Actually it’s very, very funny specific story and when I was in third grade, I had this–I got into this argument in the lunchroom. This girl was like, you know, you, you become a Christian when you get baptized, she was Church of Christ. And that’s the belief of that particular denomination. I remember saying like, no, it’s when you ask God to be in relationship with you and, and she was like, no, it’s when you’re baptized and so we were going back and forth. I was like, we’re gonna go talk to the teacher. And so I go up there and the teacher was like, no, it’s when you get baptized in water, and I was like, the teacher’s wrong!
So, for me, my whole journey of faith has been having to–I wasn’t a rebellious kid or disobedient kid–but I had to defend my position, even with people who were in positions of authority: teachers, chaplains, Bible teachers in my school. So like from a very young age, my whole faith was shaped around being the odd man out. I would have friends come to my church growing up. They would never come back again because we would have three hour service and there’d be people shaking and falling out and people speaking in tongues, people worshipping wildly and all that stuff was weird. So I, you know, the context of the miraculous, of the weird, of the supernatural, the things that aren’t comfortable that’s like, the waters I just grew up swimming in.
When I was in sixth grade, I was at a youth camp, and they had–somebody gave this altar call for going into full-time missions, specifically. I remember standing up, and as I stood up, I started violently shaking. And I started weeping as I walked to the front of the room. Now I can’t fake that as a sixth grader. I couldn’t. Like there was nothing I can do, you know, nobody was compelling me to do this. Having grown up seeing a lot of manifestations of the Holy Spirit, you kind of wonder… is that somebody falling down because the Holy Spirit’s just pushing them over? Or are they doing it because they’re trying to fit in? Why are they doing it? I mean, the truth is, if you grew up in it long enough, you’ll see it’s all the above, you know. There’s people who just, they want to fit in, so they’re gonna fall down. There’s people who want, you know, to feel something. And so it’s not something–most of the time it’s out of a genuine desire. And I think that all of us have a genuine desire to feel something with God. And so we’re willing to jump over the hurdles of the weird, the offendable, because we want we all want this connection with God. I think for me, in that particular moment, it felt like something from within me, you know, I wasn’t trying to shake, I wasn’t trying to weep. It just, it was as if whatever was being said in that moment, came down and tapped on what was already within me. It wasn’t like, external. It was internal, that I just, like it was as if my, my soul, my being, my identity was shaking at the, at what somebody was… You know, there’s a Psalm [Proverbs 20:5] that I really love that it says that the ways of a man’s heart are deep waters and a man of understanding draws it out. It’s as if the person who was speaking at that altar call was drawing the depth of my soul to the surface. And as I was encountering that. I was shaking under the revelation of that.
But when you when you are part of this movement, this charismatic, this stuff like you, you see, very genuine…you see very genuine expressions of the spirit and you see things that aren’t as genuine.
I watch people as coming into this because they’re curious because they’re hungry for the supernatural. I see them wrestling through the genuine, the real, the fake, the true, the weird, you know, all of it. And people are trying to test from their minds or trying to test from, like, does this make sense what I’m seeing? And some of the things that I saw that were not genuine were the things that were more easy to understand. And some of the things that I saw that were deeply genuine were very difficult to understand, very weird, very hard to process. And so, yeah, you just, you kind of grow up, you just kind of grew up discerning and seeing God moving in lots of different ways. And, you know, seeing people just doing people stuff in the middle of it.
When I was in college, I was in Bible College for three short semesters because I really wasn’t a good college student. That last semester, I think, I took a few Fs and, dropped out. At the end of the semester, our family friends, were hosting this prophetic night. And so my family and I, we went to this prophetic night and I had never seen somebody going through a room and prophesying over people one after the other. She was just giving these words. I was twenty. I was like, Man, this is different. And so, I’m like a week away from being done with school, moving out. I’ve just dropped out. I’m going to work for my dad in my dad’s business. My dad has a successful technology and finance business. And she comes up to me, doesn’t know me from Adam. And she looks at me. She says, “You were born for influence.” And she said, “I see you having influence on the business world and the ministry world.” And it was already in my desire at that point. I was going to plant a church and work for my dad, and so she immediately had my attention.
She looks at my mom, mind you, I’m just leaving school. She says, “You need to know…” doesn’t know that, um, she she doesn’t know that, I’m her son. She said, “You need to know that he is in the perfect timing of the Lord. He’s in His perfect timing, and that he’ll finish school one day. He’s in His perfect timing.” I was just like, Oh my gosh, like, this is this is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.
She looks over at my, at that point, not my wife. I think she would have been my girlfriend, almost essentially fiance at that point. And she said, “The Lord already sees you two as married. You’re a match made in heaven.” Once again, there was no ring, there was no like, there wasn’t any like obvious like we’re together. We weren’t holding hands.
And so that really set the next few years of my life where I wasn’t a fit, necessarily in the denomination that I grew up in, you know. God started reforming and opening my world up even broader to, to the gifts of the Spirit and to the ways that He would work, even as an adult.
We ended up planting a church. And then that process we ended up hearing about this guy named Bill Johnson. I read a book of his and listened to a sermon and I was just like, man, I’ve never heard a guy talk like this. Long story short, there was something about connecting with that family for this season. Even though we didn’t know the leaders or have any relationship connection with the leaders of of Bethel. There was something about for a season connecting with them that really shaped us, shaped our hearing of God, it shaped our way of being in the world, our way of leading our church.
My associate pastor at the time, Zane, we were just kind of going on this journey together. And we had we had a tiny church, you know, like there might have been 30 people in the gathering. And I remember he decides to give this word of knowledge. He’s, from the stage, he says, I really feel like there’s somebody here with like a brain damage or brain injury. Like you need to know we know everybody in the room, and there’s 30 people in the room and there’s nobody in this room that has a brain injury.
One of my spiritual fathers was there, he periodically had come to the church at that time. He was there that morning, and he was late to getting there because his son’s best friend or one of his best friends was in a skateboarding accident that night. And while he was sitting there, in the service, he’s texting his family, they’re texting him updates, and they’re saying, there’s this fracture on the skull, and there’s blood on on the brain. And you know, they’re trying to decide if they’re going to have to operate. And while that text comes, Zane is giving this word of knowledge. So, I’m like, there’s nobody in the room with a brain injury. He texts back, he said, this word was just given in our church, we’re praying for you right now. I think it was during the service that they texted back that the swelling and the blood just disappeared, it went away. And that they weren’t going to have to do surgery. I was just like, Oh my gosh, like God, you’re real! And there was all these little events like that they were just this invitation into this daily life.
There’s a story that I think really encapsulates the journey that God invites us to in John 1 where this guy named Nathaniel, and, you know, he comes to Jesus and, you know, he’s curious, and Jesus says to him, you know, I saw you sitting under the fig tree. And he is like, totally amazed by this. He’s like, Oh my gosh, you’re definitely, you’re definitely a prophet! And he’s like, you’re impressed at this? He said, Nathaniel, you will see, you will see the heavens opened. And I realize that there’s this principle in the Nathaniel as we as we choose to be amazed in things, even the little things that God does, that is the journey into seeing of the open heavens. There’s a principle that as we choose to see what He’s doing, then we get to see the heavens open. The heavens are already opened. We just… will we see it?
I think on the journey of acknowledging God in all our ways, discernment is something that we grow into. So I believe at the end of Hebrews 6, it talks about those who have become really good through constant use of the Word to discern.
You have Romans 12, verses one and two, you know those who have renewed their minds. When you go on the journey, one of the things that you see is that God is bigger and He’s doing more things than you ever thought He was doing. But you also take on the responsibility to discern, what is God? I think that there is this mercy that we have with our Father that He knows that our understanding is limited. I remember having this conversation with God one day I said, God, it seems obvious to me that You haven’t made everything that obvious. So for me, I could acknowledge Him in both my faith and my doubt. Probably one of the biggest points in my life that my faith was challenged was, you know, having grown and believed in the supernatural my whole life. This is a part of my identity. And I had a friend who was a minister friend, good guy. I love being around him, and he came and did ministry with our community. And I had to confront him about what I perceived to be him giving words to people that were researched on the internet. I ended up having that confrontation, and we remain friends, but it wasn’t something that he admitted to. From my vantage point, the evidence that I had, it seemed pretty clear. That moment, I didn’t realize it until years later–but that moment was really catalytic at starting a really long journey of wrestling. What I realized is that as we’re on this journey, to really promote God working in miraculous ways and promote Him speaking and doing all this, there’s this tendency to have this extreme response where we say; anything that, whether it’s a testimony that somebody has, whether it’s something that somebody heard from God, we have we, we flip to the opposite tendency of skepticism, to say, we’re just going to accept everything. We’re going to, anything that you know, somebody says–it’s almost as if, I remember feeling like people thought you were religious. You had a religious spirit or something for questioning anything. And I recognized through that, it was precisely because I valued God speaking. Because I valued him working in miraculous ways, that I needed to be one who took the responsibility of discerning what was good, what was acceptable, what was the perfect will of God, what was pure. I came through that event, you know, pastoring a community, wrestling through my own faith, having deep, deep questions about, you know, everything really. I realized that God was leading me through my own path of disappointment and my own path of wrestling. Answers weren’t coming. And the answers I could come up with felt contrived, and they didn’t really, they didn’t really bring peace. Like answers didn’t didn’t give me what I was looking for. It’s this expanding trust in God, in the midst of lack of answers, that really is what anchored my soul. It was like at every step of the way I felt like God was saying to me, “What are you going to put your security in? Your ability to answer all your problems and answer all your questions, are you putting your security in me? “And, you know, I even felt let down by some of those movements and people that had been integral in shaping my life. At some point you come, you come to a point of maturity where the mediators, they no longer work. You, you go into this realm of unknown with God. God has been taking me into this place of where my trust and my acknowledging Him is not, I can’t just acknowledge him for the stuff that’s good and obviously good. But I have to acknowledge somewhere that he’s present in, in my lack of understanding, in my lack of an answer, dare I say my lack of the miracle? Yeah, it is a journey of trust. That is the journey. It’s a journey of trust. I can see that my lack of peace, at times was the indicator of the lack of trust, and the deeper and the greater that I comprehended his love, the greater that I was rooted in his love, the greater that I trusted Him in every situation, the deeper my peace.
I would say to those that if you are on this journey…Maybe you’re skeptical, maybe you have doubt. Maybe you’re coming from my background, maybe you’re coming from a journey of growing up believing miracles aren’t real. I would say to you: God’s invited you into a truthful and honest discussion about what it looks like to discern Him in the world. That’s what we do every day. We see where God is at work in our friends’ lives, our kids’ lives, our own lives. We see where He’s at work in our culture. We look for Him. That’s the journey. You know, Deuteronomy 30. It’s like, the commandment isn’t hard. It’s not across the sea or up in the sky. It’s not to, it’s near you. It’s right in your mouth. I think that that’s the God we’re dealing with.
He’s in all things around us. And if we can just decide to be on a journey of honest discernment, we’ll see the beauty and majesty of him in every part of life.