Why I Quit Church

•November 9, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I spent so much of my life in the church. I grew up in it. I was practically raised by it. So much of who I am as a person, I owe to the church. However, I have found myself at odds with the church at large. Not the overall church, but in particular the American variety of what church should be.

The American church has become an idol in and of itself. We have made ourselves a graven image and that image is something I have seen become more and more of a priority more than preaching the gospel. We have become more and more focused on becoming a political body and enforcing our will upon a nation that, for the most part, wants nothing to do with us.

The church was never meant to be, nor should it ever be a political organization. I don’t care if you are liberal, conservative, libertarian, or just don’t care. If you call yourself a Christian, your opinion of a person and their salvation should not begin and end with who they voted for the last election, or if they choose to stand, kneel, or sit during the national anthem or pledge of allegiance. News Flash: America isn’t God’s chosen nation. Jesus is not a Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian. He is King. he is above the political process. If you have ever studied church history, the most impact the church has had politically has alway been when the church itself was more focused on it’s main objective from God than they were on politics. If we want revival, we don’t need to be looking to government or the Supreme Court. We need to look to God and look to what we were founded to begin with.

We are known by love. We are not known by adherence to political or moral purity codes. When the day comes when a person can step into a church and who they voted for the last election is the last thing someone cares to ask, then the church as a whole will be healed. When we realize that it is the Blood of Christ that makes us Christians, not political ideologies or acts of patriotism, the church will be on the right road to healing. Politics has divided the church and damn near tore it apart.

There’s no worse place to go on social media than in the comment section of any news source. Nothing taxes my faith in humanity and in the church than seeing some of my friends, professed Christians, tear into one another over things that really bear no relevance. I confess, I have done the same thing out of anger, fear, and frustration. It’s heartbreaking to see what the church has become when sheltered behind the saftey of a computer screen. I’ve often wondered what the church would be like if we cared more about loving others as we did about who sat in the Oval Office.

Now why I say I quit church, that does not mean I don’t have a church body or a community that I can confide in. I have one, we just don’t meet inside of a building on Sundays. That does not mean that I’m not as open and honest with them about my faith and my beliefs as I can be. We disagree, we don’t even share the same politics, but that does not break our bond that is created by the Blood of Christ.

I’d love to see the American church break agreement with the portion of the church that believes that to be a Christian, you have to be conservative, Republican, anti gay, and patriotic. When the church’s values become the First and Second commandments, maybe we’ll start looking like the church again.

I’m sure I’ll have plenty of people telling me to get over myself and becoming the person I want to be. Rest assured, I know that more than anyone else. I’m also going to be told that I’m wrong to judge the church. I’m going to counter with this, before God judges this country, he will judge his house first. The church should be glad that God is reserving his judgement, because it begins with us first.

 

Note: This is just part of my argument. I plan on continuing this. 

 

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Being a Teacher

•October 25, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I can’t tell you how long I have wanted to be a teacher. Even when I was a kid, I gave teaching or preaching a lot of thought. Something about people listening to you and being the center of attention always appealed to me for obvious reasons. But aside from that, I really didn’t know what being a teacher really meant. Now that I am a real teacher in real life, a lot of things have hit me.

The first thing I have learned is that I really don’t know anything about being a teacher. I really don’t know how much my words can truly impact a kid’s life for the better or for the worse. They really hang on every word we tell them and they glean from our experiences, good and bad.

I’m finding that my teaching philosophy needs to really be my philosophy on life. I need to talk a little less, especially about my personal business. They don’t need to know all of that. They really don’t need to hear everything going in my life. They have their own problems. However, my job is to love them. It’s hard to teach someone you don’t really love. This is where I need to be a positive influence on them. I’m really good at letting folks know that I love them and I think the best of them.

I’m also discovering that the ability to teach someone only goes as far as your belief in their ability to learn the thing you’re teaching. Being a teacher, you have to believe the unbelievable every day.

Teaching at a detention center, I get the worst of the worst. These kids come from some of the worst backgrounds and the worst parenting situations ever. These kids really need a teacher who is willing to love them. They need someone who believes in them.

At the end of the day, I am right where God wants me doing the very thing I am meant to do with my life. I couldn’t be happier being a teacher.

Starting Over: My Faith, and My Blog

•October 18, 2017 • Leave a Comment

When I started the Stunner, I was wanting to use it as a vehicle for ministry. As it turns out, I am not in ministry anymore. Well… at least not in vocational ministry. As Christians, we are all called to ministry. That does not in any mean that we are going to be Sunday School teachers or preachers.

Frankly, I am over the traditional Sunday American Christianity. I prefer my theology on tap. I do not believe it is my job to send a person to hell because they’re broken differently than me. I believe it’s God’s job to fix people, not mine. As a Christian, I have only one job. It is to love. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like church or churches. I just haven’t found a community where I feel like I belong.

I want to put myself out there right out of the gate. I have confused and confounded many of my friends that I made playing the religion game.

That being said, where am I in my walk? I am at the place where it is okay to not be okay. If Christianity is about outward appearances and toeing the line, then I will be the first to tell you that I suck at this. If it’s about doing your best to love people where they are at and leaving the business of changing people and the world up to God, then I would like to say I’m at least a decent Christian. If there is any arena of my walk with Christ that I want to improve in, it’s the part where I love people. If I have to toe the line, sing the songs, say the right words, and do all the things, then you might as well send me to hell right now.

This is what I am about.

 

What’s going on… the abridged version

•August 4, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I moved back to Mississippi for two reasons. One reason was for the love of my life, whom I married on May 16, 2015. The other reason was to get my degree. I am halfway to that goal. In December of 2014, I received my Associates Degree from Pearl River Community College. While I started at Jones County Junior College and marched in the Maroon Typhoon as a Bobcat, I finished my junior college days as what we call a River Rat. Love how life can turn things upon their head in such a quick amount of time.

I love life as a married man. I survived to age 18 because I have a mom who is nothing short of epic. How I survived from 18 to 30 without my wife is beyond me. She literally holds me together. I only hope she can say the same for me. We work well together. We are best friends and that hasn’t changed since we got married. We make each other laugh and we keep each other in check.

We also have us a daughter of seven whom I love dearly. I’ve become a step dad, meaning I’ve stepped up to be her dad since she hasn’t had one for all her life. I’m more than happy to be her dad and I am excited about the memories that we are going to make and the memories that I have the opportunity to be a part of. She starts second grade next Monday and we already have a plan to walk to school considering it’s literally a stone’s throw away from the apartment complex we call home.

Speaking of school, I (finally) start Southern Miss in the fall. I missed the spring semester at Southern due to getting married and the summer due to having surgery on my colon. The Crohn’s in my intestines had intensified to the point where I literally had a fistula threatening to explode out of my belly button. Not just a fistula but an abscess on the fistula made it even more painful. Interventional radiology tried to drain it as is but it made a comeback. It came back to the point where the surgeon made the decision to operate. After surgery I was placed on IV antibiotics for three weeks so I had to lug around an infusion pump. Thursday I get the picc line taken out of me and I’ll finally be free of the infernal device.

Back to the subject of school, My dream is to get my History degree and to be a teacher. Ever since the Lord confirmed in me his desire for me to teach and his gifting in me to do so, I wanted to go back to Southern Miss, the site of my past failures, and redeem my time there and get my degree from there like my mom and dad. While I’ll get my degree from Southern Miss, I’ll be attending a different campus as I am living on the coast now with my wife and daughter as opposed to Hattiesburg, which is an hour and a half drive away.

The future is bright for me and my family. There is nothing more than having that perfect partner who is on the same page as you and knows that it’s no longer an “I” thing, it’s now a “we” and an “us” thing. I’m excited to see what the future holds for us and our lovely daughter. I also plan on updating this site on a more consistent basis as my job from now till I graduate will be that of a full time student (thank you BAH and the Post 9/11 GI Bill for making that possible). Drop in from time to time!

Jesus Christ can hit the curveball, and the Lord throws Knucklers too…

•June 5, 2013 • 1 Comment

When I moved to Kansas City, I had a plan, an idea of what I was going to do. Do Intro to IHOPKC (both tracks), and then get ready for school in January. I was stepping up to the plate knowing what I was going to do. The only problem it’s impossible to know what’s being thrown to you, especially when the Lord is the pitcher….

Saying that, the Lord has told me no to Track Two to Intro. He’s wanting me to go to school this fall and get ready for the marketplace. It’s amazing that he moved me to Kansas City to connect me with IHOPKC and night and day prayer and then shifts my whole focus to getting myself ready to work the 9-5 everyday. I often wonder why I went through all of this only to get told that I am not going to be full-time in the House of Prayer as an Intercessory Missionary, but I see the hand of the Lord on this and on my life.

I was deeply impacted by a story from Francis Frangipane where he was praying for men of Godly character to be found within the church. He was praying into other men’s lives basically. The Lord spoke to him and asked him if he really wanted men to live Godly and show these values. Francis, of course, said yes. Then the Lord replied, ‘Then you be that man.” That spoke to me in many ways. For years I have expected men in the marketplace who liked the House of Prayer and loved the vision to sow into this vision and to “put their money where their mouth was”, for lack of better words. I am finding that the Lord is beginning to require of me what I have expected so many in the marketplace to do. I am also encouraged by the word that Mike Bickle received in Cairo in 1982 when the Lord told him that “he will change the understanding and expression of Christianity in one generation.” How I see that word is that those within the prayer movement are already on board with this and many are operating within that change. I see myself being that change in the marketplace to bring other men and women into that change themselves.

Bob Hartley is a very successful businessman with an amazing prophetic gifting. This man is not only respected in business circles but is asked to speak at churches around the nation. He speaks of men and women becoming hope reformers in the body of Christ. He often says, “Every man a revivalist. Every man a prayer warrior. Every man a hope reformer. Every man a worshipper.” Of course this deals with women too, and the wonderful connotation is there. For a man to say that he’s not in ministry because he has a job outside of church is a lie that’s about to be put to death all across the body of Christ. The day is coming when a man will be called into ministry though he has a job or a business. There is coming a day when the prophets of the Lord won’t be coming out of just the church and full-time ministers, but from those who work and make money in the marketplace.

I have every confidence that no matter what I am doing in the marketplace, I am completely pleasing to the Lord and I am right where he wants me to be. If Jesus were to come back tomorrow, let it not be said that I despised the place on the wall he has placed me. Let it be said that even as a businessman, a simple worker in the marketplace, that I was right where he wanted me to be, serving faithfully. I am excited to being wherever the Lord wants me to be and I am even more excited that I can do it and be deeply connected and rooted within the IHOPKC community. I have been so blessed in my time in Intro and have made so many friends and made so many connections in many countries. I am so excited to see what the Lord is going to do in my life in the coming years as I go to school and get equipped not only professionally but for the ministry.

But I can finally say it. Now I am ready to go and do what the Lord has called me to do. No matter where I am, the Lord will fulfill his work in me. I am ready for the marketplace.

Blessings!

Jesus, An Epic Savior for Epic Men

•May 18, 2013 • Leave a Comment

So many times in my own life, I have lost patience with myself. So many times I have been so broken in myself that I have doubted myself and my commitment to Jesus. I have had to come the reality that it’s the Lord’s commitment to me, not the other way around that keeps me. If the Lord has not given up on Israel after all of this time, why should I feel so special that he would give up on me?

In that I am reminded of Peter. When I was coming back to the Lord I was still struggling with the whole restoration deal. I was still dealing with the guilt and shame that I had brought upon myself in my own personal Ziklag. I had thrown myself back into service to the Bride of Christ the local church. I was a part of an all black congregation called Anointed Word Ministries mainly because my best friend, J (who was also my Platoon Sergeant), attended there and I knew that I was going to be knit to him beyond the Army. I ran with this guy for the last six months I had left in the Army and needless to say it was glorious.

One Saturday night we had Pastor come over to the church to test out the new wireless mic we had rented out and were considering buying. We had it set up, I was going to play guinea pig preacher and preach something for us to hear out the mic system, Pastor was going to sit as one of the congregation and J was going to man the sound board. When I was given the cue to speak, I don’t think any of us in the room was ready for what the Lord had to say to the three of us in that room, myself more than anyone.

I opened my Bible to John 21, in particular the part that talks about Peter. Peter in this story had not only seen Jesus die, but he was still struggling with the fact that he had denied and blasphemed the name of Jesus three times. He was giving up, he was going back to his life of fishing, he had failed God, he had failed Jesus, and he had failed himself. It was this man who said that if it meant he would die with Jesus, he would never deny him. Peter was an epic man. In that when he succeeded, he did so epicly, and when he failed, it was just as epic. Peter was not a man given to halfway doing things, he did things with gusto, with zeal, and with fervor. This was the man who drew a sword and struck the ear of Malchus in defense of his Lord (John 18:10). This guy did not play! I can imagine Peter as one who would charge hell with a bucket of water if Jesus would only say the word.

But the problem with epic people, is when they fail, they condemn themselves the hardest. They are the worst judges of themselves. Of all the people Peter expected to fail in the time of trial when the shepherd was struck and the sheep were scattered, he would have counted himself as the one who would stand. It is said in Luke 22:62 that he wept bitterly after the rooster crowed and he remembered what Jesus told him. It’s easy to look over this but think about it, take sobbing and amplify it a little bit and you might have a picture of Peter’s anguish. He didn’t just deny Jesus once, or twice, but THREE TIMES! He even cursed the very Lord he swore to defend and did violently in John 18! You would be hard pressed to find someone who failed harder than Peter in that one moment.

This very man was going fishing. It wasn’t recreation, it was his old life. It was what he was doing when Jesus found him and told him that he would make him a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19). Just like before, Peter found himself completely dissatisfied, a complete failure. He couldn’t even make it as a fisherman! He was fishing all night and caught ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!! Once again Peter was back in the same place, face to face with his failures, not only as a disciple, but now as a fisherman!

Then the voice! Children, do you have any food? Peter, and his brothers, with the same answer as they gave their Lord the day they met him, noted that they hadn’t caught anything, Jesus, being true to form, gives them the very same remedy he gave them the day he called them out, Throw the net over the other side of the boat, and lo and behold, the very same thing that happened before happened again! The catch was so great that they couldn’t even keep them all in the boat! I can just see the memories coming back to Peter! He was probably thinking, “I haven’t seen anything like this since… JESUS!!!!” John, looking to Peter confirmed it saying, It is the Lord! Peter being an epic man, didn’t bother helping the other disciples bring the fish in, he didn’t even bother waiting till the boat got to land, he threw on his outer garment and jumped in the water and swam out to meet Jesus. There was only one thing on his mind and fishing suddenly didn’t matter so much!

The story goes on with Jesus already cooking breakfast and when the disciples finally get the boat to shore he tells them to throw a couple on the grill. Then Peter comes to his senses and helps his brothers pull the net to the shore. They get all that done and they eat breakfast with the Lord. Keep in mind that this was the third time that they have seen him yet Peter had never dealt with his sense of failure despite seeing the Lord twice before. When Jesus came there, he had a mission, It was Peter’s turn.

Simon, do you love me more than these? I can imagine the question burning in Peter’s heart, YES I LOVE YOU JESUS! “Then feed my sheep” says Jesus. Then a second time, “Simon do you love me?” Then Peter responds differently “Lord YOU KNOW I love you”. I imagine him saying that because he knew that the Lord knew that he loved him, yet the reality of it had yet to dawn on Peter’s heart. An epic man, epicly failed, yet still epicly condemned. Jesus, for the third time, asks Peter, “Do you love me Simon son of Jonah?”, I can imagine Peter’s inner grief being reminded of the three times he denied Jesus on the worst day of Jesus’ life, face to face with his failures yet one thing remained, “Lord you know all things, you KNOW that I love you!” Same response from Jesus, then feed my sheep.

For Peter’s epic failure, he needed an epic Savior. For the work that Peter did on the earth, he needed an epic Holy Spirit. The man who caught two loads of fish that could barely fit in the boat the times he encountered Jesus and was called out as a fisher of men, was the very one who on the day of Pentecost preached and brought in a haul of men so great that the saints could barely contain what was brought in, Three thousand souls in one day! Not even Billy Graham, John Wesley, George Whitfield, Charles Finney, or any other revivalist brought in that many in ONE DAY! When you look at Peter, you see an epic man who did epic things. His very shadow healed people! Jesus loves epic men and women. It was Peter who received the epic revelation and was the human to make the epic proclamation that Jesus Christ was the Christ, the Son of the Living God!

So I want to encourage all you epic people out there. The go getters, the ones who go for broke, Jesus is a Savior for guys like you! Wholehearted abandonment is what we were made for and there is no greater calling for any human being, let alone those of us who go for broke and give it everything we got, even if our zeal is off at times. We serve an epic Savior!

Father, we thank you that you are an epic God, who created epic people, and gave us an epic Savior! Reveal your Son to us in a mighty and powerful way that we may glory in Him when we epicly succeed and that he may comfort us when we epicly fail. Who has more zeal for your house than you? Who has more zeal to see your purpose fulfilled on the earth than you? Who is the most epic man in all of human history? It is most certainly You Jesus! Thank you Jesus, Amen!

Same Saga, New Chapter!

•April 7, 2013 • Leave a Comment

So back in October, I went on leave from the Army to Kansas City. It didn’t take me long to realize that I belonged in Kansas City and in the prayer room. The Lord had set me up on this because I was visiting KC for a week to be in my friend’s wedding. Well events transpired that forced my friend and his bride to be to push their wedding date back a few months and I was in a position where I couldn’t cancel my leave because it was approved by everyone from the top down so I submitted myself to this because it didn’t take me long to know that the Lord was in this. Even be in the system of the world and living like the world for so long in the Army the Lord was still looking after me. During my week’s leave, I was set up, blown up, prophesied over, and given ever sign that IHOPKC, The Prayer Room, and Kansas City is where I belong. I had about six months left in the Army and was planning on going back to Mississippi to pursue my degree and a career, the Lord shifted those plans to Kansas City. I knew that no matter what I was doing for a living, I needed to be connected to the IHOPKC community, the Prayer Room.

It’s astonishing how the Lord has his hand on me. I knew that my time in House of Prayer Hattiesburg, for all of my mistakes there, was such a blessing to my life and helped bring me through my time in the Army and in a way preserved me to receive what was poured into me in October 2012. Like David, I had my time in the fields worshiping Him alone with a small flock, I had my time learning natural warfare, and I had my time of loneliness in being one of the few pursuing righteousness in the midst of wickedness. This season in IHOPKC is just the next chapter in the saga titled My Life.

On February 17, 2013, my service in the US Army officially came to an end. On March 21, 2013 I moved to Kansas City to begin the next chapter of my life. I have signed up for the Intro to IHOPKC internship and as much as the Army has given me to start this next chapter of my life, it is not going to be enough to see me through these next six months so in a way I am going to have to go back to the methods of asking for support. But instead of asking out of a poverty spirit and doubt and a lack of identity in myself and who I am in God, I am doing this because I know that I know that I know that God put me here and is faithful to provide for his children. I also recognize that I wasn’t faithful in my part to put myself out there to people and ask in confidence and boldness and I wasted a lot of time because of my own feelings of inadequacy. No more. I am confident that God has a part and I have a part. I can’t do God’s part and God isn’t going to do my part. I am confident that he will provide for me these next six months as I get equipping for ministry.

My plans include doing Intro for the next six months, then going to nursing school on VocRehab and the GI Bill. I plan on serving as part time staff at IHOPKC while I go to school because I can think of no better way to spend my spare time as a student paid to go to school than to spend it before the Lord serving in his house. But to be on staff, I have to go through Intro and complete this internship. It costs 1200 for the first track and 900 for the next track. Every bit of support I receive will go first to paying for my tuition. As a single man $1500 a month will more than take care of my monthly needs as well as enable me to live a (not too) comfortable life. The Lord has provided various supporters for me over the weeks but I ask that whoever reads this prayerfully considers partnering with me financially. I belong in the House of Prayer and my heart longs to burn before the Lord all of my days. It’s been six long years to get me to this point but as the Keith Green song puts it, He’s brought me here where things are clear and trials turned to gold.

I am excited but expectant about what the Lord has in store for me in this time of my life. This is a new chapter and hopefully an even more exciting and revelatory chapter than the last. Even now I am writing this from the Global Prayer Room in Kansas City. There is no other place I would rather be. I still long to go to Jerusalem and aid the saints there and help lead our Jewish brethren to Yeshua, so I know Israel is in my future. How distant? I know not but I know I am going to be equipped and prepared for it when the time comes. The greatest men of God were forged in the place of prayer and encounter, I can only hope that this will be the same for me! I plan on writing on “The Stunner” way more often than I used to as a way of communication. I hope to place teaching notes by myself and various other teachers that I glean from on here. So look forward to a lot more activity on this blog in the weeks, months, and years to come!