Question: Falling Away From God & Unimpressed With Jesus

Anonymous asked:

– I feel like I’m on the point of breaking off completely from Christ already. I don’t know what part He plays in my life and as much as I know that faith isn’t just a ‘feeling’ thing, and that valleys are meant to shape us, I’m tired of being down and unimpressed by Christ. It’s like I’m waiting upon God to do something great in my life and woo me back. How do I believe Jesus truly want the best for me and that He is bringing me into my destiny? How do I believe, when I don’t believe?

(I made you anonymous just in case.)

Dear friend,

I appreciate your honesty very much. I believe you are much closer to the heart of God than you think, and you actually get it.

Please let me start with the hard news.

I could probably say a hundred cliches that you’ve already heard and give you some inspirational pick-me-up pep talk that makes you try harder — but that’s probably how you got here in the first place. I don’t have that kind of speech, if this is what you were looking for.

I wish I had some magical mind-blowing words that could revolutionize you back to a passionate Christian life. I’ve also written plenty to defend the faith. But no one has a silver bullet, and even the Bible can feel cold some days, and maybe you were fed some weird puny casual concept of God that doesn’t come close to Him.

You could’ve ended up here because no one gave you a clear theology on pain. Perhaps no one told you that there would be long dry seasons of silence from God and self-loathing and deep valleys of doubt. I don’t mean to blame anyone else: but for whatever reason, no one really told you all this, and that it’s okay. We all go through it. You’re not alone.

You do need to know that God absolutely loves you no matter where you are, and that fact remains an eternal fact — but I also know that doesn’t suddenly flip the switch. As much as I’d love to wave a wand and bring you around with a 3-step formula, the Christian life is not that easy. Actually: it’s dang hard. Following Jesus is really good news, but it’s not going to be rubbing your tummy telling you “Everything will be okay now.” It’s a good deal, but a tough one.

Continue reading “Question: Falling Away From God & Unimpressed With Jesus”

If You’re Not Good At Anything, That’s Okay (And It’s Not True Anyway)


I was watching a popular Korean talent show where they bring up these incredible performers and then proceed to encourage them and build them up for the next thirty minutes while the audience genuinely cheers them on.  It’s the opposite of an American reality show — but then I thought, not really.

While I love the idea here, there’s a second hidden language that is actually saying, “You have value because you’re talented.  We are cheering your ability.  We like what you can do.”  You can see the performers desperately vying for the approval of everyone watching, and I can imagine the lonely disappointment later in life when they keep trying to recreate that applause.

I know that no one gets on these shows by being lazy or eating chips on a couch, but it’s easy to think we are loved by the size of our talents.  It’s easy to become addicted to dancing on a stage for the thirty minutes of attention until the novelty wears off.

There are plenty of people who feel mediocre and subpar in their particular field, but they are just as treasured and prized by the God who created them for the simple reason of breathing them into existence. Maybe you don’t have a stage or a TV audience, but you certainly have just as much value to your Creator as the guy with the microphone. 

I think talent is wonderful, and I thank God for infusing us with so many interesting gifts, but your worth is not measured to the degree of your gifting in the eyes of a worldly system.  You are not on a metric scale that weighs your usefulness to society.  You do not earn God’s merit based on how the majority views you.  You are adored by a God who unconditionally accepts you as you are. 

Continue reading “If You’re Not Good At Anything, That’s Okay (And It’s Not True Anyway)”

Quote: Release Self

If you’re making a judgment based on a false premise or a faulty paradigm, you are not only misinformed — you are perpetuating a lie. Do not tell the whole story based on half the story. You have no idea what this does to people, what it does to the fabric of our community. When you casually dismiss another human being based on small isolated thinking and halfway hearsay, you not only choke the growth of people: you destroy yourself in the process. Become the other person and consider their scars, their history, their inner turmoil. You do this for yourself everyday. Release selfishness and do it for the other.

— J

Loving The Unlovable Is Not Very Lovable


Hello beloved friends!

This is the first part of a new series called “Faith Struggle: The Messy Uphill Climb of Faith.”

The message is titled: Loving The Unlovable Is Not Lovable

Stream here or download directly here!  Save it for a car ride or listen before you sleep.


The Scripture is John 13:34. Some things I talk about are: Three Reasons why it’s so hard to love people, when pastors get road rage, why God has commands for sex and money, Jesus breaking Judas’s toe, and God ripping off the roof of your church.

Be blessed and love y’all!

— J

Question: I Am Just Struggling Like Crazy

Two Anonymous Questions:

(Edited for length.)

I am a Christian. I have doubts and habitual sins. I go to church, then after a few weeks I stop and isolate myself from other people. I can’t even pray right now because every time I try, I get silent and blank.

I do bad stuff because I don’t have a good or useful testimony. I don’t really know what to ask you but I just want to tell this to someone. Thank you.

I’ve been trying to be saved for a long time and battling with the war inside me of fear, anxiety, doubt, unbelief, confusion.

No matter how hard I try I cannot believe Jesus died for me. It’s so stupid even writing it seems stupid. There’s this gripping fear in my stomach that makes me doubt it so much. It’s scary just knowing you know the truth but cant seem to believe it!


Dear wonderful friends:

Welcome to the world of honest Christianity.

You are one step closer to the heart of God and way further ahead than most of our misguided church.

Do you know who else feels the way you feel?

Well: pretty much every single person who has ever lived, including the most rock-solid celebrated heroes in the Bible.

Think: What you’re really saying is, “I am like every other human being in the history of the world.”

Let’s not be so hard on ourselves — and don’t be hard on yourself for being hard on yourself, yeah?

Everyone at some point in their life doubts God, His Word, His Son, and themselves.  Not to mention: they also doubt their spouses, society, the nation, their emotions, careers, friends, family, and the direction of humanity. 

Everyone struggles: and it does NOT mean you’re a bad person or that something is wrong with you and it especially does not mean that you’re sinning.

God doesn’t expect you to be pain-free, question-free, and doubt-free in order to be a “good Christian.”  He also doesn’t promise you that kind of life.  There will be many dark seasons of the soul, and some (like myself) will experience this more than others. 

As I’ve said before: What matters is not the moment of defeat and darkness, but the moment right after.

Continue reading “Question: I Am Just Struggling Like Crazy”

Quote: Trying Too Hard

The fear of pleasing people is that when you don’t, you’ll somehow die or jump off the stairs or spontaneously explode. It feels like death. But if you think it through to the logical end, there isn’t some terrible consequence if you don’t make people happy. They shrug and move on. The sky doesn’t fall. Your world keeps going. It’s okay to say no. Those magnified fears are unfounded, and you are free to be the person that others would already be happy with if you weren’t trying so hard to please them.

— J.S

Quote: Reality, Eyes, Lens

Instead of approaching those with different beliefs and practices from a position of strength – in which we simply engage in the act of agreement or disagreement (which means comparing the other in relation to our own pre-established horizon) – literalistic listening asks us to approach from a position of weakness. It means that we don’t simply look at the other through our own eyes, but we attempt to look at ourselves through the eyes of the other.

The result is that, instead of seeing the other as strange and alien, we actually begin to encounter ourselves as strange and alien; we begin to glimpse how the things that we take to be eternally true are actually constructs with a history. Instead of agreeing or disagreeing with the other, we ask, ‘What do I look like to you?’ In doing this we do not simply filter what they say through our lens but are confronted by the reality of our lens.

— Peter Rollins

Question: Being Called To Something, Or Not

Anonymous asked:

How am I supposed to know when I’m being “called” to something? It doesn’t seem that God calls me to anything, I just work with hit and miss. Is that wrong?


Please first allow me the grace to point you to two prior posts —

– Four Thoughts About Finding God’s Will

– No Purpose? No Problem

To answer you more specifically: You are totally okay to try everything until you find something. You don’t have to figure out your life in a day, and certainly not in a couple moments of prayer.

There are some people who figure themselves out “faster,” but we get suffocated when we try to compare how we bloom. I meet too many college students in a culture of “glancing sideways,” from the microcosm of hours put into studying for an exam to the macrocosm of portfolios and resumes and employment opportunities. It’s all a desperate cutthroat race and I completely understand it: but you’ll do a disservice to yourself if you look at others to define your “rate of speed.”

We cannot take our cue of God’s calling from a culture of comparison. I’m reminded of Jesus here: Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you …

Continue reading “Question: Being Called To Something, Or Not”

Quote: Dig Deep, Get Dirty

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.

The truth is that actually battling depression is a messy task of digging deep and getting dirty. That’s why a lot of ignorant ministry workers use half-baked language to escape the gritty work of diving in the deep end. Almost no one naturally moves towards a depressed person because we think, “Well he’s rich, he’s good-looking, she’s got it together, why would she cut herself, why would he be on meds” — and that’s really a way of saying, “I’m too selfish to serve that person. I only serve people that are nice and clean and pure. I’m too lazy to understand.”

It was Jesus who stepped into the mess without qualifying anyone, and he calls us to do the same. He didn’t just tell us that our sin-broken condition is bad: he showed us a way out and a path forward towards him, to the greatest joy. If you can help someone make even a step in that journey, they will be grateful forever.

— J.S.
from this post

Don’t Give Up On Your Blog

Image from

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.

Question: I’m A Screwed Up Hypocritical Pharisee — Is There Grace For Me?

Anonymous asked:

So I have discovered that, I’m a hypocrite and a Pharisee. I ended up disappointing my pastor and my spiritual family with my dishonesty. I feel that I have no strength to face Jesus or my church because of my sinfulness. I am honestly confused with my faith and lukewarm in everything that I do. I want to turn and follow Jesus but I feel that I have crossed the line so now I don’t even know if I’m forgiven by God. What I’m asking is does Jesus really meet us where we are? Even Pharisees?


If I could talk to you face to face, I’d give you an awkwardly long hug and start from there. Please, please, please believe: God still loves you and He’s still rooting for you, and so am I.

I’m not just saying that. Your message shows that you’re owning up to what you’ve done. I see no hint of defensive posture or making excuses. Right now, you have more insight and self-awareness about your condition than the majority of churchgoers — and while I don’t mean to compare or keep score, you’re in the right place. God is already doing something in you. Yes, you might lose opportunities in the world — perhaps big ones that you’ll mourn over — but you’ll always have a second chance with God.

I understand what it’s like to disappoint people. I know what it’s like to walk into church unable to look at people in the eye. I know what it’s like to believe you can’t do anything right and to think an entire ministry hates you. I especially know what it’s like to imagine a room full of people who are talking about you, berating you, saying “I always knew he was a little weird,” and maybe saying some truth in there, but filled with their own embellishments.

I beat myself up almost daily over stupid things I have said and for stupid actions that I can hardly explain myself. You know: there’s that late-night twitch when you replay some terrible thing you did, over and over. It’s a loop of self-condemnation, and I’ve been there.

I’m not trying to play the victim-card. We know what we’re responsible for. Sure, our motives might be a hot mess and our actions messier still, but we still know where we got it wrong. People might be rightly upset with you, and you need to let them have that, which it appears like you’re doing.

This is why the moment of defeat matters less than the moment right after. That probably sounds like the Christianese thing to say, but I am so dang serious. You can’t beat yourself up forever. You can’t keep sitting in the back of church with your head down. You can’t revel in your own shame and self-pity as if this is paying your debt. You might think, “I need to show these people I’m really sorry” and I understand that mentality, but there is no end to that, and life goes on, and so must you.

Continue reading “Question: I’m A Screwed Up Hypocritical Pharisee — Is There Grace For Me?”

Quote: Ever Look Back

If you ever look back on events of your life and wince at your stupidity, naiveté, foolishness, pride, unkindness, pettiness, jealousy, insecurity and all the rest of it, then you have a reason to rejoice because even the acknowledgement of your errors and the desire to move forward is progress from what you have been to what you are becoming, from who you were to who you now are.

— from this blog

The Voice of Self-Condemnation: Mental Arguments and The Encroaching Chokehold of Small Town Opinions


I often imagine what other people say about what I’m doing and it’s always the people who don’t really like me. I mentally argue with them until I’ve finally proven I’m not who I used to be.  I’ll spend hours inside my own head explaining my side of the story and why you need to know I’m not a bad guy and that I’m sorry for the person I was before.

Seriously.  Hours.  I can’t seem to do a single good thing without the strangling voice of condemnation cutting into my head.  It squeezes the value of any good I could do.  Even when I win the argument in my angry fantasies, I’m not at peace; I’m more mad than when I started.  It’s terribly exhausting.

When someone aims a harmless joke at me, I repeat that phrase in my head over and over, rotating it like a dirty jewel that has locked up my freedom.  It’s a joke, right?  There’s not truth in every joke, is there? 

It’s worse when it’s actual discouragement. 

Actual things people have said to me:

“You’re just ugly.”

“I’ve lost all respect for you.”

“You’re beyond repair.”

“All this God-stuff can’t change you.”

“I know who you really are.”

“Obviously you hate children.”

“You’re a lazy arrogant self-promoter.”

“You’re just a nobody pastor.  You’ll never make it.”

I imagine a room full of these people laughing at me, shaking their heads saying, “I always knew something was wrong with him.”  It keeps me up at night. I wake up to it in the mirror.  I get a glimpse of how Jesus was humiliated, rejected, abandoned, and cast aside. 

Sometimes I write a secret arrow aimed at the mean people and I hope they feel rebuked and convicted and the next time they see me they’re so, so sorry.  Most likely they’re hardly thinking of me, except when they do, which is less than the loop in my head.

Life can feel like a constant game of compensation and always apologizing for the past and there’s this paranoia that I’m always doing something wrong, that life will pay me back, that others will misinterpret me no matter what I do.

Continue reading “The Voice of Self-Condemnation: Mental Arguments and The Encroaching Chokehold of Small Town Opinions”

Quote: Encounter the Other

Instead of approaching those with different beliefs and practices from a position of strength – in which we simply engage in the act of agreement or disagreement (which means comparing the other in relation to our own pre-established horizon) – literalistic listening asks us to approach from a position of weakness. It means that we don’t simply look at the other through our own eyes, but we attempt to look at ourselves through the eyes of the other.

The result is that, instead of seeing the other as strange and alien, we actually begin to encounter ourselves as strange and alien; we begin to glimpse how the things that we take to be eternally true are actually constructs with a history. Instead of agreeing or disagreeing with the other, we ask, ‘What do I look like to you?’ In doing this we do not simply filter what they say through our lens but are confronted by the reality of our lens.

Peter Rollins, The Idolatry of God (2013)

Question: Recent Book Recommendations

Anonymous asked:
– Hello! I would like to ask for book recommendations for someone sick. My friend was recently diagnosed w/ lupus and I’d like to bring her closer to God and stronger in her faith. 🙂 thanks in advance and a response would really mean a lot. God bless!

Hey my friend.  There are many good books for this, but here are a few very encouraging ones.

Continue reading “Question: Recent Book Recommendations”

Question: So About Soulmates

Anonymous asked:

Hello! Do you believe in soul mates? Do we pick and choose who we want or does God have a way of placing a certain someone in our lives?


I say this with as much grace as possible, but my very short answer is 1) sort of and 2) both.

I do believe God has a plan and a blueprint and a vision for your life: but I also believe that if we fall off the tracks, God still has something else in mind.

Mathematically, the idea of a “soulmate” doesn’t work out. If you don’t end up with your soulmate, then they don’t end up with their soulmate, which means their soulmate’s soulmate doesn’t either, and so it goes for infinity.

But more than that, the idea of a soulmate can accidentally lead to a passive laziness as if a knight will bust in the room and rescue you from a tower. It can lead to a paralyzing fear if you target-lock on someone and lose them.  It can make us stop working on anything, thinking that marriage “completes you,” that the chemistry is enough to keep it working, that the person you’re looking for “accepts” you and is not interested in pushing you to your higher self in Christ — and I know none of that is your intention, but I’ve seen it happen so much that it’s worth mentioning.

I find that friendship is already extremely difficult work. I feel like I’ve known my best friends for longer than I have, and certainly there’s a comfort and openness and honesty with them that allows me to be totally screwy around them: but friendship, even the kind that feels like fate, requires hard work. It needs nutrition, sustenance, and caretaking, like everything else. Maybe “soul-mate-ness” brought us together, but it doesn’t keep thriving from it.

Continue reading “Question: So About Soulmates”

Quote: Fill Them Up

I realize more and more that everyone is broken. We are all broken. We all crave attention from people. We all have issues with gossip. We all struggle with being honest. It surprises me that I’m surprised by this. I’m still surprised when I discover the cracks in people. But when we’re more aligned with God, we’re able to find those cracks and fill them up with love. We can’t ignore them and pretend that they’re not there. We can’t just put a bandage on them and think that it fixed the problem. But all we can do is just fill them up with God’s love.

Jealous Haterade Downgrade: Death By Nitpicking


My friend was telling me about this really good guest preacher at a recent retreat he attended — one I had preached at several times myself — and immediately my puny wicked mind tried to find flaws in the preacher’s theology.  It was so automatic I felt the criticism go up my throat like acid reflux.

Why did my mind jump to this right away?

Why so jealous?

The whole time, my friend was saying how great this preacher was.  I should’ve been thanking God for working through the guy.  But my pathetic little brain was itching to play “gotcha,” looking for ways to poke holes in the sermon illustrations, finding an easy weak spot to conclude some horrible character flaw. 

“Well if he talked about impurity, he must be a porn addict.  You know, these passive-aggressive preachers are just exorcising their demons in the pulpit.”

Seriously: I was ready to say something this awful.

What if the preacher had actually sucked?  Would I have been happy about that?  Because part of me thinks: Yes, I would’ve been thrilled.

Suddenly the truth bubbled up through my conscience:

I don’t want anyone to be better than me.

It was violently disorienting.  I felt sick to stomach.  Finally I forced my mouth to say, “I’m really glad you were convicted by the sermon.”  The words barely made it through my clenched contorted teeth and I seethed it through my pursed lips.

Why was it so hard to compliment this preacher I’ve never met before?

Continue reading “Jealous Haterade Downgrade: Death By Nitpicking”

Question: How To Introduce Christ

Hey Joon! I feel like you’ve written something about this somewhere before but I’m having trouble finding it. What are some steps to make towards introducing a person to Christ (specifically a friend you’ve talked with about differences in beliefs before)? Thanks!


Thank you for this awesome question and for caring about people. We all know this is a scary topic because it’s one of the most uncomfortable parts about the Christian life. When we evangelize, we feel like we’re being “pushy” or “imperialistic” or “narrow-minded,” but at the same time we want to see people saved — and I understand that suffocating discomfort.

I think the main thing here is that most of us (and I’m not saying you do this) feel pressured to lay out the Gospel with all the correct doctrine and a perfect balance of fear-filled holiness and sugar-gooey grace. I sense a lot of desperation with guys that not only struggle to evangelize, but also have to get every part of it right. It’s nerve-racking.

While I’m all for a clear, complete Gospel, this cannot happen with a three-point systematic outline. It’s too easy to walk up to a stranger, drop a pamphlet in his lap, and tell him, “Think about it.” Again, I’m not saying you’re doing that and there’s probably room for street-preachers and door-to-door witnessing, but even late-night theological conversations are just shortcuts. While a pamphlet or presentation might be technically correct, it doesn’t really show what Jesus is about.

Continue reading “Question: How To Introduce Christ”

Quote: But Dust

He who grows in grace remembers that he is but dust, and he therefore does not expect his fellow Christians to be anything more. He overlooks ten thousand of their faults, because he knows his God overlooks twenty thousand in his own case. He does not expect perfection in the creature, and, therefore, he is not disappointed when he does not find it.

— Charles H. Spurgeon