deliveredfish asked a question:

Hello. I understand that my own works could never get me into Heaven, and it’s pointless to weigh myself down with rules and moral obligations. Nevertheless I do believe that genuine faith results in a changed lifestyle, and that good works are a byproduct of faith. This causes me to question the sincerity of my own faith, as I notice that my natural inclination is to sin/my nature is still corrupt/I don’t display much fruit of the spirit. I miss feeling secure in my salvation. Any advice?

Hey my dear friend, I absolutely believe that a follower of Christ is going to have evidence of change in his or her life.  But please consider a few things before you go too hard on yourself.

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The Christian life can’t just be about running away from sin: but is ultimately about running to Him. That means finding His mission, His purpose, and His heart for you. It means asking for His wisdom in how to discipline yourself, to be shaped by His truth, to be restructured in His image. It means bonding with other like-minded individuals to live out your God-given calling. It’s so fully experiencing the love of God that you are shaken down to your very core, melted and tenderized by His grace to never go back, but only pursue Him forward.

– J.S. from The Christianese Dating Culture

genericrandomusername asked a question:

I know that homosexuality is a sin. But one thing I’ve learned is that everything labeled “sin” is something God is protecting us from. Like any good father, his rules are there for a good reason. I understand why casual sex, lying, and gluttony are dangerous, but what are the dangers of homosexuality? What is God protecting us from? The reasons I’ve gotten from Christians have were either stupid or totally convoluted. I need to know why I oppose something. Something beyond a weak apologetic.

Hey my dear friend, please allow me the grace to offer just a few challenges to consider from very opposite angles.

- I’ve written about homosexuality before and I no longer talk about it much because everyone starts yelling at each other as loud as dang possible, and the people actually inside the issues get lost in the mix.  Whenever issues get trumped over people, I’m out, because I love people more.

I’ve realized long ago that no one’s actually interested in having a real conversation over this one, and I haven’t had a single rational discussion about it, not once.  It doesn’t matter how polite I am, someone is going to rage-cuss and I’m just too jaded for it now.

I’m not pro or anti anything, I’m just pro-people.  I tend to anger both “sides” with that answer because it’s apparently too soft (sort of like “Give to God’s what is God’s and to Caesar what is Caesar’s.”). But if that makes me a cop-out, I think it’s actually more of a cop-out to reduce a person to his or her sexuality; it’s too simplistic to reduce the abortion issue to a nine-month window of time; I think it’s reductionistic to get angry at the President or to legislate morality on Capitol Hill or to dichotomize people into binary oppositions.

Let’s see it this way. If I’m caught in a current about to head off a waterfall and you throw me a lifesaver, it would be weird if I said, “What color and texture and material is this thing?”  In other words, I need to get saved before I work out the details.  I know the analogy breaks down somewhere (they all do), but the doctrine of faith is prioritized over the doctrine of sexuality.  Both are important, but there’s an order.  If we’re not getting to Jesus first, then who cares what I think about sex?  I can’t put the caboose before the engine.

So I’m done with that.  I’m a simple guy.  My job isn’t to persuade anyone of anything.  I love people like Jesus does, with grace and truth: end of story.

I’m going to leave behind that topic to back up over the larger picture.

- The thing is, if I tried to convince you of why you should believe any particular thing about the Bible, it won’t work that way.  If you or I presume that God has to make a convincing case for His Word, then 1) we’ll keep our arms crossed and never be convinced enough, 2) we can be persuaded right out of it, or 3) we’ll follow Him with begrudging drudgery.

While I absolutely believe there’s a logical rationale behind all of God’s commands, if we don’t believe they’re for our good, then it doesn’t matter how logical they sound: I still won’t believe them.

Adam and Eve had a really strange rule in the Garden.  Don’t eat the fruit off the tree.  Was there any tactical advantage or practical benefit?  Did it somehow profit the human race or create positive energy?  Did the fruit have mystical evil properties?  Maybe.  But it’s more likely that God was saying, You have the entire Garden for you by grace, because I love you. Now please don’t eat the fruit off this one tree, simply because you love me.

That’s it.  No hocus pocus or diagram or flow chart.  No list of seven reasons why it’s a good idea to follow God.  This is called a covenant, in which both parties love each other out of mutual trust instead of functional pragmatism.  It’s for the essence of, not for what it can do.

Here’s what I’m not saying: I’m not saying we don’t ever question God. Believe me, I’ve questioned Him about a billion times at every painful step of faith. I grew up an atheist and I still default to doubt and skepticism very quickly.  Some of God’s commands seem ridiculous at first glance.

But the more I learned about the particulars of the Old Testament (they’re an unfolding narrative and not a prescription) and grasped the idea of God’s commands (they’re not to restrict us, but to show us what’s best and give us abundant life), the more I was able to settle with God one-by-one on what He says.

It’s not that I flip a switch and trust Him overnight; I know some Christians who can do this, and God bless them.  But I’ve eventually found that the heart of God is His love for me, and even His law is about touching upon His heart.  My bias used to be that I distrusted God at every word; now my bias is slowly coming around to trust Him at His Word, and when I obey, it always makes sense later.

There’s also no place I need to look much further than the cross and resurrection.  The Gospel is primarily an invitation into the True Story of the world; without this, then none of His commands matter anyway.  All this will only make sense when we see the man on that tree who died for me, that savior who released me from the grip of sin by conquering its terrible grip.  Without faith in Jesus, then it doesn’t matter what else we believe about what he says.  God rescued His people from the slavery of Egypt before giving them the Ten Commandments. Rescue comes before internal renovation.  I can’t put doctrine ahead of the Gospel, or else we have no doctrine.

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What I’ve learned about Sundays is that everyone mentally agrees with the pastor and has no problem with values like love, peace, joy, and forgiveness. But on the way home, back into the world on our phones and Facebook, that three-point sermon doesn’t work in the heat of the moment. We can amen a sermon on loving others, but rush hour traffic turns us all into demon-possessed pagans. Because we’re human. That’s why every Sunday has to point to the Savior, who didn’t just save us once, but is also the daily grace we need to make it a day at a time. He’s our hope in traffic, in our jobs, with our spouses, with raising children, and choosing better when we most want to explode and give up. He gives us humanity when we least want it.

– J.S.

If there’s one thing I learned after a celebrity takes his or her own life, it’s going to social media and seeing that no one understands mental illness.

I’ve been a lifelong sufferer of depression, and not even I myself completely understand what’s going on inside.  Most of us assume it’s more of a choice instead of a disease, but it’s difficult to explain how even our choices under depression feel hopeless and powerless, like walking through a fog that has drained the colors out of everything.  There’s no particular reason it happens.  Mental illness doesn’t primarily come from external causes, but we blame ourselves, and so does most of our world.

My guess is that depression and anxiety and other such illnesses are not sexy enough.  Cancer portrayed by Hollywood has the inverse effect of making you skinny and attractive, and movie-autism gives you special math skills like Rain Man or perfect innocence like Forrest Gump.  It’s not fun watching a grown man just weep for two hours.

There will be no movie for my uncle, who has schizophrenia and paranoid delusions, and will often randomly get on his bike to ride from Florida to Ohio, with beans in his ears to block out the “demonic voices.”  It’s not tailor-made for a fundraiser.

That’s not to take away from any of these illnesses: but it points to our obsession with polishing our pain into a marketable story.

An illness like depression often leads to the inevitable symptom of death by suicide, and because of this, many will mock and sneer.  “They chose to do it, it was selfish.”  But unless you’ve actually been at the verge of this inescapable inner prison, then it will naturally seem over-dramatic and hysterical. No one understands unless it’s them, at the absolute edge of their darkness feeling like there are zero options left.

I understand this urge to criticize the mentally ill.  It’s not visible; it’s not physically tangible.  We inherently grade people based on their accomplishments, but even more, the “beauty” of their brokenness.  It’s an ugly thing.  We accept some diseases and not others.  We celebrate victory over cancer and Ebola and from organ transplants, but not depression, even though they all potentially lead to terminal conditions.

We only take mental illness seriously when it leads to death — but even then, we find such diseases beneath our charity, because we perceive it to be within the victim’s control.

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Who God has called you to be
is the you that you’ve been wanting to be all along.

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

Two anonymous questions:

- My boyfriend watches porn and masturbates. He knows that it bothers him and he has been trying to quit. Would it be a good idea to tell him that I will not even consider marriage until he has been clean for a year?

- How should I help my boyfriend who told me he is struggling with porn? We’ve been dating for a while and we both want to keep our relationship focused on the Lord. I want to be there for him as he overcomes this struggle.. I’m just not sure how to help him. Any advice would be awesome. Also, could you answer this privately? Thank you!

Hey my dear friends, thank you so much for your honesty and forwardness. Please first allow me the grace to point you to a very short e-book I just wrote on quitting porn here.  It’s written for both the person trying to quit and for the friend trying to help, and regardless of gender or beliefs.  It’s also only $2.99, which goes towards my ministry here, but I can email it to you for free.

Here’s the bad news. Unless the person who uses porn actually wants to quit, they will never quit.  They have to want it more for themselves than you do.

If you make an ultimatum like, “Stop it for a year or else,” then this could possibly work for a while — but he would only be quitting because you’re constraining him by force.  You can change anyone’s behavior, but it’s an altogether different thing to change your nature.

Whenever we place an external apparatus of behavioral expectation on another person, it might bring short-term change, but it will never become a part of them.  Unless there’s an internal resolve to quit harmful behavior and move forward to something better, there will always be relapses and self-shaming and no true transformation.  It’s sort of like the student who only behaves when the teacher walks by: when you take away the source of fear, the student defaults back to their old habits.  Something else has to completely internalize for change to really happen.

In the Bible, we learn that the only power to bring inside-out change is called grace.  Maybe you’ve heard that a million times.  But without the hope of undeserved love, we only do things out of conformity or the threat of punishment and abandonment.  Grace takes much longer to internalize, but it’s the only power that can melt and tenderize a person’s heart to create a new desire to do better.

Grace can only be cultivated in a culture of honesty, so if you’re helping your friend through a temptation, they need to know they won’t be shamed. At the same time, they need to know that such grace isn’t meant to abused or lazy or careless, but that grace is meant to bestow freedom from our old prison into a fruitful, mission-centered, fully empowered life.

Having said that, here are some suggestions to pave the way to quit porn.

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A Huge Thank You!

December 15, 2014 — Leave a comment

Isabella Esther Emilyne Hannah

A huge thank you to those who bought my books and sent pictures!

- Isabella Ng, Esther Choi (and her dog Skylar), Emilyne Jane, and Hannah Hong

My books are available for less than ten on Amazon!
Check out the reviews and consider them for Christmas gifts. :)

- What The Church Won’t Talk About

- The Christianese Dating Culture

Thanks again and love y’all!
– J.S.

rosemarychungphotography asked a question:

How do you deal with church burn out (exhausted from serving, attending church, etc.) and the pain associated with it?

Hey my dear friend, thank you so much for your honesty.

Four quick thoughts on church burn-out:

1) Please be absolutely honest about what’s going on. 

Please talk with your pastor, your leaders, your team.  I don’t mean that we can go around saying “This church is burning me out.”  But sometimes simply talking it out can both release your clenched burden and also help navigate your feelings.  While complaining can be toxic, keeping it in is even more unhealthy.  Have a time with your pastor when you can say every single thing that’s on your mind, no matter how small you may feel it is.

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The next time you walk into a room full of people, I want you to see how they talk and interact and exchange and tell stories and make jokes. Simply watch, listen, soak it in.

Soon you’ll see there’s a hidden anxiety underneath all their language, a deeper sort of quest for each person to validate their individual existence. You’ll see this web of tug-of-war where everyone is pulling, clawing, scratching, grasping for this weight.

It’s like there’s a secret limited stash of golden currency in the air, and everyone’s fighting for it by telling the better story, bragging about their bank account, trying to be the funny guy, showing off their intelligence, dropping famous names, wearing a name, holding up false bravado, pretending to be a mystery, masking their voice in tight controlled expressions of eloquence.

You know what this is: insecurity. Everyone’s fighting for glory to cover the emptiness, that vacuum fracture. And even when they get the glory from that room, it will never be enough: because we weren’t made for the temporary glory of this earth. Our true glory is beyond the room, outside one another, from on high.

— J.S.

Rosco books SM 2

From my dog Rosco:

My human has written some books. They’re less than ten dollars and will be good gifts for other humans. Please check out my butler’s books on the Amazon. I must return now to my life of demanding back-scratches and being spoiled. Wait, I didn’t write that last part. Bad human.

– Rosco (and J.S.)

Cutting It Off Amazon

Here’s my newest e-book on breaking porn addiction.

This is a very short e-book about how I overcame a fifteen year porn addiction. I’ve now been sober for over three.  I talk about what porn does to your brain, specific steps to quit, and how you can quit permanently, not just for a few weeks at a time but for good.

I know how embarrassing it can be to talk about porn, but this book is designed for both you and to help your friend, regardless of gender or beliefs.  This is not a Christian book disguised as self-help — the book is first and foremost a guide to quitting porn, with elements of Christian faith deeply rooted.

It’s only $2.99! And you won’t need a Kindle, it works on everything.
Be blessed and love y’all!

— J.S.


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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t say this to brag, at all.

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

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

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

I am compelled to have the same heart for others.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— J.S.


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

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

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

Here’s how you handle us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Edit: December 1st, 2014
– My new e-book about quitting porn addiction is here! It’s only $2.99 on Amazon!
It contains this post, re-edited and fleshed out, plus updated info and specific steps to quit.

An ongoing discussion about victory over sexual addiction.

My podcast series “Cutting It Off” — here.

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

Every question submitted about porn on this blog, here.

**Updated: May 2013

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

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

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

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

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

The Addict’s Path:

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Hello wonderful friends!

I have a really huge shameless request that I hope won’t come off too privileged or needy.  I completely understand if this causes you to unfollow me and I apologize in advance.

My wedding is in about two weeks on the 27th, and since I’ve gone on to a new calling, I’ve made significantly less money than before.  I’m still a struggling new indie writer and my fiance and I have come up short for our wedding.

I know there is so much going on in the world right now and I feel very sorry for even bringing this up. If you could pray about it and consider this very small need, I would greatly appreciate if you could support this about-to-be-married couple by simply buying any of my books on sale.

I honestly feel really icky and embarrassed to make such an appeal.  I have never and will never ask for “donations” on this blog, but this way, you’ll both be supporting me and my future wife as a couple and a ministry, plus getting a book or two in your hands.  We would love for you to be a part of our once-in-a-lifetime moment.

Everything on my blog always has been and will remain free. Again, I’m sorry this is so tacky.  The books are less than ten dollars (and the e-book versions only four), and I only make a couple dollars for each one (I priced them as low as possible to be affordable).  Every cent really helps. And if you already read the books, then a review on Amazon is super-helpful too.

The best thing would be if you could please pray for us! We’re trusting that God will totally provide, as He always does. I love you all and thank you for being a part of our family.

— J.S.


If you’re a Christian, whether you like it or not, you’re preaching with your blog.  This is a big deal.  Of course, we all have an insecurity that we don’t deserve the platforms we have.  Most of us are conveying a hologram of the person we-would-like-to-be.

I think it’s okay to be honest about that — to say, “I’m not there yet.”  We’re all still learning here, most especially me.

The harsh truth is, I see too many Christian bloggers who are trying to preach much further than they really are and always talking from a condescending high ground of pseudo-idealism.  Include me in there: I’m always tempted to act tougher than I really am.  We seem to care less about loving actual people and more about tweeting our moral epiphanies.  It’s a lot of full-time blogging from part-time Christians only saying things they’d like to do, like a half-competent coach who pushes his students so he can live vicariously through their success.  If that sounds mean, it’s because it hurts my heart to see so much passion with no momentum.

I wish we were more transparent about how hard it really is: not in a way that enables or pampers, but actually relies on the God we claim to love.  I wish we could stop chest-bumping the hardness of our right theology and stop shaming other Christians with coercive manipulative one-liners.

It’s easy to be a basement blogger and to post photos of the mission trip; it’s harder to roll up our sleeves everyday and get into the grit of real hurting lives.

Blogging naturally necessitates that you put your life on hold to write about your experiences — but if you go immediately from the moment to blogging, you’re not really letting the experience take hold of your heart.  Soon you’re only doing the bare minimum to write for likes and reblogs, which is not transformative but showcasing.  We can all see through it.

If you keep taking shortcuts from living to blogging by skating on the surface of faith, you’ll short-circuit intimacy with the glorious, face-melting, galaxy-sculpting Creator — and He’s the only one who can pierce our hearts deep enough to genuinely sacrifice for each other.

It’s cool if you have the Instagram with the ocean wallpaper and the pick-me-up verses in fancy fonts.  I just think God would rather you be you and not some shrill version of you, to be honest about your unique challenges in this journey with Him.

If I Hear “Wrecked” One More Time

I saw a blog post the other day about “The Future of The Church” written by a guy who was about twenty years old, with all kinds of bold declarations about the decline of ministry.  I think it was supposed to “wreck” me.  I like him and he’s a good person, but I sort of cringed at the whole thing.  Not because he was wrong, but because he cared too much about being right.

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followthered asked a question:

Hey friend, I was discussing with my girlfriend the purpose of “biblical” marriage, so I thought I’d ask for your thoughts, since you released a book on dating and will be married in less than a month! Specifically, how important are feelings? #thank


When I was nine, I knew I was different because someone grabbed their own eyes, pulled them wide, and yelled, “Ching chong.” Someone told me my dad had killed his dad in the Vee-ut-nam War. And no one on TV looked like me.

That summer, someone had spraypainted a swastika on my dad’s business. 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.

Someone told me that racism is dead today. But I look at these racist tweets, I encounter cashiers who slow down their speech, I get called Bruce in the mall, I still get “ching chong” from five year old boys with their mothers who don’t correct them — and I think of that swastika that wouldn’t go away. I think of my dad, who wanted to protect me from the ugly hearts of men. He wanted to give me a better world than this.

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thesilvercolonel asked a question:

Something has been weighing heavily on my heart lately and I was interested in hearing your thoughts. I greatly care about those in law enforcement (my father is a retired police officer) and pray for them all the time. It bothers me the way they are portrayed by the media, as if all police are brutal and corrupt. I know that’s not the case, because most officers sacrifice so much to protect and serve others. I realize I shouldn’t let what others say get to me, but it’s difficult not to.

Hey my friend, I totally feel you on this one.  Having trained police officers myself (I have a fifth degree black belt and I regularly teach martial arts), I understand the stress that law enforcement goes through in both their jobs and public portrayal.

Like anything else, the media often paints things in one-dimensional caricatures that instantly assumes full-fledged heroes and villains, as if people never had gray areas or nuance.  Like any other institution, whether it’s church or business or the medical field or social movements, there are going to be some “bad seeds” and unwise decisions made by certain people.  And there will always be massive criticism on the entire institution based on the small actions of a few.

However, I think this criticism is sometimes necessary.  Public outcry doesn’t happen magically out of thin air.  As much as I absolutely support law enforcement, there’s also been an increasing awareness that a few of them, if not many, are doing unconscionable illegal things.  I don’t believe this reflects on the entire establishment, but it does mean we need justice for the few who abused the law that they swore to uphold.

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My Dog and My Book

December 8, 2014 — Leave a comment

Rosco book

My dog Rosco wants a sequel to my book, What The Dogs Won’t Bark About.

– J.S.


I went on social media again to read about the outrage with everything that’s been happening, and all the polarized back-and-forth shouting just made me sick to my stomach — as it always does.  It’s a whole lot of yelling, but none of it does anything, nor does it influence anyone who could do something.  It’s obvious that juries are not swayed by it.  And most people who are yelling on their blogs are just trying to go viral and look relevant and be sassy instead of actually caring about the people involved.  You can tell, and we can see right through it.

I believe in the right to peacefully protest.  I believe it works.  I believe we should leverage our social platforms to speak up for the voiceless.  I believe even trolls have the right to speak, because the least dignified person is afforded the dignity to speak their mind.

But I think there’s one thing we keep saying that we’ll do and we simply don’t.  We say we will, and we’re not.

I keep seeing, “We need to pray.”  I keep hearing that over and over.  I’ve probably said it too.  “Pray for our country.”  It sounds nice and it’s true.  But I wonder how many people are actually doing this.  I wonder if they realize the potential magnitude of what they’re saying and what prayer can actually do if we went for it.

How about if the billions of people who tweeted and preached and blogged and sassed about injustice actually did pray?  I don’t mean to sound uppity or self-righteous. I’m preaching to me too.  I’m not telling you what to do with your anger; I’m also angry.  But I mean imagine: if we all got on our knees together daily, even just a few hundred of us, and sought to commune with God and reflect on each other’s needs and thought about how to serve one another.  Imagine taking five seconds to have empathy, and what that could do for the whole day.

Earlier today, after reading too many cruel comments online, I felt driven to my knees to pray.  To be truthful, I haven’t done this in a long time.  I consider myself a “Bible-believing Christian” — but prayer is hard.  I usually do it in the car, between places, always on the go.  It’s totally different on my knees.  At first I thought, “This will make a great blog post.”  It took a while to really be in silence.  I was too self-conscious, and I expected it.  I pushed through.  Soon — I ran through the fog of my own distraction, and I knew He was there.  I knew He was grieving over us.  And I could only say, “We’re so screwed up right now.  I’m screwed up, God.  Please help us.  We need your help.”

Maybe it did nothing.  But at least God and I, we had a good time together.  I felt a sober peace.  The light outside felt brighter, sharper, new.

I don’t think we need to be “religious” to do this. If there’s no God, then there’s really no harm. You spent some time wishing peace upon the world, and if anything, it’s helped you think of others. We think about fictional people all the time, and it’s probably less healthy. But if there is a God, and He has the power to intervene and change hearts and orchestrate human structures, then I don’t see how we could be doing anything else but prayer.  If God does exist, and I believe He does, then we need nothing less than His divine power to heal a hostile weary world. We need action strengthened by prayer.

I’m sure this sounds like Pascal’s Wager or that I’m endorsing passivity.  I suppose there a lot of reasons not to pray. It’s easier to yell and tweet and write passive-aggressive commentary and to preach to the same choir and attack phantom enemies.  Something in us resists the spiritual. Even those who want to pray find it hard to focus.That’s all understandable.

I’m only asking that we would ask, “If I really believed prayer worked, what would I pray for the world right now?”  Then maybe some of us would go do that.  A few of us might cross the line and really pray to the God who can do what we can’t.  And even if nothing changes, then you did, and if we all did, then there’s a chance we could turn this whole thing around.  I have hope for that, even in a world such as this.

— J.S.

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Be blessed and love y’all!
— J.S.

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