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

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When you give hope to others, you find hope for yourself.

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This was written over the course of the past few days. I would just jot down my disjointed thoughts, and then I tried to piece them together in a way that would make sense, without losing the overall feel of what I was trying to say, and I didn’t really expand or elaborate on any of my thoughts, so please keep that in mind as you read. If you would like me to elaborate, leaves comment with what you’d like me to elaborate on, and I will.

The phone rings. I take a deep breath, and pick up the phone and smile as I say “Hello, this is Joel. How can I serve you today?”

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Working is the hardest thing. I find myself at the front desk a lot these days. A place I need to be cheery, a place I need to smile, answer questions, and give hope. Hope I don’t feel. But behind the perfectly plastered smile on my face, my mind swirls with questions. Why? How? Somehow reaching out for understanding that doesn’t seem to come.

Then I read what others say. What the news says. The picture they paint. And I don’t see it. Instead I see someone broken, hurting, and in need of redemption. I don’t feel what society tells me to feel. Instead of anger, hate, rage, disgust, I feel sad, heartbroken, like someone died. And in a way, someone has.

In a way, a lot of people have.

So many people will never be the same. So many lives have had something ripped away from them. Peace, security, trust.

Trust.

And when trust is betrayed, we get angry. But when people are hurt, anger will never heal. Healing will only come when we replace anger with love. Redemption can only come from love. So many people are hurting right now. Spreading anger isn’t going to bring a single one of those people healing. We need to instead let our words be of love and support for everyone. And this love needs to come double from those of us who call ourselves the church. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ~ John 13:34-35

Maybe, if we can inject love into the situation, we can see healing come to each of people involved in and surrounding the situation. Maybe we can stop the cycle. Maybe, just maybe, we can actually change people.

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As my mind still swirls, as I find it hard to focus, I find myself asking questions. The worst kind of questions: questions that really have no answer. Questions that can’t be explained. And then the phone starts to ring. Someone comes in needing hope. And so I take all those swirling, twirling, questions and push them down, plaster a smile on my face that I don’t really feel, and answer the phone. And I give hope. Because when you give hope to others, you find hope for yourself.

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

God Speaks Through Shuffle

Today’s post is going to be short, since I don’t know that I have a whole lot to say on the subject…

Have you ever found yourself driving in your car, listening to your iPod while it is on shuffle and the perfect song for whatever you are going through comes on? Continue reading

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

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

Your Heart: Good or Bad?

“There is a widespread belief among Christians today that the heart is desperately wicked – even after a person comes to Christ.
It is a crippling belief.
And it is untrue” ~John Eldredge

I recently just finished “Waking The Dead’ by John Eldredge, and let me say, I loved it!

In this book, John talks about how most of Christianity teaches about the heart. We teach that the heart is evil, something to guard, to lock in a cell and never let out or it will destroy you. But that is so incredibly wrong!

Your story does not begin with sin. It begins with a glory bestowed upon you by God. It does not start in Genesis 3; it starts in Genesis 1. ~ John Eldredge

The very idea of what Christ came to do was to bring freedom to us, to restore us to the life God had originally intended for us. A life of glory, not shame. A life with a good, pure heart, not one with an evil, oppressive heart. Continue reading

God Doesn’t Want To Answer Your Prayers

I believe that sometimes, God doesn’t want to answer your prayers. (and when I say “answer” I mean give us what we ask for)

That’s a bold statement, I get that, but just bear with me, I think by the end you’ll see what I mean by this…

We spend so much time asking God for things. We ask him for money, for miracles, for friends, for family, and everything else we can think of. And many times, these things are good things, healthy things, things that he should answer for us.

But sometimes he doesn’t want to answer. Even the good ones.

Why? Continue reading

About The Author – My Method

If you haven’t read my other posts, you can find them here. The order is IntroductionMy Passion & My Calling. Please read these if you haven’t yet…

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Now, I want to talk about my method, how I live out my calling and my passion. This is probably the most misunderstood part of me, the part that is hardest for people who don’t know me well to understand. Which means it will be the longest post too…

If I could sum up my method in one word it would be this:

Relationships.  Continue reading

Let It Go

The music fell around me. I knew the words. I knew I was singing along.

But I didn’t hear any of it.

It was the first night of our Young Adult Retreat. Cameron, Trevor, Tyler, & Tasha are up leading worship, but I couldn’t get into it. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the music or whatever, they were great songs, and those guys (and girl) are some of my favorite musicians.

It wasn’t that. Continue reading