Spiritual Giant Award

Our Hero – Brent Cooper
Originally uploaded by steverino63.

Occasionally, Stupid Church People will recognize individuals or groups who outshine all others with the knowledge they have for spiritual things and/or their abilities to communicate to others their faith in a way that is both inspirational and attractive.

Our first winner is Brent Cooper, a professional fighter from Tennessee, who has been seen recently on “The Contender”, a reality TV show pitting 16 top middle-weight fighters against each other with a chance to win one million dollars in a winner take all final match. Each week two fighters square off for five rounds. The winner stays and the loser goes home.

This past week was particularly interesting as Anthony, a scrappy guy who wants to win this for his kids, took on our hero Brent, a Christian cowboy (complete with hat) with a thick southern accent who wants to win this for the Looord!

Now the wonderful thing about Brent is his amazing ability to weave his Christian faith into his life in such an unassuming, quiet and humble way.

In his show biography Brent declares that “boxing is an opportunity for people to see Christ in me”. He adds that, “when I am in the ring, I am there for a reason, to glorify his name and I rely on him and the Holy Spirit inside of me to come through and do it.”

Brent states he believes he will win because God has put him on “The Contender” for a reason. It is his destiny to win, he believes, as long as he stays faithful to God.

Just prior to entering the ring for his bout our Spiritual Giant declares that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” And then in a moment of brilliance he adds, “if Samson can beat 10,000 men with the jawbone of a monkey I can sure beat one man in the ring.”

Hold on there pardner! Jawbone of a MONKEY?? Well, this is certainly just an oversight for one so steeped in spiritual wisdom. Monkey or donkey – what’s the difference, right?

Anyway, back to the action in the ring, where Brent is ready to open a serious can of Christian whoop-ass on his opponent. “Praise you Jesus” you can hear him mutter as he is about to step into the ring. His glorious biceps are bulgings, his righteous rock hard six-pack is glistening and his mind is clearly focused on things above. Wearing deep blue boxing trunks emblazoned with “DISCIPLE” across the front, our giant goes to battle.

Then things go terribly wrong. He must have shook that can of whoop-ass cause it explodes in his face. Brent proceeds to get beaten down. Every minute of the fight we see the Christian Cowboy get pummeled. Busted up and bleeding the fight is stopped early in the third round. Just in time or our dear brother may have gone to be with the Lord sooner then he planned.

Back in the dressing room, Brent is crying like a little baby. His wife is there to console him and to tell him everything’s gonna be all-right. Brent quickly and conveniently concludes that winning must have not been a part of God’s plan. It just wasn’t in God’s will for him to win or he would have.

So those of us who rely on these Spiritual Giants to lead us are left with only questions at this point. Was Brent unfaithful to God? Is this why he lost? If he was certain it was God’s destiny for him to win before the fight, how could it also be God’s will for him to lose after the fight? Which is it dear Brent, were you destined to be a winner or loser?

Brent, since you rely on God to fight for you in the ring through the power of the Holy Spirit, what happened? And if you can truly do all things through Christ who strengthens you, why couldn’t you beat your opponent? Worse, why is it that your opponent beat you so senseless? Too bad there wasn’t a monkey jawbone laying around. Maybe that would have helped.

So here’s to you Brent Cooper. We are certain it was God’s destiny that we present you with the first ever Stupid Church People Spiritual Giant Award. It ain’t a million dollars but just remember what the Good Book says, “Gods helps those that help themselves!”

April Fools Day (Part Two)

It seems appropriate to begin “Stupid Church People” on April Fools Day.

This is the day that thousands and thousands of people will be tricked, teased, and manipulated into believing something that is not actually true or real. If you have ever been made a fool of on this day, join the club. It is the day that everyone gets to be their own Ashton Kutcher and PUNK someone. (Sorry friends – being Ashton for the day does not mean you get to hang with Demi – but we can dream now can’t we?)

Fooling someone can be quite easy. On the show PUNK’d it usually involves the following formula:

1. The prank is always orchestrated by someone the PUNKee trusts. Their best friend, their manager, or their spouse – someone close to them.
2. The prank usually consists of something the person values (I mean if they didn’t care, then they wouldn’t care right?). This can be their car, their house or even their time.
3. The prank always involves sucking the person in. At first they can’t believe it, but the person they trust keeps telling them over and over (Dude, your car has been totaled) and eventually they buy it.
4. The prank always has the big “reveal”. You don’t go on leading them on forever. That would be cruel. So there is always that revealing moment, “Hey man, just kidding, that isn’t your car – your car is safely back home in the garage.”

PUNK’d is a pretty funny show (although somewhat cruel) and April Fools Day is a somewhat harmless day of silly office pranks. But at the end of it all, no one likes to be “the Foolee”. It is much more fun to be the Fooler.

The goal of Stupid Church People is to be honest about how “foolish” church people can be. This is true for those of us that attend church (yours truly) and those that lead churches as paid staff (formerly yours truly).

I have been in the position of the “FOOLER”. I have designed programs and events that were done under the auspices of “bringing people to Christ” but were actually intended to increase the attendance numbers to make me look good to those around me. That is just one example. As the FOOLER my ego played a huge role in ministry.

I have been on the side of the “FOOLEE”. I have experienced that moment when the curtain is pulled back to reveal that the Wizard is nothing more than a sniveling, weak person who only has the power that I allow them to have. This can be very, very painful. When you see those that you trust lead you astray it is always painful.

The good news is that I am not alone. There are many, many people on both sides of the aisle in this discussion. Those that “FOOL” others and those that get “FOOLED”. The pain will be obvious for both groups as we share our stories together.

Do I hate the church? No. Do I still attend the church? Yes. Do I support the church? By all means. I just wanted to design a place where we can sometimes laugh at ourselves, where the truth is spoken, where light is shed on the darkness and where hurting people can share their pain.

Welcome to Stupid Church People.