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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The Disciple Jesus Loved?

When you read through the book of John, you’ll see a specific individual referenced, but never by name…

“The disciple whom Jesus loved”.

Now, we know that this references the Apostle John, one of Jesus’ closest/best friends, but John never actually names himself… I wonder why that is? And we’ll get to that at the end, but think about it for a minute…

What a pretentious title to give yourself.

Imagine if I walked around calling myself “The citizen whom the president loved”. And not because he ever specifically said, “I love you most”, but because I believed that I was really loved by him.

You would think I was crazy, arrogant, and stuck up!

But that is not what John intended at all. Continue reading

25 Years of Wisdom…

Well, today is my birthday. The big 25. A quarter of a century…

Now that I’ve been alive for 25 years, I guess I’ve learned a bit of wisdom I’d like to pass on…

If I could go back in time and tell myself something, I’d probably tell myself like to learn to like exercising and being active while young… But other than that, probably nothing else.

Why? Continue reading

Innocence

I read a great article by Andrew Byers, and I wish I had saved the link so I could direct you to it, but he was talking about purity as a Christian in today’s culture of so much violence, sex, and nudity, and what does that look like.

He starts off by talking about how as a Christian culture, we try so hard to be relevant, that we don’t want to be known as “prude”, because then we are afraid of becoming “out of touch”. But then he makes this point:

“Did Jesus say in Matthew 5:8, “Out-of-touch are the pure in heart,” or did He call them “Blessed”?

“Be wise as serpents, and as culture-savvy as the average viewer”? Or is it, “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves”? (Matthew 10:16).”
~ Andrew Byers

“My point, rather, is that innocence is precious and preserving it is not a vice. It is OK for us to be offended by the offensive. We are not to be moralistic [one who teaches or promotes morality], but we are called to be moral. Scripture beckons us to purity (Matthew 5:8), to wholesome speech (Ephesians 4:29), to honoring the sanctity of the marriage bed (Hebrews 13:4), to discerning good and evil (Romans 12:2). Somehow, we need to learn how to be culture-savvy and yet also innocent as doves.” ~Andrew Byers

It’s ok for something we see on television to offend us, for us to want to turn away from watching something. We shouldn’t be ashamed of saying “I’m not going to watch this”. It’s scriptural. That isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it should be encouraged and we need to be ok with that.

But he acknowledges that everyone is different, and some people don’t have the same convictions as us… Continue reading

Differences Make Us Strong

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his[b] faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Romans 12:4-8, NIV

Tonight at our guys bible study, we read through Romans 12. I had a note saved in my phone saying “We are all created different, and that is ok, even good”.

It got me thinking, as I look at my group of friends, I realized while we all have 2 really big things in common, a heart after God, and a love for adventure, after that, the similarities end, until you get to the really minor stuff.

For example, I’m a nerd, I love computers, filming, photography, websites, graphic design, etc. I have no interest in sports, boxing, or almost anything athletic (except ultimate frisbee, I am a beast at ultimate frisbee), I’m a creative, but I’m not good a coming up with new ideas, only refining ones already in existence, am a HUGE introvert, and I don’t like beer.

Then you have Cameron, my best friend. Continue reading

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

Holidays are here :)

I love Christmas. For so many reasons. Presents are nice, but honestly, “gifts” is not one of my love languages.

What I love about Christmas is how everyone seems to be willing to help others during this time of year. People go out of their way to do an act of kindness. To me, that is beautiful.

But why only during this time of year? Amidst the story of Christ’s birth, we need to remember the reason He came, and the life he lived here on earth. A life of generosity, a life of love, a life of compassion.

So maybe this New Years, maybe we should set our New Years Resolution/Revolution to be more like Christ in our actions throughout the year…

 

Music, The Language of Heaven

“How is it that music can, without words, evoke our laughter, our fears, our highest aspirations?” ~ Jane Swan

Simple, music is the language of heaven. That’s why, whenever there is an announcement from Heaven, it is always accompanied by “a chorus of angels”. It’s why both Isaiah & John, when having a vision of heaven, see the angels singing as they surround the throne of heaven.

It’s why, thought I don’t know the scripture reference for this, they say that before he fell, Lucifer was the highest position in heaven and his job was music.

If you make music, you have the ability to speak the language of heaven. Use it well.

 

Suffering for Others

“Sufferings gladly borne for others convert more people than sermons.”
~ Therese of Lisieux

No one likes to suffer. That is the point behind almost every marketing style out there. “My product will make your life better” ie, make you suffer less stress/work/pain/etc…

But Christ does not call us to a life of comfort, he calls us to a life of sacrificing out of love for others. And sacrifice hurts, it is painful, it should cost us something, it causes us to suffer. If it doesn’t, then it’s really not sacrifice.

When was the last time you suffered for someone? When was the list time you did something for someone else that truly cost you something big (time, money, an item, or even your own flesh and blood)?

Why are we so resistant to give up a couple of hours of our time for someone, or to give up our “dining out budget” money for the month so someone else can have heat, or gas, or food?

Why are we so resistant to do these things?

Maybe it’s because we don’t truly understand the suffering that Christ bore for us. If we are called to be like Christ, then we need to remember that Christ gave up his own life for others (including you, including me), and we are called to do the same.

 

Faith

In our world, especially the Christian world, we throw around this term “faith” a lot. You see it everywhere. Phrases like “just have faith”, “put your faith in Jesus”, or “it’s a matter of faith”…

But what is faith? Continue reading