To Love The Impossible

Continuing the sermon series called “Real Life Christian: Fruits, Freedom, and Infinite Architecture.” It’s a study through the Book of First John.
This is a short summary of the sixth sermon, titled “Learning To Discern Its Worth At First.” Part one is here. Part two is here. Part three is here. Part four is here. Part five is here.
Part of my calling as a pastor is to help set you free from the bondage of sin. So by the grace of God, here we go.

Everyone loves the idea of love until you have to love the unlovable.
When we write about “love, peace, harmony, and unity,” we’re saving those cliches for the good-looking, well-dressed, sort of young, mostly acceptable suburban middle-upper class.

We would all agree love is good — no one is holding picket signs yelling, “Screw world peace!” — but it’s easy to love the likeable people.

Honestly, I get that. There’s nothing in my flesh that wants to turn the other cheek.
I don’t immediately want to repay affliction with kindness.
I judge people instantly: if a guy cuts me off in traffic, I don’t assume he’s visiting his grandmother. I hope he gets pulled over and tasered.

This is where the Gospel becomes so important:
Because God totally loved you when you were so unlovable.
He saw you at your worst and He gave you His best.
And even if we feel like the person next to us doesn’t deserve grace:
We didn’t deserve it either.
When we get grace, we give grace.

Still, it’s very, very hard to love people.
Here are three obstacles to truly loving others.

Continue reading “To Love The Impossible”

Quote: Step Forward


The lie of unforgiveness is that people think it works. It does not. It’s only allowing the person who hurt you to keep hurting you. It’s allowing the knife of the wound to stay in, fester, and get infected. Removing the knife doesn’t mean that what happened to you isn’t wrong. Of course what happened is wrong, and God knows it. But forgiveness is to set you free from the wound.

The step forward is to be able to breathe again, smile again, laugh again, serve again, be joyful again. With that picture in mind, those who are traumatized can see past their pain into a better future for their world. A pregnant teen, a husband whose wife left him, a young kid about to serve thirty years in prison, a guy who almost overdosed, a mother who just lost her child — all of them need a new chapter, not a visual of the old one. Flip the page.

— from this post

Me Is Angry At Blogger So I Ranting: A Letter To Angry Christian Bloggers

When a Christian blogger calls out other Christian bloggers, I always get a little concerned.

I really admire the fiery passion and I’m certain there’s good motives, but I always sense an angry spiteful resentment that just lacks grace and forfeits Christ.

There’s a way to speak to people that just makes you kind of an unhappy jerk and sort of small and hostile.

Continue reading “Me Is Angry At Blogger So I Ranting: A Letter To Angry Christian Bloggers”

Quote: Pushback


“There will always be pushback for anything you write into the world. No need to melt down or flip out. Be ready to engage discussion in a sound, sober, gentle, humble manner that forgets your insecurities and approaches the actual idea. Public discourse entails that your baby is now up for grabs, open to attack, vulnerable to dissection, dissenting voices, and differing opinions. If you’re not okay with that, then keep yourself in the third drawer of your candlelit desk in the dungeon chamber. But if you have the guts to welcome disagreement, then speak passionately for what you believe to your fellow human being, not that all will be convinced but that a few would be convicted.”


Question: Why I Don’t Give A Crap About Evolution (Or Creationism)

lalypops asked:

What are your thoughts on evolution?


Evolution is a really fascinating topic that absolutely does not fascinate me.  And if people were honest with themselves, it doesn’t fascinate them either. 

I suspect the only reason it gets attention is because it’s used as “ammo” against Creationism, which is a bit like wearing boxing gloves to a UFC match.  In theory it can work, but boxing gloves are used for the single field of boxing.  You see what I did there.

Certainly there is a lot of evidence for evolution, but 1) it’s a theory, as in it’s a theory, and 2) there’s also evidence against it that the “unbiased” scientists gloss over. 

I presume that I risk looking like one of those fundamentalists who deny the obvious truth, and a typical militant atheist will of course never see eye to eye and will predictably jump to hateful ad hominem and helpful Google searches.  Since we know all Google-experts must be right.  But even if a time machine were invented and we got to see evolution in progress with our very own eyes, what does that really change? Like oh no what do we do now man?

Continue reading “Question: Why I Don’t Give A Crap About Evolution (Or Creationism)”

Quote: Being Free


We rationalize ‘sleeping around’ as freedom because we think our body needs this sort of reckless venue for pleasure. But after a while, that’s sort of shallow and superficial. It’s really missing out on the Big Picture. A committed, covenantal promise to be forever faithful to a husband or wife in a stable family unit of sacrifice through every season always leads to the best sex ever. That’s an ocean-deep foundation of nourishing goodness that makes anything else pale in comparison. God wants to give you the real thing, not a cheap imitation. It’s like holding a candle to the sun.

Being free does not mean that you maintain an image to sell yourself to the nearest sexual object to satisfy your flesh for a minute, or to play the paranoid game of ‘I better keep this up or he/she will leave me.’ Being really free in a marriage means you have an unfailing love that is stronger than every hardship in life, stronger than your feelings, and big enough to grow you into God’s glorious vision.

— from this post

What If Faith



What if faith is not based on the strength of your belief, but in The One who gave you that faith?

What if faith is not based on the amount you know, but in The One who knows you?

What if faith that is even feeble weak dried up half-steps towards Him is just enough for the next step?

What if faith is not measured in religious metrics like Bible-reading and church attendance and prayer time and loud singing, but in your messy love for Him and the people He has made?

What if faith was not about the mountains you could shake, but about the Son who climbed a hill with a cross to save you?

What if faith was preached in the pulpit not as a critical barometer of your works, but as the source we draw from for the work itself?

What if faith is just dang difficult, and God knew that, so He sent His Son who welcomed all doubts, questions, and confusion, and became the answer on a cross?





Originally posted here on my Tumblr.

The Silent Departure: When Your Friend Walks Away From God and Out Of Your Life

You might have recently sent a Facebook invite to a close-ish friend you remember from that church revival four years ago, and then you get this kind of response:

I’m sorry bro, but I haven’t gone to church in a long time. I don’t know about all that anymore. But thanks for inviting me.

You’re not sure if you should follow up, ask what happened, drop a verse, dig in a little, or revert to small talk.

Most times though: we back up and move on. It’s not because you don’t care. It’s because it feels like that story is done and over, and maybe you’re supposed to give them a lot of room so you don’t look like a religious window-peering creeper, and you feel like they will come back if they really want to and you can just keep sending them invites in hopes that they’ll come out to one of your sweet, hi-tech, modernized church events.

Or maybe: your former friend is just waiting for you to press in.

Maybe their head is barely above water, they’re suffocating in a world of secret hurt, and you’re the only lifeline who’s come close to discovering the shipwreck below the surface.

During the winter season, I remember certain faces who used to come around church and I just start to miss everybody: the way it used to be, the raucous ragtag Sundays and senseless giggling and fist-pumping during praise and getting lunch in a giant group to talk afterward in the parking lot for hours.

Sometimes now I still see them online and they haven’t exactly gone prodigal, but they’ve just moved on. Graduated from church. Onto “real life.” It was another lifetime ago.

Continue reading “The Silent Departure: When Your Friend Walks Away From God and Out Of Your Life”

A story of courage and generosity: Youth Pastor donates half of his salary to fight human trafficking.

Thanks for posting this, Pastor Eugene!

Eugene Cho

* UPDATE: Amazing. Not only because Joon donated half of his youth pastor salary ($10,000) but in his attempt to get that matched through family, friends, and strangers…a total anonymous stranger (after reading his story) made a donation of $8,085 to help him reach $20,000 for the Human Trafficking Fund.

—————————————————–

You have to read this email I recently received. Crazy, radical, and an amazing story of courage and generosity.

First, let me set the table:

We all love our stuff. All of us. We all consume. We all get sucked into the lifestyle of  upward mobility. This is most apparent during the festivities that surround Black Friday, Cyberspace Monday, and Christmas shopping.

This isn’t a guilt trip but to simply state that which is obvious. What I do want to state is the importance of us also growing a culture of generosity in our lives. Generosity isn’t just…

View original post 707 more words

I Made It To $10,000



Well, I finally did it.  After saving half my income for the year, this is a check I took out from my savings to put in my checking account, which I will then send a check for $10,000 to fight human trafficking.


One Day’s Wages has set up a site to ask for matching contributions, so you can help too!

The holidays are coming and I know you’ll be busy shopping, so please also consider donating even $5 to this awesome charity. 

Here’s what your money can do:

  • $50 provides one month of education/vocation training for one rescued girl (age ranged from middle school/highschool)
  • $37.50 provides one month of Health + Hygiene (Medication, toiletries, medical visits, water) for a rescued girl 
  • $250 covers the cost of 6 days of aftercare for a trafficked victim
  • $500 covers the cost of 7 days of legal advocacy


You can read the story of how I saved up or just scroll to the bottom to donate.

Thanks and love you guys!

— J



Originally posted here on my Tumblr.


Question: Why Is Evangelizing So Awkward?

Anonymous asked:

I have trouble sharing the gospel. When I want to share it (either to a believer or a non-believer), most of the time I end up saying nothing and feeling guilty. I know my lack of confidence (is it gonna come out right?) and fear what others may think of me (which I know is sinful) have something to do with it. If I do say something, I get uncomfortable and it doesn’t come out the way I wanted it to, even after asking the Holy Spirit to help me. Why does sharing the gospel feel unnatural to me?


You know, I was nodding my head the entire time I was reading this question: because every Christian ever has felt the same exact way.  I’ll dare to say that as a “professional Christian,” I still feel this way sometimes.  So I’m totally with you on this and I got much love for you for confessing the whole truth.

If anyone is really all that confident in evangelizing, it could be false confidence derived from “good technique” or polished apologetics, neither which actually care about living breathing people. Please allow me to suggest some things about evangelism to set the record straight.

Continue reading “Question: Why Is Evangelizing So Awkward?”

Quote: Afraid of Grace


I know, we’re afraid of grace. It’s freaking uncomfortable to think we’re letting someone “get away” with something. But how exactly do we think people will change? By beating them into submission with religious fervor? By conveying a God who is waiting for you to fail? That’s a puny, horrible, diminutive God that no one would ever follow.

True change always happens when we’re motivated by a God who loves first. The beginning and end of God’s every motive is love. Even His wrath is loving because He hates injustice and oppression. The lie in religion is that we can win God somehow, when God has already come to us through His Son. It’s all by His grace. God loves you, He loves you, He loves you. No past sins or future disobedience will cancel it; God’s mind is already made up about you. You can’t change that in Him no matter what you do, and it’s His unchanging heart that changes you.

– from this post

Discernment, Decisions, Direction: To Think For Yourself

Continuing the sermon series called “Real Life Christian: Fruits, Freedom, and Infinite Architecture.” It’s a study through the Book of First John.
This is a short summary of the fifth sermon, titled “Learning To Discern Its Worth At First.” Part one is here. Part two is here. Part three is here. Part four is here.
Part of my calling as a pastor is to help set you free from the bondage of sin. So by the grace of God, here we go.

The most important thing I could ever teach you is to think for yourself.
Sometimes preachers think they need to shove the truth down your throat like this is a measure of their own success, but that sort of teaching never sticks. It can’t.
It’s not my job to teach you what to think. It’s my job to present a case, and then for you to chew it over and come to your own conclusion.
God believes the same thing. He presents His case, He gives you opportunities to decide, and then you act on the truth.

God does not leave you hanging on this. He gives us a gift called discernment.
To discern is simply: to find the truth when the truth is difficult to find.
It’s to filter the multitude of distracting voices that are competing for your attention, and to not only intellectually know what’s right, but to act on it.
God doesn’t leave you hanging on this either: He gives you the strength to carry out this good fight to the end.

Continue reading “Discernment, Decisions, Direction: To Think For Yourself”

Quote: Core Issue


Unless what you’re saying is actual factual truth from a real source of reliable authority, then don’t speculate and presume and make false connections and spread rumors of rumors. Don’t trust yourself to have an opinion when you only have half a story. You’ll not only live longer, but you’ll actually have to confront the core issues. You’ll find most of the time the core issue is really about the ugliness of yourself, and right around that corner of self-confrontation is freedom from a self-taught lie.


Ladies, Clothing, Body, and God

Older ladies: Thank God for you and your conviction, but if your primary reasoning for telling girls to dress modest is so they “don’t cause a guy to stumble” or even just in how trashy it looks, you’re still basing a woman’s value in her appearance. It’s a shallow argument at best, a condemnation as shrill as a shotgun, and continues to perpetuate what you’re trying to fight.

Continue reading “Ladies, Clothing, Body, and God”

Quote: A Process


“Faith is a growing process and it took me a long time to get that. If you haven’t worked with broken people, homeless people, drug addicts, porn addicts, if you’ve tried to disentangle and recalibrate their brain — it’s a hard process, a long process. I’m afraid a lot of preachers who know nothing about grace — all they know about is guilt — they’re going to just say, ‘Change, change, change!’ But broken people take a long time for the pieces to come back together. No matter who you are, you got some kind of brokenness, emptiness, missingness in you, there’s a feeling everyday of, ‘I’m just not getting this God-thing” or “I just suck at living this life.’ I want to give you a little bit of freedom and say: God absolutely loves you, and there’s nothing that you can do that will change His heart for you.”

— from this message


Question: Friendshifts, Marriage, and Suicide

Anonymous asked:

May I ask for some advice? I have this friendship that is falling apart. We use to be close. He was there for me when I was ill and had no one else. But then my marriage change our friendship. Ever since things have been different. However, lately he’s been depressed and speaking of suicide. I want to help him and be there for him. But his cynical + sarcastic attitude hurts me. All we do is argue now. I just want to fix our friendship and I want to help him. I don’t know what to do anymore. :,(


I know this part sucks: when a friendship changes because of a transitioning season.  Most people don’t know how to move along smoothly, and even if you’re totally prepared, it’s still painful. 

You’re married now, which means everything changes, including how you relate to others.  It will mostly make a distance between the opposite sex (a good thing), and close friends who say “I thought you had my back” need to realize it’s not tenth grade anymore where you can just drop things and rush over. That whole season is behind you.

Your first priority for the rest of your life now, after God, is your spouse.  Especially when you have kids, your single friends need to know you’re not as accessible because you have kids, as in you are raising other human lifeforms that need your full attention lest they die.  Anyone who tries to step in on this needs to know it is NOT okay.

Continue reading “Question: Friendshifts, Marriage, and Suicide”

Upside-Down Church: When You Know It’s All Wrong Somehow (And You’re Ready For Better)

You will have a moment in church when you’re standing among the shouting singing people and suddenly the plastic fog machine and laser lights and high-def jumbo screens totally expose themselves: and the magic spell is broken.

Instead of your normal Sunday high, you kind of get a headache from that thrashing electric guitar. The drums pierce you. The lead singer turns back to yell a cue at the pianist; the bass guy checks his watch; the back-up singer turns to cough. You’re taken out of the illusion and you see everything exactly as it is: and how it’s not supposed to be.

The preacher walks up with his iPad and hipster glasses, and his cheeky greeting and well-timed delivery and the announcement for that potluck just ring hollow. None of it feels real anymore. You hear a pretty good message that’s precise on doctrine and speaks relevant truth: but somehow it feels shrinkwrapped, safe, and pulled from the assembly line.

None of this is wrong, really, but you feel something is missing.

Maybe the preacher even tells you what’s missing — but the church keeps doing what they’ve always done.

Back to your car, back to your phone and Facebook, back to the grind of everyday reality: you forget you ever felt that way.

But for some of you, it stays. It keeps you up at night, it burns like a hot needle, it bothers you. You wonder if there are other people just like you, who see something is just off and are not okay with it.

I can tell you, at least one person agreed and he did something about it. So they killed him on a cross. And then I realize why we’re all okay with complacency: because authenticity costs too much, and very few of us will deny ourselves to take up that same cross.

Some of you, by the grace of God, will follow: and you will not turn back.

Continue reading “Upside-Down Church: When You Know It’s All Wrong Somehow (And You’re Ready For Better)”

Quote: Real You


Trusting God is also trusting how He has made you uniquely YOU. It’s to know that God sent His Son for you and loves you just as you are, the nervousness and all, and this is real confidence: a sort of humility that submits to God’s plan. People who are comfortable with themselves have increasingly found their security in God’s absolute, never-stopping, always-constant love. This is the Real You that God is sculpting you to be. We so often hide that with a cultural idea of ‘confidence’ that is really just shallow fakery, whether it’s a nicer car or better hair or cuter purse. Those things are fine, but not if they define you. Let yourself out to play.

— from this post