Why Is God So Homicidal In The Old Testament?

atenleaguecanvas asked:

Hey Pastor Park! I want to thank-you for the grace you show in your answers. I really appreciate your example of presenting your views in a gentle and humble manner. I also have a question, I struggle with reconciling God, as he is depicted in the Old Testament, with how he is depicted in the New Testament. Did He really order the deaths of men, women, and children belong to nations that opposed Israel? I know He is ultimately just, but I keep getting hung up on this.

Hey dear friend, I appreciate your very kind words.

This is a really tough question that has disturbed me when I was an atheist and disturbs me even more as a Christian. It will always be a point of tension that might not be entirely resolved until our time on earth is done. I’d like to graciously present several different views about the wars in the Old Testament, from most brutal to most reasonable, and then let you decide. I’ll tell you what I personally believe in the end.

Please note: I’m not soft about the Bible. It does say a few hard things that I’m going to question all the way to Heaven. Jesus said hard things too. I don’t want to accommodate Scripture to fit a Westernized, watered down, sugarcoated, therapeutic pick-me-up. But I also don’t want to capitulate to my own Easternized, patriarchal, wrathful, vengeful picture of God. I believe the Bible has way more nuance than that. I know we won’t all see eye to eye on this either, and that’s totally okay. I truly welcome disagreement and I want to know where I’m wrong.

So here are some views to consider.

Continue reading “Why Is God So Homicidal In The Old Testament?”

Thank You, Dear Brother!


Thank you to Jason Wan, who got all three of my books at once!


My books are here:

– What The Church Won’t Talk About

– The Christianese Dating Culture

– Cutting If Off: Breaking Porn Addiction

Be blessed, dear friends!
— J.S.


For Your Holiday Reading

Paperbacks


Hello dear wonderful friends!

So I wrote some books. I want to graciously ask if you’ve been blessed by the books (or if you hated them!) and if you have some time, to please consider writing an honest review on Amazon. Takes just a few moments and it will really help out a lot!

And of course, if you haven’t gotten them yet, they’re both on sale for less than 9 dollars. 🙂
Pick them up for holiday reading!

What The Church Won’t Talk About

The Christianese Dating Culture

Thank you and love y’all. Be blessed!

– J.S.


The Christian Life Isn’t What We Run From.


The Christian life can’t just be about running away from sin: but is ultimately about running to Him.

That means finding His mission, His purpose, and His heart for you. It means asking for His wisdom in how to discipline yourself, to be shaped by His truth, to be restructured in His image. It means bonding with other like-minded individuals to live out your God-given calling. It’s so fully experiencing the love of God that you are shaken down to your very core, melted and tenderized by His grace to never go back, but only pursue Him forward.



— J.S. from The Christianese Dating Culture


“Sex and the Romantic Solution” by Timothy Keller


This is an absolutely brilliant sermon by Timothy Keller called “Sex and the Romantic Solution,” in which Pastor Tim does a cultural breakdown of popular love songs and Hollywood romance from decades past and recent, including Bruno Mars and Bridget Jones’ Diary, and talks about the painful quest of the human heart for romantic love.  He makes a case for exclusive sexual love and how Christianity offers the best possible way for romance.

Pastor Tim Keller has had a huge impact my own faith and writing, and was threaded throughout my recent book on dating (I quoted him 7 times, and his influence, also my influence, C.S. Lewis, 8 times).  This is worth the entire 27 minutes; there’s both great humor and cutting insight.



Breaking The Grip of the Lesser.


Here’s what I’ve learned about choosing the things of God and partaking in His mission.

I’ve noticed that after I disciple a young kid and see his eyes light up from the truth of the Bible, I can’t go back to how I was. It’s too good to give up. After I serve food at the homeless ministry, after I volunteer at a retreat, after I go on a mission trip, after I serve at an orphanage or a prison or the projects — the attraction of sin loses its grip on me.

Because the things of God are so much brighter and bigger and deeper than the things of this world. This is what Thomas Chalmers called the Expulsive Power of a New Affection.

Ever notice that after the gym, you’re too tired to fight anyone? Ever notice that after a healthy meal, you’re much less willing to eat a bag of Cheetos? And whether you “feel like” going to the gym or eating healthy, you choose it anyway: because not only is the alternative bad for you, but it makes the alternative less attractive.

Sometimes people wait to “feel right with God” to go serve Him. You don’t have to wait. You don’t have to be qualified or clean or deserving to serve. Your choices change your heart just as much as your heart changes your choices. What you do comes out of who you are, but who you are also comes out of what you do.

— J.S. from The Christianese Dating Culture


The Horrifying Moment When All This Faith-Stuff Sounds Crazy


I often have these troubling moments when I totally don’t believe in God anymore, and I wonder what it would be like to live without Him.

I was an atheist for most of my life, so these thoughts are comfortable and familiar, like the blue plaid super-hero cape I wore in third grade. I go down a spiral of binge-reading atheism blogs and I can’t stop myself. I start to wonder if God even does anything because there’s so much horror in the world, or if He’s just a construct of a hopeful mind looking for momentary relief. It can take days to pull back from this, and doubts never really fade; you just live with them.

I remember the words of that father with the demon-possessed son, who told Jesus, “I do believe, but help my unbelief!” And Jesus healed him. He didn’t shut them down. He didn’t say, “You better believe all the way first.” I get to thinking there must be more than all this, and that God did break into this fractured world somehow and began a healing at some point in history for all of eternity, an invitation to a new story, a reversal of entropy. I get to thinking we’re not just spinning alone out here, and that this is all going somewhere, and I have this tiny mustard-seed-sized faith that Jesus tells me can move mountains. I think even if this isn’t true, I so badly want it to be, and maybe that’s okay too. I do believe, and he doesn’t shame me for my unbelief. For that, I can believe Him — and for a moment, the mountains get shaken.

— J.S.

Friends, Enemies, The Cross.



Before you meet God, He was in a certain sense your enemy, and you were friends with sin, Satan, and the world.

What God did was: He set Himself as an enemy of sin, of Satan, of the world, even of death — and He was literally ripped apart by these things at the cross. God did all this so that He could be your friend.

Jesus removed every single obstacle between you and him so that you could be together, in the best relationship there is. Friends are willing to pay the cost for love: and greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

After you meet God, you are now at odds with the world, which is why the Christian life is so hard. But you have Jesus, and he calls you out into the world to help remove those obstacles too. He calls us to cross over the dividing line of the human heart, to change enemies into friends: just as you were changed.

In a way, the Christian is a matchmaker between Heaven and earth. When you’re friends with God, your mission is to hook people up with God.

— J

What God Should’ve Done Instead of the Cross



Hello beloved friends!

This is the ninth and final part of a sermon series called “The Book of Mark: The Cosmic Journey of the World in the Story of Jesus.”

The message is titled: What God Should’ve Done Instead of the Cross.

It’s about the last twelve hours of Jesus’s life and his counterintuitive illogical reactions to the betrayal around him.  Not the typical Christmas sermon.

Stream here or download directly here!

 

The Scripture is Mark 15. Some things I talk about are: How children responded to the question: That explosive ugly moment on the reality show when the celebrity flips out, that time Jesus did a Jedi force push on the Roman soldiers, committing adultery against God, the pasta that ruins all other pasta, and how God punches tragedy in the face

To stream other podcasts, click here.

Be blessed and love y’all!

— J




Bible Throwdown: Jesus Versus The Many-Headed Demon Called Legion.



 

Hello beloved friends!

This is the third part of a sermon series called “The Book of Mark: The Cosmic Journey of the World in the Story of Jesus.”

The message is titled: Bible Throwdown: Jesus Versus The Many-Headed Demon Called Legion.

It’s about how Jesus set us free from evil, and how we can climb back into the wreckage we made as a renewed force for good.

Stream here or download directly here!

 

The Scripture is Mark 5:1-20. Some things I talk about are: When the Bible becomes a horror movie soap opera, the truth behind demon possession and spinning heads, Jesus versus Breaking Bad, and that moment after an insane argument in your home when you have to start apologizing to closed doors.

To stream other podcasts, click here.

Be blessed and love y’all!

— J





Gospel Reminders: Heart Transplant

The Christian knows that Jesus died on the cross in our place, beat up death, and gave us a great mission.  But how does the Gospel fit into our everyday lives?

 


The very second you believe the Gospel truth, you have a brand new heart in Christ.  This is now who you are because of what he’s done. 

That’s the True Self — but it doesn’t always feel this way. 

When Jesus made Peter the head disciple, Peter’s original name was Simon.  The word Peter was a nickname which meant “rock.” 

Jesus was telling him: Simon is dead.  You are now a rock.  You might not feel like it today, but this is who you are because of who I am and what I’m about to do.  I’m inviting you into the True Story of Your Life — that you can’t do this yourself, and that’s why I’m going to the cross to do it for you.

Continue reading “Gospel Reminders: Heart Transplant”

Remember: Who You Are



If you’re down today, remember who you are.

In Christ, you are a child of God: saved, forgiven, and free.

You have a strong father in Heaven who absolutely loves you, and who actually likes you. It’s why Jesus came to be one of us.

He gets your struggle, he’s alongside you, he’s rooting for you, he will never stop.

We are the sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father who is in control of everything.

We have a Savior who wrote himself into the story of the world to write the final victory on our lives: so nothing else gets the last word but him.

Look no further than the cross and the empty tomb.

You have — right now — a Spirit of courage, bravery, compassion, love, and truth.

Remember: you are His. You are secure forever.


Weapons of Grace, Part 1: Grace-Driven Effort Vs. A Guilt-Driven World

I know how crushing guilt can be, and the question I often get is: How do I move forward by grace?

If you are suffering from moral exhaustion, a start-and-stop faith, a struggle with an unbeatable sin, constant disappointment in yourself, an angry red-faced preacher, or you’re just plain tired, this might be for you. 

This is a progression of thoughts and conversations about moving away from a guilt-based prison into a grace-driven journey, and perhaps a small glimpse into the very heart of God Himself.

Here’s the groundwork.  Please feel free to skip around.

Continue reading “Weapons of Grace, Part 1: Grace-Driven Effort Vs. A Guilt-Driven World”

Quote: Never Alone


You are called to carry the cross, deny yourself, kill your flesh, lose your life, and leave behind the world: but you are never alone in this. The one who calls you to follow him is the very one who empowers you to follow. Grace will cost you your pride, greed, anger, lust, sorrow, and selfishness — and in turn you get endless joy, eternal life, intimacy with our Creator, and reckless freedom to love. It feels like sacrifice because we are used to our way, but you give up what you never needed anyway. It remains the Best Deal in the Universe.


Quote: Great Story


If you’re discouraged, remember your Great Story. We were made by God but gave Him the middle finger, so God in response sent His Son Jesus Christ who gave up paradise and dropped down into human history as a perfect, sinless, healing savior born of a virgin, absorbed the wrath you deserve for your sins on a dirty Roman cross, jumped out the grave like a boss, flew up to Heaven with a promise to come back with 100 million angels, and gave you His Spirit to make it in this crazy upside-down world. He loves you, He’s got a purpose for you, and He loves you in your sleep. Wake up in the morning and let that hit you like a freight train. You only need to believe.


Quote: To Be Messy


I think we often want everything to be neatly organized and packaged. Life is messy, and things are messy. The Gospel is clear, but I think the Gospel lived out in the context of a broken world is going to be messy, and we have to understand that and give permission to languish and to swim and do ministry in that kind of messy space.

— Eugene Cho

“Jimmy Needham on Porn Addiction”




Jimmy Needham being very open about his former addiction.

Worth the four minutes to watch. I love his opening line.

If only more pastors and Christian artists were this transparent.

Also check out his recent hit song, totally digging it:




Further reading:
– Porn Addiction: An Introduction
– Question: Fighting Porn For The Last Time (Again)
– Testimonies: Victory Over Porn
– Question: How Did You Quit Porn?


Impossible Fruits: Completely Jaded About The Unchanged

It happens to all of us: you pour out your heart and life and hours and pockets and energy into a fresh-faced person, hoping to see them out of the miry pit and into victory — when the end result is cataclysmic disappointment, worse off than before, down the spiral of prodigal wastefulness, a bitter mess of nuclear ground zero.

I keep thinking of them, You could be more than this. You were almost there.

Years and years of ministry has jaded me about how people change. In the jailhouse and the homeless shelters, it’s not so bad: people know they’re at rock bottom and there’s a fervent dependency on God you don’t see in your superstar theologian. They have little excuse. Their faith has been chiseled into its rawest form, a pure reliance on God’s power, and their life everyday is, Only God can do it now.

But people who can fall back on rationalizations, chemicals, alcohol, ex-boyfriends, more money, and mindless luxury never hit that rock bottom. Oh, they think they do. The people who claim, “I really want to change” will cry those big effortless tears and make their own sob-story so unique. But around the corner is some justified defense for their actions, a simple twist of words that makes sense in their mind, a little bottle of distraction to numb good senses, a secret silent motto of I can do this myself.

Or they will make you the bad guy, you’re the one with the problem, your truthful words are unhelpful criticism, your help is just a nuisance, and you’ll be the one person they cut out from their life.

I’ve learned over and over that no one — I really mean no one — can handle rebuke. None of us are good at this, and you can add me to that list. The second you tell someone the truth about themselves, it’s very rare when you see humility, conviction, and repentance. It’s either a total emotional meltdown full of self-guilt-tripping despair (no matter how nice you were in your rebuke), or it’s an insane explosion of throwing-things, kicking-doors, punching-walls, and all sorts of childish temper tantrums.

People are comfortable with the lies they’re living in. Ripping the roof off the lie is a dangerous move, like getting near the den of a bear. I keep saying the phrase, “You know you’re better than this.” But the more they keep doing that stupid thing and believing that dumb lie, the less this is true. We eventually become the lie we’re living.

As I’ve heard before, when you confront a friend: you’ll either get Real Grown Folks Time or Senseless Drama. It is now the minority exception to see grown-ups working together to work through real issues. People would rather deny their sin all the way to Hell by paying the price of their own souls. Satan is cracking up at us. I’m just grieved, tired, and jaded. I wish I wasn’t.

I would like to be gracious every time, the patient pastor who listens and nods and understands, the dude anyone can talk to. At times, I am, by the good grace of God. But most times I want to grab someone by the face, shake them half to death, and yell, “Stop it man, just shut up and stop.” I’ve done almost that a few times, and it worked for a little while, but shame never really changes anyone. It’s a short-term band-aid for a deep soul-wound.

It’s a serious calling to be the guy who unravels the lie and tells the hard truth. It demands your whole life.

Continue reading “Impossible Fruits: Completely Jaded About The Unchanged”

To The End




… When Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

— John 13:1