Hang In There.

hang in there world not final home worshipgifs

Hang in there. This world is not our final home. Do something; move on.

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Writing Them In Instead of Writing Them Off: A Grand Vision of Saul to Paul

Photo by VSP, CC BY 2.0

Hello dear friends! This is a message I preached called, Writing Them In Instead of Writing Them Off: A Grand Vision of Saul to Paul, on the story of killer Saul becoming Apostle Paul, from the perspective of his first roommate, Ananias.

I talk about how the disciple Ananias helped to turn a Christian-killing terrorist Saul into the Bible-writing healer Paul — and how God does that kind of work in us. Stream below or download directly here. I’m also on iTunes here.

Some things I talk about are: Adopting my abused dog Rosco and rehabilitating him, how an African-American musician befriended and changed a KKK leader, why I agree with the Elder Brother against the Prodigal Son, the impossibility of outgrowing your nickname and time-stamped hometown past, the one frustrating difficult person that never changes, how the back-row of punk kids at church completely humbled me, and the freedom of finally becoming the kind of person that loves no matter what.

All messages are here. Be immensely blessed and love y’all!

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.


From Mountain High to Valley Low: Finding an Oasis in the Darkest Desert

Photo by Lenny K, CC BY 2.0

Hello dear friends! This is a message I preached called, From Mountain High to Valley Low: Finding an Oasis in the Darkest Desert, on the story of Elijah from 1 Kings 18-19.

It’s about finding our way through discouragement, distress, and depression, and how God speaks to us in those seasons and how we speak to one another. As a lifelong sufferer of depression, this is hugely personal for me. Stream below or download directly here. I’m also on iTunes here.

Some things I talk about are: The sudden mental replay in the shower and the late-night regret twitch, the one common denial from every patient in the hospital, when you just need a hamburger and a really long nap, the hidden fear of men getting honest, the panic moment when someone sees your text messages and photos, how Yoda finally got through to Luke Skywalker, and Elijah versus depression versus the world.

All messages are here. Be immensely blessed and love y’all!

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!



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!

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

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

Holiness, Humility, and How to Give Your Life Away

Hello wonderful friends! This is a message I preached called Holiness, Humility, and How to Give Your Life Away.

It’s about how the holiness of God irrevocably changes us in two ground-shaking ways. Stream below or download here.

Some of the things I talk about are: The two things I hear at every deathbed in the hospital, my body’s crazy involuntary response when I flew over the Grand Canyon, every instance of the Bible characters seeing God and falling over crying, the unseen thankless art of raising children, how to live generously with zero guarantees, and a letter from Belize.

My podcasts are on iTunes here (leave a review if you wish!).

Be immensely blessed, dear friends!

The Two Words We Want Least But Need Most

Hello wonderful friends! This is a message I gave called, The Two Words We Want Least But Need the Most.

It’s about two words that we quickly avoid but desperately need for growth, healing, and wholeness, for our relationships, churches, politics, and faith. Stream below or download directly here.

Some things I talk about are: When you see someone else’s kid misbehaving in public, the most unappealing things about Christianity for Christians, thinking the sermon is for the guy in the next row, tracing the theme of water and chaos through ancient history and Scripture, and how Jesus’s war cry obliterated our worldly warfare.

I’m also on iTunes here. Be immensely blessed!

The Gospel in Two and a Half Minutes

The entire storyline of the Bible in two and a half minutes. And a different way to see the Gospel.

Subscribe to my channel here.
Be blessed and love y’all!

— J.S.

[Thank you to Steven Hause of pudgyproductions]

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

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.

“The Gospel in Real Life” – Messages for Students from Yale

Hello wonderful friends! This is a series of three messages that I gave to students of Yale University, about the relevance and reason of Christianity.

The first is called: How Christianity Breaks Us Open and Painfully Puts Us Back Together.

It’s about how the Gospel uniquely differs from every other kind of motivation and completely restructures us.

Some things I talk about are: A meta-deconstruction of the Sunday church service, how to bomb a TEDTalk, the last two things I hear from dying patients in the hospital, the haunting of l’esprit de l’escalier, de-romanticizing adoption, the list of my flaws I gave to my wife before we started dating, and how a nine-year-old showed me the heart of Christianity.
You can also download it here.

The second is called: The Eternal Itchy Longing Within Us: Jesus Is Complete Fulfillment.

It’s about how the Gospel solves for two universal human problems and the greatest human need.

Some things I talk about are: How to tell an alien about the human race, conclusions about humanity after a survey with 700 replies, the instant anxiety when you walk into a crowded room, the itchy self-conscious moment when someone is slightly more talented at “my thing,” that loopy moment at night with your best friend when you start confessing everything, two universal human problems and our greatest human need, and the absolutely most important linchpin verse in the Bible.
You can also download it here.

The third is called: Where We Come From and Where We’re Going: Red Sea to Redeemed & Free.

It’s about how the Gospel compels us into action, neither by guilt nor religion, but deliverance.

Some things I talk about are: How long it actually should’ve taken the Israelites to get to Canaan from Egypt (not forty years), the moment right after the wedding, how the grace of my first pastor completely tenderized and galvanized me, the Christian life beyond “overcoming-sin,” and seeing God in the Philippines and a homeless shelter.
You can also download it here.

More messages on iTunes here or my podcast page here.

Be immensely blessed, dear friends! — J.S.

Photo by Alex, CC BY 2.0

Through Fire, By Faith: A Testimony.

I got an incredibly humbling email from a wonderful therapist who read my book on persevering through pain and used it for a book club with other therapists. She also shared her journey through some very hard times. I wept reading her email, both tears of sorrow and joy. With her permission, I now share her testimony with you.

Continue reading “Through Fire, By Faith: A Testimony.”

If You Were To Love God.

“Ask yourself, ‘If I were sure that I loved God, what would I do?’ When you have found the answer, go and do it.”
— C.S. Lewis

Ask For God’s Help.

“You must ask for God’s help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given. Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again.”
— C.S. Lewis

And The More I Considered Christianity.

“And the more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.”
— G.K. Chesterton

Friendship Is Born.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'”
— C.S. Lewis