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

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

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

Graduation Bingo

Well, it’s graduation season.

That means we get together, listen to cliché words, phrases, and quotes, all for the sake of something that, let’s be honest, you probably wouldn’t have finished if your parents hadn’t pushed  you.

I love celebrating accomplishments, but I HATE cliché stuff… I hated my own graduation cuz of all the clichés, but I went to a graduation last night because my “little brother” was graduating… As I was live tweeting Pequea Valley’s Graduation last night, I said this: Continue reading

A Thought to Ponder

“To all the cynics:
Do you need a reason to have faith, be positive, have hope, and believe? Here it is: the sun will be back again tomorrow. And on that day when the sun falls from the sky? So what? Congratulations, you were finally right on the very last day.”

~ Shawn Duffy

My American History teacher had that on his board one day, and I instantly fell in love with the quote. Why not be optimistic of the future ? Why not have hope? What harm comes out of that? And the day you are wrong, well, that’s the end of the world, so no worries about you being wrong.

Remember, tomorrow is a brand new day, you get to start over again. The question is: What will you do with it? Who will you be?

 

Your Soul is Your Own

“A king may move a man, a father may claim a son, but that man can also move himself, and only then does that man truly begin his own game. Remember that howsoever you are played or by whom, your soul is in your keeping alone, even though those who presume to play you be kings or men of power. When you stand before God, you cannot say, “But I was told by others to do thus,” or that virtue was not convenient at the time. This will not suffice. Remember that.” ~ King Baldwin IV, “Kingdom of Heaven”

There is so much good stuff to unpack in this quote, but I’m going to pull out probably the two biggest to talk about. Continue reading

Strength and Honor

Strength and Honor

Anyone who has seen Gladiator knows this phrase pretty well.

Be strong, have honor. There was a day when people actually thought about such things, when people were moved by such concepts. Today, it’s a line from a movie. We hardly think twice about what it actually means.

What does it mean for us to have strength? Does it mean physical strength? Not specifically. It means you must have strength of the heart and soul and mind. Strength of your convictions & your beliefs. It means you work to grow, to get “stronger” at something. You never stop growing,  you never stop “working out”. It means you might be able to heft large rocks, but you shouldn’t bash people in the head with said rocks for cheap entertainment… No matter how much they may deserve it and how gratifying it might feel…

To be honorable is to respect yourself and others. To do what right for overtone. Honorable men (and women) are selfless, they stand up for the little guy. Honorable men treat everyone with respect. Not just those who we feel deserve it, or those who are easy to respect.

Everyone.

True honor also has integrity. When you say you are going to do something, you do it. If you do something, you do it to the best of your ability. You are honest, caring, and accept responsibility for your actions.

What would the world look like if we all (men and women) started living our lives with strength and honor? I think the world would be a much better place to live.

What about you? What does living with strength and honor mean to you? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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

True Love

We throw this phrase around all the time. We want “true love” with the one we want to marry. We say things like “if you truly love me, you would _________.”

The other day, I posted this on my Facebook:

True love (even in a friendship kinda way) is finding joy in watching someone live & move in their passions, even knowing that it will probably take them away from you… Continue reading

Living In A Prison

“You are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.”
~ Morpheus, The Matrix (1999)

These words ring true for us too, not just Neo. We find ourselves in this prison. It seems that many of us don’t know it, but we live in this world that all it does is imprison us to who we could really be. The ability to change the world. Continue reading