godgirlthings asked a question:

Hello pastor! I had a question and was thinking of someone who would help me, you came to my mind because of how much God uses you to inspire me. So, I’m a bit confused. My dad and I were talking about how women are not allowed to lead in certain churches and if it’s right for a woman to be the leader of a church, could you let me know what the Bible says about this? Thank you so much, God bless you!!

 

Hey dear friend, I know this is a very divisive issue with many viewpoints, and I know we won’t all see eye-to-eye on it. I did write a super-long post that partially answers your question here:

– Mega-Post: Female Pastors, Neo-Feminism, and The Scary Words Submission, Quiet, and Penis

(Please forgive the sassy, off-color title. I wrote this when I was a little bit more snarky, back in the day.)

I’m very much open to women being leaders in the church – mainly because the early church was so pro-women that it would be impossible to say it’s not. I mean the church herself is called the “bride,” and I just don’t think theologians can keep word-playing themselves out of that one. The verses we’ve used to “shut down” women in church are surrounded by a much larger context that requires some digging. And if anything, the Bible is incredibly tough on men, with a much more brash upright tone with them.

If men are about to use the Bible as a patriarchal tool, they better cut out all the parts from Genesis to maps. And if men are so desperate to be leaders: I hope we know what we’re getting into. That’s not some kind of easy position to play around with.

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Hello wonderful friends! My book has just dropped in price to 8.99 on Amazon!

It’s called, What The Church Won’t Talk About: Real Questions From Real People About Raw, Gritty, Everyday Faith.

The Foreword is by the amazing T.B. LaBerge of tblaberge and the cover art is by my most excellent friend Rob Connelly.

I talk about a ton of things, including doubts, dry seasons, depression, relationships, porn addiction, trials, abortion, sexuality, social reform, family conflicts, and apologetics. If you’re blessed by the book, please consider writing a review on Amazon!

Love y’all and be blessed, dear friends!
– J.S.


JS Books instagram


All four of my books are available on my Amazon author page here:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00NZ70FDW

(Please consider leaving a review for any you might have read!)
Be blessed and love y’all!
— J.S.



How do we actually love someone? What does it mean that God loves us? What is the “Christian” concept of love? Why is it unique?
Defining the gritty, painful, crazy depth of love in two and a half minutes.

Subscribe to my channel here. Love y’all!

— J.S.


[Thank you to Steven Hause of pudgyproductions]



Photo & Art by Chris Wright


I was there at the bottom when everyone else left, and He was the only one there.
When they say rock bottom,
you find He’s the stone under your feet,
the dry ground in shaky seas,
the grace that does not leave.
When my mind wanders, my heart remembers the rock.

— J.S.



Writing this one meant a lot to me as it contains real stories from real people with heartache, loss, and (not-so-easy) redemption. I often recounted these stories with tears and prayers. Life doesn’t always wrap up in a bow-tie with a neat little lesson at the end, but people still choose to endure despite all that has happened. Even brokenly, they crawled forward and went on.

I hope you’ll consider picking up the book. It’s on sale for 8.99 in paperback and 3.99 in ebook. It’s meant for you if you’re hurting right now, and meant for your friend if they’re hurting too.
Be blessed and love y’all.  — J.S.

http://www.amazon.com/Mad-About-God/dp/0692390472/


appoljuce asked a question:

I love to share God’s Word and Truth on social media, but sometimes even when I know I have shared a sound biblical principle I sometimes feel odd. I sense a small fear of saying something incorrectly and I double guess myself. Does this ever happen to you?

Hey dear friend, yes it does.

The truth is, most Christians have a paranoia that we’re “tricking” people into a faith that we’re not entirely sure of ourselves. Some of it’s because we feel inadequate to say such glorious truths, some of it’s because we’re not fully living them, and some of it’s because we’re scared that some theologian will shoot us down from our perch.

It’s true that we might believe some incomplete things right now. But that’s true in all things of life. All our “first loves” are a little embarrassing and immature. Our first created song or poem or sermon or dance or painting will be looked back on with a little sheepish amusement. But that’s okay. This is all part of the journey. Learning too much technique and perfectionism can suck the fun right out of it – and if anything, knowing God is joyful at its very core.

Continue Reading…


Here’s an article I wrote for XXXCHURCH, called “3 Ways to Move Past Sexual Regret.”

It’s about how to overcome sexual regrets, especially in a viral culture of public shaming and hyper social media. I go over some heavy stuff, from suicides caused by leaking photos to Monica Lewinsky’s recent confession. I also go over three ways that we as a community can help each other move forward from our past.

Here’s an excerpt:

We each need a safe place to talk about our regrets, no matter how sordid they may be. A person who regrets their past has already been shamed by their own guilt for long enough. They already walk into their home and their church and their workplace with a storm-cloud of remorse chasing after them. We can either be a voice that someone must overcome, or a voice that helps someone overcome.

The post is here!

– J.S.


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

The ebook is on sale this week for only 1.99!

Get the paperback now for only 9.30!

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

— J.S.


julettejoonengaged-041

They say everyone gets a honeymoon period at the start of your marriage, but whoever brandished that idea: I want a refund.

Marriage is hard work right out of the gate. Our sentimental ideas about romance get tossed out very, very quickly — and I want you to be ready. Everyone told me what to expect, but no matter how much you prepare, it’s still a jump in the deep end. The more you know about what’s coming, the quicker you can stand on your two feet.

I know that marriage isn’t for everyone (contrary to our culture, singleness is not an illness), but whether you’re not in the dating scene or you’ve been married for years, here are three things I learned instantly in the first week of marriage. These lessons could be valuable and necessary for our entire journey.

1) Marriage pulls down the hologram and brings about the gritty reality of your spouse (and yourself too).

My wife and I dated for six years before we were married, and in those six years, I have never heard her pass gas once. I would constantly tell her that it was okay, but my wife was dead-set on maintaining an air of elegance. No pun intended.

About four days into the marriage, on a wonderful crisp morning in Florida, I asked my wife, “Are you boiling eggs?”

She said, “No. I’m not boiling eggs.”

“Are the sprinklers on outside?”

“No. The sprinklers are not on.”

“But then what’s that sm—”

And it hit me. Pun intended.

[By the way, I have my wife’s permission to share this story. I’m proud to say that she now regularly passes gas around me with the most exuberant freedom.]

In dating, we’re often on our best behavior. It’s like a job interview, where both sides show off their impressive benefits and credentials. In marriage, you see the rough, raw edges of the entire person. Marriage creates perhaps the closest proximity you will ever have with another human being. You’ll see every insecurity and neurotic tendency. There will be friction.

This is more than just about keeping up a pretty image.

It’s also a way of learning how to love an entire person and not just the parts that you like.

In Timothy Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage, he discusses how we each have fault lines in our hearts, like the cracks of a great bridge. These fault lines get exposed when we collide with another person, so that we spill anger or jealousy or anxiety. A married couple, because they’re so close in space, will inevitably drive a truck through each other’s hearts: which exposes all the fault lines. Deep-seated flaws will shake out of us like shaking a tree in the autumn. It’s in this exposure that we can choose to face our flaws, so that they would be re-shaped by the love we share. The sooner, the better.

You’ll also see every dream, hope, talent, passion, and ambition in your spouse. You’ll see what lights them up and gets them excited. This means that marriage is often about showing grace for your spouse’s worst and promoting their very best. Love sees a greatness in someone who cannot see it in themselves. And if marriage is one of the most intimate unions in the universe, then it has the power to encourage a person beyond their self-imposed limits. Though this can happen in many types of relationships, marriage offers a profound intensity to spiritual growth. Finally, we can pull down our holograms of who we pretend to be, and actually become the people we were meant to be.

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JS Park XChurch


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

For all my posts, check here.

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.


julettejoonengaged-043
Photo by Angel He, from my engagement shoot at Buddy Brew of Tampa, FL


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.


Photo by Christian Holmér, CC BY 2.0

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.

Continue Reading…

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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Image from http://couragehopestrength.tumblr.com


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.



image

Image from HD4 Wallpapers

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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Image from weheartit.com

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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Photo by H.T. Yu, CC BY 2.0

An ongoing discussion about victory over sexual addiction.

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.

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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Artwork by Anthony Burrill

Anonymous asked a question:

Hi there, I was wondering what your thoughts are on the church having supernatural powers and providing healings in God’s name. I know someone who attended unnamed ministry and has posted videos on Facebook of him and his friends exuberant after healing people. I know God has the power to heal of course, but something about the videos he posted and the church gives me weird vibes. I was looking into the church a little bit this morning and really searching my bible for what God says about it all and I was just wondering if you had thoughts or scripture references to share. Thank you for your consideration :)

Hey there dear friend, thank you for the very gracious and sensitive way you asked this question. Though I know we’ll all see differently on this topic, please allow me the grace to offer a few difficult thoughts about healing within the Christian faith. Please know that I’m rather hard on this issue because I’ve seen the way it’s hurt sincere people, and while I’m open to these things, I also don’t want to mince words to cater to anyone. Usually I attempt to be very nuanced on both sides of an issue, but I speak with a grieving heart of love for those who’ve been damaged by shallow doctrines. I’m coming from a tender heart of witnessing reckless spirituality all over the place.

I know I’ll probably alienate a few dear brothers and sisters in Christ here, so I can only admit I could be wrong, that I’m limited in knowledge, I’m open to correction, and these answers are informed by harmful experiences. Please totally feel free to skip around and to disagree.

1) What about the hospital? What about the shelters?

If I knew for a fact that I could heal people, I would be at the hospital or a homeless shelter. Immediately. I wouldn’t post videos on social media. I’m not condemning anyone who’s excited enough to post about it on Facebook, but really: if I suddenly learned how to fly, I’m dropping off Happy Meals at the inner city. Life is too short and too precious to play around with this kind of stuff.

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I wrote some books. They’re in paperback and ebook. If you’ve been blessed by them, please consider leaving a review on Amazon!

– What The Church Won’t Talk About

– Mad About God

– The Christianese Dating Culture

– Cutting If Off: Breaking Porn Addiction

— J.S.


Photo from Theron Humphrey atThis Wild Idea

erelah-tabbris asked a question:

Do you like secular tv shows and movies? do you find this keeps us off the path of Jesus/condemns us?

Hey dear friend, to be very truthful, I’m a huge fan of TV shows and movies. My favorite TV show of all time is 24, and I currently watch Person of Interest and The Walking Dead.  I’m secretly a noir film buff and I love the old 1940s-50s black and white detective films, particularly with Humphrey Bogart. As an Asian-Easterner, these sort of Western tales are hugely fascinating, with their strong feminine characters and self-deprecating anti-heroes.  I’ve read nearly all of Raymond Chandler’s work. I’m also a sucker for Michael Crichton and Stephen King. Oh, and Marvel and DC (why not both?).

I try not to think of entertainment as “secular” versus “Christian,” because this “sacred/secular” divide unnecessarily stirs up a self-righteous superiority, as if art can only be art when “I say so.” There’s no special medal for skipping The DaVinci Code. It also excludes a wide variety of creative expression, which gets a little bit too much like an authoritarian tyranny to me.

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The entire storyline of the Bible in two and a half minutes. And a different way to see the Gospel.

Subscribe to my channel here.
Be blessed and love y’all!

— J.S.

[Thank you to Steven Hause of pudgyproductions]



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. Today is the last day of the sale!

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.



Is suffering a “part of God’s Plan”? Does God use trials to teach us a lesson? Does everything really happen for a reason?

A hard look at the Problem of God vs. Suffering, and why easy answers won’t work in the middle of the mess.

Get my new book on persevering through trials & suffering, Mad About God.

— J.S.


Effort Is Not Legalism.

April 10, 2015 — 6 Comments

Effort Vs Legalism David Choi


From David Choi! Love that you underlined almost everything.

Dear friends, my book is on Amazon here!

— J.S.


msjbobby asked a question:

Hi! May you share your thoughts regarding the law of attraction related to Christianity? At some point, it’s true that God asks us to be grateful for all things, ask for things we want, and have faith so strong that it could move the mountain. But really, what do you think?

Hey dear friend, as far as I know, I don’t believe the Law of Attraction can really mesh with Christianity all too well. As for me, I don’t always feel like my faith can move a mountain, much less a mole hill.

The Law of Attraction says “like attracts like,” so that if you want something bad enough, it will be drawn to you. I might be simplifying it, but that seems to be the whole concept in a sentence.

There’s a little bit of truth to this, as with all philosophies. If you’re a constantly negative person, then of course, it will cut off opportunities and disregard positive people. If you’re a constantly optimistic person, then the hard times can be handled with poise and perspective.

The problem with many of these self-help philosophies is that they will never work in impoverished areas and third world countries. That’s always my first test. Most bestsellers with a “prosperity” message only work for a certain demographic. My friend, who used to do music gigs for Scientologists, used to say, “You don’t see Scientology centers in the ghetto.” They have exorbitantly high costs to be a member.

Continue Reading…


Photo & Art from hersoutherncharm


When I ask if God is good

I see a cross, an empty tomb.

What He writ large in the stars

is writ small for our wounds.

From the sky to my sin

He is re-making us again.

When nothing else is good,

He is the only one who is.

— J.S. from Mad About God

Mad About God final cover


This is my newest book, on persevering through trials and suffering, called Mad About God: When We Over-Spiritualize Pain and Turn Tragedy Into a Lesson.

You’ve heard others spiritualize pain by saying, “God is doing this for you good” or “Everything happens for a reason” or “God has an amazing plan for your life” — but in the middle of the mushroom cloud, even the best theology doesn’t make sense. Sometimes, you just want to be angry with God. We want to shake a fist and shout against the dark.

This is a journey through our heartache, where we’ll discover a safe place to vent and to grieve without formulas. I also go over depression, sexy cancer, second world problems, misquoting verses for inspirational Instagrams, the hijacking of Jeremiah 29:11, and the theology of True Detective, Louis C.K., and The Shawshank Redemption.

Here’s a video on the themes of the book:



The book is available in both paperback and ebook.
Love y’all and be blessed ..!
— J.S.



When I go to the bookstore, I’ll grab books and read the last few pages. I want to know how it ends. I want to know where we end up. Hollywood executives always read the first and last page of a screenplay, and if the characters don’t change, they toss the script. We inherently want a landing, a safe conclusion, a final punctuation on the sentence of life.

When I first read the Bible for myself, I started at Revelation. I wanted to know if everything was going to be okay. I heard about the Fall of Man and all the ugly things that happened in Genesis; I knew about the flood and the tower of Babel and the incest and the wars. In Revelation, I was overwhelmed. Everything was getting put right again. Justice was unrolling from Heaven, angels speaking with mere men, evil squashed to pieces, healing was all over the place. Since then, I read the Bible very differently. I know that the first page doesn’t get to say everything about us, and we get a landing, a final sentence of victory. We get to win, because God does.

J.S. from Mad About God


Racism exists, and I have the scars to prove it.

But when we hear a racist remark, it doesn’t automatically mean this person is a Nazi who reads Mein Kampf for breakfast. When we confront racism, we often confuse “overbearing Hollywood-type racist portrayed in movies” with buried, implicit, culturally conditioned racist attitudes. It means that most of us have layers of systemic, racist dogma that have been indoctrinated over years of apathy and ignorance.

If we attack racism with the force of a sledgehammer, it’ll preach to the choir and win internet-points — but it will change no one. We need the subtle skill of a surgeon to extract and kill a racist attitude. It doesn’t mean we’re pampering or wearing kid-gloves. It doesn’t mean we overlook the very real violence of hate crimes and racist-affirming groups. But all throughout history, the undercurrent of culturally ingrained racism was dismantled by patience, firm conviction, and open dialogue. It’s how Daryl Davis, a black musician, effectively helped to end the Ku Klux Klan in Maryland. (Give the podcast a listen, it’s incredibly moving.)

The reason I believe Martin Luther King Jr. had such a sweeping effect on our national psyche is because he managed to be both compassionate and just. He asked the right questions and navigated with the right surgical touch.  He reached across dividing lines to the people in authority and was able to negotiate without haranguing them. He believed that people could change: not by smug, snarky, sarcastic eye-rolling or throwing lyrical grenades over a fence, but by challenging others on common ground without capitulating to hateful, reactionary methods.

Systematic change began when someone entered the system through wisdom instead of slamming against it from the gates — and I believe we can be wise enough to do this today.

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