You’re Doing Better Than You Think


My dear beloved friend:

– No one really has it all together yet. We force so many self-pressuring parameters on our performance that most of us are neurotic, twitchy, over-productive busybodies with no real destination. In a culture where we celebrate only victory and are scared to talk about defeat: please don’t measure yourself on an impossible grading scale. Don’t measure your private moments with everyone else’s highlight reels.

– Mistakes are how you learn. Everyone is afraid of failure: so we protect ourselves by bargaining with the teacher or begging for extensions or ensuring we never get a scraped knee. Such a pampered coddled culture will keep you feeling safe for a while, but it’ll also keep you sterile, shrink-wrapped, and cold. It’s a lifeless journey. It’s okay to make mistakes, and occasionally it’s even better. Scrape a knee, brush it off, get up and move on. Learn from the past and laugh with it too.

– You’re doing better than you think. You’re in the middle of your motion, so it’s hard to see where you are. But so long as you’ve been taking one heavy step forward after another, no matter how awkward your stumbling, then this is worth celebrating. Every moment you’ve done right is a miracle in itself.

– Be willing to pursue a new dream. Sometimes we try so hard to grab our old dreams that we’re not open to new ones. We look too long in the rearview instead of what’s ahead of us. I’ve missed a lot of opportunities this way. But keep your eyes open for open doors, and be flexible enough for a new vision that will be even better than the last.

– Dear Christian: Your confidence is in Him. We are works in progress looking towards the work finished, Jesus. We believe in a God who knew we couldn’t ever reach perfection, so perfection came to us. If you feel like you’ve failed today, the very reason Jesus came was to take on your failures, your ego, your pride, your pain, your sorrows, your sin. And He’ll keep working on you until glory. Everything good in you is God in you: and anything bad in you, He’s working on that.

This is His grace.

— J.S. from What The Church Doesn’t Talk About


Big Announcement Tomorrow.

JS Park cup cover

Hello wonderful friends!

Big announcement coming tomorrow.
It might or might not have to do with a book maybe.
— J.S.

Continue reading “Big Announcement Tomorrow.”

My E-Book Is Releasing September 29th Monday!

Hello dear wonderful friends!

My e-book will be released this coming Monday, September 29th!

It’s called What The Church Won’t Talk About: Real Questions From Real People About Raw, Gritty, Everyday Faith.

Here’s the book description:

Continue reading “My E-Book Is Releasing September 29th Monday!”

Quote: Loving Someone


“Loving someone is a process. Whether that’s God, or that’s another sticky human, it’s a process. The movies will say it’s something different but— no matter how instant that first draw to someone is— love is a building process. It’s doors unlocking. It’s windows breaking. It’s the discovery of new rooms inside of yourself. It’s the dark. And it’s the light. And it’s dark and light all scrambled into one. At the root of it, it’s a slow, trusting, building process that starts with letting someone in.”

— Hannah Brencher


Foreword: A Better Place For You, by T.B. LaBerge

TB LaBerge prof

I’m thrilled to have T.B. LaBerge write my Foreword for my upcoming e-book, releasing next week (September 29th!).  He also reveals my first name.

Here it is.  Thank you, my amazing brother!

Continue reading “Foreword: A Better Place For You, by T.B. LaBerge”

Trust, Faith.


I’m discovering that God must be so wise to know all the innumerable outcomes of our poor choices and still orchestrate all the tiny infinitesimal butterfly effects for our good.

I’m finding that God must be so gracious to know all our messed up motives and methods and selfishness and still offer grace at every step, every choice, every fork and branch in the road.

I’m understanding that God must be so compassionate to hear the prayers of billions of people at the same time and still answer them all with individual care at the same exact moment, even to two people sitting right next to each other who can’t stand each other, like a Father who wants us to get along.

I’m trusting that terrible uncontrollable circumstances don’t always need a moral spiritual lesson: but only need the presence of my ever-present Father who embraces me in my darkest shivering and my worst lament. It’s the difference between a friend giving me a lecture or a friend who is simply there. I can hear the lecture one day, but I just need Him first.

I have found that God has always had His providential loving hand in all the ways I’ve failed, entering into the fray like a divine crane to protect and provide and rebuke, writing His story into mine with many things I couldn’t understand then: but now I’m understanding them, even if only a small glimpse of His heart with my frail limited sight.

I’m seeing that His vision is bigger than mine.

— J.S.



Quote: For The Sake


“If I want to get closer to God, I have to stop walking in sin – not just because I don’t like the effects of sin but because I want to draw near to God and you cannot be sinful and get near God. Yes, God promises his rewards to those who diligently seek Him – but knowing Christ for the sake of knowing Him far surpasses rewards – the reward of knowing Him is more than enough. His grace is sufficient.”

— Matt Chandler


Seven Tips on Preaching and Teaching For the First Time

do-you-know-the-mustache-man asked a question:

So I’m speaking to my youth group this Wednesday (I’m 16 and this is the first time speaking at church) and I was just wondering if maybe you had any tips?

My friend, that is awesome. Woo!! Let’s first be grateful to God for this amazing opportunity that you’ve been given.  You and I never earned the right to preach or teach, but were given this honor by the Creator of everything so that others might know Him, be loved by Him, and love Him in return.  Please start there, in a place of humility, recognizing we are absolutely unworthy to teach others with our squishy tiny 3 lb. brains and our half-inch vocal cords, to other squishy fallen human beings from a wild variety of diverse back-stories — except by the grace of God.

I mean that’s really crazy, when you think about it.  I’ve never gotten over that.

I don’t want to give you a formula or checklist because then you might be tempted to follow that instead of Jesus.  So here just a few things to pray about and consider.  You’re not obligated to any of these nor to memorize them, so simply reflect and go forth, my friend.

1) Love your people.  This is obvious, but so very often I forget to love the people who are right in front of me.  Sometimes I’m so quick to check off my awesome agenda of great sermon points, that I forget these are real hurting broken struggling people who care less about my intelligence and more about their maker.  Every word and sentence and theme must be fashioned out of love for your people.  Let your group know that this is a big deal for you and that you’re available outside of preaching time.  If they know you care about them, they’ll remember that more than the message.

2) You be you.  My initial problem in preaching was imitation.  When I first started, I listened to a lot of James MacDonald, who is a fiery aggressive preacher with a booming voice and roughly twenty points in every sermon.  I even took on some of his tone and inflections.  Soon I learned, I wasn’t good at preaching like this.  My strengths were not a booming voice and twenty-point messages.  If you’re not naturally funny, you don’t have to try.  If you’re loud, use that to your advantage. Be comfortable with how God has made you.  Part of trusting God is trusting how He made you to be you in the world.  Let yourself out to play.

Continue reading “Seven Tips on Preaching and Teaching For the First Time”

Of Stars, Of Dust.


Life is short. Time goes fast. Our youth is once. We fly, we crawl, of stars and dust.
We look back: and we wish to be back there.
But dreams are made to be chased.
We define who we are today.
I cherish all that has gone before me: the good, the bad, the stumbling.
And I look forward to future memories.
I trust God for the better story, for the huge scary audacious proposition of following Him into eternity.
And we are fellow travelers over dust, under stars.
We are never too far.
We are the chasers of dreams.
We will fight this good fight.
I will miss you, but love closes the distance.
We will finish this race: together.
Us. Together.

— J.S.



An Entire Life Told In 4 Minutes, 54 Seconds


I was at a funeral for an older gentleman and we were shown a video of his life from birth to death. We watched as he grew up from Kindergarten to high school graduation to becoming a barber and an Air Force pilot and a husband and a father and then his battle with multiple sclerosis, which took his life with a stroke.

It was amazing to see him as a handsome, agile young man with a head of dark flowing hair and the posture of a superhero. Most of us didn’t even know he was a barber. It was amazing to see the wedding photos, this couple growing old together, smiling all the way, his wife by his side to the very end.

The video was four minutes and fifty-four seconds long. An entire life, told through pictures, in less than five minutes.

As selfish as it seems, I wondered about my own video one day. I wondered how it would be be sitting in a building watching my entire life in a slideshow.

I thought about what they would say about me, if some would say “He wasn’t all he was hyped up to be” or “We really lost an amazing person today” or “We disagreed often, and I loved him for it.” I wondered if they would show that picture from third grade when I was at Disney World wearing a giant Mickey Mouse hat with my brother and pretending to eat him. Or that one the day after I got out of the hospital after swallowing a bottle of pills and losing thirteen pounds in three days over a girl. Or the one of me battling to the very last breath over some sickness, all youth behind me, my story at a close.

The pastor said every life cannot control the start or end of their book. But we write the in-between. It’s between us and God and all the merging stories we find of love, heartache, heaven, laughter, doubts, and goodbyes. And the many, many pictures.

It’s quick, you know. We only have so many highlights in that reel. I don’t want my head to be somewhere else when I’m here. I want to be here, now. We think we have forever, but really, it’s just a few minutes. We have a few snapshots, and then it’s gone.

Here’s to celebrating you, and for the memories.

— J.S.



A Faith Crisis: Crushed By Doubt, Questions, and Disconnection (And Some Good News)

Two anonymous questions:

– Hi pastor, i’m a 21 year old girl from philippines. i messaged you before about my doubts about God’s existence and my faith in Him. that was almost a year ago. Praise God that I was able to recover my faith and go back to normal living with God and i believe it became even better. but i feel so sad again right now because my doubts came back just a week ago. the desire to know God is still here but questions are bothering me. i still have lots of things to share. please help me. thank you!

– Hi:), i write to you because i think of you as an understanding and matured faith person so i thought maybe i could share with u my problem.. So, i have a big faith crisis now, like somehow i found myself drowning among doubts … I just started a biblestudy on God’s personality but somehow i found myself on a worst place. As i do the biblestudy something says these “cool things” should make an impact in me, but they dont, like my inner radar would be broken … i wanna thank u that you share things so openly!:)

Hey my dear friends: Please first know that I love you both dearly in Christ, and I know how hard it is to fall into this fog of doubt.  I appreciate you both being so honest and real about this, and I’m also grateful for your encouragement even in the midst of this harder time.

You see, the Big Christian Secret is that every Christian in the world runs into doubts, question, confusion, and frustration, because there isn’t anything wrong with you that isn’t already wrong with everyone else.  This doesn’t make you a bad Christian, but an honest one.

In fact, I would say that every human being who ever existed runs into doubts about their own worldviews, a sort of existential panic about what they truly believe, and it can be downright disorienting.

Here are three simple things we must know.  I have said them many times before and they could sound familiar, so please feel free to skip around.

Continue reading “A Faith Crisis: Crushed By Doubt, Questions, and Disconnection (And Some Good News)”

How’s Your Life After Porn Addiction? And Is There Any Hope To Find a Lust-Free Man?

speaktenderly asked a question:

Since your porn addiction and recovery, do you have freedom in the way you see women now? Are you still affected by objectifying thoughts? I ask as I am a woman, discouraged at the state of men. Just recently a very godly man attempted to push boundaries with me – and it honestly broke my heart. Can you make sense of how men and lust works? Can someone love you and in the next moment hurt you because of being led by lust? Then he claimed it was because he wanted to be close? I need truth.

Hey there my friend, thank you for your honesty, and I’m really sorry about what you just went through.  I know that broken trust is one of the most hurtful things that can happen.

What happened to you is absolutely dead wrong.  If a man goes against your consent, that is completely done and over.  No sympathy, no pity, no pampering.  He cannot rationalize his way out of this one.  You can forgive him, but you don’t ever have to be his friend or anything else.

Inevitably though: Any man that you meet today, no matter how good and godly, will struggle with lust in a lifelong battle of both internal and external turbulence, and while some are better at it than others, you’ll definitely be engaging to fight that battle together.  This goes for women, too, because illegitimate lust is not specific to gender.

About a hundred years ago, most of the sensual lewd images of that day would’ve been bare feet or maybe an ankle bone.  Imagine a bunch of dudes with mustaches and monocles looking at a picture saying, “Unfh, dat ankle.”  I’m being dumb here, but only a few generations before us, we weren’t bombarded with so many visual lures.

I say this knowing that 1) the human heart has always been twisted, and 2) we can’t blame external stimuli for our internal troubles.  But the pervasive access to pornography has certainly heightened our sexual dysfunction, and there’s no doubt that we live in a much more sexualized culture than ever before.  And the US is not even the most sexually “free” nation.  So all this is an uphill reality that needs a new arsenal.

Continue reading “How’s Your Life After Porn Addiction? And Is There Any Hope To Find a Lust-Free Man?”

One Of The Test Covers To My E-Book


My awesome friend Rob made three beautiful book covers for my upcoming e-book, and this is one of them.  It won’t be the final cover, but it was very, very hard not to pick this one.  I still wanted to share it with our beloved blog community.

Look for the book coming soon to Amazon!

Be blessed and love y’all. 🙂

— J.S.



Follow me on Facebook here!

Gritty, Messy, Clumsy, Unpolished, Raw.


The toughest thing is to see a person you love get to the edge of their resolve and quietly fall apart. It’s a slumping of the shoulders or a long hurtful sigh or a sarcastic remark or they blink away a tear. It’s different than hysterics. There’s a silent internal folding like a shot in the gut, a hollow feeling of resigned pointlessness: and it’s so deadly quiet.

In that moment, they may be too embarrassed to ask for help or to expose how weak they really feel. But I hope it’s that exact moment we rush in to hold them up. I hope we fill up that crumpled collapsed space with a word of life. To remind them of their value, worth, dignity, to show the progress they have made up this mountain. I hope we don’t simply plod along when we know there’s something wrong: but we fly in there with the audacity to rebel against their resignation, as gentle as a surgeon and until our voice shakes.

It won’t be pretty. Probably it’ll feel like you’re not even helping. Real love is gritty, messy, clumsy, unpolished, raw. It’s not at all romantic or like a scripted Hollywood epiphany. But our words do not need to be witty or wise or altogether right. We just need someone to fall on, to lift our heavy arms, to be close enough to feel our hot tired breath: even for one more step. We need the hope of vulnerability. And to be that for someone reminds us why we do anything at all. We remember that the fabric of life is together, a journey of side-by-side, so that even a failure is not the end of anything, but only a deepening of you and me.

— J.S.



So About Finding “The One”

givinghimglory asked a question:

Do you think it’s possible to know that the person you’re with is the person you’re going to marry? Even if it’s something that wouldn’t take place until maybe a few more years, is it possible for us to know that the person we’re currently with is the person we’re we’re gonna marry? Does God allow us to know that? And if so how would we know? I’m currently battling with trying to understand this better, and if there’s anything biblical that may go in line with this & your thoughts on this also!

Hey my dear friend, I have two thoughts on this that could make it harder for you to decide, but will hopefully also free you up to make a more informed decision.

1) I absolutely do not believe that “God’s Will” is a fixed straight line.

2) I believe that God is more concerned with who you become than what you do.  He cares about both, but God primarily sees your heart before your choices.

Whenever someone asks me, “Is the person I’m dating the one?” — I always wonder if this is born out of panic or desperation or the anxious urge to be not-single.  Because when you suddenly convince yourself that this person must be the only person for me: then what happens if this person turns out to be way different than what you’ve perceived?  What if they suddenly leave you?  What if they use you up and spit you out?  Are we then trapped by “God’s Will” to keep going?

I think the idea of God’s Will is way more flexible than our self-persuasion, and that it’s unwise to enslave ourselves to a singular picture of how things must work out.  I don’t mean to presume your motives at all: but I wouldn’t want you to get imprisoned by this either.  Some of us who fall for this “fixed blueprint” for God’s Will end up punishing themselves because they think they’re now running after Plan B or some lesser version of God’s plans.

Continue reading “So About Finding “The One””