Too Cynical, Too Easy

I’m listening to a group of teenagers at Starbucks, talking about how much they hated the dance and why this girl is the devil and their disgust for their parents and their unparalleled disdain for biology lab.

I want to tell them that no one owes you anything. That you are more than the tragic deconstruction of life that your mouth keeps flapping about. That cynicism is too easy because it avoids the risk of embracing a broken stinking world and they’re just playing it safe by gossip-insulation and sniper-trolling. That the world is actually a horribly beautiful place where miracles exist in the dirt and people still laugh without fear and you can change something even with your twisted gnarled grubby hateful hands. You can’t know this and I won’t say it —

but I’m praying your soul is so outright disturbed by the divine that you wake up tomorrow with bleeding blessed eyeballs and find a larger reality outside yourself where you become truly you, and no longer a small version of you trying to impress your garish friends. You. Are. More.

— J.S.

Quote: Preempted

“Please hear, my dear friend, that God loves you no matter what. His love preempted your rejection, failure, and contempt. His love embraces your future disobedience, too. Look no further than the Bible ‘heroes’ and you’ll see it. Nothing you do can change God’s heart towards you. He is not going to time-warp His Son off the cross. His love is the battering ram on your sin. It’s that very unchanging heart of God which will lead you to a changed heart. And as tough as it is, it’s also the same way we are called to love each other. No one is the exception with God; no one can be the exception with us, either.”

— from this post

Today, Eternity, Constancy

Today you were defeated, discouraged, dejected, burned again.
Someone brought it up, dressed you down, told you off, staged a coup.
Any other day you could’ve shrugged it off: but not today.
A tone, a word, a face dragged you into a pit, a chokehold, a fog.
It stings. But hey: you are not what has happened to you.
You’re not someone else’s fake idea of who they think you should be.
You’re more than a backroom whisper where rumors lose reality
— you are more than seedy surface opinions born in a broth of fantasy.
You are beloved by a cosmic king of constancy
who has narrated a different history over today, and everyday, and for eternity.
He underlines, highlights, italicizes you apart from who you think you are: and He is writing you with a furious final love.
Don’t let a bad mood steal you; don’t let a bad day say more about you than today.
Because it’s just today.
Let love say good morning.

— J.S.

Originally posted here on my Tumblr.

Published on …!

Hello beloved friends!

My post on Christian art was published at!

Check it here.

Prepare to be slightly offended.

The original article is here.

Love y’all!

— J.S.

Are Depression and Anxiety a Choice?

Anonymous asked a question:

A lot of hurting young people on my dash. Is depression and anxiety a choice? My pastor believes it is. “Generational curses”, “biblical strongholds”, etc. Thoughts?

All right, dammit: Who is this pastor? I’m a fifth degree black belt and I can break into a house by scaling a wall, so give me an address and a picture and I’ll have a friendly interrogation with him. I’m trying to see what he means — but no.

Seriously though, most people who don’t suffer from depression or anxiety just don’t get it. It’s like telling someone you have a migraine and they offer you a glass of water. You sort of want to punch their face off.

Pseudo-biblical language that doesn’t even speak to reality only shortcuts a huge issue. You can tell me to “rebuke it in Jesus’ name” all day long, but I need some freaking help.

Let’s get this part right: while not all our emotions point to legitimate choices, having feelings is NOT wrong. You’re allowed to feel your feelings, all right? It’s okay to be a human being and no one should ever blame you for that.

If you’re denying your emotions, you’re also denying your humanness. Even the spoiled little princess on the latest reality show gets a fair hearing on why she flipped a desk about getting the wrong-colored car (hint: it’s not about the car, but her emptiness). What’s important then is to examine why this is happening and how to react in the moment.

People go through different seasons and occasionally experience severe internal weather patterns that you don’t just “choose” your way out of. There’s no easy off-button for those cloudy emotional fogs that suddenly overtake you. A lot is at work here — upbringing, situations, spiritual warfare, personality — so blanket-answers will not help.

Continue reading “Are Depression and Anxiety a Choice?”

Lord, This Prayer

Lord, this prayer is for anyone —
with a pair of bruised hands and baggage-burned eyes,
a thousand pound soul and languished sighs.
If you’re bound up, shackled up, beat down, held down,
giving in, giving up, at the limit, at the end
— just stay a step. One more.
God, receive us, free us, renew our senses, put the color back into things, to taste the dimmest light seeping in.
Give back to us something like joy and motion.
Not “how it used to be,”
but the flip of a page, the next chapter,
the ready texture of a blank white sheet ready for the feather-dipped black to begin again.
Lord, this prayer is for anyone.

— J.S.

Quote: Encouragement

At times we don’t think we deserve encouragement, as if they’re encouraging some ‘fake version’ of ourselves that wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny. We downplay it not out of humility, but out of a secret sense of shame. ‘Well if they really knew me,’ we say, ‘then they would run.’ Or, ‘I need to catch up to these compliments.’ But you know: God knows you better than you know you, and He still loves that mess. He still encourages you. He sends people to brag on you; not some future version of you but you right now, because He can see what you cannot. Don’t twist that into pride or despair. Let it be part of who you’re becoming; no less, no more.

Originally posted here.

Quote: Where You Are

When we are unsatisfied, it’s easy to look back and say “that’s where I went wrong, so I have to go back and undo everything to that point”. But you are where you are, so the only thing that makes sense is to look forward. You can have peace and joy from the Lord today, if you aren’t too busy thinking about yesterday.

— Lee Younger

Never Over

Maybe you totally blew it today.
That Sunday sermon about peace and patience and purity totally convicted you, and you swore to God for the fiftieth time that you’d re-double your grit and fortitude.
But you messed it up. You lost it in traffic, went off on your family, went on that website again.
You thought, “I’m a fake, phony, fraud. Who am I fooling? I know how I really am, and that can’t change”
—except that’s life. We don’t get it right every time. You’re human, you fail, and that’s why Jesus came to die for you.

So you had a good run and then fell flat on your face:
but by faith we are no longer under condemnation, we are being re-created in the image of our God, His mercies are new every morning, and He who began a good work in you will carry it unto completion. The outer flesh is perishing but the inner-you is being renewed day by day: and you are not where you could be, but you are not where you once were.
Through all of it, God won’t change on you: and that’s how you will. Press into Him on that, and He is gracious for another opportunity to give over the glory, however imperfectly.
Get up, go again. Make it right where you can; learn from where you can’t, and trust Him for tomorrow.
The story ain’t over.

— J.S.

Quote: Mere Sentiment

The phrase “Jesus loves you” is way more than a mere sentiment or a cute bumper sticker. You want to be noticed. You want to be treasured and prized and the fact is that you are more cherished than you could ever grasp. Jesus pursues you. He rejoices over you with singing. He never sleeps, but instead guards and watches over your life. He longs for you. The truth is, you are more loved and noticed and adored than any celebrity ever was by their biggest fan.

— Lee Younger

Jesus Says Take A Break

You need a break.      

I know you hate this idea, and so do I, but you really need to take a break.

Everyone around you is multi-tasking, phone-apping, book-cramming, reading or scheduling or building or flying – and you suspect they’re all more productive than you, so you’re pushing, sweating, clenching, bleeding to get this done. 

But you: you really need a break.

God commands rest.  How could He command rest?  I’d rather read my Bible and fight for the offering plate than REST.

Many of us have bought into the neurotic productivity of American Do-Ism, and it seems like everyone is inventing something, starting a grassroots nonprofit, going to the gym four times a day, cooking immaculate meals, hiking to Europe in their backyard; so no, I won’t take a break, I can’t take a break, I have to keep up or shut up.

But a funny thing happens when you refuse God’s commands. Those commands, by the way, are not demands, but a vision of how you work best. When they’re not followed, the very core of your humanity can break down. You can probably already feel it: the restlessness, the twitchiness, the constant checking of your phone. 

God knows how we’re made.  He knows that if I don’t take a break today, and tomorrow, and for a long time, that I’ll eventually consume more energy than I can create and my spirit will be crushed.  It won’t be any one thing on my schedule or any one exam or any one person: but the accumulated weight will be too much to bear, and I’ll either melt down or check out.

Continue reading “Jesus Says Take A Break”

Quote: Good Church Kid

When people ask, ‘You go to church? You’re a Christian?’ — what most people really mean is, ‘So you’re a good church kid? You don’t curse or smoke or drink or kick old ladies?’ And most of us answer, ‘Yeah, I’m trying.’ Except going to church doesn’t make us good, nor is church a special place for good people. The word Christian has become this loaded label that now means what we do instead of who we are. We’re adopted by a gracious good heavenly Father; we don’t ‘try’ to be His because He’s already called us to Him. The Real-Life Christian says, ‘I’m honestly just a broken mess who met Jesus and he is blowing me up.’ So when people ask about church, we can say, ‘I don’t know what you mean by that, but all I know is there’s nothing good in me except God in me, and everything bad in me, God is working on that.

Originally posted here.

Quote: Prying

“God will not hold us responsible to understand the mysteries of election, predestination and the divine sovereignty. The best and safest way to deal with these truths is to raise our eyes to God and in deepest reverence say, ‘O Lord, Thou knowest.’ Those things belong to the deep and mysterious profound of God’s omniscience. Prying into them may make theologians, but it will never make saints.”

— A.W. Tozer

The Weird Subculture of “Christian Dating”

Anonymous asked:

How do you feel or have personally experienced the Christian subculture’s treatment or approach towards dating/courting/romantic relationships?


You know, I had really bought into the modern “Christian” idea of dating because it appeals to the legalistic Pharisee in all of us.  It’s not all bad, but it often results in a panicked paranoia about the opposite sex that leads to unhealthy self-slavery.

Basically, the Christian subculture of dating says:

– Don’t date.

– If you date, do “courtship,” which is dating only for marriage.

– The warning: if you decide to date, you give your heart and soul away.

– If you break up, you’re practicing for divorce.

– Sex is bad, filthy, gross, and disgusting.  So save it for marriage.


The thing is, I completely understand this rigid idea of dating.  It’s a reactionary philosophy to all the messed up Hollywood values perpetuated in dumb romantic comedies.  So to the average Christian, it makes sense to “only date for marriage” and “guard the pieces of your heart.” 

But the opposite of one idea doesn’t make a good idea.

To unabashedly quote myself, this is essentially what “Christian” dating is saying:

Screw all those people who have a traumatic past of dating because they’re obviously evil serial daters and life is black-and-white and there’s no hope for people who have given away pieces of their purity.  Just line up all your ex’s in a room and look at how dirty you are.  Jesus can restore broken people to a brand new life, except if you dated some loser who played your innocence and stole your childhood when you didn’t know any better since Freud says that’s subconsciously all your fault.  Sorry, Jesus saves — his salvation-juice for only the good people.


I absolutely believe that we should be careful about who we date and to set high standards for it.  You should never have to settle for less than what you feel you deserve.  There should definitely be safe physical boundaries, and yes, sex is awesome and it’s only awesome within marriage.

BUT: We need to relax a little here.

Continue reading “The Weird Subculture of “Christian Dating””

The Totally Awkward Bible Study: And Four Ways To Push Forward

You’ve been there at church on a Wednesday night or small group or post-sermon discussion where somebody has the sheet of questions, there’s the go-around of Doritos and ginger ale, and then comes the horrible show-stopping inquisition —

“What are your thoughts on that?”

Oh, this guy got trained good — he’s not asking “yes” or “no” questions. He wants thoughts.

Then the cavernous silence, like God looking for Adam in the garden after the Fall. You look for fig leaves under the seat. All you got is ranch chips and a styrofoam cup of creamy wonder from the He-Brews Coffee Bar.

No one moves, twiddles a thumb, or even breathes: because a sign of life would indicate you want to speak, and getting called on is worse than the moment you use the table of contents in the Bible.

And then like watching a car accident in slow-motion, the leader’s neck moves his head towards you and he asks, “Why don’t we start with you?”

Chairs creaking. Looking for a trap door, fire alarm, paper bag, smoke bomb, taser.

The only way it could get more awkward is if you karate chopped the guy next to you and jumped out a window yelling, “They’ll never get me!”

I feel you on this one. It’s pretty uncomfortable to just talk deep at the drop of a hat, and an insensitive leader with a low EQ — bless his heart — will just trample on your natural defenses. No one can go from zero to vulnerable that easily. If a Bible study means to get at the core of our human struggle, then we should probably expect a lot of silence.

So hey: awkwardness is okay, and there’s a way to handle it that’s more like a scalpel than a broad sword.

Whether you’re the leader or shy enough to use your turtleneck as a hoodie, here are four ways to push forward.

Continue reading “The Totally Awkward Bible Study: And Four Ways To Push Forward”

Quote: With Words

Let’s be kind with our words. It’s certainly not your ultimate responsibility in how a life turns out, but you’ll be one of the voices who echoes down the trajectory of condemnation or encouragement. If you’re a condemner, you’ll be the one they had to overcome or the one to which they eventually succumbed. If you encouraged, you were the hand reaching down through the swamp to lift up and out, the one bright spot who unlocked endless possibilities. I’m not about to join the same-sound choir of this condemning world. Even if it’s a tough word of rebuke, I’ll dare to love you all the way.

Twists, Turns, Loss, and Burns

Life is full of messy left turns, sour disappointments, twists into hell, sudden violent shifts — a messy gritty jagged journey we would never write for ourselves.
You’ll want to spiral into numbness.
To retaliate, alleviate, hesitate, to shake a tiny fist at God.
But this is life. A story of left turns and loss.
You’ll want to withdraw from the worst of it: but looking back, your tapestry will be full of color, heat, wild with rain.
So let hurt hurt. Let the twists burn. Let highs be highs and lows be lows. Do not refuse the sun nor the moon.
Pain is redeemed in the end: for God must finish the sentence.
The one who lives will highlight their greatest joy with their deepest sorrow. Making music, carving a story, making life.

— J.S. Park

Quote: Trust Him

Trust that God is working something in you now, something you can’t imagine, a miracle beyond proportion.
Look beyond circumstances, long nights, broken trophies, mental arguments, the swirl of gossip, the false self-talk that you’ve rehearsed over and over.
Leave yesterday where it belongs.
Don’t cave in to what has happened to you.
God says you are more than that — because you are His.
As hard as it sounds: you are loved, you are treasured, you are written on the heart and mind of your Creator.
Rejoice and revel in what He has done, is doing, will do.

— J.S. Park

Your Friend’s Passion

If your friend is passionate about something, then it’s important to you too: because this is important to your friend. You don’t have to get it, but don’t be the one who rags on it. Why would you even do that? Why strangle a voice? Why dampen passion when there is so little of it in the world? Rejoice with those rejoice, mourn with those who mourn, and maybe you should join your friend on that adventure.

— J.S. Park