undergraceanthem asked a question:

What are your thoughts on bands that claim to be Christian but don’t ever use the name of Jesus in their lyrics?

Hey my friend, to be truthful: I’d rather look at the Christian band behind the songs than the songs themselves.  There’s a ton of Christian music that says “Jesus” but they ain’t really about Jesus.

I do think it’s important that Christian music is clear about who it’s about, without question.  It’s too easy to turn Jesus into bae.  But here are a few things to consider.

1) Sometimes Christians wait for other Christians to meet a “doctrinal threshold” before they’re considered doctrinally sound. I’m not saying that you’re doing this.  But when we gate-keep too hard and expect every Christian band to yell Jesus with neon lights, it’s probably stealing our joy to simply be blessed by the aesthetic value of their craft. Plus we all like a juicy story of downfall and failure; we wait for artists to “sell out” and we’re all sick like that.  It’s unfair for us to constantly gauge if the song is using “worldly philosophy” or if they haven’t said Jesus exactly seven times.

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mangobobatea asked a question:

Hey. Hope all is well. I wanna ask your opinion. So I’m very imaginative when it comes to story telling so I like fiction/sci-fi./adventure. I want to write a fictional book/web-series just for fun. I had someone at church that I esteem highly tell me that fiction is useless, no one can learn anything from it and a waste of time. I didnt mention me wanting to write. As a believer, is fiction useless? (IDK how to even ask the question) But what are your thoughts. BTW I <3 you!

Hey dear friend, I’m really sorry you heard this in your church.  Please first allow me the grace to point you here:

- Does Everything Have To Glorify God? — A Mega-Post On When Idolatry Is Not Idolatry

Though I try to understand every angle of a situation, I get pretty angry when the modern church dismisses art and creativity.  For any member of the church to actively hold down our impulse to create also neglects the thousands of years when the church was the very forefront of amazing creativity.  I can’t imagine a world without Bach, Dostoyevsky, Michaelangelo, Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo, or Maya Angelou.  Perhaps the greatest fiction ever written was by Tolkien and Lewis, who were both devout Christians.

In between reading books to prepare my sermons, I would regularly read Stephen King or an old classic like Watership Down.  I learned at seminary that a Christian’s reading ought to be the most diverse, well-rounded kind of intake compared to anyone else, because 1) we can discern what’s wise and unwise, and 2) we can enjoy any kind of art under the divine umbrella of God’s creation.  Imagine the deep fountain of joy we have to know that this art from another human being is a potential glimpse of the beauty and glory of God.  There are times I literally worshiped God while reading Hemingway or Michael Crichton.

Your creativity doesn’t even need to be “Christian-based.”  I don’t believe we should be making the “Christian version” of anything.  Like DC Talk once said, If it’s Christian, it oughta be better. Our books and music and dance and art shouldn’t be in some isolated category apart from regular culture.  While I’m not against primarily Christian-based art, I think we too often settle for mediocrity and then hope that Christians will show “grace” for us and settle for less.

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I get a ton of messages like this:

“I screwed up real bad this time.”

“I don’t know what happened, I fell again.”

“I keep messing up and I’m numb to myself.”

“I can’t ever get back to how it used to be.”

“Please help, I can’t get past this.”

“I’ll always be stuck. I will never move forward.”

I read each message two or three times, top to bottom and as slowly as possible. I try to reply to every single one, but there are so many and so heartbreaking that it gets overwhelming.  Even now, I’m shaking from the emotional overload of such honest, busted up hearts.

Here’s the thing. If you even cared to reach out to ask for help, that’s an amazing first step in the right direction.  To those who say, “It bothers me that I don’t care anymore,” the fact that you’re bothered about not caring means that you care.  If you’re compelled towards the tiniest shred of honesty about your issue, this is worth celebrating. Really.

It’s because you’re getting to the end of yourself. You tried it your way and you’re seeing it doesn’t work.  You’re owning up to it.  You’ve stopped blaming others or your city or your job or the house you grew up in. No one wants to get humbled the hard way, but it’s happened: you’re now able to say, “It’s me, I’m the problem, and I want this to change.”

This is nothing short of a supernatural miracle.

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My very first released book What The Church Won’t Talk About is now on sale for only $1.99 in ebook format! The ebook works on every device.

http://www.amazon.com/What-Church-Wont-Talk-About-ebook/dp/B00NYR9SGS

It covers the taboo topics we don’t feel safe to ask about in church, such as: porn addiction, homosexuality, abortion, doubts, depression, self-harm, and sex. These are real questions from real people about our gray-space struggle with no easy answers.

The paperback is only 9.79! If you’re blessed by the book, please consider reviewing it on Amazon. Be blessed and love y’all!

— J.S.


sureles asked a question:

The bible says to: “speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord” and I want to so badly. I want to be joyful, full of words of encouragement to those who need it. To love others well–especially those closest to me. But I am finding that I am unable to. I am finding myself to be more selfish and needy than I want to admit to myself. How can I love others well when I feel so weak and needy myself?

Hey my dear friend, the truth is that loving people was never going to be easy, because people are not easy.

They’re difficult, fluctuating, frustrating, and completely the opposite of math, because they’re unpredictable.  Even loving a person well is no guarantee that it’ll turn out okay.  And since each of us are just people, it’s also difficult to muster up feelings to love someone.  As Francis Chan once said, if we find it tough to love a perfect God, then of course it’ll be even tougher to love imperfect people.

Here’s the deeper truth. 

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This is the preliminary Table of Contents for my next book on trials and suffering. It’ll be out as early as February or late as March. I’m announcing test-readers soon! If you’d like to be put on the list now, please send me your email and I’ll be sending you a rough draft next week.

The book also talks about: True Detective, Louis C.K., the Serial podcast, Prosperity Theology, the pressure to be “radical” and to do “great things for God,” overly inspirational Instagrams, The Shawshank Redemption, and a study on misunderstood passages like James 1:2-5 and Hebrews 12.

Please send a prayer and love y’all!
— J.S.


JS Park XChurch


I’m super excited to be a part of the blogging contributor team for XXXChurch!

If you don’t know, XXXChurch is led by Craig Gross, who has led the frontlines on awareness for porn addiction and founded X3Watch, the leading accountability software.  He also nationally debates former porn-actor Ron Jeremy about the dangers of porn.

Craig and I made contact after I shared my book on quitting porn, which he found highly practical and different than the current resources on the market.  I was a bit star-struck since I consider Craig’s books to be one of the primary helps in quitting my own porn addiction (I’ve been sober for over three years!). I’m looking forward to teaming up with him!

My first blog post for XXXChurch is here!

— J.S.


4 Reasons iPhone child xxxchurch


It’s an honor to be published for the first time at XXXchurch.com!

The post is titled “4 Reasons Not To Give An iPhone To Your Child.”

It’s a balanced look at how technology affects our communication and relationships, and how we can adjust to the rapid pace of growing tech.

Be blessed and love y’all!

– J.S.


Just Married.

December 29, 2014 — 11 Comments

Joon Jules married 12-27-14


We’re married. :)

— J.S.



A trailer for my book, What The Church Won’t Talk About.

Get it on Amazon for only 9.79!

[Subscribe to my YouTube channel here!]
[Thank you to Steven Hause of pudgyproductions!]

– J.S.


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This is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of my new book on dating and relationships, called The Christianese Dating Culture. This was my personal favorite chapter to write, about the difficult, gritty reality of relationships.


We have a propensity for over-romanticism in our hyper-sentimental culture, and when reality meets expectations, we get disillusioned and jump ship. I’ve seen it happen all the time: in marriages, in parenting, in careers, in church. A poor estimation of the daily grit of life will always cause us to check out and quit too early.

This is a prevalent pattern in a world of five-minute ramen and eight minute abs – we run out at the first sign of trouble. It gets easier to do this each time, until we’re jumping from one half-committed island to another.

There’s a depth to all these things, a kind of marathon endurance that pushes past the emotional spark of grandeur. When the fun of beginning is over, then there’s an actual finish-line ahead of us.

My fiancé and I probably look cute in pictures (her much more than me), and maybe our story would give you a false idea that it was “love at first sight” and it somehow fell into place. We’ve been together six years, and I still have a crush on her like it was the first week. Yet most of our six years was effort upon grace upon sacrifice. At the three-year mark, we had broken up for six months because we were sure it was over. We found our way around again, painfully, through many brutally honest conversations, and this is the shape of everyday love.

Nothing is wrong with high standards or even high expectations. It’s just that these will only tell half the story. It’s an incomplete picture that we expect to complete the picture in our heads. Real life involves a lot of sweaty armpits, standing around in line, sending texts with embarrassing typos, coughing really weird at the wrong moment, pulling out wedgies when no one notices, and the constant waiting for the next best thing to happen.


My dear friend: The honeymoon has to end.

The start is the easy part.

We begin things well. It’s hard to finish strong.

It’s good to get excited, but excitement must give way to a deeper, truer pulse.

If you can persevere past the naïve burst of beginning —

We can expand our wonderful first memories into a beautifully woven story.


Relationships are a lot more embarrassing and gritty than we would like to admit. When I hear a glamorous story about how a couple fell into each other’s arms, I’m absolutely sure that’s not how it happened.

No one wants to talk about the regretful text messages or the immature arguments or the tactless yelling over the art of arguing. The first fart. The long stream of farts from then on forever. Crusty-eyed drool face. The pre-makeup face. Cry-face. Yawn-face. The obnoxious hyper-moments when you apparently lose control of your civilized body and do puppet shows and movie impressions.

Soon you’ll encounter all the crustiness of a real person.

Eventually, everyone “falls out of like.” You’ll be in the direct space of all a person’s grossness, including your own. As Tim Keller says, “Finally, you have nowhere to run.”

When the romanticized feelings go: where do we go from there?


Purchase my book on Amazon here for less than nine dollars, the e-book for only four. Be blessed, dear friends! — J.S.

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Disclaimer: To protect my family and myself, I am not using names and I’m purposefully obscuring certain details. I cannot confirm them privately, either. These are well-known people in Christian circles who I still believe are doing helpful things, despite the terror behind closed doors.  I must be careful here, because 1) they would absolutely crucify me if they saw this post, and 2) they could also deny having ever met me, despite email correspondences and recorded conversations.  But I have to speak up.

I want to tell you about my most horrifying church experience ever, because it began so ordinary and subtle, and I want to protect you from the nightmare I eventually woke up to.

I know there must be so many more terrible experiences at church and mine is not nearly the worst, yet I hope you’ll know that not every horror story about church happens in a cult of backwood druids sacrificing goats to chanting.  It can happen in the most mundane sort of atmosphere with a slowly tightening chokehold, until it’s too late.

Years ago, I befriended the lead pastor of a church ministry that was doing amazing things in the community and we first became friends over the phone. The pastor explained that every church in America was doing it wrong.  This really appealed to my discontent about the church culture, and our phone calls were filled with tons of encouragement and positive affirmation over my “gifts, talent, treasures, insights, and abilities given by God.”  Whenever I spoke bad about my own church, the lead pastor agreed as loudly as possible.

In the first few months, he offered me a position at his ministry, but I was obligated to my current church.  However, I was still able to visit.  I was completely seduced by the way he and his team did ministry.  Their preaching was fun, their services were boisterous, their praise team was incredible, and they knew every single family by name.  They were well-respected by the community and they were funded completely by other churches and individuals from all over the world.  All the while, they were saying, “We do it better than the other guys” and their website sold tons of church curriculum.  I even bought some.

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My mom and dad came to this country separately over thirty years ago and met in New York City, where they were married; my dad came to the U.S. with sixty dollars in his single pair of pants, and my mom couldn’t speak a word of English.  My dad was a Vietnam War Veteran, 2nd Lieutenant in the R.O.K. Army on the side of the U.S., and the only escaped prisoner of war from the Tet Offensive in 1969.  He’s also a licensed veterinarian and a Grand Master of Tae Kwon Do, a ninth degree black belt, the 54th 9th degree in the world.

Before my parents divorced when I was fourteen, my mom owned a laundromat and a grocery store next door to each other and would run back and forth between them to serve customers; sometimes she took old clothes that people left behind because we were too poor to afford any. My dad owned a martial arts dojo and mopped the entire floor every morning, then taught four classes in the evenings almost all in Korean.  Between the two of them, they worked almost 200 hours per week and slept maybe three hours per night.

One summer, someone spraypainted a swastika on the front wall of the dojo. My dad painted over it, but on those hot humid days, we could still see that Nazi symbol like an angry pulsing scar.

We got a message on our answering machine — maybe the same Nazi artists — who spent a good ten minutes making fun of my dad’s accent. I remember seeing my dad listen to it several times, staring quietly out a window. When he noticed me, he turned it off and said, “Just boys playing a joke.” The voices were from grown men.

When we visited with friends, we felt the invisible walls of cliques and class between us.  We were aliens from another world, just a foreign prop in the hero-story of the Westerner.  I was the token Asian.  When I visit churches, I still am.  Christians feel proud to know me because I meet their diversity quota; my other friends are proud to know me because they can make Asian jokes and explain, “Don’t worry, I have an Asian friend.”

In elementary school, when I first made friends and came over, I would immediately take off my shoes and bow to their parents.  I remember freaking out the first time I saw a fork.  I asked for two sticks to eat my food, and they said, “No, you can stab your food now.”  I still slightly bow to people as a reflex, and I still don’t get forks.

When I meet native Koreans from my own country, they call me kyopo, which is a slang term for misplaced native.  They make fun of my heavy American accent when I try to speak Korean.  They’re surprised I’m taller than them and say, “It must be hormones in the McDonald’s.”  They think I’m arrogant because I watch American TV shows and I have a blog written entirely in English.

I live in two worlds. I do not fully embody either, yet belong to both.

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About a year ago, I donated half my salary to charity to fight human trafficking.  I had saved for the entire year to make one check for $10,000.

I don’t say this to brag, at all.

I say this because I’m a selfish person.  I love comfort, my shiny things, the safety of a new gadget and adding things to my wish list.  I am naturally lazy and indulgent and self-absorbed.

But I also believe in a God who humbled Himself to become one of us.  I believe in a God who paid an infinite price to set us free.  I believe in a God who wrote Himself into the story of humanity to enter our struggle, to lead us into life, and to ultimately exchange our brokenness for grace.

Because I believe in a God who has this sort of heart —

I am compelled to have the same heart for others.

The selflessness of God utterly melted my selfishness to pieces.  His grace tenderized my conceited heart.  I gave my life away because God did the same for me.

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I was going through followers the other day and noticed some blogs that were “last updated 6 months ago” or longer. There were a lot of these.

Maybe they got bored or distracted or busy — but my guess is they probably didn’t get the huge number of likes and follows and reblogs they were expecting, and just gave up.

Please don’t do that. There are very few things we do consistently in this life. We’re quick to jump from island to island of halfway commitment. Taking a break is totally okay: but I exhort you to persist in sharing your one unique voice with the world community.

If you’re about to jump ship: please do NOT bail on your blog. Do what you must — take a sabbath, go on hiatus, commune with nature, restore relationships, try new things — but come back and tell us about it.

It doesn’t matter if you only have a few readers. You’re not doing it for that. And even if you were, those few people who follow you might really be encouraged by what you have to say. You might be the only one saying it.

But more than that: your blog is a captured snapshot of your one fleeting transitory life, like the dust mote suspended in a sunbeam that shimmers for a spectacular moment in time. It is beauty wrapped in expression, and you are putting something into the world that no one else can. God made you for it.

So keep sharing. Keep making art. Keep writing music. Keep taking pictures. Keep encouraging others. In some small way: you are healing your part of the universe. You are needed more than you know. You are making a bigger impact than you think.

— J.S.



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If you ever met me, you would think I was an extrovert — I preach, I lead praise, I talk to everyone, I talk too much, and you can hear me laughing from across the street — but I am a full-blooded introvert.

If it were up to me, I’d rather be in my boxers all day eating Godiva while browsing food photo blogs and bothering my dog and cracking up at YouTube videos of Whose Line Is It Anyway and leaving dry ironic comments all over Facebook while reading the latest theory on how Sherlock survived the second season finale. 

I intensely guard my personal space and my private life.  It takes a herculean effort to step outside my comfort zone and interact with messy, fleshy, real live human beings.

Here’s how you handle us.

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Ever prayed more for someone just because they’re hot?

Come on, I’ve done that too. Let’s not act like we’re above judging looks here. We give more cred to someone based on their defined jawline and bigger bra size than their less tangible patience and hospitality and compassion.

A very fleshy part of our human nature presumes that good-looking people are also just good, or that less good-looking people don’t really count somehow.

In church it’s easy to ask for prayer requests from the well-off, well-dressed, clean-cut, easily approachable mid-twenties demographic. Not the weird cat lady off the street, not the dude with the one rotten tooth who talks up a storm, not the pale socially awkward kid who says dorky things.

Most Christian books have the same problem: they’re geared to that same easygoing group of believers who attend the same megachurch in a crimeless suburban gated neighborhood with the sparkling 2.5 kids and Hollywood acceptable appearance, but they have nothing to say for the sick struggling screwed-up former addict who can’t find a job because he just “looks wrong.”

Wired into all our unaware brains is the deception that appearance means more than it should: but if I could give you a pair of X-ray goggles, you’ll see a bunch of skeletons with the same hopes, dreams, ambitions, anxieties, and worries that everyone else has too.

That seventeen year old pimply kid who loves Call of Duty is the same bag of meat and bones as the athletic football captain with the perfect hair; that girl who everyone hates because of her so-called overweight body could just as easily have been the same girl with the slightly higher cheekbones who runs the gang of cheerleaders. You can honk your car horn at the punk teenager on his skateboard crossing the street, but wave at the old lady on her walker: when both are just people who run deeper than what you see.

Take a Spiritual X-Ray and we all have the same vacuum of eternity within our souls with the same desperate longing inside. You and I could do way better than our visual addiction to all things sight, and instead see by vision.

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Edit: December 21st, 2014
– My new book on quitting porn addiction is here! In paperback on sale for only $5.69 and e-book for 2.99 on Amazon! It contains this entire series of posts plus brand new info, fully updated and fleshed out, with specific steps to quit.

An ongoing discussion about victory over sexual addiction.

My podcast series “Cutting It Off” — here.

Why Do I Use Porn? Why Can’t I Stop? Here.

Every question submitted about porn on this blog, here.

**Updated: May 2013

For the podcast episode based on this post, click here.

The science behind porn addiction will not surprise you.  It can be easily mocked as apocalyptic research with an old-fashioned bias, but excuses to use porn are also biased by the hand down your pants. Objective evidence of pornography’s effects has one goal: to show how much porn screws up your brain. For some that will be enough to quit.

Obviously, something serious is happening in the neurology of a person who will not stop using porn.  Constant exposure to graphic, unreal, out-of-bounds sex doesn’t just go in one hand and out the other (bad pun). Like the heroin addict or the gambler or the alcoholic, several key things are happening.

Much of the following research is borrowed and not my own. Please keep in mind that the term “addiction” is a serious term and might or might not apply to you, but it’s worth investigating. I don’t mean to over-dramatize here or make a big show of scientific language, but porn use does have a particular undeniable effect on the brain.

Sources include Craig Gross’ Pure Eyes, Eyes of Integrity, and Dirty Little Secret, and William Struther’s Wired For Intimacy. I’ve read and re-read these important resources and highly recommend them to you.  There is also Michael Leahy’s Porn Nation, Mike Wilkerson’s Redemption, Tim Chester’s Closing The Window, and David Powlison’s tiny booklet Slaying The Dragon. Where possible, I’ve tried to research articles and current news behind pornography and the porn industry. And of course, there is personal experience with addiction plus countless hours spent with young and old porn addicts.

The Addict’s Path:

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A lot of preachers tell you, “Remember when you first came to Jesus? Remember how awesome that was? Wasn’t there a time when you were more spiritually high than today? And look at you now.”

I understand what they’re saying. They always quote Revelation 2:4-5, because that’s a scary book with a scary name with scary verses. What they mean is: You’ve grown cold to this whole thing, it’s become a routine to pray and praise, you’ve seen all the Christmas plays and Easter revivals, you’re getting jaded to the dress-your-best on Sunday thing. So get back to where you were.

“Wasn’t there a time when you were more spiritually high than today?”

But — this is always true. It presumes a false scale in which hyped-up emotions are equivalent to “first love.” We can look back on Sunday School and call those the glory days, but a lot of times we’re confusing childlike faith with childish feelings.

I get why preachers use this kind of guilt: because it’s quick, efficient, easy, and they’re probably doing it the way they’ve been taught.

Yet if we’re motivating others by moving backwards, we’re only beating up the dead.

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michchen asked a question:

What is your opinion on transsexual people? Besides the fact that God loves them, what does the bible have to say about it? I’ve been reading a lot of articles and I really don’t know what to think. I really respect your answers and wanted to know your take on it. Thanks :)

Hey there dear friend, I believe you’re referring to this post.

I’m not sure there’s a whole lot more to say than “God loves them” and that we’re called to love them, too. I’m afraid the Bible doesn’t go into specifics about this, and there’s probably a good reason for that.  Here’s why.

Some of us will be individually called to reach out to a certain group of people, whether gay or transgender or Republicans or the poor.  It will be helpful to understand that particular culture and language if you’re called to do so. But the moment we begin to see a certain group as a “charity case” or a “working project,” then we lose sight of the fact that they’re just people too, like you and me.  We’re not the savior and they’re not some secondary character to fulfill our hero-narrative. I’m not saying that this is your motive, but we too easily slip into main character syndrome and treat others like the props in our catharsis.

When I first began looking into gay rights and the abortion debate, that was my problem: I was treating it as an issue instead of seeing the people inside the issues.  I had to address the entire person as a whole, not by their “problem.”  Sure, I wanted to know what was offensive and what was acceptable; I wanted to know how God’s grace actively applied to each distinct context. But by seeing their problem as a problem, I was inadvertently calling attention to their “disadvantage” as a pseudo-savior instead of entering their world as equals.

In Asia, there’s currently a growing boom of cross-dressing and transgender individuals.  When I last visited (in the Philippines last year), I really just tried my best to see this person as a holistic life, who had to go home and pay bills and resolve conflicts and make it through rush hour and endure insults and visit the doctor and find God.  My priority as a Christian is to see the heart, because this is where love is most crucial — it is not to change someone’s behavior or opinions or appearance.  I can bring grace, truth, and conversation, and God will show up, like He always does.

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I’ve always had trouble with this idea of “hearing from God.” I always side-eye those super A+ put-together Christians who were hearing from God every week, and somehow I was outside the door of some secret club where God was throwing around fortune cookies full of His life-changing secrets.

Let’s consider that God does speak to us every week. Let’s consider photosynthesis, the spinning of atoms, the burning of stars, the breath we just breathed, your child’s messy drawing, the twitching of your neurons to fire off emotions, a hug from your best friend. Let’s consider the sustaining of our molecules, which is purely by His grace. Let’s see all we are missing when our eyes are locked on a screen when the world is unrolling around us, as God makes His glory known through nature and coincidence. Let’s consider Christ, who is God’s spoken word and His very own glorious radiance (Hebrews 1:2-3). Let’s consider that God is already within the silence, and that even when we do not “feel” Him, God is okay with this too.

– J.S.


Instagram books 3


Thank you dear friends for picking up the book and praying it totally rocks you with His wonderful grace!

My books are here:

- What The Church Won’t Talk About

- The Christianese Dating Culture

- Cutting If Off: Breaking Porn Addiction

Be blessed and love y’all!

— J.S.



Finally got to meet my dear brother Todd and got his book as a gift! Todd also wrote the Foreword for my first book. My wife and I got him onto Korean food in K-Town of Atlanta. Love you brother and so glad to have met you face to face!

His book here: Unwritten Letters To You


Love: Enemies: Neighbors.

January 19, 2015 — 4 Comments

“Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.”

— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

kaandogan12 asked a question:

I have an honest question, why do you make money off of the gospel? If I had the talent to create such great books I would be handing them out in the hundreds.. No disrespect I just don’t understand why profit should be made from preaching something that people can read in Gods word.

Hey dear friend, I really appreciate and applaud your passionate heart to maintain integrity.  I absolutely agree with you: no one should ever, ever squeeze a profit out of sharing the Gospel.  Instead of defending myself though, please allow me to share some thoughts that you may feel free to agree with or disagree with.

- The Gospel, or the Good News of Jesus, is 100% free and the only true free gift in the world. But the methods to deliver the Gospel have a cost.

In an ideal perfect world, everything would be given away free.  Food, water, shelter, healthcare, education: all these things should be given to anyone who wants it.  But in a realistic world, the people who offer these services must work hard to procure them for you and me.  I could be mad that a plumber must charge me to fix my sewer, but then I’m not realistically assessing their needs for their living costs.  In our current world, it’s fair to pay someone so they can continue to provide their services, and this includes spiritual ministry.

I think there’s a huge difference in offering the Gospel for free (which is a mandatory necessity) and the means by which we offer the Gospel. Let’s consider where you heard about Jesus.  Maybe it was from your friend, who heard it at church or got it from the Bible.  The church has a building cost and regular bills to pay; the Bible requires a printing press with a maintenance cost and employees for hire. While you could logically say, “Pastors and ministry workers should never get paid for what they do,” the church offers an intangible provision of fellowship, counseling, community, and leadership, and I’m glad to support my local ministry so they may continue to keep on the lights and upkeep their building.  Biblically, you can make a case that ministry workers should be paid too.

After C.S. Lewis passed away, it was discovered that he lived near poverty status despite his books all being bestsellers.  He constantly gave away all he had.  If I could take a time machine and go back to Lewis, I would’ve gladly supported him financially for the rest of our lives.  Lewis has been the most influential thinker in my own faith and life; I could never repay him.

To buy a book from a pastor, a Christian author, or a local ministry (or even secular artists) is my way of both appreciating their work and supporting their living.  It’s my way of saying thank you to those who helped formulate my faith.  And by buying a ministry worker’s book or their materials, I’m trusting them to use that money wisely for their family or ministry or continued work in God’s Kingdom.  No one forces us to do this, and you never have to.

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Passion 2015 Honeymoon

January 17, 2015 — Leave a comment

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My wife and I are at the Passion Conference in Atlanta for our honeymoon! Please pray for our growth, protection, and a strong starting foundation.

– J.S.



My book on relationships is now only 7.99 and in ebook for only 3.79!

Get it on Amazon here and please consider leaving a review!

To read an excerpt from Chapter 3, check here.

Be blessed and love y’all! — J.S.

Photo taken by asdeepcriesout.



Here’s why I believe in Jesus.

Because at some point in human history, God became one of us and reversed the human condition. Just one place, at one time, in the dirtiest sand-swept stain of a city, He healed our entropy: and He invites us into that better story.

In the cross and resurrection: Jesus absorbed the cycle of human violence. He showed there was a better way than self-centered tyranny and retaliation. He paid the cost of sin on our behalf. He reversed the ultimate consequence of death from the first Garden by turning death backwards in a new Garden. He bestowed that same death-defeating power into those who believed his story. He identified with us by taking on all the harm of sin, though he never sinned himself. He promised us a union with Him by uniting us to the Spirit of God. He inaugurated a new kind of kingdom where the weak can win, the poor can succeed, and all our survival values are flipped into sacrifice.

Jesus redefined what it meant to be human by creating an upside-down kingdom where the humble will be elevated and the prideful would be melted by love.

He walked into the fragments and re-created the pieces. He doesn’t answer why bad things happen, but he gives us a love stronger than all that does.

— J.S. from What The Church Won’t Talk About



I saw a guy with his Bible open at Starbucks teaching theology to another guy. He was unloading all kinds of information about creation and moral laws and prophecies and pneumatology and atonement, and it was all very good and knowledgeable and I applaud him for that — but I guess the one thing I would’ve done differently is just ask questions. “What’s always bothered you about Christianity? How’s your church experience been? How’s everything going with you? Do you want me to pray for anything?”

I don’t mean to diminish this guy and it’s actually really hard to do what he was doing. He’s much braver than me. I also know we don’t have to pit theology against fellowship; we can do both. I just wonder how many times I tried teaching someone all my impressive information without listening first. I wonder how long I let myself get into lecture mode without really caring about my fellow human being who didn’t need extra theology, but needed the theology to be me, by his side.

— J.S.