Punk Rock Pastor Joe Furey's Life of Addiction, Loss and Recovery Makes Him the Perfect Man to Preach to the Imperfect
Illustration: Tim Foley | Design: Dustin Ames

Even though it's 10 a.m. on a Sunday, the rear courtyard of His Place could easily be the parking lot of a local bar right after a punk-rock show. The fiery popping sounds of motorcycle tailpipes bounce off asphalt, as choppers idle in makeshift parking spaces. January's morning chill is accented with gruff chatter, perfume and cigarette smoke. A co-ed pack of tattooed hard-asses mill around; some are glassy-eyed and ravaged from the night before.

But as the back doors to the building swing open and the motley crew files inside, it's clear they are all anxious to hear Pastor Joe Furey's weekly sermon. The beginning of every service at Chestnut Street in Westminster, just off the 405 freeway, starts with dozens kneeling and at the foot of the church's main stage, also known as the altar, to pray and confess their sins to God. Outfitted in a black collared shirt and jeans, Furey's fit, 5-foot-8 frame moves nimbly through the scrunched-up congregants. Jets of gray stream from the temples of his closely cropped brown hair. As he passes, he puts his hands on the shoulders of each parishioner, praying quickly and silently with them. Some have fallen off the wagon or are fresh out of the drunk tank; others have been abandoned once again by loved ones.

The crowd at His Place are the kind of people the Bible tells us Jesus might have actually hung out with—the people society doesn't want, the un-savable. And his ability to focus the punk passion of his followers toward Christianity makes him a rare find in OC's alternative-church culture. In the 18 years since Furey took over His Place, its population continues to burst at the seams, despite the church having no particular cachet with the hipster Christian set, no TV network, no reality show, no glass megachurch.

Joe Furey
John Gilhooley
Joe Furey
Joe and Therese Furey
John Gilhooley
Joe and Therese Furey
Furey with his son, Gabriel
Courtesy the Furey family
Furey with his son, Gabriel
Jonny Ray Bartel
John Gilhooley
Jonny Ray Bartel
Chris Jones
John Gilhooley
Chris Jones
Scott Troske
John Gilhooley
Scott Troske
Matt Maynard and Mike Worley
John Gilhooley
Matt Maynard and Mike Worley
Jones’ prayerful tattoo
John Gilhooley
Jones’ prayerful tattoo
A typical Wednesday-night congregation
John Gilhooley
A typical Wednesday-night congregation

It's a simple place run by a humble, charismatic pastor who can look into the eyes of a coke addict, a thief, a workaholic, and not only see a lost soul, but a bit of himself as well. Furey's history of drug abuse, addiction, loss and recovery is harrowing, and though he doesn't oversell it in every sermon, it plays a huge role in his journey through pastorhood, whether he's talking about his days as a dope dealer or losing his son to a heroin overdose.

Once the doors close and Furey is alone with his flock, nothing matters except that they are all there together and trying to find the same path. "We're all broken; we all have issues," Furey says. "You don't get cleaned up to go to church. You go to church to get cleaned up."

*     *     *

Furey remembers the first line of coke he snorted.

It was April of 1977. A 22-year-old basketball coach at La Purisima Catholic School in El Modena at the time, young Furey traded a coke dealer (his future brother-in-law) a sizable amount of primo bud for a small baggy of white powder, which he stashed in his wallet until the fateful day he decided to do a bump before practice. The sensation is still vivid—the spark of neurons in his brain illuminating like neon signs on the Vegas strip, the fool's sense of clarity, of utter godliness.

"From the first moment, I was like, 'Wow! This is for me!'" Furey recalls.

An OC-raised Catholic, his childhood had all the hallmarks of a typical religious upbringing—the schooling, the sacraments, the alcoholism. He also had a hidden cross to bear: being molested by his local priest—Father Michael D. Buckley—from the time he was in seventh grade until around the time he started high school.

As a kid, Furey sat his siblings in a circle around him while he played priest, passing out fake paper Eucharist. He was a sharp boy who sometimes had trouble fitting in, especially at Mater Dei High School, where he attempted to be a jock on the basketball team but mostly ended up riding the bench. His drug use started with puffing joints in the school parking lot after class.

Furey was quiet, so most people didn't know he was a natural-born leader, the eldest of eight kids. When Furey was just 17, his father—a hardworking product of the Great Depression—passed away of pancreatic cancer at age 49. Though the two hardly spoke, the early death of his workaholic father convinced Furey that being a workaday slave wasn't the way to go. He started dealing coke and weed on a regular basis. Meanwhile, he helped to raise his siblings and mentor his brothers as their basketball coach at La Purisima until cops nabbed one of his young customers, who had a ledger with all the drugs he'd bought from Furey. Within days, Furey was busted and fired from his coaching job.

Still intent on his sketchy line of work, Furey became a mule in a short-lived, four-person, dope-smuggling ring in 1979; their mission was to fly to South America posing as two male-female couples on separate flights. They traveled from Ecuador to Peru and keistered a sizable amount of coke to bring back to the U.S. through LAX, but the DEA busted all four at the airport; three were charged, and two were convicted. Fortunately for Furey, the woman who accompanied him refused to rat him out. He managed to not incriminate himself during interrogation and miraculously avoided a body-cavity search.

"I never thought we really had our act together, and by the time I tried to back out, I was told by the people who sent us that it wasn't a possibility and that bad things would happen to me if I did," Furey says. "It was one of the stupidest things I've ever done. I did get some good coke out of it, though."

Following his near-bust, Furey's days as a street-level drug pusher were over—though he continued to use like a fiend, committing random thefts in a quest to remain high. He got a gig driving a truck for Budweiser at age 25, with routes all over Huntington Beach—up and down Beach Boulevard, liquor stores, dive bars, extinct hallowed haunts such as the Golden Bear. Furey soon married his girlfriend Therese, a slender, brunette beauty, the little sister of his longtime friend, the coke dealer who introduced him to his favorite poison. He'd known Therese for years, lived next door to her for a time and became smitten.

Though the couple suffered because of Furey's drug addiction, they started a family. A son, Gabriel, was born, followed by twin girls, Sarah and Bridget. Although he had a steady job working for Budweiser, Furey was stealing beer to buy coke, sometimes lifting about 100 cases per week and selling them on the side for cash. "If you trusted me, I'd steal from you," he candidly admits. He kept hundreds stashed for drug money while pitching in as little as $60 each week to take care of his family.

"He'd dropped a lot of weight, and the connection was gone," Therese says. "Something was going on with him that I was afraid of, and I feared he was going to either overdose or go to jail . . . but I loved him."

Despite being a hopeless addict, Furey still had a thirst for religion. He had stacks of books in his dingy home library about Buddhism and Hinduism, and he studied Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi. Furey often experimented with LSD to gain a "higher consciousness."

When he was 29, his childhood friend Kirk, who converted to Christianity while he was in college, came back into Furey's life. They talked about gospel, the Apostles and God whenever they were together—Furey mostly just humored him, he says.

One day, Kirk took Furey to El Camino Park in Orange, where he led his sick friend in reciting the Sinner's Prayer. "I was expecting bells and whistles and bombs and whatever, and nothing happened . . . except I didn't feel high," Furey says.

Instead, the only real effect of Furey's studies of an all-forgiving God seemed to be his decision to go on a huge drug-and-stealing binge for which, he reasoned, he would ultimately be forgiven. The addict was living a dual life, now going to church on Sundays and being around people who looked and acted perfect and seemed so nice. It was as though they'd been given some sort of "magic sprinkle dust" that made them act that way, Furey says.

After giving birth to the twins, Therese decided she had to take the kids and leave him until he got clean. Old photos of Furey holding their daughters, his eyes glassy and coked-out, are hard for him to look at now. But, at the time, Therese's decision to leave made him livid.

Finally, Furey experienced a life-altering change at a local fleabag, the Big A Motel, where he holed up after moving out of the family's house in Orange. He sat knee-deep in the frothy, emerald water of a mossy Jacuzzi, mentally replaying his lifetime of drug-addled screw-ups. Depressed and angry with Therese over the split, he went back to his room, fired up some porn on the crappy color TV, sat on the edge of his bed and cut up more lines to snort. It was in that dark moment, Furey says, that God spoke to him, an unmistakable booming tone that tingled the hairs on the back of his neck and straightened his spine.

"What do you want out of life?" the voice asked, its echo filling the room.

As soon as he heard that question, Furey says, he burst into tears.

"I was 29 and a half years old. I had nothing going on in my life. I just wanted my kids," he says. The next day, he agreed to go with Therese to Care Unit rehab, formerly in Orange.

By 1985, Furey had sobered up and was busy giving testimony of his struggles for sobriety at three different churches through a Christian 12-step group called the Overcomers. He became a model employee at his job; he had even 'fessed up to his boss about the beer he had been stealing for years. Miraculously, the boss excused it and didn't fire him, though perhaps it's fitting penance for a recovering addict to drive a beer truck for a living.

The young gun in the Overcomers impressed the organization, particularly an early mentor and group ministry leader of his, an older vet named Jess Maples. When Maples died abruptly a year later, Furey was elected to run Maples' 12-step Christian group, even though at the time he would describe himself as biblically illiterate. "I had this drunk guy in a meeting once, and I [thought I] was quoting from the Bible, and he goes, 'Hey, dude, I don't know everything, but I know that's wrong!' And that's been my walk with God pretty much," Furey explains. "I've been in it and learning while I'm doing it."

In 1988, Furey signed on to become a chaplain for the OC Rescue Mission in Tustin, despite the dramatic cut in pay compared with his former truck-driving gig. He was ordained as a pastor the following year.

He came across a tiny, unknown church in Huntington Beach called His Place in 1996 that was in need of a new head pastor. With more than two decades of expertise in drug rehab, he was equipped to be a fisher of men and women who were already caught on one drug or another. His style of ministry has always been fiery and charismatic in a Jim Carrey style—lots of shouting, arms flailing and the occasional bout of physical comedy. And he could speak directly to those who were rough around the edges. From Furey's first sermon, it was clear the quiet His Place was about to undergo some drastic changes.

*     *     *

On a recent Friday around 7 p.m., the church is bustling with people. Weekly AA meetings for men and women are a big deal at this church and typically draw large crowds.

Among those in attendance are Jonny Ray Bartel, a co-pastor, and Chris Jones, a pastoral intern, both of whom are band members of a local Christian punk band called the Heroes. Bartel, who is also a bassist for X's country folk offshoot the Knitters and formerly of big-time blues band the Red Devils, is a blond rockabilly type with Chuck Taylors and an impeccably greased pompadour. He sits a few chairs away from guitarist Jones, an enthusiastic, darker-haired version of Mike Ness in a tight gray shirt and gold wristwatch; the ink on his knuckles spell out "SICK" on one hand, "LIFE" on the other. He has adapted the meaning of SICK to "Soldier In Christ's Kingdom."

His Place migrated to Westminster in April 2012, as the number of followers ballooned to around 500, vastly outgrowing the tiny, old facility in Huntington Beach. Thanks to in-house fund-raising, philanthropy and financial help from the international fellowship Assemblies of God, they were able to turn the drab new compound into a refurbished 27,000-square-foot space that suits their needs. Today, most of the ministries are run by rehabilitated worshippers—including a good number of local musicians—who've had their lives turned around by faith.

Sitting in the circle of couples and singles with Furey at the center of the large, plain room, Bartel and Jones take turns sharing stories about how this church really helped them in their struggles with organized religion, not to mention their commitment to stay clean from heroin, their shared former deadly substance of choice. Since joining the church, Jones says, he did relapse after being clean for eight years, but he fought back, and on Jan. 27, he'll celebrate one new year of sobriety. A lot of that is thanks to Furey, whom Jones says stuck by him when the guitarist was terribly sick and fighting hard to kick his habit again.

"He even let me stay at his house one weekend," Jones says, quipping, "probably because his wife was on vacation! But he saved me, man. And he's rolled up his sleeves and ministered to me through hard times."

Jones and Bartel are no strangers to the alternative-church scene—both worked with another local church in Huntington Beach before moving to His Place. They agree it was Furey's straight talk and humility about his past that drew them in. Bartel jokingly calls Furey the Stevie Ray Vaughan of Preachers.

"There's nobody better, and he doesn't act like he's bitchen. Most really good guitar players act like jerks, but Stevie Ray was always super-sweet and super-cool and helpful," Bartel says. "One thing I like about the way Joe preaches is that he shares his limitations and his sins and he's super-transparent, whereas a lot of pastors are really afraid to really expose their human side. . . . [Furey is] very rare."

For Matt Maynard, a stocky, tattooed former white-power thug from Huntington Beach who went into AA dried out and sick, with chiseled teeth and an ankle bracelet, this was the first place that gave him a kind of unconditional acceptance. Of course, getting clean still didn't lead to an easy road—in the several years he has been at His Place, Maynard has gotten married and found employment, but also experienced the death of a best friend and the suicide of his sister. Those last two events might've caused him to go on a week-long bender, but his sense of loyalty to Furey and the people there kept him level-headed. Or, as he puts it, "a nerd with a paint job."

He explains, "You can put this paint job on any one of these guys in here, and you ain't gonna know the difference. We're all still the same peeps."

Mike Worley, one of His Place's enthusiastic prospects, is part of the men's group ministry, Men Accountable to Christ (MAC). Sitting next to his colleague Jeff Soumokil, Worley says his own past as a guy in the punk-rock scene and the attitude of those who've been healed through his church are the best ways to convert people who are masters of putting up emotional walls just by their appearance.

"God has raised up a special group of people who aren't afraid to go to the fringe," says Worley. "As a matter of fact, we'll walk into it, and if it gets too soft, we'll go look for another place."

Over the years, His Place pastors have grown accustomed to picking up vans full of people, bringing them to church from sober-living homes. But many hear about His Place through word of mouth.

Scott Troske, a former bassist of OC punk heroes Drain Bramaged, as well as the Addicts, went from doing a bid in the state penitentiary to now serving at the church; he teaches youth Sunday school and hopes to become an ordained minister. "I used to sing songs and be in bands that openly mocked God and religion—that was just our way of life and how we looked at the world," he says. "I look back at some of those old songs, and I see a totally different person. Am I perfect? No—but nothing like I was."

In fact, Troske's sentiment is actually the slogan on the church's marquee, the first thing people see when they drive up: "A Perfect Place for Imperfect People."

*     *     *

The His Place Furey preaches in now resembles nothing of what it was when he started. The original congregation was little more than 30 people in two schoolhouse-looking buildings totaling 5,200 square feet, with just two toilets. Most of the parents were über-traditional God-fearers who home-schooled their kids. Though Furey was ready to unload his knowledge about recovery, his gritty message wasn't very welcome.

"There are people who didn't like the whole recovery thing, who didn't feel like they needed to recover from anything," says Soumokil, who has been with the church since its Huntington Beach days. "Their lives were apparently just perfect. So they left."

Soon, most of the conservative congregation—including the board of directors—decided to split. The crowd on Sundays turned into a hodgepodge of the homeless, feisty Southern Baptist types, alcoholic bankers, prostitutes, punkers and people barely holding themselves together.

Furey preached several times each week in an effort to rebuild the church crowd while also serving at the Rescue Mission as a chaplain. Meanwhile, his family had been put on the back burner. His own kids were also developing a negative outlook toward church; each of them dabbled with drugs and alcohol. "I became a workaholic for the Kingdom of God," Furey says. "And my kids paid the price, and my wife paid the price."

Still, he was understandably shocked when one of his daughters, Bridget, wound up pregnant at age 16. The other, Sarah, joined the Navy at 18. Gabe had grown into a bright guy with dyed jet-black hair and tattoos and was an accomplished drummer in local Christian metalcore band Iron Sharpens Iron—and he was developing a secret addiction to pills.

"My siblings all felt it," Sarah says. "And it's understandable because my dad was running the entire show and didn't have the people to back him up. I understand now, but back then, it was more like we came second."

But that resentment from his kids did not compare to the devastation from Gabe's tragic death years later, just when everything seemed to be going right for him. On Aug. 17, 2011, Gabe was found dead on the floor of the family's downstairs bathroom in Orange. He was just 29 on that hot afternoon. Gabe and his new wife, Katie, had just moved back in with his parents while starting up a new business, playing in his band and coping with his pill addiction. Authorities found only one needle mark on Gabe's arm, but it was from the lethal dose that took his life. The loss was indescribable.

"I was pissed off," Furey says. "I felt like God didn't have my back. I felt like, for 25 years, I fought to help people in this arena, and he let it take my son. That just ain't cool. . . . It's the most devastating thing that ever happened to me."

He was at his lowest point since his days as an addict, Furey remembers. Days after Gabe's death, he stood in his back yard at dusk, holding a Bible in his hand, challenging God to make sense out of what had happened to his family. "Arrogantly, I said, 'I know this thing pretty good. Even the best theologians don't know the fullness of God's word. What can you show me to comfort me?'"

It was then, Furey says, he heard God's voice again, booming in his ears. "You want comfort; I'll show you heaven!"

Throughout his spiritual journey of street-level ministry, rarely had Furey done any in-depth studies on heaven, even as a pastor. The epiphany started him on a three-month obsession to find everything he could about the pearly gates. He poured over books and scripture that described the place he believed his son had gone.

The search gave him solace and strength, enough to start a new grief-recovery ministry at His Place. After crying every day for the past two years, Therese is finally starting to feel joy again. In the process of grieving for her son, she has realized, along with Furey, that they are now comforted by the church community they created. Instead of judging them or whispering about them in the pews, the outcasts they've helped to save are the ones who helped them through their darkest time.

"Just to know who Jesus is and who he hung out with—it was the people who go to our church; they're my closest friends," she says, flicking away tears. "They're just real, and I like that."

*     *     *

For as long as he can remember, Furey says, he would always start every new year at His Place with a theme. The idea sounds corny until you see how many of them include battle metaphors. Last year, the theme was "Take New Territory." The result? On Feb. 16, they're opening a second His Place at its former Huntington Beach location. Its primary objective is to be a church that focuses on broken and blended families. Sure, it could've spent more money on a better sound system or flashier amenities, but that was never what brought people to His Place to begin with.

"I think some churches, if I were to complain about them, like to build up instead of out," Furey says.

The motto for this year is "Destroy the Works of the Enemy." For that job, Furey has embarked on a new project, Gabe's Homes. To be run by longtime ministry leaders Ross and Jamie Martinez, they'll be focused, short-term sober-living condos near the church that will not only give people a place to stay, but also provide classes on finance, job hunting and tithing, as well as help them to get clean of their addictions.

A couple of weeks ago, led by Sons of Thunder, a rough-and-tumble ministry working adjacent with His Place, dozens of men gathered for an AA meeting that was also a celebration. A few members were presented with sobriety chips; they'd been dry anywhere from 1 to 15 years. Slices of store-bought chocolate cake were passed around. Furey sat in the back with Jones.

The crowd was just as mixed as it is on Sunday—suit-wearing professionals, grizzly blue-collar men and teenage youngsters looking as bored as ever. One guy who was asked to share his testimony wasn't really in the mood to speak. He said he'd just pissed away 27 months of sobriety by going on a binge three weeks ago. He sat cross-legged in his chair, his right foot jittering as he stared at the ground.

"Right now, I'm so angry at myself that it's almost tough to say I wanna do the right thing, or that I want it all to be okay," he says. "Why would you wanna be nice to a guy that you hate? That's how I feel about myself."

When he finished, Jones piped up from the other side of the room. He also knew the pain and self-loathing of backsliding into addiction. But he shared what Furey had taught him about why none of that matters when you're still in a fight for your life and looking for help. "Just because you relapse, dude, doesn't mean that all that you picked up for 27 months is out the window. All we have is today—that's it. There's a few guys in here that have put a few todays together. . . . It's been a hard year, but I haven't had a drink over it, and I'm grateful for that. God's a good guy, but he's not a magic wand."

As Jones said that, Furey smiled, cracking a side glance at someone he'd help to save who was now trying to talk sense into another lost soul. It's a cycle he prays for continuously, one he talked about a few days later on Sunday while facing his congregation of the damaged, the recovering and the faithful. The message of the sermon was on the power of mind control, the battle between new ways of thinking versus old beliefs. It's a theme you could find in any number of songs from the Dead Kennedys or Fugazi, only its power is being drawn from the pulpit instead of the mosh pit. Thanks to Furey and a spiritual place to call home, Christ's wounded warriors are coming one step closer to winning the battle for their souls. Of course, no sermon is complete without a few wisecracks to lighten the mood—and a request for five more minutes to finish his final thought.

"I can look around this room, and I know many, many of you . . . the first time I met you, you were high or drunk. . . . Well, you came to the right place," he says as he scans the room to a roar of laughter. Furey tilts his head down, smiling, and joins in, laughing with them, not at them. It's not as though he has ever been in a position to do otherwise.

"Usually, the clergy are really close to God, and they don't sin like everybody else, and the laity is different," Furey says. "No, we're all in the same boat. I sit in a different position, but I'm in the boat."

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42 comments
MikeWorley
MikeWorley

Thanks OC Dude. I don't get your take on what I said. Your response is well written and obviously though out.

The first part of what I wrote was intended only to get you guys to think about what you are saying, in light of the pre - believer reading. There could be valid Biblical points to your argument. But, in an effort to "expose" or make your Biblical take on it all heard, you could be leading someone further away.

You seem like someone who is very effective in an argument. Seems like your a few steps ahead here, waiting for the next comment to rip apart. And you know what, it's all good man. I pray you and all those involved find a peace in this. God knows you haven't.

My only immediate concern on or with this thread is for the pre - believer being drowned with all this junk that can obviously be addressed in another way. I would hope this would be your concern as well.

God will sort it all out when He sees fit and how He sees fit. But let's lead as many people to Christ as possible, not steer them clear of Him because we have some disputes.

Hope all is well with you and yours outside of all this and may God continue to bless you.

MikeWorley
MikeWorley

In the end every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Christ is Lord. We will all give an account. You all that are arguing on here(the Christians) will give an account and your motives exposed.

If you all can truly explore that and continue...by all means, Continue. There is a lot to consider when doing what you are all doing.

We at His Place expected nothing less than to be attacked in some way. Walking this process out this side of eternity is a rough deal and made even rougher every time people are involved. At the end of the day, we must remember we are all broken in various ways and in desperate need of grace.

If this article wasn't met with great opposition I would be really scared. So, I thank all of you who have opposed this article, me, my church, my Pastor, my church family, and ultimately our God. You solidify, for me, the reality of truth found in Scripture.

You all play a huge part in the will of God and the rolling out of His great plans.

Mike W

kbear09090
kbear09090

I have a problem with the statement that the Sons of Thunder are sponsoring an AA meeting. Though many AA meetings are in churches, it is a landlord / tenant relationship with no denominational ties to the church. If a meeting is run by or influenced by any outside group it is not an AA meeting.

heartsfirstcpr
heartsfirstcpr

Pastor Joe

I discovered his place a few months ago after going through some difficult time in my family, from the moment I step foot in those four walls I knew I was home. There is no judgement..... only love. Pastor Joes story is not unlike others but the fact that you are willing to be honest share your experience strength and hope with the rest of us is amazing, and I know others will agree we appreciate you and are grateful To have met you. This church is like nothing I've ever experienced. YOU and Therese give christains a good name. I highly suggest if you're unsure about this come check it out!

well done article, rock on Joe

Megan

Caution
Caution

Aside from Furey's bravery/courage to come forward and expose his molester, "Fr. Buckley" (thank you for that Furey. You are not alone), I doubt Jesus and his father were, or are,  "perfect" or even existed as percieved by multitudes. Just my opinion on church/religious stuff.  All the best.

MatthewDarren
MatthewDarren

Pastor Joe Furey is far from perfect, as are the men named by Mr. Jackson in this article... But they are in good company, because there is not one who has attained perfection on the earth other than Jesus Christ.

I had the privilege of serving at His Place Church for 5 years. I, unfortunately, have not been in contact with Joe since 2012, but I can say without shadow of doubt in my mind that Joe Furey is fully aware of his imperfections and does not operate under any sense of false humility. He definitely has a distinct calling to share the Gospel with a specific group of God's kids. Just as a missionary is called to a specific area, he has been directed to minister to those struggling with addiction. I have never had an addiction to drugs or alcohol, I was raised in a bible believing, pentecostal church and I watched my father preach week in and week out, but that makes no difference on the relevancy of Joe's message. In the years I sat under his teaching, I grasped more truth because of how he related biblical principles to his life. The book of Revelation tells us that we overcome by the power of the blood and the word of our testimony, so I am grateful he uses his testimony in his teaching. With any other method my thick skull may have missed the point.

God looks on the heart and as His kids, we should aspire to the same. I have seen glimpses of this man's heart and will firmly stand as a witness to his integrity and desire to share the same grace he found with others. Regardless of personal experience, I would caution anyone and everyone on this thread to heed Psalm 105 and 1 Chron. 16... They both command us to "touch not [God's] anointed" it tells us to bring no harm to His prophets. Therefore, I suggest we do no harm to their impact on our community as well. Everyone has their methods on sharing the gospel. No one has it figured out. The fact of the matter is, He has introduced Christ to many and to come against him in public forum while hiding behind a computer keyboard is a hindrance to the growth of God's kingdom.

brianisunfallen
brianisunfallen

Great article! Thanks for sharing this story with the community! It's awesome to see so many lives turn around at that place. They truly minister to those who are unwelcome at so many other places. Great people there at His Place serving a (the only) Great God! 

OC_Dude
OC_Dude

We've gone to this church for a time; it's just a front for AA designates that have to attend the program or go to jail... They spill into the church and guess what; the message never offends them because it's all centered around Joes struggles and anecdotes not Christ's word which is so secondary that people were chastised from leadership when they pushed too hard to get gasp; bibles inside the church..

Yes; he couldn't stand the bible to the point he wouldn't allow them in the pews. This church needs more Christ ; more gospel and less man.

Recovery groups and a "sinners prayer" are a sad excuses for the gospel

Brainwashed_in_church
Brainwashed_in_church topcommenter

Typical Born Again story: Someone "hits bottom" due to depression, drugs, alcohol, prison, abuse, etc and "Finds Jesus". It's a psychological reaction alternative to suicide. (Still, happiness trumps reality. That is, it is better to be delusional but physically healthy and happy than it is to be on the verge of suicide.) Few if any, mentally healthy people become Born Again.

All people are either brainwashed, Born Again, or mentally healthy.


OC_Dude
OC_Dude

@MikeWorley

Mike, you seem like a cool guy, thanks for your candidacy, I am not waiting to rip anything apart, but it is hugely inconsistent to "argue" about arguing if your claiming arguing is a bad thing ..so Ill leave it at that. I am not looking for ways to discredit anyone, but the article came up on FB and I felt like responding in the comments section - I wasn't looking for it necessarily.

In light of the instructions to churches regarding leadership and accountability we owe it to people to steer them away from such churches (when it comes up) that have open and totally unrepentant leadership problems... Unless HP would address the issue...as it is they pushed many loving and biblical people out the door for only calling for what the bible clearly calls for itself. Yet they call themselves an open church... A little honesty would be great, like "Hey were really a place for people who don't want a whole lot of accountability or church, that would save a lot of people a lot of time.

It would be nice if anyone speaking out in favor of HP would actually want to know what happened and if it wasn't biblical to see what the pastor has to say about it. Instead all I see is a fanboy club of violent people waiting to hurt anyone who disagrees with them. If this were my church I would be asking the pastor some hard questions right now; not that anyone's perfect by ANY means, but we cant allow open sin to go unchallenged. I actually believe non believers respect Christians much more when they hold themselves to their own principles;

Peace

OC_Dude
OC_Dude

@MikeWorley

Thanks for your response Mike, and your candid nature. You seem like a cool guy.
I am not wanting to rip anything apart, but it is funny that your "arguing" that arguing is bad...but that's ok, we can agree to disagree. FYI - I wasn't looking for this article, it just popped up in facebook land and I felt like adding to the comments..Nobody is on a quest to say bad things about your church or pastor, but I would caution people against attending based on what I saw. Actually If steering people away from biblically un-submissive leadership is a bad thing ; then much of the bible needs to be re-written and quickly too.

If I were you I would take my challenge seriously. Go and see what the pastor says about these things, because he should be challenged to repent from turning peopel away form church who were only asking for biblical standards like discipline, bibles in pews, to settle accusations against members, all things that were refused to do, and ultimately it was easier to just ask those calling for the action to leave....


Peace...  OC Man (now out of the OC)



OC_Dude
OC_Dude

@MikeWorley

Hey Mike,

Its easy to say "keep arguing at your own risk" when all the main arguments have been given, it sure makes you look like you "Told them" lol.

Your first 2 sentences show a lack of understanding of what disagreement and argument is and how they apply to the church in healthy and unhealthy ways. Many of the churches problems could be avoided if more people spoke up and called out inconsistent church practices when its warranted.

Your second 2 sentences are really strange because nobody is attacking the people at HP, or hardly even the idea of church; Nobody has claimed they hate sermons, or that bible studies are lame in general; its specifically the items brought up that are in question which is if AA and church can be married thus.. without error and danger or catering to mans whims and not the convicting power of the spirit, And the issue of biblical accountability and church discipline that has been largely ignored in the past at HP. So, that argument that you claim that anyone who disagrees with HP's and claims its not doing something biblical - = disagreement with God is a highly suspect one and one that is full of pride as well.

Do yourself a favor, take what has been said to scripture, and the pastor himself. See if his reasons and claims check off with what the bible says about church leadership and discipline. Ask about those asked to leave who were asking for accountability and bibles in the pews.. not a thing to ask someone to leave over if your such an "accepting and open church"

If the situation has changed thats great, but as far as anyone who was asked to leave knows, HP still believes the same way and hasn't repented of maligning these things. - Good day

jst92649
jst92649

@MikeWorley  Well said Mike. HP is about following our Lord no matter what. Im just so happy to have a relationship with our God and to be in a family that shows love not judgement. Pastor Joe has a gift of breaking it down to the simple truths. And his knowledge of History is superb. At HIS PLACE ITS love pure love.

I guess its not for everybody, if it was where would we all sit? Much Love

jojo
jojo

@kbear09090 Hi Kbear!  You are correct, the Mens and Womens open AA meetings at the church both pay rent.  The Mens Stag is named the Sons of Thunder.

OC_Duddete
OC_Duddete

@MatthewDarren Well said Matt! This was a great article about a real man of God. He is so transparent and real! Love this Church!

OC_Dude
OC_Dude

@MatthewDarren

Repeating that nobody is perfect is just an excuse to not actually deal with the issues brought up.

Would you have that response if God was asking these questions?

Of course nobody is perfect, that’s why churches are admonished in the bible to have accountability and discipline in their leadership…

I am not trying to tear down, but to expose hypocritical standards that were publicly witnessed, and addressed, but ignored by Joe. Your reaction is exactly the reason these problems exist, the false idea that Christian leaders are doing the lords work so they cannot be accountable or called to answer, and its against the clear teaching of the bible.

The article claims the church is so great because anyone no matter their problems or addictions can come, but if you ask for any accountability at all you are shown the door. It’s a completely hypocritical standard.

I wonder why Joe is even questioning the abuse he had at the hands of leadership when he was younger ?
After all, you cant question leadership... right. Wrong. of course you can.

Your use of these verses is very telling of your actual understanding of the bible.
If you had been focused on the word more at HP you might know how to apply verses rather then just find them.

Look at these passages in context and see what they are saying. They are NOT saying that Christian leaders can do whatever they want with no accountability.

“When they were few in number, of little account, and sojourners in it, wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people, he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, saying, “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!”
”(Psalms 105:12-15 ESV)

“When you were few in number, of little account, and sojourners in it, wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people, he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, saying, “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!””
(1 Chronicles 16:19-22 ESV)

These are a part of songs of thanksgiving for what God had done, not dire warnings to those who question authority. These would have been sung by the congregation. These are remembrances that as the people of Israel had passed through hostile lands the Lord had protected them and delivered them from harm by warning other kings to ‘touch not his anointed”…His people…all of them.

The “Lord’s anointed” designation applied to the whole assembly and in later years would be sung by a people who had no king at all to encourage themselves in the faithfulness of God. If you are in Christ you are the “Lords anointed”.


“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”(2 Corinthians 1:20-22 ESV)

“But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life. write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.” (1 John 2:19-27 ESV)



JonnyRay
JonnyRay

@MatthewDarren    Well said Matthew.  Thanks for this...


jst92649
jst92649

Wow, Not sure how long you attended I've Learned more scripture in two years than in 25 years in a previous Bible study church. And I'm not an addict. As are others. Love others as you love yourself ocdude, we will love you anyway!

brianisunfallen
brianisunfallen

@OC_Dude Hey man, no need to tear down others. Just because it's not your flavor doesn't mean God isn't at work in that church. I know every one of those guys named in this article very well. They love Jesus and give him all the glory for their freedom. The Bible is preached faithfully in there and taught in a way that connects it to average, everyday life. Sounds like Jesus to me... I served there for a couple years, and what I saw was a flawed man teaching flawed people how to serve the only perfect One: God, using the perfect Word as the instruction manual. Pretty rad what God's still doing there. Doing what He's always done: changing lives and making saints out of sinners.

girlinoc
girlinoc

@Brainwashed_in_church"born again" I just love that phrase.  So does that mean that since I had an inperfect life before I started attending church that I'm brainwashed, born again or mentally unhealthy?  BTW I don't attend this church or a church anything like this one.  Also I don't consider myself "born again".  Not my favorite phrase.  I love that the church I go to allows me to question things and doesn't brainwash me or tell me how I need to be or what I need to believe. 

gregbpc
gregbpc topcommenter

@Brainwashed_in_church We ALL have sinned. No one is perfect.  That is the message of the gospel, and the purpose of Jesus.

kbear09090
kbear09090

@jojoDo you think it is appropriate to name a meeting using a christian ministries name and christian biblical quote? AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution

jst92649
jst92649

What us your purpose in judging. Who are you and what right do you have to judge? You have s right to opinion. When you make generalization about 500 people it reveals a lack of knowledge.

And it Doesn't sound like love to me. And what its the greatest commandment? maybe you should come back for more services.

girlinoc
girlinoc

@brianisunfallen@OC_DudeI once went to this church.  For a good amount of time actually.  And I agree that this church did ask people to leave.  I witnessed this first hand.  It's sad that a church that promotes welcoming the sinner actually turned people away.  And it was people in leader ship too. There are churches out there that welcome the sinner with no judgement as Jesus did and welcome questions.  The church goers don't have to fit into some idea or some box of how to act or what to believe.

OC_Dude
OC_Dude

We just have to agree to disagree. I've seen The biggest contributors in that church get away with things ; when brought up to Him he refuses to discipline to the point the people asking for biblical standards are asked to leave. Church is not just a place to hear pep talks; family stories with a bible twist; or the "your ok the way you are" message. With drug addicts dying every few weeks it's so much more important that they hear about mans sin and about repentance. I'm sure God is at work even in a Syrian army camp ; doesn't mean things are being done biblically.

Brainwashed_in_church
Brainwashed_in_church topcommenter

@girlinoc @Brainwashed_in_church If you believe an unsubstantiated entity such as a god exists then yes you are delusional which is a symptom of mental illness. Mentally healthy people are objective and consider the existence of god an extremely remote possibility. 

So again, all people are brainwashed (by their parents, community, church) OR they are born again OR they are mentally healthy. A person can't be mentally healthy and delusional at the same time. 

Hope this helps.

kbear09090
kbear09090

@jojo@kbear09090It is inappropriate and places the AA name in a sectarian context. All AA meetings are autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole. Making a meeting christian based affects AA as a whole

girlinoc
girlinoc

@OC_Dude@OC_Duddete I agree OC_Dude.  There is more then one person that has had an experience of being turned away from this church.  If we didn't fit into what they  wanted us to say, do or think.  Or if we asked too many questions we are judged and and asked to leave.  I just feel that this article is very one sided.  There are churches out there that encourage people to ask questions and don't judge them if they do.  I'm thankful I found one.  I'm sorry that Joe went through so much pain the last few years.  Maybe that has changed him.  I hope so.  No one should be turned away just because they don't meet someone's or some churches expectations.  They should be welcome, because it's all up to God not any one church or leadership.  

OC_Dude
OC_Dude

@OC_Duddete@OC_Dude
I'm not Matt D - I haven't seen that man for years, since I was in Ca last..although I do remember he was asked to leave after asking for accountability.

I am remaining anonymous because HP people have made violent threats in the past. And here on this thread I have been threatened for just stating my opinion.

I am replying to the article which publicly lists Joes name, and Maynard who used his public instagram user ID which has his full name on it as well. Thats not calling anyone out that's using the info supplied to reply and to protect myself against a known convicts threats.

I am merely stating an opinion to balance out the articles gaps; the public has a right to know. If you dont like my opinion, who cares, I dont.







OC_Duddete
OC_Duddete

@OC_Dude Since you have insisted on calling out someone, I will call you out Matt Dongworth. You stated "Repeating that nobody is perfect is just an excuse to not actually deal with the issues brought up."


There are NO issues to be DEALT with. YOU have issues you think warrant publicly blasting a Pastor, a church and a congregation because you FEEL slighted.


This article has been shared over 1,600 times. What you are trying to do to negatively impact this church is doing nothing. People reading this article are being moved and touched enough to post it publicly to their friends.


This church and the people in it love the Lord.


Leave this alone. We get it. You feel slighted. You want people to know how you feel. We hear you. Now move on. This negativity and resentment you hold from 4.5 years ago needs to be dealt with on a personal level. Maybe talk it over with your new pastor.


This church is impacting lives. Be happy for the people that are coming to Jesus because of this man and this Church!

OC_Dude
OC_Dude

Matt Maynard deleted his comment; but I had copied it...(below)

"mattmdm36 said

OC_Dude MatthewDarren Your nothing but a hide behind the computer basher!! I don't like you!! Bet you wouldnt talk all this stuff face to face..Some good old fashion discipline I would like to place on nose!! @ oc_dude"

OC_Dude
OC_Dude

Matt Maynard; I guess you must call any opinions not yours "bashing"

The truth must hurt I guess. I love your logic though; If you disagree with someone you should punch them!

Great way to solve your problems!

Oh wait; you've tried that before right?

Ankle bracelet right Maynard?

Here's a mental note - it's probably a bad idea for you to punch people for their opinions and an even worse idea to telegraph those thoughts or threats online...especially when you have a record.

But hey keep showing me the HP love...It's definitely making me think I was wrong all along...

OC_Dude
OC_Dude

@jst92649I never said anything about 500 people ; Jesus called the pharisees vipers ; not loving I guess... You can take that up with him.. Calling out the truth to a biased story so all can see it is not judging any more then any journalist who tries to see all angles... Your actually judging me though...

jst92649
jst92649

What are your credentials in the study of mental health and or physics?

Why would we believe your absolute truths and your diagnosis on other peoples mental capacity?

Ironically you're setting yourself up as a god by stating what you believe is an absolute fact!

I choose to consider all possibilities before I accept your truths.

 
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