I know how hard it is to talk about Jesus. It’s the most awkward conversation you’ll ever have. If you even say the whole Gospel out loud right now, it sounds like the craziest thing you’ve ever heard. But the Gospel isn’t some ‘speech’ you unload on people and then ‘leave it in God’s hands.’ Blasting people with theology is like serving icing for dessert. Evangelism is your whole life, it’s sharing your home, it’s enduring patiently, it’s being a human being, it’s availability, it’s sharing Jesus through who you are; not perfectly, but passionately. Yes, invite them to church and to that revival and talk about your faith and your testimony, but once you dare to go there, just know you might be rejected immediately, a lot, and aggressively. Except secretly they can’t deny there must be something to it, because you’re not just a billboard. You’re an overflow of a barely containable supernatural miracle.

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



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/


flower-detonation asked a question:

I’m a Christian that’s been reading your blog for a few weeks now and I’m blessed to have found your blog. However, I’ve read a lot about how Christianity is actually based on ancient Egyptian religion and philosophy and pretty much white people took these ideas and made it into Christianity. So i guess my question is that I am fooling myself for believing in the “white man’s religion” cuz to me it doesnt make what’s said in the Bible any less true but is the Bible an allegorical text then?

Hey dear friend, thank you so very much for your kind words. Thank you also for the challenging question.

Let’s consider the following three things.

Continue Reading…

Photo from Rosan Harmens

my-heart-beats-only-for-you-god asked a question:

Hi Pastor J.S, so my question is: How can I accept myself being introvert? That’s my personality, but sometimes inside and outside the church, people seem to make jokes about it, saying that I’m to shy or I’ve never talked and so on. Sometimes I feel sad about that and it really affects me emotionally. I know I have to adapt in those kind of situations, but how can I accomplish that?

Hey dear friend and fellow introvert! Alas, we have found one another.

I’ve learned two things over time about being introverted:

1) I love being an introvert. Really. I’m happy to be who I am.

2) I don’t have to let the label “introvert” make decisions for me or to wholly define me.

I think no matter where you go, whether you’re an introvert or Christian or irreligious or you’re part of twelve fandoms, someone out there won’t understand it. Maybe a lot of people won’t get you, at all. That’s a part of life and a part of who people have unfortunately decided to be (and we still need to have grace there). If they did get to know you, I’m sure they’d discover the great quirky wonderful person you are. But even if they don’t, you can still be the great quirky wonderful person you are. That’s not decided by how they think about you or how you think about you.

Continue Reading…


What is “sin”? Is it merely just drinking and cursing and skipping church? Why is the word “sin” still important today?
How sin explains the itchy longing inside every human heart, and why it’s good news that you’re a sinner.

Subscribe to my channel here.

Love y’all!

— J.S.


[Thank you to Steven Hause of pudgyproductions]

Photo from xpictianin

rosemarychungphotography asked a question:

Is it possible to be a worst person after attending church for so long? I feel like I was more disciplined and had better character and integrity when I wasn’t a Christian.

Hey dear friend, thank you so much for your honesty and for bringing up something that we all feel, but don’t dare to express.

I think the answer, as unhelpful as it might be, is yes and no. I notice a similar pattern among Christians – most of us experience huge growth spurts in the beginning because it’s all so exciting and new, but then it turns into begrudging obligation and critical self-punishment. It seems to happen in about 99% of the Christians that I know.

The irony perhaps is that the stronger you grow in faith, the more you become aware of your own faults and flaws. Christians are sensitive to their own shortcomings because we actually care, and when we grow in maturity, we stop making excuses and we quit the rationalizations. A sure sign of an immature person is one who cannot take responsibility for their own actions and won’t own up to their part; it was always someone else’s fault or an environmental factor. It could be true, but it doesn’t make us less sinful.

So you’re becoming self-aware, and seeing how bad our sin really is. When we get a glimpse of God’s holiness, we can’t help but feel wretched and naked and low. Even in the presence of better people, of skilled musicians or writers or scholars, we tend to feel like our progress was “dirty rags” (Isaiah 64:6). In the presence of God, this is amplified to an unbearable level. Because of Scripture, we suddenly have a very clear view of our issues – we regard them as sin instead of mistakes, and so we get very hard on ourselves.

Continue Reading…

To Remain Teachable.

June 29, 2015 — 7 Comments


I always want to know when I’m wrong. Really. I’m aware I’m never the smartest guy in the room. I want to remain teachable. Being wrong is not the end of the world. I want to be open to a thought I’ve never had, even if it threatens what I’ve always known. Even if we disagree in the end, I want to have considered every possibility before landing on solid ground.

If there’s a better way or some angle I’m not seeing, I’d like to know. If even one percent of what we’re saying can help someone see a little further, it’s worth saying and worth learning. There’s no pride or joy in holding onto an idea just because “we’ve always done it that way.” Some convictions are lifelong and eternal, but there’s so much that is fluid and flexible.

I hope we can give someone else the chance to change their mind, too. No one gets it right every time, and almost never the first time. And I hope we can respect those who remain firm. There’s a difference between rigidness and resolve. One is stubbornness but the other is integrity. One is a wall that must be broken, and the other is a seed that must be nurtured.

— J.S.

I Voted “No.”

June 27, 2015 — 29 Comments

Photo from Getty Images

Seven years ago, I voted “no” against Florida Amendment #2.

Voting “yes” would’ve effectively banned gay marriage in the state.

I’ve never told anyone this in public before. At the time, I was working at a highly conservative church that would’ve fired me if they found out. In the end, they fired me anyway, at least partially because of some of my views.

I consider myself a conservation Christian with liberal leanings – though it does a great disservice to pigeonhole ourselves inside dichotomous categories, when people are much more complicated than that.

Continue Reading…


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

The paperback just dropped to only 8.99 and the ebook is 3.99!

[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.

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.

Continue Reading…

Whenever someone asks me “Is homosexuality a sin?” — I back off the question like a nuclear reactor core in my living room.

Because no one is actually asking the question with a sincere heart to know the answer. Not really. It’s almost always a trap to box you inside a preprogrammed prison. Our dichotomous categories can only allow for “bigotry and homophobia” or “liberal immorality,” and no one is even pretending to have a rational conversation about it.

I’m a Christian, which means I follow Jesus. Nothing more, nothing less. If I’m pressed hard enough, I’ll say, “I believe what the Bible says about marriage, but I also believe I’m called to love like Jesus does — and he would be loving you, me, and gay people, who are also people.”

But there is more to this answer.

Continue Reading…

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…


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.

Continue Reading…

Image from Hooki

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.

Continue Reading…

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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Photo from PattonPrints


I default to doubt very easily. There are entire seasons I’m not sure He’s real and I’m ready to throw the Bible in the trash. Maybe that’s too candid, but I look at our “Bible heroes,” and they often skated the edge, too. Their victories were interspersed with so many valleys.

But you know, I keep serving anyway. I keep acting like God exists. I keep loving people. I keep obeying His commands, as far-away as they feel. I force myself into the church community. I put my tiny little shred of faith into His Son. I pray, even if it’s a few words at night. I read Scripture, my heavy head on a pillow as the app shines its tiny little screen into the darkness. And most days, that meager little mustard-seed-faith is just enough.

It sounds like legalism, but effort is not legalism. It’s only legalistic to presume that God’s law can save, which leads to self-righteousness. I don’t believe merely following God’s law will save me. I believe following His law will lead me back to the heart who made me. As C.S. Lewis said, I’m trying to trace the sunbeam back to the sun.  The days I succeed, I praise God. The days I fail, which are many, I continue on by the bare skin of my teeth.

I’m learning this is okay. I’m learning we are works in progress looking towards the work finished, Jesus.

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


faithunsinkable asked a question:

Any advice for someone wanting to go to seminary or divinity school but it terrified of losing their faith?

Hey dear friend, thank you so much for your honesty. It sounds like you’ve heard all the horror stories about people going to seminary and completely losing their faith by graduation. It happens frequently. As a pastor once said, “Knowledge is essential, but not sufficient.”

I think the academic angle of learning the Christian faith is absolutely important, but it does tend to dry up our relational connection with Him and the church. I clearly remember this happening to me during my first year, and though I didn’t have it as bad as others, I had to fight hard not to get jaded.

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tavanilla

Do the “Holy Spirit” chills really come from the Holy Spirit? I feel like Christianity nowadays is based purely on feelings. I myself am a victim of this; chasing after that “feeling”. I know a relationship with God is more than just that feeling, but I want to ask you, what is “that thing” the surpasses those chills the come out of nowhere?

Hey dear friend, I’ve also heard of the “Holy Spirit chills,” also known as “the Spirit is really moving” or “I got the Ghost” or “I got totally wrecked.” I honestly thought it was a fun, goofy way of saying that we’ve connected with God on an undistracted level, but some of us are also very serious about the Spirit changing our body temperature, instead of changing our hearts. (#JesusJuke)

The thing is, I have nothing at all against the emotional element of Christianity. It can certainly be over-emphasized to a fault, but we’re all emotional beings. We’re meant to feel. Denying emotions can kill us. Some of us are never bothered by injustice or sin or never taken up by beauty and glory. We need to be spoken to in this emotional place if we’re to be well-rounded individuals who can have joyous community. Feelings are not the point, but without feelings, it’s all pretty pointless.

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Every once in a while I’ll meet someone with a lot of tattoos or a ton of piercings or who curses a lot, and when they find out I’m a Christian, they suddenly apologize for their demeanor and try to cover up. I always feel terrible and then I have to apologize just as quickly – because I don’t ever want anyone to feel pre-judged around me. But that’s often how Christians are seen. We judge, condescend, categorize, divide, bicker, and moralize. This is the message we give the most, and it really breaks my heart. I wish new people would feel the most comfortable and safe near me, like they did with Jesus. When someone says, “I knew you were a Christian,” I’m always hoping that’s a good thing.

— J.S.

xbeautyforashes asked a question:

Hi Pastor JS, my atheist friend said that Jesus was the ultimate rapist because He impregnated Mary without her consent. He later then asked why God couldn’t have just sent Jesus without having Mary get pregnant and go through the pain of child birth. I guess what I’m asking is.. How do you respond to this? I was left with a blank stare and had to think.

Hey dear friend, thank you for bringing up such a challenging question. I’ve actually heard this brought up quite a few times, and I hope you’ll hang with me here on a tough but possible explanation.

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Photo from CNN

I weep, grieve, and pray for AME Church and the citizens of Charleston.

I donated to the church to help pay for their upcoming arrangements. Please consider donating, too.

— J.S.


Pain Is Not A Lesson.

June 19, 2015 — 11 Comments


Image from worshipgifs


I believe that sometimes, pain is just pain.

Sometimes it just hurts.

Until we see the face of God, we mostly won’t know the why. Even then, I’m not sure there will be a neat bow-tie at the end.

In the waiting, I don’t want to moralize my pain. I refuse to connect the dots at someone who is hurting in the lowest bottom of their soul. I cannot pretty-up grief with retrospective hindsight or poetic reflection. I will not diminish someone’s tragedy into an allegory. I cannot take a human wound and flip it into a cute outline for my logical sensibilities.

Pain sucks. It’s dirty. It’s not fit for books and movies. It doesn’t always resolve. It’s not romantic. It doesn’t need an answer or a fix-it-all. That drives me crazy, but nearly every answer has always come up short and trite and impractical. Pain is a terrible teacher who we try to force answers from, but maybe we’re demanding something that it can’t give.

I want to let pain be as it is, because it’s part of what makes us human. It’s to be experienced, not always explained. I’m trying to be okay with that. I’m trying to live with the wounds. I want to let life unfold, not to escape or avoid or deny, but to let the deepest hurt become part of me, a part of our human story.

— J.S. from Mad About God: When We Over-Spiritualize Pain and Turn Tragedy Into A Lesson


I Will Disappoint You.

June 18, 2015 — 7 Comments


Eventually I’ll say something that you’ll totally disagree with. I will disappoint you. I’ll come off shrill, inconsiderate, ignorant, and misinformed. Your favorite writer or pastor or celebrity will miss an angle or fumble a point or miss the whole thing. You’ll think, “How could I have ever liked this guy?” And we completely dismiss and demonize this person based off one sentence, one phrasing, one particular choice of word. I’ve done it, too. Farewell, forever.

Maybe it’s for a legitimate reason, and they really did go too far. I just wish we could give a little chance for conversation over coffee. It’s possible this person misspoke, because they’re just a person, and they don’t always get it right. It could be that they need the patience of dialogue to re-examine what they said, instead of the hasty hate-train that offers no fair exchange. I want your help. I want to know when I’m wrong – but it’s hard to hear what’s right when everyone is yelling. I want the freedom to make mistakes so that I’m not afraid to learn from you. I don’t want to be afraid that you’ll freak out when I don’t phrase things exactly as you’d like. We can tell when you’re ego-boosting your platform and winning internet-points with the choir. I’m not sure if you would listen to that sort of yelling, either.

I know there are some non-negotiables that we must agree on, like common dignity and humanity, but none of us will ever agree on everything. And that’s okay. I think we can have the nuance to disagree over a few things, but not judge an entire person based off a few degrees of difference. We can disagree and still be friends. It’s in our disagreements that we can become better together, and not worse.

– J.S.

No Purpose? No Problem

June 17, 2015 — 4 Comments

You don’t have to have it all figured out yet.

Maybe a few hundred years ago, a 12 year old had to bodyslam a bear and turn it into a raincoat while marrying his third cousin in the shelter he made from a cactus, but these are not those days. Don’t let someone guilt you into the “Golden Years.” You are you, this is today, and it’s okay to be searching a little.

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Image from Pogonotomy

Anonymous asked:

How can I return to my First Love? I feel like I have a really strange struggle: I don’t desire God. I’m not doubting God, but I doubt my devotion cause of my idolatry. I’ve had this problem for a few years: I love reading books on systematic theology and listening to online sermons and serving, but I struggle to read the bible or pray or love God daily. Maybe this is just the curse of a reformed Calvinist (you joke about us all the time lol). I almost want to unlearn everything to love Him again.

 

My very dear, dear friend: welcome to the Christian life.

Let’s tackle this one at a time.  Please feel free to skip around.

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Image from worshipgifs

freewingthefree asked a question:

Hey pastor! Question. How should we react to all the hurt that gets caused by Christians more focused on being “right” and legalistic? It makes my heart ache to see all those who have been hurt by legalistic Christians who are oblivious to the pain they cause.

Hey dear friend, I’m hurting along with you. It grieves me to see self-righteous brothers and sisters who claim the name of Christ and continue to morally suffocate others into a neurotic, twitchy, self-condemning mess. I’ve been a victim of it, and it still hurts.

Here’s the thing. I don’t want to make excuses for the overly religious Pharisee: but I also can’t demonize them either. They need grace, too. I think the church fluctuates wildly between uptight, legalistic Bible-thumper to laidback, relevant, smoothly spiritual hipster, and while both sides sneer at each other, there are hurting people caught in the crossfire. Hyper-grace is no better than hyper-law. A knee-jerk reaction to one type of religion will only imprison us further.

Hating on the Westboro folks or fundie televangelists is easy mode. Anyone can do that. It’s easy to say “I’m not like those other Christians.” What’s hard is transcending such pigeon-holed categories like Jesus did, who extended his hands on a cross for both the running prodigal and the angry preacher. What’s hard is reaching across every divide, from pimps and politicians to aristocrats and blind beggars. What’s hard is not perpetuating the cycle of hurt that you’ve been plunged into, and instead looking forward and above.

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