End of an Era

The End of an Era (or So Long and Thanks for all the Fish)

The past three and a half years have been among the most challenging & rewarding times for me. There were days where as a staff, we would sit around and wonder “why are we doing this?”. I would sit there and think “I can’t go on, I can’t do this anymore.” It was in those moments, that my favorite quote from Lord of the Rings comes to mind (here’s the YouTube version, if you prefer it)

Sam: It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the ending, because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened. But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come and when the sun shines it’ll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr Frodo, I do understand… I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only the didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding onto something…

Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr Frodo… And it’s worth fighting for.

But now that struggle has come to the end, and I find myself again wondering if it was worth it. If the time we spent mattered, or if it was all for naught. And again I find myself finding comfort and solace in the words of Samwise Gamgee. Continue reading

Son Who Stayed Home

No one talks about the son who stayed at home

I sat and talked with a friend the other day. We were talking about life, faith, and stories. As I shared about another friend of mine who has majorly turned his life around, he said “Joel, I’ve grown up my whole life in church, I’ve never partied, I never even touched alcohol until I was 21, I never did drugs, I’m not married, so I’ve never had sex, I’ve never majorly screwed up. I’ve always done exactly what the church has taught me to do. And I feel like that’s not good enough. Like I don’t have a story to tell.”

He paused for a moment and drew a breath as his eyes moistened. Then, with his voice quivering, continued,

“I hear people talk about all these people who are turning their life around, who used to be really bad, and everyone celebrates them. But here I am, and no one even mentions how well I’ve done at keeping all the things that Jesus commands and the church tells us. I feel like I’m not good enough, that I don’t have a story to tell, that I have nothing to say that is worth listening to.” Continue reading

About The Journey - Version 2

Laying it all on the line

I’ve come to realize that I don’t like asking for help. I don’t like asking for things in general.

I’m independent like that.

So this Kickstarter Fundraiser has been a huge thing for me.

I guess I should give a little background for you.

If you’ve followed my blog  for a while, you’ll know that 3 of my best friends took a 3 month journey across the country, calling it “Further Along The Road“. When they traveled, they took an iPhone 4S and a GoPro and filmed their journey. Well, then they came back, and we began watching clips. It’s taken a long time, but we’ve finally finished watching clips. And then we ran into a problem. Continue reading

Loyalty & Bravery

‎”You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin–to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours–closer than you yourself keep it. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo. Anyway: there it is. We know most of what Gandalf has told you. We know a good deal about the ring. We are terribly afraid–but we are coming with you; or following you like hounds.” ~ Meriadoc Brandybuck

I know I’ve talked about this before, but I forgot about this quote from the book series, The Lord of the Rings. I read it the other day, and it reminded me that loyalty and bravery go hand in hand. Continue reading

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Dangerous Business

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Well, by the time most of you read this, I’ll be on the road. I’m taking a much-needed vacation, and my best friend and I are going to visit Ryan & Janae Dagen!!! I am really excited to see them.

For those of you who don’t know, quick back story on the relationship between Ryan and I. Ryan used to be the youth pastor at Gap Community Church. During that time, I pretty much functioned as his assistant youth pastor, in addition to the other duty’s of my job, since I was employed by GCC at the time. Continue reading

Music the great connector

Music, The Great Connector

Music is so incredibly important and incredibly powerful that it has this ability to connect us. It can connect us to people, and it can connect us to God. Music has a way of digging deep into our souls & connecting us with the God who created us.

When God made us, he made us as both physical and spiritual beings. I believe that is what the bible meant when it said that we were made in God’s image. The reason we were made to be spiritual beings is so we would have the ability and the desire to connect communicate with God, which translates to connecting to others as well, and I believe the language of heaven is music. Continue reading

I Need a Good Cry… And a Solution

I don’t know how many of you know this, but I guess I need to take some time and be transparent about all of this stuff going on in my life, because trying to not get stressed about it, or not letting the stress show is getting tiring. So very tiring… (sorry if this post is more whining than normal, but I need to get this out) Continue reading

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Reunions & Best Friends

2 of my best friends arrived home last night.

They have been traveling around the country, seeking themselves & God. (you can read about their trip here)

After they got back, we hung out at my house. It was amazing to me how we could all pick right back up where we left off in our friendships, almost like they had never left.

But they had.

And they when they came back, they weren’t the same people, but that is a good thing.

There is a beautiful thing that happens when friends pursue God individually and together. It’s that similar passion for the pursuit of God that allows miles and months to separate us, yet we never grow apart…

The more I’ve spent time with other people, hear their stories, I have realized how rare it is that I actually have a GROUP of friends like that, when many people don’t even have ONE…

I can’t wait to see where God calls us all to in the future, and while I’ll be sad if/when that calling separates us, I take peace and joy in knowing that it is because we are all passionately pursuing God, and I know that no matter the miles or the months, we will always be close friends.

Thoughts on Friendship

Thoughts on Friendship

“When you can’t run anymore, you crawl, and when you can’t crawl – when you can’t do that, you find someone to carry you.” ~ Firefly

I spend a lot of time talking about friends.

But that is because friendship is one of the most important things to get you through life. They are the ones to laugh in your joy, cry in your pain, and pull you along when you don’t have the strength.

But what is a true friend? In an age where you “friend request” someone on Facebook after meeting them for 5 min, I wonder if we have lost the true meaning of what it means to be a friend… Continue reading

Knowing God

Knowing God

“We forfeit that birthright [intimacy with God] when we take folks through a discipleship program whereby they master any number of Christian precepts and miss the most important thing of all, the very thing for which we were created: intimacy with God. There are, after all, those troubling words Jesus spoke to those who were doing all the “right” things: “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you'” (Matt 7:23). Knowing God. That’s the point.”
~ John Eldredge, “Waking the Dead”, pg 96

What a powerful statement. When those who always “did the right thing” stood before God, He said “I never knew you”. We try so hard to be “Good Christians” we go to church every Sunday, we read this book, or that book, we play in the worship band, we serve on a church committee or volunteer in one of the ministries, because, that’s what good christians do, right? Continue reading