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

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

closeup-tear

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.

The Greatest Love

13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends … 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” ~ John 15:13, 15

So it’s Easter morning, and I’m sitting here trying to find something to say that isn’t cliche, but is still powerful and relevant to the celebration of today.

Then it hit me. But I want to look a this backwards, verse 15, then 13.

Jesus was our Lord, but also our friend. He says that we are no longer His servants, because HE HAS MADE KNOWN TO US EVERYTHING HE LEARNED FROM GOD!!! When we enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, He makes God’s knowledge and wisdom available to us!

So with that understanding, that we are His friend, then now we see the greatest love that we could ever know: He gave up his life for us. He died for you. For me.

To save my life.

To save yours.

But the story doesn’t end there. It doesn’t end with his death.

It ends with his coming back to life. You see, Death could only be defeated if Death lost. If Jesus had stayed dead, Death would have won.

But oh the bliss of this glorious thought: that He didn’t stay dead! Instead he overcame death and by His resurrection, we have been washed clean and whole!

We don’t deserve it, we can’t earn it, we aren’t worthy if it. But that is why they call it GRACE!

So this morning, rest in the peace that passes understanding, knowing that there is no condemnation for you, for your sins, for your past.

Jesus died to take your sin upon himself.

And he rose from the dead to wash it away forever.

Amen.

United We Stand?

So many times, we christians are our own worst enemy. We judge, argue, call names, ostracize, alienate, and belittle others, over little things in the name of Jesus. But that is so wrong. Continue reading

The Death of Death

I love this video. This is the best video describing what the story of the cross and what it means for us. Sometimes we get so caught up in the religious symbol, and it becomes so common place for us, that we forget what the symbol originally was, and what it really means…

Out of the Ordinary

This past sunday I had the pleasure of working with Trevor Heinrich of Life’s Resonance on a music video for one of their songs… (and getting a crazy farmers tan while I was at it)

Lets just say, it wasn’t your typical day… 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

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