The Story Never Ends

(It’s WrestleWeek on POP GOD! In celebration of WrestleMania 32 this Sunday we’ll be looking at the intersection of faith and wrestling. You don’t have to be a fan to hop in the ring on this journey. Read on to see how this fake sport provides real lessons for anyone who’s ever grappled with God.)

wm main eventOn Sunday April 6th, 100,000 people of all ages, races, genders and nationalities will congregate upon Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. This happening could possibly set an indoor attendance record. The fans crowded in will scream and cheer for 6 hours until the main event where 2 middle aged warriors will set foot in a predetermined battle inside a structure known as “Hell In A Cell”.

This, my friends, is WrestleMania.

If you’re not a wrestling fan this must seem bizarre to you. How is that professional wrestling can possibly draw so many fans to its biggest attraction? How is that the WWE Network is one of the top 5 streaming video services in the world? How is that WWE’s signature show “Raw” has been on the air for over 20 years and over 1,100 episodes?

The answer is actually quite simple. It’s all because in pro wrestling the story never ends. Continue reading

When Your Story Goes Up In Flames, Remember This:

IMG_5092This past weekend my wife and I got the incredible opportunity to spend some time working at Pioneer Plunge, a majestic Young Life camp in Weaverville, NC.

If you’re not familiar with it, Pioneer Plunge is unlike any other Young Life camp. Nestled high in the mountains and hidden away at the top of Windy Gap (another Young Life camp), Plunge consists of only 3 minimal cabins, a pond and a garden. There’s no electricity or amenities of any kind.

The purpose of the camp is to provide young people with a chance to live in the wilderness for a week and discover God’s calling unhindered by any distraction.

Kate and I met as Young Life leaders and look for any chance we can to give back to the ministry. We never had the chance to visit Pioneer Plunge when we were leaders so when the chance came up to participate in a Work Crew weekend at the camp we jumped at the opportunity.

Unfortunately we didn’t see the camp in all it’s glory. In August of 2014 the main cabin at Pioneer Plunge burned down in a tragic accident. No one was hurt by the fire and it was miraculously contained to just the one building. Continue reading

Why Your Life Is Not A Soap Opera

Gl92Every day when my Mom came home from work one thing was certain – she was going to watch her soap opera. Most of the time I watched it with her. 

She was a religious fan of “Guiding Light” for as long as I can remember being alive. She set the VCR every morning and hit play every afternoon. Usually I sat on the floor playing with my wrestling toys as she watched (my own personal soap opera I suppose).

“Guiding Light” – like most soaps – was a pretty crazy show. There was your usual soapy drama – hookups, power plays, murder.

Then it got REAL crazy. People came back from the dead. There were twins with two different fathers. There was even a human clone. (The clone storyline was my favorite.)

My mom watched “Guiding Light” for as long as I can remember. She stuck around to the bitter end as aired its final episode in 2009. I have to admit, I grew pretty attached to the show too.

But I think sometimes we make our lives too much like soap operas.  Continue reading

Tips For The Beginning Time Traveler Part Two

rs_1024x759-140425121751-1024.Parks-And-Recreation-Amy-Bangs-Adam-Tux.jl.042514What will your life look like 3 years from now?

Some of you may be facing 3 more years of the same old, same old status quo. Others may be on the precipice of major changes and choices in life.

But wouldn’t it be cool to jump 3 years into the future to get a glance at how things will pan out?

That’s what “Parks and Recreation” did on their recent season finale. Not to give anything away, but the final scene took Leslie Knope and her Pawnee crew on a bold leap , skipping over 3 years and settling into the near future where the next season will take place. Continue reading

When To Kill Off A Character

iron-throne-teaser-game-of-thrones-18537495-1280-720SPOILER ALERT: Your favorite character is going to die.

It’s happened on The Walking Dead. It’s happened on The Good Wife. It happens all the time on Game Of Thrones.

TV shows are killing off main characters left and right to shock the audience and get the Twitterverse talking.

A death on a show, especially of a major character, used to be reserved for a season or even sometimes only for a series finale.

Now it’s more commonplace for the lead in a show to die halfway through the second episode of the second season.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a comedy or a drama, if it’s on a major network or cable or Netflix – No character is safe. Continue reading

Why Sequels Suck

terminator-2-1991-28-gTerminator 2: Judgment Day is the best sequel of all time.

You may argue otherwise. But you would be wrong.

The first Terminator movie is a decent 80s action flick. It’s more focused on Sarah Connor, Kyle Reese, and their struggle to protect her unborn (and unconceived) son than it is the Terminator trying to kill her, played in an almost comically wooden fashion by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In fact, the famous “I’ll be back” line from the film is just a throwaway line the Terminator offers as he assesses how to break down a doorway to get to Sarah Connor. (Also, dig that rad 80s synthesizer score!) Continue reading

20 Things I Learned At The Storyline Conference

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“What will the world miss if you do not tell your story?”

This weekend 1,000 storytellers gathered in Nashville for the Storyline Conference to ask this profound question together. Hosted by Donald Miller and inspired by the logotherapy process of Victor Frankl, the Storyline Conference was a fire hydrant bursting forth knowledge and inspiration for dreamers wanting to live a more meaningful story.

Going into the conference I was confused and frustrated as to where my life was headed. After hearing from so many incredible speakers and beginning to go through the process of editing my life, I am finally finding clarity as to my purpose in this world.

I’d pay everything I have to send you to the Storyline Conference. Do yourself a favor and sign up for the next one. If you can’t make it to San Diego or Nashville next year, here’s a sampling of what I learned about sharing your story with the world: Continue reading

Do You Wear The Black Hat?

“The villain is the person who knows the most and cares the least.” – Chuck Klosterman, I Wear The Black Hat

In his new book I Wear The Black Hat, Chuck Klosterman writes about villains both real and imaginary. As with everything he writes, Klosterman’s book is an inventive and thought-provoking examination peeling back layers of pop culture to reveal truths that seem obvious until you realize you never realized them before. (There’s a particularly interesting discussion about what would happen if a real life Batman began to fight crime.)

But what sticks out the most is Klosterman’s main theory: A villain is a person who knows the most and cares the least. If you know all the facts about a particular situation, if you know what harm your actions will bring and you simply do not care what happens, then you are a villain in your story.

In a roundabout way, I Wear The Black Hat reminds me of another book about story: Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Continue reading

We All Tell The Story

Last night I watched a wonderfully fun and intimate new documentary called “Springsteen and I”. The film is comprised entirely of video footage and testimonials submitted by Bruce Springsteen’s biggest fans.

These aren’t scripted, ‘reality-show’ type testimonials. These are raw, honest, personal tellings of each person’s Springsteen story. Some are shot on cell-phone cameras (some even flipped on the wrong side of the iPhone). All of them are unique in the way they relate to The Boss.

There’s the blue-collar couple who’ve never been at the right place or time to see Springsteen in person but hold their own concerts dancing in the dark in their kitchen. There’s the young female truck driver who wouldn’t seem to fit into Bruce’s demographic but connects to the working life he sings so soulfully of. There are children. There are seniors. Citizens all over the world who share how much one man’s music means to them.

None of the people in “Springsteen and I” are storytellers for living. They’re not actors or performers. Their stories aren’t rehearsed or well-polished. Perhaps this is why they resonate so well – they’re just real. Continue reading

What Your Vinyl Collection Says About You

photo (19)Did you celebrate Record Store Day?

Saturday, April 20 was the seventh annual celebration of all things vinyl. My girlfriend and I were proud participants. We drove two hours to Criminal Records in Atlanta to dig through crates of used records and seek out limited edition new releases from some of our favorite artists like Bob Dylan, The Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons, and Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors.

At the end of the day we ended up with just about everything we were looking for. What amazed me though was just how many other people did as well.

When we arrived at Criminal Records on Saturday morning, we saw a line coming out of the store and stretching around the next block. We ended up waiting an hour to get in the store, and then another hour or so to get out of the store.  Continue reading