do-you-know-the-mustache-man asked a question:

So I’m speaking to my youth group this Wednesday (I’m 16 and this is the first time speaking at church) and I was just wondering if maybe you had any tips?

My friend, that is awesome. Woo!! Let’s first be grateful to God for this amazing opportunity that you’ve been given.  You and I never earned the right to preach or teach, but were given this honor by the Creator of everything so that others might know Him, be loved by Him, and love Him in return.  Please start there, in a place of humility, recognizing we are absolutely unworthy to teach others with our squishy tiny 3 lb. brains and our half-inch vocal cords, to other squishy fallen human beings from a wild variety of diverse back-stories — except by the grace of God.

I mean that’s really crazy, when you think about it.  I’ve never gotten over that.

I don’t want to give you a formula or checklist because then you might be tempted to follow that instead of Jesus.  So here just a few things to pray about and consider.  You’re not obligated to any of these nor to memorize them, so simply reflect and go forth, my friend.

1) Love your people.  This is obvious, but so very often I forget to love the people who are right in front of me.  Sometimes I’m so quick to check off my awesome agenda of great sermon points, that I forget these are real hurting broken struggling people who care less about my intelligence and more about their maker.  Every word and sentence and theme must be fashioned out of love for your people.  Let your group know that this is a big deal for you and that you’re available outside of preaching time.  If they know you care about them, they’ll remember that more than the message.

2) You be you.  My initial problem in preaching was imitation.  When I first started, I listened to a lot of James MacDonald, who is a fiery aggressive preacher with a booming voice and roughly twenty points in every sermon.  I even took on some of his tone and inflections.  Soon I learned, I wasn’t good at preaching like this.  My strengths were not a booming voice and twenty-point messages.  If you’re not naturally funny, you don’t have to try.  If you’re loud, use that to your advantage. Be comfortable with how God has made you.  Part of trusting God is trusting how He made you to be you in the world.  Let yourself out to play.

Continue Reading…

Of Stars, Of Dust.

September 18, 2014 — Leave a comment


Life is short. Time goes fast. Our youth is once. We fly, we crawl, of stars and dust.
We look back: and we wish to be back there.
But dreams are made to be chased.
We define who we are today.
I cherish all that has gone before me: the good, the bad, the stumbling.
And I look forward to future memories.
I trust God for the better story, for the huge scary audacious proposition of following Him into eternity.
And we are fellow travelers over dust, under stars.
We are never too far.
We are the chasers of dreams.
We will fight this good fight.
I will miss you, but love closes the distance.
We will finish this race: together.
Us. Together.

— J.S.



Two anonymous questions:

- Hi pastor, i’m a 21 year old girl from philippines. i messaged you before about my doubts about God’s existence and my faith in Him. that was almost a year ago. Praise God that I was able to recover my faith and go back to normal living with God and i believe it became even better. but i feel so sad again right now because my doubts came back just a week ago. the desire to know God is still here but questions are bothering me. i still have lots of things to share. please help me. thank you!

- Hi:), i write to you because i think of you as an understanding and matured faith person so i thought maybe i could share with u my problem.. So, i have a big faith crisis now, like somehow i found myself drowning among doubts … I just started a biblestudy on God’s personality but somehow i found myself on a worst place. As i do the biblestudy something says these “cool things” should make an impact in me, but they dont, like my inner radar would be broken … i wanna thank u that you share things so openly!:)

Hey my dear friends: Please first know that I love you both dearly in Christ, and I know how hard it is to fall into this fog of doubt.  I appreciate you both being so honest and real about this, and I’m also grateful for your encouragement even in the midst of this harder time.

You see, the Big Christian Secret is that every Christian in the world runs into doubts, question, confusion, and frustration, because there isn’t anything wrong with you that isn’t already wrong with everyone else.  This doesn’t make you a bad Christian, but an honest one.

In fact, I would say that every human being who ever existed runs into doubts about their own worldviews, a sort of existential panic about what they truly believe, and it can be downright disorienting.

Here are three simple things we must know.  I have said them many times before and they could sound familiar, so please feel free to skip around.

Continue Reading…

speaktenderly asked a question:

Since your porn addiction and recovery, do you have freedom in the way you see women now? Are you still affected by objectifying thoughts? I ask as I am a woman, discouraged at the state of men. Just recently a very godly man attempted to push boundaries with me – and it honestly broke my heart. Can you make sense of how men and lust works? Can someone love you and in the next moment hurt you because of being led by lust? Then he claimed it was because he wanted to be close? I need truth.

Hey there my friend, thank you for your honesty, and I’m really sorry about what you just went through.  I know that broken trust is one of the most hurtful things that can happen.

What happened to you is absolutely dead wrong.  If a man goes against your consent, that is completely done and over.  No sympathy, no pity, no pampering.  He cannot rationalize his way out of this one.  You can forgive him, but you don’t ever have to be his friend or anything else.

Inevitably though: Any man that you meet today, no matter how good and godly, will struggle with lust in a lifelong battle of both internal and external turbulence, and while some are better at it than others, you’ll definitely be engaging to fight that battle together.  This goes for women, too, because illegitimate lust is not specific to gender.

About a hundred years ago, most of the sensual lewd images of that day would’ve been bare feet or maybe an ankle bone.  Imagine a bunch of dudes with mustaches and monocles looking at a picture saying, “Unfh, dat ankle.”  I’m being dumb here, but only a few generations before us, we weren’t bombarded with so many visual lures.

I say this knowing that 1) the human heart has always been twisted, and 2) we can’t blame external stimuli for our internal troubles.  But the pervasive access to pornography has certainly heightened our sexual dysfunction, and there’s no doubt that we live in a much more sexualized culture than ever before.  And the US is not even the most sexually “free” nation.  So all this is an uphill reality that needs a new arsenal.

Continue Reading…


My awesome friend Rob made three beautiful book covers for my upcoming e-book, and this is one of them.  It won’t be the final cover, but it was very, very hard not to pick this one.  I still wanted to share it with our beloved blog community.

Look for the book coming soon to Amazon!

Be blessed and love y’all. :)

— J.S.



Follow me on Facebook here!


Hello dear wonderful friends!

So I’ll be releasing an e-book very soon on the Amazon Kindle Store. It’s a compilation of all the toughest questions that I’ve been asked through my blog: so it’s real questions from real people about real life. There will be new content, each chapter divided by topic, from sex to doubts to dating to conflicts to church. I’ll be selling it super-cheap (less than five bucks) and I would really love your prayers on this.  If you could pray even right now, for a few seconds, that would be so totally awesome of you.

Love y’all and I’ll be updating again soon!

– J.S.


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Ryo Oyamada, a 24 year old student from Japan, was struck and killed by an NYPD vehicle in a hit & run.  Witnesses say the police car had no lights or sirens on and was going over 70 mph.  The released footage by NYPD was proven to be heavily altered in a cover-up, showing “lights” on the vehicle, when compared to footage from the NY Housing Authority on the same street with the same timestamp.

On a personal note: I know that this will probably not be shared or reblogged very much, because Asians are not very prominent in American culture.  I understand this, because Asians (like me) are partially at fault for being so passive.  But I am begging you to please consider signing this petition out of human decency.  Ryo was just a student walking home, then struck by a nearly silent police cruiser going at excess speed, and the NYPD covered it up.

Here is the side-by-side comparison of the released video footage, including updates from the case.  This article contains a link to a graphic video moments after the crash, showing the body of Ryo Oyamada and NY citizens yelling at the police.  Please advise, it is highly disturbing. 

And the following is an excerpt from the petition, which as of this writing only has 286 signatures.


This was originally posted on my Tumblr, and the post has now gone viral. It’s at over 33,000 notes and there are nearly 7000 signatures for the petition.


*Update* 8/28/14 – The petition has almost 12,000 signatures! Peter Chin, the one who started the petition, has also made an update on the petition page.


*Update* 9/8/14 – Over 66,000 signatures! Please keep it going!



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.

Continue Reading…



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.

Continue Reading…

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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An ongoing discussion about victory over sexual addiction.

The introduction here.

Part One, excuses and myths, here.

Part Three, the soul, here.

Part Three and a half, the soul, here.

Part Four: I’m Ready To Cut It Off. Here.

Part Five: Quitting Isn’t Enough. Here.

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:

Continue Reading…


I was at a funeral for an older gentleman and we were shown a video of his life from birth to death. We watched as he grew up from Kindergarten to high school graduation to becoming a barber and an Air Force pilot and a husband and a father and then his battle with multiple sclerosis, which took his life with a stroke.

It was amazing to see him as a handsome, agile young man with a head of dark flowing hair and the posture of a superhero. Most of us didn’t even know he was a barber. It was amazing to see the wedding photos, this couple growing old together, smiling all the way, his wife by his side to the very end.

The video was four minutes and fifty-four seconds long. An entire life, told through pictures, in less than five minutes.

As selfish as it seems, I wondered about my own video one day. I wondered how it would be be sitting in a building watching my entire life in a slideshow.

I thought about what they would say about me, if some would say “He wasn’t all he was hyped up to be” or “We really lost an amazing person today” or “We disagreed often, and I loved him for it.” I wondered if they would show that picture from third grade when I was at Disney World wearing a giant Mickey Mouse hat with my brother and pretending to eat him. Or that one the day after I got out of the hospital after swallowing a bottle of pills and losing thirteen pounds in three days over a girl. Or the one of me battling to the very last breath over some sickness, all youth behind me, my story at a close.

The pastor said every life cannot control the start or end of their book. But we write the in-between. It’s between us and God and all the merging stories we find of love, heartache, heaven, laughter, doubts, and goodbyes. And the many, many pictures.

It’s quick, you know. We only have so many highlights in that reel. I don’t want my head to be somewhere else when I’m here. I want to be here, now. We think we have forever, but really, it’s just a few minutes. We have a few snapshots, and then it’s gone.

Here’s to celebrating you, and for the memories.

— J.S.




The toughest thing is to see a person you love get to the edge of their resolve and quietly fall apart. It’s a slumping of the shoulders or a long hurtful sigh or a sarcastic remark or they blink away a tear. It’s different than hysterics. There’s a silent internal folding like a shot in the gut, a hollow feeling of resigned pointlessness: and it’s so deadly quiet.

In that moment, they may be too embarrassed to ask for help or to expose how weak they really feel. But I hope it’s that exact moment we rush in to hold them up. I hope we fill up that crumpled collapsed space with a word of life. To remind them of their value, worth, dignity, to show the progress they have made up this mountain. I hope we don’t simply plod along when we know there’s something wrong: but we fly in there with the audacity to rebel against their resignation, as gentle as a surgeon and until our voice shakes.

It won’t be pretty. Probably it’ll feel like you’re not even helping. Real love is gritty, messy, clumsy, unpolished, raw. It’s not at all romantic or like a scripted Hollywood epiphany. But our words do not need to be witty or wise or altogether right. We just need someone to fall on, to lift our heavy arms, to be close enough to feel our hot tired breath: even for one more step. We need the hope of vulnerability. And to be that for someone reminds us why we do anything at all. We remember that the fabric of life is together, a journey of side-by-side, so that even a failure is not the end of anything, but only a deepening of you and me.

– J.S.



Silence, Solidarity.

September 11, 2014 — Leave a comment

World Trade Center 9-11 salute


Out of respect and solidarity for the families, the fallen, and our heroes of this day, this will be my only post today.

– J.S.

fumblingemotions asked a question:

Can you tell me more about how God’s will is not a straight line? I always get confused about what if I mess up and don’t do God’s will? God already knew that, so was the back up plan actually plan A then? Thanks for your patience.

Hello my friend, I believe idea of God’s Will as a “fixed straight line” has been harmful to nearly everyone I know.  I understand it’s the easiest and most accessible view of God’s Will, but here are just a few simple thoughts on this.

- Most of us believe that if we mess it up, then we’re riding on a mediocre Plan B. 

But sometimes the very interruptions in life that feel like inconveniences are actually part of God’s Plan.  More than that, there’s no mess-up so bad that we’re outside the fully active grace of God working through us.  It’s not like God says, “Well you fell off the track so good luck in the ditch for the rest of your life.”

While we do suffer certain consequences for our bad choices, God can still turn these things around for the long-term good.  Think of Joseph’s brothers throwing him in the pit.  Think of David’s terrible affair with Bathsheba.  Think of all the evil choices that ended with crucifying Jesus.  While we are responsible for the bad things we do, God is still unfolding His Plan A through all of it.

Continue Reading…

“So What Do I Do Now?”

September 9, 2014 — 13 Comments

 

 

I met with my counselor the other day, a semi-famous megachurch pastor here in town, and I had really forgotten what it’s like to be around someone who is so comfortable with himself that it made me comfortable with myself.

My counselor is one of those cool pastors who smokes cigars and uses dirty words and he used to be a rich drug dealer, so he owns this huge house and hosts these extravagant bonfires with hundreds of curious young people looking for real spirituality.  He does this without even really trying to impress anyone, and with sort of a wink.  Once I was leaving his office after a meet and he yells down the hallway of his church, “I’ll keep praying about your gay issue.”  The very conservative staff glanced at me and I ran and he couldn’t stop laughing.  My counselor reminds me of Jesus.

So I told him everything.  How I blew up on someone the other day.  How I was juggling a youth group, a Sunday School, a college & young adult group, plus a growing blog.  How I was preparing to get married.  How dissatisfied I was with the mainstream church.  How I haven’t talked to my dad in over a year.  How I struggled with anger and unforgiveness and lust. How I always felt like I was pouring out of an empty cup, and that the same grace I preached for others was almost never reserved for myself.

I told him I had this monster inside me, barely underneath the surface just coiled around my guts, and just when I thought I was making “Christian progress” and it was dead, it would lash out and destroy everything I love and then go right back to hiding.  I wanted this thing inside me to really, truly, eternally die.

Then he looks at me and says, “You’re not really walking with God.”

I was almost offended.  But he was right.  He went on.

“You’re doing so much, just do, and you lost who you are.  You find who you are, then you can do again.”

“So what do I do now?”  As soon as I said it, I heard it.  I said “do” again.

He said, “Pray.  I mean we’re both in ministry, you already know that.  But you see how we’re talking?  How you can tell me anything?  How I can just be me around you?  That’s prayer.  Praying is like breathing.  It’s a way of life that can happen all the time.  That’s walking with Him.”

I tried not to weep.  I remember when it was like that, when I felt like I was walking with Him all the time.  When being with God was like breathing.  I did want that again.  And it was not a matter of doing, but being.

He said, “It’s okay to pour out when you’re empty.  You can’t do that for a long time, but that’s grace.  You can preach grace all day and be a legalist to yourself.  Quit listening to yourself and listen to Him.  And don’t preach too far ahead of yourself.  If it’s been hard, then preach that it’s been hard.”

He sent me off.  We hugged for a long time.  He told me he loved me.  And he said, “I wish I could tear that monster out of you.  Let God inside, and He will.”

— J.S.

 

 

 

givinghimglory asked a question:

Do you think it’s possible to know that the person you’re with is the person you’re going to marry? Even if it’s something that wouldn’t take place until maybe a few more years, is it possible for us to know that the person we’re currently with is the person we’re we’re gonna marry? Does God allow us to know that? And if so how would we know? I’m currently battling with trying to understand this better, and if there’s anything biblical that may go in line with this & your thoughts on this also!

Hey my dear friend, I have two thoughts on this that could make it harder for you to decide, but will hopefully also free you up to make a more informed decision.

1) I absolutely do not believe that “God’s Will” is a fixed straight line.

2) I believe that God is more concerned with who you become than what you do.  He cares about both, but God primarily sees your heart before your choices.

Whenever someone asks me, “Is the person I’m dating the one?” — I always wonder if this is born out of panic or desperation or the anxious urge to be not-single.  Because when you suddenly convince yourself that this person must be the only person for me: then what happens if this person turns out to be way different than what you’ve perceived?  What if they suddenly leave you?  What if they use you up and spit you out?  Are we then trapped by “God’s Will” to keep going?

I think the idea of God’s Will is way more flexible than our self-persuasion, and that it’s unwise to enslave ourselves to a singular picture of how things must work out.  I don’t mean to presume your motives at all: but I wouldn’t want you to get imprisoned by this either.  Some of us who fall for this “fixed blueprint” for God’s Will end up punishing themselves because they think they’re now running after Plan B or some lesser version of God’s plans.

Continue Reading…

I’m In A Book.

September 8, 2014 — Leave a comment

So I’m in a book. Eugene Cho’s Overrated.<br />
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<p>So I’m in a book. <a href=Eugene Cho’s Overrated.

I’m honored to be a part of his work.

The whole story is here.

– J.S.



I Got The Twitter.

September 6, 2014 — 2 Comments


So I got the Twitter.  To do the tweeting.

Please join me and Rosco in our journey through Twitter-verse.

– J.S.


Faith Mosaic.

September 4, 2014 — 4 Comments


Your faith won’t look like the faith of your neighbor. We love Jesus and we love people: but beyond that, God has wired us with a colorful diversity of connections to Him. All the people in the Bible experienced God in different ways through their varying personalities.

Moses saw the back of God’s glorious rear, while Elijah heard the still small voice of God after a mountain exploded.

Gideon was so doubtful he kept asking God to do weird things like burn up meat or throw water on a sheep rug; Jonathan was so confident that he provoked the Philistines to war without really consulting God.

King David was a pensive, ferocious poet with an ear for music and lyrics; Jeremiah and Habbakuk wept loudly for their people with tons of uncertainty.

Jonah hated ministry but went anyway; Isaiah said “Here am I, send me.”

Ruth bravely proposed marriage in hopes that God would provide; Leah desperately begged Jacob to provide her offspring. Noah was a drunken slob after all his trouble; Joseph re-affirmed God’s sovereignty though he had been left for dead by his brothers.

Peter was a brash thick-headed emotional hot-head who was ready for Jesus to unleash the Kingdom; Timothy was a sickly scared baby Christian who needed a lot of reassurance from Paul.

Martha was practical and efficient; Mary was relational and affective.

The Samaritan woman at the well needed a face-to-face encounter with Jesus; the Roman centurion trusted that Jesus had healed his sick servant from afar.

Nicodemus the Pharisee went to Jesus late at night to avoid peering eyes; all the blind beggars went to Jesus in front of everyone to have their eyes opened.

James & John expected Jesus to rain down fire on the enemy; Thomas doubted Jesus was ever the Messiah.

James the half-brother of Jesus was all about God’s commands and obedience; Paul spoke of grace abounding all the more.

Paul was the better writer but a weaker preacher; Peter was a fiery preacher for an ordinary fisherman. John was a loving patient sensitive man; Simon the Zealot was a political terrorist.

Matthew Levi had been a greedy tax collector who followed Jesus on the spot; Mark was there when Jesus was arrested and fled the scene naked.

In the end, Matthew and Mark wrote very different accounts of Jesus’s life and death, and so did Luke and John.

Yet each one fills out the other, just as so many different hues in a mosaic.

— J.S.




Eugene Cho has just released a this week called Overrated: Are We More In Love With The Idea of Changing The World Than Actually Changing The World?  The foreword is also by one of my favorite authors, Donald Miller, who wrote Blue Like Jazz.

One of the other reasons I’m so excited for this book is because Eugene Cho put in my testimony, about the time I gave away half my salary to fight human trafficking.  I’m just crazy honored and humbled to be part of his work.

Back in 2012, I wrote a check for $10,000 to the charity One Day’s Wages, and after an awareness campaign, someone anonymously donated enough to make a matching contribution of another $10,000.  If you want to see what the money does, check here.

It was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done, and I don’t say any of this to brag.  I say this to brag on God, who makes all this possible, and to brag on the millions of untold stories of real sacrifice, courage, and reckless grace.  In a world so hurting, there are still people fighting for real change.

— J.S.


harveyandsons asked a question:

Hello! I’ve been thinking about something and I needed to talk to someone about it. I’ve been thinking about all of these Christian conferences that happen and then I think about how I can’t go because I can’t afford it. These tickets are sooo expensive. How do you feel about this? Isn’t church suppose to be free? I understand needing to pay for the space and everything, but where is the line? I don’t know.

I absolutely feel you on this.  I hate to demonize anyone here, but most of the American Christian conferences are geared towards upper-middle class people in their 20s and 30s, so they presume a certain kind of “behavior” within that narrow socioeconomic strata.  At a specific price point, this will cut off the so-called “problem people” who are troubled by, you know, the lack of basic necessities.  It’s a strategy for all high-end consumer goods to keep the “right kind of people” in their midst.

I know I sound really mean right now, but I totally disagree with these methods.  You won’t see any homeless or orphans or ex-convincts in these conferences (though the preachers will talk about showing compassion to them, a lot).  And these conferences all go for the exact same million-or-so Christians in America who get all the bestsellers and podcasts and CDs.  Francis Chan exploded this whole mindset in a sermon here.

At the same time, some of these conferences are using all the funds for the right reasons.  The Passion Conference, despite some of the criticism, does give most of their profits to fight human trafficking.  Nearly every conference I’ve gone to enlists people to sponsor a child in a third-world country, which is a legit social cause.  And some of the authors of these books, like Francis Chan, give all their profits to hunger funds and various charities.

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Free / Be.

September 2, 2014 — 1 Comment


Be free to love.

Be free to fail.

Be free to act a fool.

Be free from everyone else’s vision for your life.

Be free to give your life away, for the common good, to speak life where there is death.

Be free from the inner-loop of self-condemnation in your head.

Be free from that discouraging word today.

Be free to speak when you’re most afraid.

Be free to dream.

Be set free, by truth so bitter and sweet.

Be.

— J.S.


Hello beloved wonderful friends!

This message is titled: Our Story, Carved of Grace and Glory: What It Means To Glorify God, The Most Important Purpose of our Lives.

It’s about the very Christianese phrase “glorifying God” or “bringing God the glory,” and why this is perhaps the most important thing we could learn about the emptiness and fulfillment of our lives.

Stream here or download directly here!


Some things I talk about are: Our Christianese church-language that we never question, when you walk into a crowded room and you suddenly hear the desperate clawing fight for validation, the Main Character Syndrome when we treat everyone like supporting props for the Movie of Me, the insane frothing monster we become in rush hour traffic, the overarching meta-narrative of the Bible in one rushing swoop, how to anonymously donate a kidney, and when Jesus finally returns with 100 million angels at the final conclusion of the universe.

Be blessed and love y’all!

— J.S.





- In the book of Genesis, there’s a verse where God said that it was not good for man to be alone so He will make a helper for him. I think this extends even beyond marriage to say that we were made to have close relationships in our lives. What’s confusing is how this applies when we feel lonely? It’s not all about us & what we want but, how do we cope with loneliness when we were made to have those close friendships to walk through life together but also know that God is all we truly need?

- Hi, I have struggled with loneliness for a very long time. God has been healing me but I still have problems with it. During my lonely times, I would listen to sermons, sing praise songs, or just do activities I enjoy but sometimes, I just get wrecked and end up sinning. I belong to a church and try to catch up with friends but because relationships are like revolving doors- they come and go, it doesn’t really help. How can I trust God when I am an emotional wreck.

Hey there dear friends: thank you for trusting me with such a huge important issue.  I think it’s very rare that we get to hear about a theology on loneliness and companionship, and while I know I can’t possibly remedy all your concerns today, we can chip away a few layers of this together.

Please first know that loneliness is part of who we are and is NOT wrong or bad or sinful.  In other words, being lonely actually shows you’re human, and not anything else.

To quote Timothy Keller, he says:

Adam was not lonely because he was imperfect. Adam was lonely because he was perfect. Adam was lonely because he was like God, and therefore, since he was like God, he had to have someone to love, someone to work with, someone to talk to, someone to share with.

All of our other problems—our anger, our anxiety, our fear, our cowardice—arise out of sin and our imperfections. Loneliness is the one problem you have because you’re made in the image of God.

But of course, it’s not just as simple as walking into a party or a college campus or a church and suddenly finding all you’re looking for.  While I’m not sure I can hit everything you’re thinking, here are a few things to consider.

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