Prayers for Nepal and Baltimore. Prayers for our world.
Prayers for Nepal and Baltimore. Prayers for our world.
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.
[A pastor’s confession.]
Often I’ll have a friend from childhood find out that I’m a pastor and they’re downright incredulous; they’re just as surprised as I am that I ever went from atheism to Christianity, much less ministry. “I thought you were too smart for that” or “You were always the wild guy, never thought you’d settle down.” Most of my friends went the other way and fell out of faith like it was a varsity jacket, or an old diaper. They ask, “How do you keep believing in all this faith s–t?” – not because they’re trying to trap me, but because they’re genuinely curious for a coherent explanation. They do want something.
To be truthful: most times, I don’t have a good answer.
I often wonder myself, How do I keep believing in all this faith s–t?
Sometimes, I find the whole thing just crazy. When I reduce Christianity down to one or two sentences, it sounds ridiculous coming out of my mouth. I believe that if I telepathically offer my cognitive affection to a Jewish zombie who tells us to eat his flesh and drink his blood, then I’ll have immortality and half a better chance to run for political office.
A fellow Christian will tell me, “Oh no, doubt is a good thing, it means you’re at the edge of solidifying a deeper faith by investigating your most foundational beliefs.” Which I guess could be true.
A fellow atheist will tell me, “Oh no, doubt is a good thing, it means you’re at the edge of coming back to reason and shedding a fear-based crutch that’s having less relevance and respect in the world.” Which I guess could also be true.
Both would say, “You’re finally being intellectually honest.” Both say, “You’ll come around.” Both say, “If they could just admit they don’t have everything right.” Both say, “They’re just so blind and have the same boring arguments and the ‘burden of proof‘ is on them.” Both are rude, unthoughtful, unmoving. And of course, they both love to yell ad hominem.
It all just sounds the same to me. I could quit believing. I could keep believing. I could walk away. I could walk harder.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
This is a handwritten journal entry about my frustration with my own pride.
Just wanted to share.
I see firsthand what pride, idolatry, greed, and vanity can do to people. It causes us to (as if we are not the direct cause! how postmodern to relay the blame to external third-person lingo) manipulate a situation, to course-correct our own selfish behaviors by justifying and compensating for our angry outbursts with thousands of retcons and fanwanks and plot hole bandages, to wrestle control with stubby fingers and never admit we are wrong — as if wrongness is tantamount to losing the flag and giving up the fort. So much overblown drama would crumble if we could simply say, ‘it’s my fault” — but this is too painful for many to bear. It’s like surrendering a child to armed forces, handing over the keys and your badge and your gun — I cannot lose! I am own my own campaign manager! I refuse this inquisition of my ego!
No one enjoys frank self-awareness (everyone already hates frank — he’s never invited to cocktail parties and hipster shows) because it’s too threatening to examine the self.
Imagine those movie scenes where the hero removes a bullet from his gut with rusty forceps and a discount lamp — he has to do it or he will die, and extracting the bullet is only the first step to healing. He has to sew up, preferably with that semi-circular cat claw of a needle and fishing line. He needs Vicodin and a wide-spectrum antibiotic and bed rest and Aquafina and — you know, he should probably look for another line of work.
Everyone hates this part. Yes, it looks heroic and manly in movies. But I cringe — because I don’t think I could do it. I hate self-surgery and examining my motives and baring all before God. I’d rather dig for the bullet than dig in my heart. Physical pain is nothing like the spiritual stab of unveiling pride, dropping excuses, seeing my childish control games, and looking someone in the eyes to say, “I’m sorry and I’m wrong and please tell me how to make it right” — without adding the desperate death grip of “But.”
shatteredclay asked a question:
Pastor! I find so much joy, hope, truth, and God in your words on an almost daily basis. Recently, I started a new job that isn’t my *first* choice, but I needed work, God gave me work, and I am trying to honor Him by doing this job the best I can. Yesterday, a coworker asked me how he could confront his recent “crisis of faith”! He’s doubting God’s existence, etc. I’m honored he shared with me, and scrambling to help him without overwhelming him! I KNOW you’re the man for this question!
Hey dear friend, thank you so much for your trust with such a huge issue, and I’m completely humbled by your love for your coworker. You’re really doing a good thing.
May I first say: Every person in the world will run into a crisis of faith. It’s inevitable. We need to know that this doesn’t make us “bad” or “sinful” or “back-sliders.” You don’t have to read very far in the Bible to see men and women of God who also doubted and panicked and became mad at God.
I think doubt is a good thing, because it forces us to confront our deepest beliefs. Unfortunately, many Christians are taught that doubt is “disobedience” or “unconfessed sin,” so they either guilt-trip themselves into a faith-frenzy or just walk away altogether.
There are two helpful things to consider in a season of doubt. The first is intellectual fulfillment and the second is existential satisfaction.
The Christian — and really, every person alive — needs both things to thrive and survive.
If your friend is going through some horrible pain right now at the hands of another person, it’s not our job to explain this within the box of our theology. That’s a harsh thing to do. Jesus never did this: he only wept when he heard of Lazarus, he wept over Jerusalem, he stayed at the homes of lepers and demoniacs, he fed the hungry multitudes.
More than our persuasion, our friends need our presence. This is what God did when He became one of us, and this is how we embody love — by mourning when others mourn, by giving space to grieve, and by allowing joy to find its place at the right time.
— J.S. from What The Church Won’t Talk About
Please consider donating to One Day’s Wages for relief to the people of Nepal.
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake was the worst earthquake to hit Nepal in 80 years, and has devastated central Nepal near Kathmandu. Over 2,500 people have died and thousands are in need of emergency medical care. There are fears that the death toll will continue to rise as search and rescue teams are able to access communities closer to the epicenter.
How is God three in one? Why does the Christian faith need a Trinitarian God? Does any analogy really work?
An explanation of this unexplainable doctrine in less than three minutes. And a unique way to see the Trinity. I got really excited about this one.
Subscribe to my channel here. Love y’all!
[Thank you to Steven Hause of pudgyproductions]
What does prayer do? Is it just asking for things? How do I pray?
A view on the glorious discipline of prayer in less than two minutes.
Subscribe to my channel here. Love y’all!
[Thank you to Steven Hause of pudgyproductions]
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
all-hes-done asked a question:
Hey so There’s a question that has always bothered me and I’ve never really gotten an answer. So.. I’m not gay but, the bible is always condemning gays to hell. However, the bible always says that whoever loves Jesus will enter the kingdom of God. What do you think would happen to a gay Christian?
Hey dear friend, I’ve stopped discussing homosexuality on the internet because I think it diminishes real people into “debatable issues.” There’s just no nuance about it anymore. I’m nervous even writing this.
I also stopped talking about it because we live in an increasingly offended culture that’s too immature to handle discussion without devolving into a troll-war or getting high-fives from the choir. One way or another, I’ve made another Christian or SJW angry with knee-jerk overreactions because I could’ve “worded something better,” and I’m just too tired to defend myself to people who have already made up their minds. I don’t mean to be so glib — but really, can we talk about it without yelling?
I hope you’ll know that the Bible is not “always condemning gays to hell.” At most, the Bible mentions homosexuality about seven times. Of those seven, the translations from the original Hebrew and Greek are not clear-cut. Of the two that seem obvious, even those seem to be talking more about premarital sex than anything else. I don’t mean that the quantity of Bible verses necessarily equates to importance, but for all its bad press, the Bible doesn’t have a ton to say about sexual identity. The culture focuses on it much more than the Bible does. The Bible does talk about a good marriage, but that doesn’t instantly mean it’s an anti-polemic against anyone else. I think people made it that way.
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:
(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.
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!
All four of my books are available on my Amazon author page here:
(Please consider leaving a review for any you might have read!)
Be blessed and love y’all!
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!
[Thank you to Steven Hause of pudgyproductions]
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.
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.
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.