God’s Will, In The End


You’ve had the Late-Night Regret Twitch: to mourn over why we couldn’t have just done better. There are defining moments in the past where we think, “I should’ve went to that city. I should’ve gotten that job. I never should’ve dated her. I wish I could un-meet him.”

My dear friend: If you’ve really messed it up, I don’t believe you can “fall off” God’s Will. I don’t believe that God’s Will could be a fixed straight line. I don’t think God ever says, “Well, you fell off the track so good luck in the ditch for the rest of your life.”

Many earnest Christians assume that this relationship or this job or this house is the one that God really has for them, so they invest their entire heart into these things. But at any moment, our idea of the future can be upturned. We see it happen all the time. Did that mean God had it coming for them? Does that mean they’re now out of line with God’s Will and they need to claw for their dream again?

When I read Scripture, I see that most of the biblical characters had to change choices on the fly. They would run into a dead end, back up, and start again. They spent years in circles. Sometimes God would reveal what to do next; other times they would just pack up and start walking. Their lives were flexible. They didn’t have one specific dream. They did mess up, a lot. I’m sure they had tons of Late-Night Regret Twitching. I’m sure, like us, they often thought, “It’s too late for me.” But in hindsight, the very interruptions and unforeseen circumstances in their lives were part of God’s Plan A. Every wrinkle in their story was a new doorway.

And God’s Will, in the end, wasn’t so much about what they were doing, but the kind of person they were becoming. The destination was important, but the journey was the pulse that beat their hearts.

J.S. Park



Photo by Image Catalog, CC BY PDM

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What Love Doesn’t Do


Love doesn’t keep a score. It wipes the record clean each day. It says good morning today and goodbye to yesterday.
J.S.


Art by jeannedarvin

Sexual Temptation Vs. Christianity: A Conversation With Yumi About Sex, Singles, Marriage, & Faith


An interview by Yumi about Sexual Temptation Vs. Christianity and the extreme difficulty (and freedom) of the Christian sex ethic, for singles, dating, and married couples.

This is a portion of the interview (plus a little awkward extra at the end). The full 30 minute version is on Yumi’s channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sK9Uo-yhp8Y

Subscribe to Yumi! https://www.youtube.com/user/yumigirlofficial

The post mentioned in this interview by Gothic Christian –
http://gothicchristian.tumblr.com/post/129744315870/you-dont-have-a-right-to-sex

Subscribe to my channel here! https://www.youtube.com/user/jsparkblog

5 Kinds of Romanticized Crushes That Will Mess You Up

I think “crushing” on someone is a natural thing, and in the right place and the right time, it can lead to something great. Most of the time it’ll pass, as it’s meant to, and we can look back and laugh at the ridiculous amount of time spent mentally replaying the one failed conversation that we still twitch about in the shower. Crushes happen, and they almost never equate to a magical romance materializing out of thin air.

But the darker problem with “crushing” is that it occasionally turns a real live person into a trophy, a sort of non-independent rubber statue imprisoned on a pedestal, and if you ever finally reached it, you’d either squeeze it too hard or please it too much. In both cases, both people lose.

Relationships are hard work, and absolutely require more than the initial illusion of fleeting chemicals in our easily tricked brains. That rush of first feelings is overwhelming, but it doesn’t mean a whole lot in the grander scheme: and we could save ourselves a lot of trouble if we took up Taylor Swift to “count to ten, take it in, this is life before you know who you’re gonna be.

Here are five types of romanticized crushes that require a heavy dose of self-awareness. I apologize in advance for the snark: I’m only so impassioned here because I’ve seen how badly it can get out of control.

1) Hate Crush (aka Freudian Defense Mechanism)

What it looks like: You like someone, but you hate that you like them, so there’s a lot of passive-aggressive, mean-spirited, hyper-critical gas-lighting aimed their way. This looks cute in movies, but is often awful and humiliating to an actual human being with, you know, their own thoughts and dreams.

Problems: This can be irreversibly destructive if you drag someone long enough through your daily catharsis. I understand the psychology behind this—we resent what we can’t have or we just hate it when we feel so vulnerable with someone—but displacing anger out of confusion when you can’t “have someone” is a really dark, desperate issue that might require real help, immediately.

Continue reading “5 Kinds of Romanticized Crushes That Will Mess You Up”

“3 Quick Tips to Handle the Truth About Yourself”

3 ways handle truth x3church JSPark


Here’s an article I wrote that’s been published on X3Church, called:
“3 Quick Tips to Handle the Truth About Yourself.”

It’s about three ways to handle the hard truth about yourself from a friend’s honest intervention. No one handles “rebuke” very well because accountability is painful and messy: but it’s necessary for growth and progress.

Here’s an excerpt:


When you hear the truth about yourself, the person who tells you the truth isn’t perfect and probably won’t say it perfectly, but that’s no excuse not to consider their words.

The temptation when we hear criticism is to use the Mirror Defense, which is saying, “Well, what about you?”

We want to discredit the source of the truth, so we drag up old history and the other person’s weaknesses for self-preservation. Or we say, “I don’t like your tone” and use their voice against them.

The problem is, two wrongs can never make a right. In other words, someone else’s bad thing doesn’t cancel my bad thing. Even if the other person is a hypocrite, it doesn’t magically erase my own hypocrisy. And no one in the history of accountability has ever used perfect intonation and the perfect wording to tell the hard truth. If you find yourself saying, “If only she had said it like this” or “If only he had not said this” — then chances are that you’re trying to wiggle your way out of truth by a technicality.


Read the full post here.

— J.S.


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


“3 Lessons I Learned Instantly In My First Week of Marriage”

X3Church 3 lessons marriage


Here’s an article I wrote that’s been published on X3Church, called:
3 Lessons I Learned Instantly In My First Week of Marriage.”

It’s about three hugely important lessons I learned early in my marriage that I’ll need for life.

It was originally posted here and has also been published in the revised edition of my first book, What The Church Won’t Talk About.

Here’s an excerpt:


Marriage means your stuff isn’t your stuff anymore.

In our first week, we didn’t fly off to the honeymoon, which was another two weeks away. We spent time unpacking, opening wedding gifts, frolicking in our new home, and merging our lives together. About five days in, I wanted to meet up a friend to hang out, one of the groomsmen in the wedding.

I neglected to tell this to my wife. This is one of those very obvious things that I should’ve knew from the get-go, but in my defense, I’m an idiot.

Marriage is about Two-As-One, as We instead of Me. My time was no longer my own. It was our time. Our things. Our bank account. Our bed. Again, this sounds obvious, but I’ve spoken with so many singles and unmarried couples who were dismayed at the idea of splitting a life in half. No one is quite prepared to completely surrender unilateral decisions. We quickly learn why Apostle Paul compared our relationship with God to the marriage union — because we are entrusting our will with another.

The wonderful advantage is that rather than “splitting in half,” it actually feels more like a merging of strength. Our individual abilities can make up for each other’s weaknesses. Our knowledge and our view on life is suddenly augmented with an entirely new angle. By the end of the week, I was figuring out what she would want and why, which helped my tiny brain to open to new avenues I had never considered.


Read the full post here!

— J.S.


A New Cover: My Book on Relationships, Purity, and Sex

 


Here’s my book on relationships with a brand new cover!

I go over the many myths about sex and purity in both the church and mainstream, and how the Christian faith can actually inform us on relationships and dating. I also talk about: Josh Harris, Taylor Swift, my fifteen year porn addiction, finding “the one,” a theology for singles, the idolatry of giving more attention to “attractive people,” when my friend failed her first beauty pageant, the time I tried to kill myself over a girl, and my non-romantic journey of breaking up and getting engaged to getting married. The Foreword is by the amazing Lauren Britt at yesdarlingido!

The book is also in ebook. To read an excerpt, here. To hear a message about relationships, here.

Be immensely blessed and love y’all! — J.S.


7 Ways To Stop The Christian Gossip Mob

We’ve all been in a crowd where someone starts doing the sassy finger and going into hater mode.  “Did you hear about our dear so-and-so in Christ?  Because not to be a gossiping jerk, but I’m about to be a gossiping jerk.”

It’s not too hard to stop your own mouth (simple: don’t start), but when someone else among friends starts going off on gossip, it gets awkwardly difficult to control.  It’s not enough to just change subjects or step away.

So then, some ways to shut this down.

Continue reading “7 Ways To Stop The Christian Gossip Mob”

I Got Marriage Fever: The Desperate Hunt For A Spouse

isaacbeerkowski asked:

Hey pastor. I’ve recent realized that I have a habit of going to church and looking at all the ring fingers on the beautiful godly women around me. Its not that it’s a common thing in my lifestyle. I try very hard to stay pure and prepare myself accordingly for my bride. But it seems like when I go to church, a pretty specific time when I should be focused on other things…I seem to instantly become desperate to find my bride. Idk what’s going on. Are you familiar with this struggle?

Hey dear friend, you’re definitely not alone in this.

There was a time in my own life (high school & college) when I just couldn’t stand to be single. I would go after every new girl in the room. It doesn’t mean I got them; it’s just that I desperately wanted to be in a relationship all the time. Of course, when I got in one, I wanted out. It was a selfish, vicious, stupid cycle that I confess to my own shame.

I’m not saying this is where you’re at. But in psychology, there’s an informal phenomenon called an aspirational crush. It’s sometimes a paranormal relationship. It’s not exactly sexual or even relational, but it’s that thing when you have a crush on every person who makes your stomach flutter. You could call it “girl-crazy.”

There are all sorts of reasons this happens, especially because we live in a culture that’s bombarded by overly sexualized media. The church is just as guilty. There’s a church in New York that has an entire wall of pictures of married couples who met at the church, and while I understand they want to celebrate this, apparently the church is huge on hooking up singles. I can’t imagine what this does to the “less socially acceptable” single people. Overall, I find it a bit tacky and demoralizing.

But ultimately, this comes down to reflecting on what you’re really about.

The two best things I can say are:

Continue reading “I Got Marriage Fever: The Desperate Hunt For A Spouse”

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”

Awkward Theological Moments: How Do I Love God?

When the pastor yells, “Once you know God loves you, you naturally respond to Him with love!” — well, that doesn’t feel natural. If even an attractive lady ran up to me on the street and said, “I love you!” — I’m going to throw my ninja smoke-bomb and run the other way.

Falling in love actually begins with knowing someone. The more you know someone, the more you want to get to know them. I believe that anyone who obtains an increasingly accurate picture of God cannot help but be completely overwhelmed by His awesomeness. He is really that good.

I can’t really make “Loving God” into a program or Ten-Step Plan, but since this is a question I get often, here’s an outline to get us started.

Continue reading “Awkward Theological Moments: How Do I Love God?”

A Boyfriend Is Not The Solution, And Not The Problem

Sometimes I sit through these counseling sessions where the girl goes on and on about her idiot moron unprincipled boyfriend: he doesn’t listen, he clips his nails in bed, he showers every three days, he forgets to call, how do I get him to hear me, I try so hard to express my feelings and it’s like he does not care, and —

I want to say the same thing, you know. I do not care, either.

If God were at that moment to tear the roof off over our heads and take a peek, I wonder how much she would care.

Even for five seconds, to see the glorious holy wrathful infinite epic universe-exploding face of God. Does anything else really matter then? We’d both burst into flames. So no, nothing else matters then.

Every selfish desire is predicated on a tangible, earthly treasure, and it always turns out to be garbage. William Law said so simply, “If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead.” A hard truth, but standing before the face-melting presence of God, it’s the only truth.

At judgment you’ll only have one problem: and only one solution.

Continue reading “A Boyfriend Is Not The Solution, And Not The Problem”

“An Open Letter To Praise Bands”

An article by James Smith well worth reading for both praise bands and churchgoers.

Excerpt:

Without us realizing it, the dominant practices of performance train us to relate to music (and musicians) in a certain way: as something for our pleasure, as entertainment, as a largely passive experience.

In a concert, we come to expect that weird sort of sensory deprivation that happens from sensory overload, when the pounding of the bass on our chest and the wash of music over the crowd leaves us with the rush of a certain aural vertigo. And there’s nothing wrong with concerts! It’s just that Christian worship is not a concert. Christian worship is a collective, communal, congregational practice–and the gathered sound and harmony of a congregation singing as one is integral to the practice of worship.

Continue Reading at Fors Clavigera


Read Related:

– What About The Guy In The Back? – Why Bigger Worship Is Not Better Worship
– I Love That Song
– How To Lose God In Ten Days
– Sermon Fail: Unprepared In The Pulpit
– The Worst Sermon I Have Ever Heard