Sunday, July 25, 2004


I came to the office this morning to find an email from what I like to call a "spiritual terrorist". Guys who write for trash mags like Contending for the Faith and Spiritual Sword and things like that. Over time, I have made a pledge to the Lord that I would not waste time reading any of that mess. It's sinful and divisive...not to mention gossipy. If I want that, I'd much rather read something like People. But seriously.

I don't want to mention any names, but there is one writer in particular who seems to have made ZOE and me his pet project. Basically, the guy is really out there somewhere. He writes paragraph upon paragraph about ZOE and how it relates (in his mind) to Greek gods of fertility, the Beast, and all other manner of wackiness. Today he wrote me and it was more of the same. I do confess to all of you that I stopped by the website about concerned members or something (in direct rebellion from my pledge) because someone had told me there were a lot of things on there about ZOE and OC. I was wrong to look and was wrong to email the writer. I know better.

I know those of you in ministry understand those days. You get a "you're going down to the bad place" type letter and then have to be about your work of ministry to people. Ministry is hard. It's an exercise in making yourself vulnerable almost daily. Some ministers out there gave up on that a long time ago. I can understand why. But, I really attempted to not give this guy any satisfaction by letting it affect me this morning.

In rehearsal, I found myself struggling to maintain good humor. Things that normally roll off hit harder and more personally today. After sound check I had the team spread out through the sanctuary and pray for those coming--to get our minds around what we were there to do. Frankly, I needed it the most. That was a great exercise.

The sermon was great--based on our vision statement and full of scripture reminding us what we are to be. This is such a difficult be Christ's love to a dying world. There are certain obstacles that threaten to trip us or even destroy, there are road blocks, there are language barriers, there's human pride and stubborn will. Through it all God still promises to use us if we let Him. I just wanted to share with my blog community some of this in hopes that you will not feel alone if you're walking that road and that there is hope beyond our current paradigm. The Church is the Lord's and He will have His way. I am thankful that He allows me to serve Him in ministry--weakness and all.


DJG said...

Today we talked about loving our enemies, many of us admitted that we didn't truly have enemies and I wondered if we don't have enemies are we doing enough? You bring that home to me with your post. When we are truly about the Lord's business of course there will be those who oppose us. Praise God, these people who are acting as pawns of Satan don't stop you and I pray that you will not even let it get to you for a moment. How sad to waste so much energy hating and putting down people who are trying to serve God. I just don't understand the mind set. Bless you Brandon for all the good you do, the joy you bring to so many of us you will never even know. Zoe to me is a blessing of joy and praise to MY/OUR Risen Saviour. Thank you for that.

julie said...

Brandon, I know what it feels like to be the object of target practice and I know how hard it is stay focused in the midst of it. My prayers are with you and with your ministry. Lately it has brought me some joy to know that those "spiritual terrorists" have, with their negativity, brought my conservative mother to a more thoughtful place. She sees the name-calling and going to hell words for what they are...destructive. And in seeing that she has come to a different place in her thoughts about worship and about how we are supposed to use the Bible. We have had some great conversations lately. It has helped her to move to a place of more freedom...she has been helped by the "spiritual terrorists" and her friendship with Murray Sanderson. She adores Murray and that has been so good.

Brandon, hang in there...take some to pray and thank God for all the people in your life who support you and love you and are a part of your life as a minister.

I wish you could've been at Cedar Ridge this morning. Jen and her daughter, Maddie, did communion. Jen spoke and Maddie held the elements...broke the bread and held up the cup and said the amen for the prayer we recited together. Maddie's expressions while she did it were priceless. She broke the bread and then held it out in front of her and when Jen said take, eat. This is my body...Maddie brought the bread to her heart and looked out at all of us with this expression that said to us...isn't this great...Jesus' body for us. Jen was holding Maddie on her hip the whole time. Wish you could've been there. love you..julie

Greg said...


A couple of weeks ago we had guests at our worship gathering who apparently did not care too much for what was going on. They took the time to make some notes on our visitor cards. Where the card has a check box that says, "I would like to more about this church," they had drawn quotation marks around the word "church," as if to deride our very existence. Then they went further to write in the words to the effect of "no way." What troubles me even further is that they took the time to turn this in.

I am sure there are a lot of lessons in this, like how people treat the body of Christ on earth, His church, but my point to you is to keep doing what you are called to do. I think I have seen the web site you should not have gone to, and all I can say is we need to pray for that guy. He has serious issues.

Be strong, and of good courage. Fight the good fight. Do what you have been called to do. We are right here with you.

SG said...

My Mom and I talked about this the whole way to Abilene and back last Friday. It all boils down to "by your fruits, you will be known." I want people to like me and what I am doing. Most of us do. But there are people who will try to tear down what they do not understand, or do not like. Arguing with them is a waste of air. We just have to keep going and pray these poor souls will someday have better things to do...because we sure do!

You are known for the fruits you produce Brandon! You are loved and cherished not only for your zany personality, your complete sincerity and your incredible talent, but also for your leadership and servant-hood through ZOE.

AND if you looked at that web site further(yeah I looked at it to, on a google search for Zoe once) you would find that you are in great company. I would love to be grouped in with Mike, Rubel, Max Lucado, Rick Atchley, Jack Reese... WOW- what a compliment! Those guys out-age you by a good decade! IMPRESSIVE! Take care and keep doing what God has called you to do! Love Ya!

wstaple said...

My nephew told me about the site you referred to, and I went out and read some of the posts. Ridiculous! The stuff about Zoe, OC and some of the other "evil" churches? (4th Avenue? Please.....) Having worshipped at OC for almost four years, I don't think I can remember having a closer walk with God than when I was there.

In Matthew 5, the Beatitudes, Christ says to "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." That's something I need to practice more myself. By the way, you're part of that "salt and light" that Jesus talks about in verses 13-16. If you think about it, while salt can heal wounds, it stings when it's first applied; also, light can sting your eyes if you're used to nothing but darkness. Just a thought....

Thanks for allowing Christ to work through you on a daily basis!

Tim Castle said...

Yes, by our fruits, we will be known. Brandon, here are the fruits I see in you: You encourage people; your wife and children adore you; you agonize over your imperfections and mistakes; you take time to remind people of God's movements in our world. Those are just the ones I can see -- and I only know you through your ZOE ministry and this blog!

I could list the fruits of the gentleman you mentioned, but let's just say that they're not all that inspiring.

I think that having your team pray for your congregation was probably the best response you could have made to the criticism. Instead of defending yourself, or engaging the critic in dialogue (sometimes that's valuable, but in this case, not so much!), you found a way to focus on your immediate ministry, leading others to share their gifts of worship.

I'm going to have to remember that one when I'm discouraged.

SkipD said...

Brandon-- I'll add my encouragement to those who have already expressed thiers. You and your ministry are such an incredible blessing in my life and in so many other people's lives. Your work is God ordained... He has put you where you are to do His work. Praise the Lord that you have critics! All the great people whom God used- including his Son- had critics and detractors. Remember who's you are and to whom you are accountable. AND remember how much you are loved by Him and so many of us! Keep up the work! We love you and what God is doing in and through you! Skip

Dwiggy444 said...

Brandon -

Just wanted to add my 2 cents to the mix:


But seriously...

Thank you so much for your example - in humility, in service, in your struggle for excellence and in your struggle with Satan. You are on my very short list of great Christian Men - AWESOME examples of Christian leadership. Please don't change and don't let these distractions drag you down. It's a spiritual battle Brandon, and you're being attacked in a mighty way because you are making mighty progress and a huge difference for the Kingdom of God. I'll be praying for you today.

Joel Quile said...


Read Galatians 1:6-10.

Paul was dealing with "spiritual perverts" as I like to call them; people who think that they have "the" gospel but the gospel they have is "really no gospel at all."

I don't know much about Zoe (are you really the Beast Brandon? I didn't know that. Dang dude...that's crazy!) but I would bet my life that it was started by The Holy Spirit (If you and Cope had anything to do with it).

Read Gal. 3:1-5.

Don't rely on human effort Brandon, stay in step with the Spirit and don't believe those "knuckle-bustin', law lovin', discension causing, spiritual perverts!" and let God work his miracles among you!

If that fails, call me and I'll go kick his...

I love you bro.

TCS said...

I have not read your blog in a while. But this one I think I know who you refer to. Unfortunately, My own mother subscribes in her old age to taking comfort in the "wrong doings" of others. The best thing I can say is that Jesus promised those who were truely seeking would find.

I doubt that those listening to this guy, who seems insane, are truely seeking the truth and if they are they will come to find it.

Reading that stuff is like using drugs, stay away from it, it offers a foothold when we don't guard our minds. Your ministry has helped so many. I don't say this as a groupie, I am sure we would disagree on some things, but I recognize your desire to give God Glory.