The Only Credibility We Have Left.


The way of propositional politics in the hands of fallen men always crushes the people it was meant to restore. It weaponizes an idea into picket signs, angry rants, loud bloggers, hapless trolls, and mob mentality.

Our minds are so Pavlovian-conditioned to lock people into categories that we forget: no one ever fits the one-dimensional cartoon-caricature that we wish them to be. This sort of prejudice makes it easier to bash others by dehumanizing them, until all we’re left with is an unrecognizable political tapeworm that feeds itself and helps no one else.

Jesus knew that we could not affect change by categorical conflict, because it would be like fighting for a territory that becomes a scorched wasteland after the fight is over.

So Jesus stopped the human cycle of binary wars by calling us all equally loved, equally dignified, and equally heard. Jesus saw each individual as a holistic, multi-dimensional, complex, conflicted person and met them in their own condition, wherever they were — because this is what grace does.

Without the same compassion of Christ for the people he loves, all our bravado and chest-beating is absolutely pointless. We will be buried with our picket signs without having known a single human life. We will have succeeded at minor skirmishes and stomped on human stories. We will win at social reform but still be spiritually deformed. We will legislate laws on disagreeable issues but lose the human heart — on both sides.

I hope we’re not just clamoring for faceless disembodied ideology, but that our sleeves are rolled up in the mess of hurt people.

The only credibility left is compassion.

I pray our voices be burdened with the weight of such conviction.

J.S. Park

Meanwhile, Start.



My friend: I know you might have had a picture of how you wanted your life to be, but some uncontrollable tragedy swept it away. We all have a certain picture of how we want our lives to be, and sometimes it gets ripped from our grip and smashed to pieces. Our dreams can get crushed in an instant, in the most horrible ways, with irreversible results.

We might be living in a life right now that doesn’t feel like it’s ours, you and I. We might be in a different place than we had hoped for. Today could be different than you had imagined and planned a year ago. Your heart will pull for another chance, another door, another world.
We wake up in a daze, wondering how things changed so fast.
We wait, hoping it’ll go back to the way it was.
The three hardest words to live with are often: In the meantime.
Yet — in the meantime is the whole thing.

If you’re waiting for your “real life” to start, after graduation or when you’re married or when you get to the big city, you’ll stay in a holding pattern. The time will pass anyway. The tide doesn’t wait.

So I hope you’ll consider starting in the meanwhile.
When a dream dies, it dies. We can mourn. We can pound our chest. We can bleed. And at some point, we must let go and not linger. You can open your hands to another dream. I hope you find this new dream. I hope you don’t try to revive something that’s dead.

You can get over what’s over, because you’re not over yet.
When the ten count is over: you can count to eleven.

What comes next will not be what you had envisioned. It might be better or it might be worse. I hope you will keep dreaming anyway. I hope you will consider God can do a new thing.

You are free to pursue something new.

J.S. Park

For Fellow Fighters of Depression: A Quick Survey


So I’m working on a book about depression and I need your help. I’ve wrestled with depression my whole life, and I feel completely inadequate trying to write about it. Most writing on it tends to leave behind a certain kind of person or two (perhaps inevitably so), and I don’t want to leave anyone behind. I would love your vulnerable input.

I want to ask fellow sufferers of depression (and feel free to skip any of these)—

1) Which parts of the conversation around depression really bother you?
2) What kind of dialogue have you found helpful?
3) Do you feel that depression is more of a disease or a choice? Why?
4) Has prescribed medicine been helpful? Why or why not?
5) How do you help a friend who’s going through depression?
6) What does depression feel like?


You can also join the conversation on Facebook here.

Please feel free to email me if you’d like to stay anonymous, as well. Love you and thank you, friends.
pastorjspark@gmail.com

J.S.

Also, I’m making this book free for anyone who asks. A purchase would be a bonus; my priority, though, is dialogue and a fighting chance.

A Bridge to You and Me, of Purest Stone


This is the Preface for my book Grace Be With You. The Preface is about the gravitational power of story that connects us. The book is a compilation of my stories, encouraging quotes and poems, and everyday encounters from the road to the hospital to cafes and gas stations. Be blessed, dear friends.

There’s an old Star Trek episode where a particular alien species, the Tamarians, can only communicate in images and allegories. As the helpful android, Lt. Commander Data, puts it:

“Their ability to abstract is highly unusual. They seem to communicate through narrative imagery, a reference to the individuals and places which appear in their mytho-historical accounts.”

This strange constraint plays out to amusing fashion throughout the episode, as each party is frustrated by their miscommunication, and the tension nearly boils over into a knife-fight and all-out war (maybe your idea of amusement is different than mine). By the end, one of the Tamarians sacrifices himself in order to create a heroic narrative that both his people and the Federation can understand. It succeeds; this act of nobility becomes the bridge towards peace. The great Captain Picard realizes, “The Tamarian was willing to risk all of us, just for the hope of communication—connection.”

We’re not much different than the Tamarians. We risk the friction of our jagged edges to connect, not merely by formulas or flowcharts, but by a sloppy crawl through our shared, lived-in journey. We crave a common vocabulary beyond the heavy anvils of prose, crafted from imagination and our unified experiences.

Stories contain power because they seem to unveil secrets that have long been muddled, as if we’re unearthing lost royal treasure. But more than that, stories are a connective tissue, bringing us together by the longing and landing of a resolution.

Since a narrative thrust is essentially driven by an unresolved tension, with unassailable obstacles besetting a goal on every side, we discover in them the depth of our courage and cowardice, and we find out how to be. We find what we’re meant to look like.

We find, perhaps unwillingly, that we are not always the heroes, but in need of rescue: because we’re so often the cause of our own tension. And this is what puts us in the same boat, the same battle. The best stories require first an examination of our limitations, and then a cooperation as equals, through a slow-burning realization that we are not opposed to one another, but can reach the same goals with a little spunk and ingenuity. From Star Wars to The Karate Kid to The Lord of the Rings to Up, from the Epic of Gilgamesh to the Odyssey to a genie in a bottle, these are tales told side-by-side. We find we are fellow travelers, not so different, really, with a universal desire for shalom, a harmony—and we can’t get there alone. Heroes cannot fly solo, and villains are not beyond change.

Stories and symbols have a way of disarming us, too, getting to the inside of the matter with gentle precision. Propositions are a bit like bricks and beams: necessary for the foundation, but soon rigid and inflexible. Narratives and metaphors have a dynamic of growth to them, like seeds pushing through the dirt into the sun, and they give breath. Or maybe, as one theologian said, they are windows that light up the house and give it air. It’s why Nathan the prophet did not approach David with lectures and bullet points—”Three reasons that adultery and murder are bad!”—but instead with the innocent story of a poor man and his ewe lamb, ending on a twist that David could not negotiate. It forced David to rise from the dirt, into light.

Jesus himself spoke in parables with great aplomb, from mustard seeds and millstones to swords and sparrows to wedding feasts and rebel-runaways. Jesus’s disciples often had trouble deciphering his parables, which Jesus seemed to deliberately obscure at times—but ultimately, the parables were pointing to a future work on a cross and in a tomb. His stories pointed to his heart, and his heart sculpted the greatest story of them all: a final sacrifice to bring us peace with God and one another. He spoke of rescuing us, because we could not do that on our own. We were never meant to.

Only Jesus could become our bridge of peace, our shalom. And this kind of love is not merely the royal treasure, but the very purest stone from which all treasures are made.

The following pages are much like rotating the facets of such a jewel, pointing to the pulse of the galaxy-sculptor. These stories and poems and thoughts are chiseled by joy, sorrow, failure—and the great love that has cast a shadow on them all.

My hope is that we meet somewhere between the words, to connect, because I believe this is the truest stuff of life. Stories help us to mesh in this tapestry, that in our overlap, we’d find strength hand in hand. I’m excited. I’ll see you there.

J.S. Park // Grace Be With You




Photo at top by sonlight972, used with permission.

Primer for a New Christian: 8 Suggestions to Start Your Faith

creative-reblogging asked a question:

Hello! I was technically raised in the Christian faith, but my parents were never great about really consistently taking me to church as a child. I want to figure out where I stand in terms of my faith, so that I can carry it with me as I go into adulthood. I’m trying to view it as if I’m new to Christianity altogether. Would you have any suggestions as to where to start? Just reading the Bible is confusing to me, and I feel like I don’t get anything from it. How do I get to know God?

Hey dear friend, I want to commend you and applaud you on your newfound adventure of faith. Wherever it takes you, you have my prayers and a super big double high-five and internet fist-bump (and a hug too, why not?). I’m genuinely excited for you.

I’m honestly a bit new to Christianity myself (I was an atheist longer than I’ve been a Christian and it was a slow journey to faith throughout my seven years of college), so the memories of starting new are still quite fresh. I also understand that faith can feel intimidating, partially because the church can make it difficult, but faith itself can seem like an amorphous unfathomable maze. These are only my suggestions, as everyone’s road has different curves and obstacles, so please feel free to add or subtract or modify as you will.

– Find a church. If you have any friends who are currently attending a church, ask them about their Sunday service or any recommendations for you (you can also try websites and check out their statements of faith and their group pictures). The thing with church though is that it can feel overwhelming when you walk in: most people are uncomfortable in new situations with new people and unfamiliar surroundings. Even as a pastor and a chaplain, aka a “professional Christian,” I still feel all kinds of anxiety when I walk into a new church to visit. So it’s a really good idea to go with a friend. It’s also a good idea to try the Friday or Wednesday service, when the numbers are scaled down and it’s a more intimate setting.

A sidenote: Finding a church is incredibly hard and requires more than once. Just think, you’re looking for a second family, a second home! That’s no small feat to approach lightly. Last year, my wife and I desperately looked for a new church-home when we got married, and we tried about a dozen different churches before landing on one (and the one we landed on, we had to go about three times before we both felt called to stay). We gave many of those churches a second or third chance, so altogether, it took us over seven months to find a place where we felt we could serve and be led.

– Download some sermon podcasts. I’m a self-professed sermon junkie; I probably listen to about ten hours of sermons per week. While podcasts shouldn’t be the “main diet,” they’re sort of like supplements, or protein shakes, for a growing faith. I often listen to them on headphones at the gym or on car rides to work (I live about an hour from my workplace). Some preachers I listen to are: Timothy Keller, Andy Stanley, Francis Chan, Louie Giglio, Ravi Zacharias, and Matt Chandler. I also really love Brené Brown.

A sidenote: Please consider heavy discernment when listening to podcasts. In other words, you don’t have to believe every single opinion or statement, and sometimes a preacher’s theology might be a little fuzzy in some areas. Not every preacher or author is perfect, and public speaking has a way of blurting out certain things that are not always carefully worded. So listen with both a critical ear and a soft heart, or as Jesus says, “be as wise as snakes and as pure as doves.”

– Get with mature Christians and elders. We all, and I mean all, need some kind of leadership and mentoring and authority, speaking into our lives, in every season. We need both encouragers and challengers in our lives: people who can speak a grand vision over us while stretching our views and habits and beliefs. That means, get with your pastor and married couples and elderly Christians and successful business leaders and anyone who will spare a lunch — yes, your parents too! — and consistently ask annoying questions to grab their wisdom. Every person is a fountain of experience who is waiting to pour out to love on someone else. Ask about how their faith has gotten them through hard times; ask about how their faith informs their marriage, career, raising kids, and keeping focus. You’ll grow by leaps and bounds.

A sidenote: Soon enough, or perhaps already, you’ll be in a position where you can pour out to others. This entire cycle of pouring out is called discipleship in the Christian language. It’s a deep life-on-life pouring out of who you are for another; it’s the best of you for the best of them. We’re each called to disciple others just as we’re called to be discipled. This is the number one way I’ve found that Christians grow and one of the highest honors to give and receive.

Continue reading “Primer for a New Christian: 8 Suggestions to Start Your Faith”

We Bleed, All The Way Up


The patient really believed her cancer was somehow “God’s amazing plan for my life.” She went on to say the things I always hear: “He won’t give me more than I can handle. Thank God we caught it early. God is going to use this for my good.”

I get why we say these things, because we’re such creatures of story that we rush for coherence. But even when such theology is true, I want to tell her that it’s okay to say this whole ordeal is terrible and that it really hurts and that we live in a disordered, chaotic, fractured, fallen world where the current of sin devours everything, that bad things happen to model citizens, that nothing is as it’s meant to be, and the people who don’t catch the cancer early aren’t well enough to thank God for anything, and that not every pain is meant to be a spiritualized, connect-the-dots lesson as if God is some cruel teacher waiting for us to “get it.”

Pain doesn’t always have to be dressed up as a blessing in disguise. God hears our frustration about injustice and illness: for He is just as mad at suffering as we are. He doesn’t rush our grief. He bled with us, too, in absolute solidarity, and broke what breaks us in a tomb. He is the friend who meets us in our pain, yet strong enough to lead us through. I can only hope, in some small measure, to do the same.

J.S.


Foreword to My Newest Book, by T.B. LaBerge

Grace Be With You Foreword TB LaBerge


My very good friend and blogger T.B. LaBerge wrote the Foreword to my newest book, Grace Be With You.

The book is a collection of short stories, poems, and thoughts, many of which you’ve seen here on this blog.
It’s available now in paperback and ebook!


http://www.amazon.com/Grace-Be-With-You-paperback/dp/069269031X/

http://www.amazon.com/Grace-Be-With-You-ebook/dp/B01E4XXCVM


My Newest Book: Grace Be With You, a Compendium of Stories, Thoughts, & Poems

Grace Be With You paperback


Hey dear friends! This is my newest book, Grace Be With You: Stirring Truth and Abundant Joy for Fellow Travelers. It’s a collection of stories, quotes, and poems, most of which have gone “viral” on this blog, with all new content. The Foreword is also by my wonderful friend T.B. LaBerge.

The book has four chapters, each a unique theme: to encourage, convict, engage, and transcend. Contained are quick quotes, humbling plot twists, and everyday encounters on the road, at the hospital, at cafes and gas stations and funerals and churches.

The paperback is only 8.99 here and the ebook is only 3.99 here and it works on every device. If you’re blessed by the book, please consider leaving a review on Amazon.

Be immensely rocked by His grace!
J.S.


Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Grace-Be-With-You-paperback/dp/069269031X

Ebook: http://www.amazon.com/Grace-Be-With-You-ebook/dp/B01E4XXCVM

The Brutally Honest Surgical Self-Confrontation


Why doesn’t Nathan simply rebuke David on the spot? Why the long story and the strategic side-tackle?

It’s because before confronting ourselves, we need to undo our self-righteousness.

We each have a nearly impenetrable fortress of resistance when we’re called out on our wrongs. It keeps us blind to our blindness.

The way that God punches through David’s self-deception is one of the most lauded turns of literary brilliance in written history. Nathan doesn’t simply accuse David. Nathan peels back David’s self-righteousness by turning his rules against him. David is knocked over by the weight of his own standards. The very mechanism by which David has condemned the guilty to cover his guilt is turned on himself. His excuses have become his own liability, like a sword with a blade on both ends. It’s what Jesus meant when he said, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  

David required a brutally honest confrontation, but it would take more than a lesson in theology or a list of sins. No one changes that way.

God rebukes David by first removing any possibility of an excuse or objection.
God revokes David’s self-righteous capacity to absolve his own sin.
David needed to confront himself, before the sight of God, without the slimmest avenue of escape or deflection.

If you want any hope of change, freedom, progress, recovery, and growth: you’ll need to confront yourself, too. It’ll be the most painful thing you’ve ever done, because we’re so used to protecting our fragile, brittle egos. But it’s more painful to stay stuck in the lie.

If you’ve ever tried to confront your friend about their thing, you were amazed at their automatic defenses and sudden snarling. I’m sometimes surprised by my own excuses, too. When I’m guilty, I attack. It’s the perfect way to get out of accountability. When someone does something wrong, it’s all their fault, but when I do something wrong, it’s my environment or my family or my stress. When we get caught red-handed, we go into a monologue of rehearsed responses that we almost really believe, because it took so many steps of rationalizations to get there.

When you want to escape by saying, “Well-what-about-them?” — God will twist you around to say, “Well-what-about-me?” The only thing that will destroy hypocrisy is humility. Part of humility is to quit holding up a mirror at others and to use it on myself first.

For the first time in a long time, David is being honest with himself before God. He lets the truth undress him. There’s no place for him to run. His own judgment has betrayed him, and this is how God will work on us, too. He will dislocate your blame, one excuse at a time, until you really take a look at yourself and see you as you really are.

J.S. Park | The Life of King David

“3 Ways Accountability Will Change Your Life”


Here’s an article I wrote that’s been published on X3Church, called:

“3 Ways Accountability Will Change Your Life.”

It’s about the uncomfortable, brutally surgical confrontation of accountability and its necessary benefits for growth and life.

Here’s an excerpt:

You’re ready to quit your addiction.

You’re ready to be teachable, to be under leadership and mentoring.

You’re ready to own your problem and get the help you need.

You’re ready for accountability.

All this sounds romantic, but accountability is a deliberate confrontation with yourself through another person—and confrontation is hard. It’s even harder when you begin to see the depth of your own issues and all the ugliness inside, the things you were happy to ignore before you decided to recover. We’re so much more entrenched in our habits than we think, so accustomed to “the way things were” that our bodies will desperately claw back to our old destructive ways.

Recovery is a street-fight, and our darker side will never fight fair.

Read the full post here. My book on quitting porn is here.
J.S.

A Quick Interview About Christian Faith.

Photo from Hillsong Gallery

An interview about my faith and denomination, from sjpark11 for his class.

1. What is your understanding and experience of spirituality?

– There exists a divine pulse to the universe, a breath of creation by a Creator. To experience spirituality is to be in touch with this pulse, to be “aligned” with creation in all its potential and possibility.

As a Christian, I also believe this divine pulse, God, revealed Himself on the earth at one point in time as one of us, to reverse the human condition of entropy and invite us into that story of healing.

2. What are some images or metaphors that support your understanding and/or your experience of spirituality?

– I like C.S. Lewis’s metaphor about the door. Currently, we are on one side. We get glimpses of a “reality” beyond us, something so grand and beautiful that we can hardly take it in. It’s evoked sometimes in our natural experience, whether by sunset or ice cream or romance or song, though these things in themselves come quickly and go. One day we will get to the other side of the door.

Faith is about the journey of looking through the keyhole, getting a glance of infinite beauty, until we permanently partake in the radiance of all that we hoped for.

Continue reading “A Quick Interview About Christian Faith.”

Eugene Cho’s Book “Overrated” Is Free Today


Eugene Cho‘s book “Overrated” is totally free today. He’s the founder of One Day’s Wages and very much the real deal. He also mentions my story in his book about the time I gave away half my year’s salary to fight human trafficking, a check for 10k, which was matched by contributing donations.

Grab his book here: www.amazon.com/Overratedebook/dp/B00K04IX9Q/

His book is incredibly good. The two parts that impacted me the most were his personal story about working as a janitor for years before being able to successfully launch a church (nothing wrong with being a janitor by the way, but throw in Asian cultural expectations), and the process of how he sits on an exciting idea for a while to see if it’s just emotional hype or truly deep passion. Powerful stuff.

The story about the donation here: https://eugenecho.com/2012/11/26/an-inspiring-story-of-courage-and-generosity-youth-pastor-donates-half-of-his-salary-to-fight-human-trafficking/


eugene cho overrated ODW book Joon

Finding Home in the Dark: A Fiber of Fine Light.


The hard part is that when you decide not to call on lesser idols to numb your hurt and you finally reach out to God, suddenly you’re inside the pain. It’s all there. You can’t do anything to hide it anymore. It seems like a terrible idea.

One of the toughest things about excruciating pain is that it’s embarrassing. There’s a humiliating stench of astonishment that this is happening to me. It’s malheur, or a pain about your pain. If you live with it long enough, you’ll begin to identify yourself by your hurt, as if this is your only value. It’s understandable, because it takes up so much space in your mind. It’s no wonder why we’re tempted to run to everything else.

The pain is blinding. But — blinding ourselves to the pain is even worse. In doing so, we erase ourselves down to the bottom.

So then: Calling out to God is remembering who you are.
Remembering where you come from.
Remembering what you were made for.
Remembering that you are not your pain.

Most of all, remembering who He is.

This will look different for everyone. It could mean taking a long drive to the shoreline. It could mean standing over the sea in total silence. It could mean opening your Bible to Isaiah 40 or Psalm 23. It means asking a friend to hot chocolate and hearing you out. It means actively seeking encouragement and community, because 1 John 4:12 says, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” It means journaling, or busting out your guitar, or crying for a long time, or having an intense conversation with yourself. It means finding a need and serving that need. It means finding an older brother or sister and asking for wisdom on what to do next. It means dressing your Sunday best and singing at church at the top of your lungs, in hot tears and laughter.

A lot of this might feel rote and mechanical. You might not feel like doing any of it, and I don’t mean to add another burden on your hurt.

I just know that for a moment, when I can trace the sunbeam back to the sun, I remember who I am. It doesn’t make me instantly whole. It doesn’t solve things today. It’s often just a brief glimpse. But when I return to the heart who made me, I momentarily find something stronger than my pain. It is stronger than everything else that calls my name.

This is a difficult thing to do. It’s not merely psychological re-arrangement, because it requires getting up. It requires tapping into a very fine frequency, which is there for a flash and gone. But it’s there.

You might have even been on the other side of this and helped someone else remember. Maybe you took someone to lunch and listened to them without interruption for an hour. You made actual eye-to-eye contact, and you never knew, but you changed the course of that person’s day from driving off a cliff. You randomly volunteered. You wrote a thank you note. You picked up a call from a distant friend. You wrestled with someone’s questions, maybe not even fully paying attention, but you stayed with it to the end.

You didn’t know, but you were part of the frequency.
Once in a while, God breaks in. He reminds us of beauty. The pain doesn’t stop, but there’s a joy in the middle of it, just loud enough to remember.
We can break in, too.
You can pray. You can sing. You can seek others. You can visit home in His Word.

It is painful, sloppy, and scary. It’s not easy to turn our internal axis to Him, especially in hard times. But by slow, stumbling degrees, I can breathe Him in — and He is the only air that fills these crumpled lungs.
I remember: we’re not home yet.


J.S. Park | Mad About God


Wonderful Quote Artwork


This is wonderful artwork from Cristina G., a quote from my book on getting through pain, Mad About God.

It perhaps encapsulates the entire theme of the book.
Thank you for the art, dear sister!
— J.S.


The Strength You Never Knew You Had.


Photo from Noel Shiveley


I know that not everything has a happily-ever-after. We do hurt, a lot. There are lifelong battles and unconquerable defeats and irreversible losses. There is, at times, unresolved tension that remains unresolved.

Yet our bold response to all these things can show a reservoir of strength we never knew we had. Our daily victories build scars that build stories that build bridges to broken hearts. Our boldness shows we don’t need to lose ourselves in loss, that we don’t need to fall apart when everything else does. The dark can make us more human, and not less. In our outright rebellion against apathy, we find a flash of divinity. We find a story better than the childish bleakness of tragedy, but instead the mature growth of comedy, where we have the humility to laugh at ourselves. We find hope in pain together. Maybe even the hope that there’s an ever-after. We don’t have to hope in solitude.

— J.S. from Mad About God


Does God Use Pain “For My Good”? Does Everything Happen For a Reason?


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 book on persevering through trials & suffering, Mad About God.

— J.S.

Taking Down Goliath Starts Here.


Right now, you might be facing a ton of giants, and others have told you to “be the bigger person.” This is good advice and I recommend it. Yet if everyone is trying to be the bigger person, we end up stomping on each other. If you treat every person and problem like Goliath, you’ll be bitter all the time. It’s a triumphalist, self-affirming theology that cries, “They’re in my way.” It stirs up a dichotomous conflict by turning people into obstacles and critics into haters. It keeps us in the cycle of retaliation.

Taking down Goliath means taking me down first. It’s me. I’m the giant. I’m the bad guy.

The thing is, the idea of the “underdog” shouldn’t even have to exist. It implies that there is “my side” versus “your side” and it forces me to demonize an opposition. We cheer when an underdog wins, but we forget that someone else had to lose. You might think you’re the good guy, but to someone else, you’re definitely the bad guy. So who is cheering for whom? Who gets to win?

Jesus is the only one who won every side by losing for them. In order to undo our back-and-forth, binary violence, Jesus stepped into the crossfire and called us all equally loved and heard, which meant that every side hated him for loving the other side. He got rid of sides. He crossed the dichotomous divide of demonization. The divide died on the cross with Jesus. He called you a friend when you called him an enemy. Jesus killed his enemies by making them friends. And that’s why they had to kill Jesus.

But I can’t be against them. I’m them. You’re them. And I’m crossing over, that grace might win.

— J.S. | The Life of King David


Right Where You Are.


Right now, you could be toiling away unseen and unnoticed, waiting for your big break. You might be discouraged because nothing is paying off, or you feel you’re constantly catching up to a version of someone you’ve yet to be. You could be compensating for a failure behind you or trying to prove your merit to the people around you.

No one likes this part, because we see everyone else’s highlights and we presume they’ve got it together and we’re relegated to second-rate status. We might even feel that our current work is beneath our true potential. We want to be doing “great things,” but we’re stuck in limbo, in that icky middle.

The truth is that you can prosper right where you are. You can still be teachable in your season behind-the-scenes, even if that season is for life. God’s greatness is available to you so long as you remain available. No one needs to climb the throne to get there. You only need to be present and presently engaged.

This is tough, because we’re so used to climbing the pecking order. We’re tempted to superimpose a future hologram of big stages and big audiences on our current station. But such fantasies draw us out of engagement with now. There’s work to be done today, no matter the size of your stage. Your effort doesn’t always have to “pay off.” Some of us want to be the king of our fields overnight, but God has already called His children a royal priesthood, and we’re called to harvest for a lifetime. No matter what kind of work you’re doing, it’s essential in the tapestry of God’s Kingdom.

— J.S. Park | The Life of King David


We Need a Self-Confrontation.


We need help beyond ourselves. Like David, we need a Nathan. We need someone who can gently revoke our self-righteousness and apply truth to usurp our sinfulness.

Here’s how we see that grace is a surgical, sculpting chisel that renews us by confronting the worst in us with pinpoint precision and acknowledging our desperate need as sinners. Grace, after all, is a love that presses through sin. The God of the Bible doesn’t merely drop a truth-bomb and beat you into submission, but gently removes your self-deception and empowers you to return home. It hurts like crazy. His grace does not merely comfort, but grabs your sin by the fistfuls and kills it with the relentless violence of love. It neither condemns nor condones, but convicts and re-creates. It’s a scalpel that will work with you to the messy end.

It demands getting honest. It demands getting with those who will graciously rebuke you because they love you and know you can do better. It takes knowing that you might be wrong, that you might be blinded, that you don’t have it right this time. It takes confession.

— J.S. Park | The Life of King David


David: Chronic Doubter, Constant Believer

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One of the most remarkable things about David was his doubt.

All through the Psalms, we see David contending with his doubts about God. Whenever there’s a stanza of praise, it follows just as quickly with despair and confusion.

There are so many Psalms where David is singing in a flowery refrain of awe, but out of nowhere, he’ll say, “Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.”   It’s all going so well, until you turn the page. These are like cysts that swell over the canvas, so jarring and troubling that you won’t see them on coffee cups and Twitter.

David was really all over the place in his faith.

But just as much as David interrupts his own Psalms with rage and grief, these are rolled over by a sudden clarity of God’s goodness, like a splash of cold water for bruised, bent hands. Most of the Psalms have a Turn, an about-face resolve where David recalls the truth about God’s sovereignty. These upward Turns don’t solve the situation, but they break David’s fear and paralysis, and keep a terrible season of life from making him just as terrible.

These sharp Turns in the Psalms are a frail and feeble call to remember God in the midst of so much distress. The deepest of David was calling out to deep.
In David’s prayer-life, we see both severe drops into depression and sudden bolts of euphoria, and we find a point of dizzying tension.

David managed to live with both complete joy and complete sorrow at the same time. He had a foot in the heavens and a toe in the abyss. He had a frighteningly pessimistic view of the world in the worst of his questions, but he was absolutely optimistic about a God who was working all things together.

David let the gravity of his hopelessness sink in. The Psalms are full of yelling because David and the other psalmists don’t hide under false coping mechanisms to dampen the pain. They hardly ever run to thrills and pills and religion and therapy, and if they do, they just as quickly run back. David allows the emptiness of his heart to take full course until the bottom gives out, so that he has no other choice but to find refuge in a bottomless God. The resolve of every Psalm could only come by scraping along the walls of a downward spiral, until there was a landing. It’s in our full-on grief that we find the fullness of grace.

— J.S. Park | The Life of King David