or whether you're dealing with a biblical theme, the end product of what you preach has to come from rightly dividing the word of God. So, it's not that every sermon has to be a sort of word-by-word, verse-by-verse exposition, certainly as tight and as defined maybe as I would do it, but when you say this is what Scripture teaches, you can't truly say that unless you've rightly divided the truth.

    So, even when I preach, say, a message on a theological theme, a biblical theme, a doctrine of Scripture or give an overview, the message at the end of the day has to reflect the Scripture rightly interpreted. So, in that sense, all preaching has to be expositional. Sound theology is the product of accurate exposition. I prefer Bible exposition. I think it's the right way to preach because it's the only way that covers everything, and I don't think God simply gave us big ideas. I think He gave us truth down to the very smallest phrases and words, and if you're going to get the full richness of Scripture, that's the way you're going to get it.

    John: Do you think to some extent by avoiding expository preaching, it has allowed growth for the charismatic movement? I mean, do you think that's why to some extent everything that "Strange Fire," the reason why you wrote that book is because of the fact that expository preaching has not been held in high regard?

    John M.: If expository preaching dominated the church, and if that expository preaching was accurate interpretation of Scripture, the movement couldn't survive. That's absolutely correct. All false doctrine survives in an environment of ignorance or tolerance, and in evangelicalism in our day, you have a lot of ignorance, a lot of people who just think about church growth and whatever, and not about the truth in its detail. And you certainly have the personal kind of movement in Christianity, which conveys the idea, “What does the Bible mean to me?” and whatever I think it means and feel it means, and whatever the Lord shows me it means, that's what it means.

    So you not only have no exposition of Scripture based upon a scientific pattern, but you don't even have Hermeneutics, you don't even have rules for interpretation. If the Lord shows you what this means intuitively, like a pain in your stomach or a notion that pops into your head, now you've got an alien approach to Scripture. So, whether you have the Bible interpreted intuitively or interpreted personally or not interpreted at all, of course then anything and everything flourishes.

    Interested in reading John's new book? Click here for more information.


    This post was posted in Books, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Worship, John MacArthur, Kenneth Copeland

  • Gavin MacLeod - A Man Changed By Christ

    Posted on July 31, 2013 by John van der Veen



    The remarkable life, career, and faith journey of the star of The Love Boat and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

    For 16 years, millions of Americans welcomed Gavin MacLeod into their living rooms every Saturday night. This veteran of stage and screen transformed himself from a seasoned character actor into the leading, lovable father-figure of The Love Boat at the height of TV’s boom years.

    For more than 30 years, Gavin MacLeod has served as the global ambassador for Princess Cruises. Speaking to thousands of travelers each year, and signing hundreds of autographs at every port, he stands poised to celebrate his amazing journey with a look back at the golden era of American television.

    The consummate storyteller, Gavin shares his fondest memories of meeting and working with countless stars, such as Cary Grant, Steve McQueen, Gregory Peck, Bette Davis, Frank Sinatra, Ethel Merman, Ella Fitzgerald, Ronald Reagan, Milton Berle, and Fred Astaire.

    At first I was a bit hesitant to interview Gavin. I didn't know where he was coming from, and I didn't know much about his story. I knew that he claimed Christ as his savior, but I didn't know how passionate he was about Christ.

    Now, on the other side of the interview, I am so grateful for meeting this man. A man who has obviously been so changed by Christ.

    John: Gavin, before we begin talking about your new book, which is called This is Your Captain Speaking--obviously a very appropriate title--can you give us the rundown about how you got into Hollywood? How did you become an actor?

    Gavin: This is all in the book, too. Anyway, it started really when I was four years old. If you do it from four to 82, I’ve always said I should be a lot better. I was in kindergarten and I was in a play. I had a lot of cute hair then at that time. It was a Mother’s Day play; I remember it so vividly, John. A Mother’s Day play and I played a little boy who wanted to get something for his mother for Mother’s Day but I didn’t have any money. I didn’t know what to do, so I walked into the forest, where each one of my classmates played a different animal. The last animal was the largest one in the class, he must have been five years old and he was a bear. He said the thing to give your mother was a bear hug.

    I went back through the forest, the play must have taken about ten minutes, I don’t know. Each animal saying I’m going to give my mother a bear hug and I finally got back to the girl playing my mother, I gave her a bear hug. The play was over. Everybody took a bow and I took the last bow and I heard that applause. You talk to many actors my age, it’s kind of a similar thing. The applause made me feel that somebody really liked me. I said I want to do more of that. From that moment on, when I started writing compositions in school it was all about how I wanted to be an actor, how I wanted to spend my life. Then eventually when I got to high school, I quit the football team to go and do a play and they had a contest and I won that contest every year.

    I finally won a scholarship to Ithaca College, and that’s when I was first exposed unbelief (in God). I never realized until I got to college, because I came from a small town called Pleasantville, New York, that anyone ever thought there wasn’t a God. We’re all believers in our community, most of the ones I knew anyway. That opened a whole new world to me of new thinking. I thought, “Gee whiz, what is going on here?” That was the beginning.

    After college, I went to New York and got Radio City Music Hall and made $34 a week. One of my big thrills was taking up Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in my elevator one night. I was bald, I had lost my hair in college. I saved enough money, I thought, $125, so I could get a hairpiece--because they don’t write parts for young guys with bald heads. I finally went to a place--and it’s a long story; it’s all in the book--but I finally got a second-hand hairpiece for $125. That hairpiece got me my first Broadway play! I wore that hairpiece on and off.

    Anyway, after that, I did four off-Broadway plays. And then I went on the road without my hair. I had to save enough money to get married because I became engaged to a Rockette.

    So I went on the road, saved all that money, got married, and was working at a restaurant in New York City where all the big stars would go. I was the cashier, and that’s where I met Marilyn Monroe. That’s all in the book, too. They were doing a Hatful of Rain, an incredible play with Shelley Winters, Ben Gazzara, Anthony Franciosa, Harry Guardino. It was an Actor’s Studio project and I didn’t belong to the Actor’s Studio at all. Anthony Franciosa was discovered and was going to movies and everybody was moving up. I went to audition opposite all these Actor’s Studio actors and I came back to work. I was at my cashier’s post one night and the producer came in and said, “You got your first Broadway show, kid.”

    I was with the Hatful of Rain in New York and on the road for a year and a half. On the road, when I was in California, I had an offer to do a movie. Playing a drug addict and drug pusher, but I couldn’t do it because I was under contract to the play and I wouldn’t leave the play. That gave me a spurt of encouragement. I said maybe I can do something out there. I finished the whole tour in Boston, got to New York and my wife and I talked about it. I couldn’t get an agent in New York. I was this young guy with a hairpiece which belonged to somebody else years ago. I said, “I think I’ll go to the west coast.“

    We knew one person who knew an agent on the west coast. So we contacted that agent, Lou Irwin, and I flew out and went to Lou Irwin’s office and that’s where I met Ted Knight. If you’ve ever watched the Mary Tyler Moore show, you know who Ted Knight is. I don’t know how old you are, John, so a lot of the stuff I talk about I don’t know if you even know who I’m talking about.

    John: A little bit.

    Gavin: The eventuality was that Ted Knight was one of the best actors of all time. I met him in the office my first day on the west coast. I did a play immediately there and I got attention from that. That was the beginning of my career on the west coast. Eventually, one of the greatest moments I’ve ever had in my life would transpire: I brought my friend Ted Knight to the Lord before he passed. That was one of the greatest moments I have ever had in my life and that’s all in the book too. It’s all because of the business, and if you want to hear how God works, after the Mary Tyler Moore show was over, that ran for seven years.

    My wife and I had a nightclub act. We were going to go do that again and go back in the theater. I got a call from Aaron Spelling to do this thing called the Love Boat. I asked my agent, “Well what do you think about it? Have you read it?” He says, “I’ve read it.” I said, “Well, what do you think?” He says, “Well, I think it sucks. Do you want to read it?” I said, “Sure, I want to read it.” He gave it to me. I read it and said, “I think this can do something.” My wife read it and said “I think this can go, Gavin.” We went and did the Love Boat. Every critic thought it was going to sink like the Titanic. That it was mindless television. They thought it was just a waste of time, but the public loved it! You can see what the cruise industry is today and it’s all because of the Love Boat. You talk to anybody who is in the industry who was there years ago. It’s all because of the push it had from that show.

    John: How many years was the Love Boat on?

    Gavin: Almost ten years. All over the world. The Mary Tyler Moore show was just here and in England, and I saw one in Italy, too, when I was there. The Love Boat was international. Completely international.

    This is the point I wanted to make. I found out later that they had made two pilots of the Love Boat, way before me. With two different captains. They both had their own hair. They both had what you might call leading men kinds of bodies, you know, but it didn’t sell. I think the Lord was waiting for me. He put me in that job and as a result of that job and a result of the happenings in my life since then, and the kinds of movies I have done now like the Secrets of Jonathan Sperry and Timechanger.

    My preoccupation, my reason for living is to bring people to Jesus. He has brought me so much in my life. He has given me way beyond anything I thought. I thought I could maybe do my one Broadway play and maybe do one movie and then go and teach. It just hasn’t worked out that way. I am a very grateful, grateful person. Did I answer your question?

    John: (Laughter) Yes, you did. Absolutely. Gavin, just talking a little bit more about the Love Boat. I’m sure you have 1,001 memories about that time in your life. What is one memory that stands out that you’re really fond of?

    Gavin: When my wife did the first show she had ever done. We had attended a wedding for the actress who played Julie McCoy on the show--the cruise director--was getting married. It was at Bel Air Hotels. My wife’s name’s Patti, and we were sitting behind Aaron Spelling, who was Mr. TV, the giant producer, and his wife, Candy. He turned around and said, “Patti, I’ve got a great part for you next week.” Completely unsolicited. Patti came in and she played opposite Jim Backus, if you’re familiar with him. She was just socko! She was just wonderful on that show.

    I was very protective of her because she had never done anything like that, playing scenes without me before. She was basically a dancer and a singer. When I met her, I said “Oh, you’re so funny and you have such wonderful timing when you tell your stories, let’s see if you can walk and talk at the same time.” That’s what we call it. I took out a play called the Seven Year Itch, where she was like the third lead, she was the wife. She only had three or four smaller scenes. I wanted to see how she’d do and she did really great. I knew she had that aptitude and so, consequently, she just went on and had a wonderful career of her own acting. That first one she did on the Love Boat, where I was so protective of her, that on the last shoot, the last day, the crew came with a big t-shirt, a yellow t-shirt that said “Stage Mother Captain” on it for me.

    John: I love it.

    Gavin: We had a very happy crew.

    John: You guys all got along very well?

    Gavin: Yes. I learned a lot from Mary Tyler Moore. Mary Tyler Moore set the pace. When you’re in the theater, you have to be conscientious, you have to be early. I’ve taught that’s what you have to do. You’re the leader of the pack and how you are behaving is how the rest will pick up on. If you know you’re lines, if you’re on time, if you’re early, if you’re pleasant…

    The great thrill about that, there’s so many different things with the Love Boat, I’m still in awe, is that I was working with some of the people that I wanted to be like when I was a little boy. They would come to my captain’s table. I would have scenes with them like Mary Martin who I saw do South Pacific originally with Pinza in New York City. I was in high school. I just fell in love with her. When she sang “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair,” I thought she was singing to me. Then 35 years later, I’m holding her in my arms. I said, “Can I tell you something? I’ve been in love with you since I was 16 years old.” She signed a nice picture for me, she’s gone now, too.

    There’s so many different moments. Marion Ross is a good old friend of mine, too. She played Mrs. C on Happy Days, Mrs. Cunningham. Do you remember that?

    John: Yes.

    Gavin: Okay. Well, she and I have been friends. If you read the book you’ll see that we had worked together in 1957 when I first came out here opposite each other. We had been friends and then we did Operation Petticoat together with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis. Did you ever see that movie?

    John: I did not.

    Gavin: You should see that movie. That’s a wonderful movie for the family to see. It’s a comedy and it’s all based on real events that happened to different ships during the second World War. They encapsulated it into one ship for the movie. It’s a wonderful, wonderful, clean, family movie. It broke the record at Radio City Music Hall at that time when it played there.

    John: I wrote it down.

    Gavin: You should see that, John. Honestly, if you have any children ever. It’s just a fabulous movie. I played a little guy called Hunkle in that, the yeoman and there’s a great scene where Tony and I steal a pig, but Marion is in it, too. Marion and I go way back.

    On the Love Boat, like the last couple of years, they said you know we’re thinking about having a permanent love interest for the captain. I said “I think that would be great.” It’d be good for some of the older people out there. They had a list of different stars, big names. I said, “You know who I would like? Marion Ross.” She had just had a run on Happy Days and all, so they said Mrs. C. I said, “Yeah.” I said, “We play very well together.” They hired her. We had two years of working together on that show. When the show ended, we went on the road in a play called Never Too Late and wound up in Cape Cod.

    When I was in Cape Cod, that night, I got a call that Ted had died. His wife communicated with me that she wanted me to do the eulogy. I prayed that the Holy Spirit would just tell me what to say because I know there were going to be a lot of nonbelievers there. It just came out reviewing our friendship and everything and about all the awards you’ve ever received, Ted, nothing was as important as the last time I saw you when you gave your life to Christ. Now you have it all. I’ll always remember you as a little song, a little dance, a little salsa down your pants.

    It’s too bad you don’t know who I’m talking about because if you ever look at the Mary Tyler Moore show, and that’s another show if you have children that you can watch. It’s one of the most brilliantly written comedies ever and it’s very poignant in areas, too. It came about 1970 when Women’s Lib. was really big, so it addressed all that.

    John: We have the full season of the Dick Van Dyke show at home and we’ve certainly enjoyed watching that.

    Gavin: I did one of those. I did the one called “Empress Carlotta’s Necklace.”

    John: I’ll have to play it when I get home from work today.

    Gavin: I was the one, remember Richard Deacon played Mel with the bald head. When he said, “Oh, my cousin’s here.” On the sets in Hollywood, you always have a guy showing up or a woman with a big thing selling jewelry. This is about this guy coming in, Dick and Mary are having an anniversary and he says, “I want you to meet my nephew,” so I show up. It’s a wonderful character part. I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s done in the mid-60’s there and I sell Dick Empress Carlotta’s necklace for like $39.95. He brings it to Mary as a gift, that’s all I’ll tell you then you just have to see the show. It was one of the prizewinning ones. “Empress Carlotta’s Necklace.”

    I did that, and then I was doing another one where I played this little Jewish guy who was in love with Rosemary. She used to order sandwiches and I sent her notes in the middle of the sandwich to read. We were in the middle of the shoot, rehearsing and then we had a weekend off and I came down with appendicitis. I couldn’t do it then and they got another actor. I was in the hospital feeling so sorry for myself because what a wonderful group. You can’t imagine being in the presence of Carl Reiner, Sheldon Leonard--one of the great guys of all time--Danny Thomas and Dick and Mary and Maury and Rosie, you know. Rosie’s pretty long in the teeth right now.

    Anyway, well I’m glad you’re watching that. I did a lot of those things you know. The other thing as far as the Love Boat goes, a highlight with me was when Patti came on. Meeting those big stars, having Marion Ross and the last one we did, we got married and I had my friend Jan Peters from college, he played the minister and married us.

    The other favorite one was when my daughter Jill came aboard, when Vicki came on the show. Aaron Spelling came to me and said, “We’re thinking about you having a daughter.” I said, “How can I have a daughter if I’m not married?” He said, “Remember the episode that we did a long time ago where you were in love with this model?” I said, “Oh yeah.” “And she wanted to marry you?” I said, “Yeah, but she issued an ultimatum. She told me, either you or the sea. I don’t want to marry you and have you be gone all the time.” Some very interesting things going on.

    After much, much trepidation he says, “I have to be on the sea, I have to be on the water.” He said, “From that relationship, you could have produced a child. That child shows up on the boat.” That’s how that whole story started. We had some very interesting stuff with Vicki, this young girl showing up on the boat and how we all realized, and how I realized... It’s very, very interesting stuff. Also, we got a lot of young viewers because there was someone for them to associate with. The Love Boat picked up another few thousand people. It’s interesting to think why that show was so successful.

    There were so many different ingredients, but I think the main thing to me is when a show was all over. My wife and I had an apartment in New York, so I went to the apartment in New York and I had some cleaning, so I brought some cleaning to the cleaning shop that we used to trade in and it was a new young woman there. She said, “Oh man, aren’t you the captain?” I said, “Well, yes I was.” “Well, why did they take that show off?” I said, “Well, someone else bought the network and I guess they thought it was too expensive.” “But you have to go back and tell them to put it back on.” I said, “Why young lady?” She said, “Because that show used to give me something to dream about. There’s nothing on television that gives me anything to dream about.” That’s what it did.

    I represent Princess Cruises, you know John? Ever since the show went off the air. I was in Australia just last year and it was my birthday and I was meeting this huge congregation of Princess employees in Sydney. I said what am I going to tell these people and then I realized what that girl said. I said, “You know, it’s an honor for me to be here in front of all of you. I’m glad you’re taking time out from work with me to celebrate my birthday, but let me celebrate you because you should know, what you are doing with your lives are allowing people to realize their dreams. A lot of people go to work and that doesn’t happen. They don’t have that kind of a job, but you have that job.” I said, “I’ll tell you the truth, as my captain would say, ‘I salute you.’”

    I think that’s a very important ingredient that someone has something to dream about. It’s not a shootout kind of thing, it’s not a negative thing, it’s not these sex things that go on. Cruising does change lives. I’ve seen it happen over and over and over again. I’ve been on so many ships and seen so many people.

    John: Gavin, I had read that you and Patti got divorced and then remarried. Obviously, there’s reconciliation that took place. What brought you guys back together again?

    Gavin: That’s a major theme in my book. I mean that’s one of the major moments in my book. When things started to move with the Love Boat, it got so big, and big, and big and I was the leader and the responsibility I had was enormous. If I wasn’t on the screen, I was all over the country pushing it and doing interviews. It became almost obsessive to me and I didn’t know the Lord at that time. I just put my work before my wife. I said I just don’t have time; I can’t come in after work. I leave when it’s dark; I come home when it’s dark. I’m learning lines. I do a lot of stuff behind the scenes you don’t see when you see the show.

    I very selfishly put myself and my job before my wife and so I’ve got to get a divorce. I have to get out of here. I could just concentrate on all that. I did. For those three years, she had gone to a therapist. When I met her, she introduced me to a new age teaching and that new age teaching was me. I’m first. There’s no such thing as sin. You’re supposed to be happy, not unhappy. Do what you want to do. That’s why having that kind of indoctrination in my head, leaving her was not as dreadful as it really is. It really is, it’s a terrible thing. I was very selfish at that time, but because of that kind of a teaching it sort of falls into place.

    For three years, we didn’t see each other. Three years she went to a psychiatrist in New York and out here all saying I want my husband back and he doesn’t want to be married so you’ve got to carry on. One day she went to some kind of a Buddhist place where they had pictures of a yogi or Gandhi or something and a picture of Jesus and she was sitting there. All she did was pray for me to come back. She wasn’t born again yet. She was praying. This man came up to her who was one of the yogis in a robe and he says, “Is there anything I can do for you?” She says, “My husband, I need him back.” He said, “You know, there are those pictures there on the altar. Jesus is the real thing.” She carried that with her.

    One day, she got a call from Patti, Jerry Lewis’ ex-wife. She told my wife Patti, she says, “Patti, I want to take you some place. I want you to meet some ladies.” We were living at the beach then. Patti Lewis picked her up and took her to a house in Beverly Hills where she went and saw all these ladies sitting there and on the mantle of this big house there were all these Oscars. She says, “Wow, this is really something.” It was Johnny Green’s wife. Johnny Green was one of the major musicians here. He usually conducted the Oscars. He did “Raintree County.” He won all those Oscars for his music.

    These women were there in a prayer circle. Patti says, “I’ve never seen anything like that before.” They introduced her and asked her, “Would you like prayer for anything?” She says, “Yes, I’d like to have my husband back.” One little voice, this good friend of ours who went to be with the Lord two years ago, she said, “If you want your husband back, you can have him back.” They started to pray for me. Patti had never experienced anything like that. That lady’s name was Louise French. She’s with Jesus now.

    The night of that happening, we researched it. The night of this happening, I went to a play with Bernie Kopell and his wife, he played the doctor on the show, in Santa Monica. That’s where Patti was having this. After the play, I said, “I wonder how Patti’s doing?” I hadn’t had that thought before. I drove around where we used to live. I tried to see her. Then I went home. The next morning I prayed to Jesus because my mother had a brain situation. A cyst the size of a baseball in the left brain and they were going to have to operate. That morning, you get the chronology? They prayed for Patti that day, that same day I went to see the play I started to think about her.

    The next morning, I’m in bed and my mom’s operation’s in Palm Springs and I’m in Beverly Hills. I prayed to Jesus that if you give my mother more time I’ll turn my life over to you. I don’t care if I act anymore, but dear Jesus give her more time. After I said that, something told me to call Patti. I didn’t even have her phone number. I called my secretary Judy. I said, “Judy, have you got Patti’s number?” “Why boss?” I said, “I don’t know. I have to call her.” “Why?” “I don’t know. I just know I have to call her.” She gave me the number.

    It was like 7:15 in the morning. I’m usually off to work at a quarter to six, but I had a late call that day. I called her. I said, “This is Gavin.” She said, “Oh, I was just thinking about you.” “Can I see you?” I don’t even know why I’m saying this John, it’s just coming out. I said, “Can I see you?” She said, “Well, yes, but I have to be away. I started a group called LADIES.” I said, “Well, what it is?” She said, “Well, it stands for Life After DIvorce can Eventually be Sane.” All these ladies who’ve been divorced by well-known people, Patti was one of the starters of this group. She says, “We go from city to city as a support team for other people like us. Who’ve been dumped.” I said, “Okay.”

    We made a date for the following Monday. I went down there. I got out of work early. Nobody answered the door. I kept knocking and knocking and knocking. The third time there she is. We hug and she says, “I’m sorry, you’re dinner’s cold. It’s been waiting for three years.” Great line, huh?

    John: Great line.

    Gavin: Then we started talking. She said, “Pat and Shirley Boone have become very good friends of mine and they’ve been a blessing to born again marriages.” Wonderful ministry. They’ve taught me to do some things and this is what I do. Whenever I come in the house now,” (it was an apartment), she said, “Hi honey, I’m home.” She said, “Look, I put my wedding ring back on,” and “Let me go get you something.” She went and she showed me a Bible with my name on it she had made. We just sat down there and we talked and fell asleep and talked and fell asleep. We never did eat that food.

    So much had changed. She had changed so much, it seemed to me. Now, she really had Jesus. She really had committed to Jesus and I said, “Patti, this is what I want. This is what I long for.” She had put on some television and the first one we saw was Kenneth Copeland. He eventually became a very good friend of ours and to Gloria and all. We went up there in Texas a few times to see them.

    Anyway, that was the beginning of our whole getting back together. Then I had to go to work. I started to hear with different ears. I started to see with different things. God started to do a work in me. I didn’t want to hear those dirty jokes anymore. I used to be the leader of all that. I didn’t want to hear those things. The guys weren’t too happy with me, but they tolerated me. I didn’t care because now I was with the Truth. My Lord has forgiven me of my sins.

    I eventually went through a process and I became born-again. Patti and I were both baptized in the water at Church on the Way with Pastor Jack. I will never forget that moment in my life as long as I live. Being baptized in the water and being told nothing before this moment has ever happened. Our sins are washed away.

    John: That story, just is absolutely incredible. There’s two things that I hear going on that just fly in the face of contemporary culture. First of all, you rarely hear of couples that have been divorced being brought back together just in regular contemporary Americana. Secondly, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard that story for anybody who has worked in Hollywood such as both you and Patti have. You both stand as a testimony of God’s grace and reconciliation.

    That story is so fantastic and, honestly, this is my prayer for you, that both of you will continue to share that because it speaks volumes of God’s grace to so many couples that are struggling even right now. This is going to be transcribed into a blog, and so people who are reading this and reading your testimony, Gavin, they’re going to be encouraged by the dramatic effects that God has done through both you and your wife.

    Gavin: That John, that’s exactly to me the purpose of my book. I didn’t care about writing a book about my life. If I can bring one person to Jesus, or if I can bring one couple back together, it will be worth all of the work and all of the energy and everything else that it’s taken to get this book done. That’s the purpose in life. My purpose in life is as an ambassador for Christ. The thing is John, I’ve never won an Oscar, never won an Emmy, never won a Tony. I’ve been given the greatest award anyone could ever receive, that’s eternal life.

    John: Amen, brother.

    Gavin: He’s forgiven me my sins. Born again, I’ve become an ambassador for Christ as John says. The most rewarding role I have ever had. With that comes a lot of responsibility. Someone was looking on a blog the other day and they saw my name. I said, “Patti, look I finally made it. It says Gavin MacLeod, actor and Christian activist.” Wow, Christian activist. That’s like getting a star from the Lord. You know what I mean? Putting it right out there.

    This story, I haven’t even finished how God has blessed us… We used to go to different born-again marriage seminars and give our testimony. Then on Trinity Broadcasting Network, we had a program for seven years called Back on Course. That was our first book, Back on Course. God used us that way. Even just two weeks ago, I got a note from someone. I get notes from people all over the world. This lady was from Trinidad and the husband had left for about six years and he saw our program one night and he contacted her and they got remarried.

    We were on a ship once and our little mailbox, if you’ve been on a ship outside your suite or wherever you are, they have a little mailbox and we found a thing there. Some lady was saying, “My husband and I owe our marriage to you because we were broken, completely broken. We heard your story and he said well, my heavens if God can do it for them, He can do it for me too. We’ve been back together and I just want to thank you for that.”

    When I go on Princess Cruises, sometimes they let me do a Sunday service. I get to do my testimony. The last one, I was coming from the Mediterranean and Adriatic and mostly English people on this ship. I got a wonderful, wonderful note from a woman who said, “I have been a pastor all my life and I decided, okay, now I’ve done it and now I don’t have to do it anymore. Then I heard you this morning, I realized it’s never over. What have I done? I said I don’t want to pastor anymore? I don’t want to speak the Word of God anymore? I don’t want to be a symbol of what God can do for you?” She wrote me this, she says, “I’m going back to the ministry after hearing you.”

    Those kinds of moments really feed into my gratitude so much. You know what I mean? God can take me, this guy that used to drink and I thought I knew Him but I didn’t know Him and all that kind of stuff and use me as an instrument. That’s what He used me as, an instrument. I’m just so grateful. I’m 82 now, but I have such a purposeful life. I want to go and go and go and bring as many people. When I go on the road with my book, I’ll be preaching almost all over the place until they close me down. I want people to know that, what I want to get across, is that He can do this for anybody.

    John: Amen.

    Gavin: My wife is going through a very difficult time now, John. She needs assisted living right now. The devil has attacked her for years and years and years in her mind. Her frontal lobe has decreased 40%. She’s in a place where they kind of help her with medication and things like that now because of this really abnormal depression and anxiety. We know Joyce Meyer says it’s a battlefield of the mind, you know? It’s true. We have everybody we know praying for Patti and her healing.

    John: We are joining you.

    Gavin: Listen, God bless you and your family and all the time you’ve given. It just made this a very important hour for me.

    John: Thank you, Gavin, so much for your time. God bless you, brother.

    Gavin: God bless you, too.

     


    This post was posted in Books, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Joyce Meyer, Pat Boone, Gavin MacLeod, Jack Hayford, Kenneth Copeland

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