Thoughts on Baltimore (and other issues)

I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the riots in Baltimore. You’ve heard about how people have taken to the streets to destroy, loot, and hurt. You’ve probably read the stories about the 15 officers (last I saw) who were hurt by the rioters. But what do we do about it? We can sit here, behind the comfort of our homes, our keyboards, our tv screens, and criticize, call them criminals, and tell them they should have done it another way.

And we wouldn’t be wrong.

But it’s not their fault.

If you are looking for someone to blame, look in the mirror. Continue reading

Robin Williams

The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

“The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.”

From the first moment I found out about the passing of Robin Williams, this line has been stuck in my head. Over and over and over it plays.

“The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.” Continue reading

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.

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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.

Lost and Alone

It’s been a bit of an interesting night. I started watching “The Gods Aren’t Angry” by Rob Bell (affiliate link). I was supposed to be writing this blog post, but I was enthralled by the video. When I write, I generally close out all social media, turn off the TV, and put on some music. But tonight, I don’t know why, but I didn’t.

And I thank God I didn’t. Continue reading

Prayers

Yesterday was pretty sweet, I got my first tattoo. I got the idea from a song by Misty Edwards when she says “I’ll set you as a seal upon my arm, as a seal upon my heart, for there is love that is as strong as death, jealousy demanding as the grave” So I designed it to be a wax seal, with an angel in the middle, and the lyrics around the outside of the seal. I was thinking of what font/language to do it in, and the nerd in me thought of Elvish, and the graphic designer in me decided it was the best looking font. So, here is what the finished product looks like: 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

Your Life in a Flash

 

“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.” –Unknown

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. When I’m gone, what is the legacy I will leave behind? what will God say about me when I arrive in heaven? Continue reading

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About The Author – Introduction

Questions.

If you spend more than 5 minutes around me, you probably have a ton of them about me, because I’m a very unusual person & I do/say some very odd things… First of all, I take this as a compliment, I mean, normal people are boring, and who wants to be around a boring person?

But that leads to a lot of questions about a lot of things… Continue reading

Don't Stop Believing

Openness

The most important aspect of any relationship is being open with each other. Whether it’s dating, friends, family, spouses, anyone. The relationship will only survive if you are open about things with that person. Keeping feelings (good or bad) inside and not sharing them is the quickest way to guarantee that your relationship will fall apart. Continue reading