J.S. Park

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J.S. Park

jspark3000:

Hello beloved friends!

This is a Spoken Word performance, aka that one time the pastor rapped his sermon. It’s from the perspective of a modern day disciple of Jesus, about the three fateful days after Jesus’s crucifixion and how the chaos of the cross turned into beautiful death-defying glory.

To download directly, click here.

Love y’all and be blessed!

— J

Resurrection = Hope

jspark3000:

image

 

Ten years ago, I went to a funeral for my friend.  He was eighteen years old.  He was stabbed to death in the doorway of his home, and he had died trying to save his sister and his mother. 

He died on the way to the hospital.  When I got the news, I hung up the phone and threw it across the room.  I kicked over a chair and couldn’t stop yelling.

At the funeral, there he was.  An eighteen year old life, cut short, dreams gone, a future inside a box. 

Three months before he died, he and I were at a Christian retreat together.  During one of the services, he received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  I was there when it happened. 

At the funeral — we were able to rejoice.  It was not an easy rejoicing, but we knew he was with Jesus, in a joyous union that we could hardly comprehend.  He’s there now, and ten years has probably felt like ten seconds.

 

I don’t mean to be morbid, but it’s difficult to connect the Resurrection to our daily lives: until you’re at a funeral.  Then it makes sense. 

I’m not saying his death makes sense, or that it doesn’t hurt, or that I fully accept what God is doing all the time.  I’m saying: the Resurrection gives a hope above and beyond all that happens.  It answers our deepest fears about eternity.  If Jesus is alive, then a funeral is not really a funeral — and futures do not stop in a box.

The death of death is the Great Reversal of the human story.  Even those who overcome many obstacles have to die one day.  Jesus reversed inevitability.  He is the True Story of the world.  He made it okay to dream again, even when dreams seem to die.  In the midst of cynicism, Jesus is the “happily ever after” we all secretly long for.

He’s the hope in traffic, in troubled family, in bad grades, in aging, in failed plans, in irreversible mistakes, in overwhelming bills, in second and third chances, in tragic headlines, in our daily struggle.  In the shadow of death, his shadow is greater still. 

Sean: I’ll see you again soon one day. 

Until then: we tell the story.

— J.S.

Once you know God, it’s over. Everything else tastes like the vapid emptiness it really is. Christ is the sweet fruit of life that the world only seldom suggested.

- J.S.

Everything Is Very Wrong With Everything, And We Know It
J.S. Park

jspark3000:

Hello beloved wonderful friends!

This is the first part of a new sermon series called “Why You Christian?”  It explores the question of why anyone would ever want to be a Christian.

This first message is titled: Everything Is Very Wrong With Everything, And We Know It.

It’s about that Christianese church-word “sin,” and how we all secretly know something is very wrong and all the ways we try to make it right.

Stream above or download here!

 

Some things I talk about are: That moment when you wonder why you ever need to learn calculus or the quadratic equation, the very goofy Christianese words ‘sin’ and ‘wrath,’ that weird dark secret thing we do that no one wants to talk about, how the world tries to save itself through try-more moralism and top-my-feelings therapy, slapping someone in the pulpit, and that time I almost cheated on my fiancé with a Starbucks barista.

Be blessed and love y’all!

— J

jspark3000:

Loneliness hurts, but please know: having a ton of friends doesn’t guarantee happiness either. You can be just as lonely in a crowd as inside your head.

Sometimes life feels like all hallways and no windows, but that doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. To be lonely is the most natural part of our existence, because we weren’t designed to merely survive. We were made for intense side by side-ness. So if there’s no real intimacy with anyone for a while: that’s okay, because those friendless seasons are inevitable. Until then, befriend yourself and enjoy the contours inside, because it’s not as bad as you think in there. And when fresh new faces arrive, you will know more of yourself to give.

— J

jspark3000:

Jesus is the message that no one wants to hear, but the one that everyone is looking for.

jspark3000:

Jesus is the message that no one wants to hear, but the one that everyone is looking for.

No One’s Crazy (Or Maybe We All Are)

Dang, awesome.

yesdarlingido:

When you hear something that you don’t understand or relate to and you feel a judgmental attitude sprouting, dig it up and don’t let it take root. Have higher standards for how you allow your perspective to take shape. Your mind does not possess you; rather, you possess a mind, so choose to make room for intrigue, curiosity, and understanding. Ask questions instead of making assumptions. When you hear an opinion that is unsettling to you, don’t be so quick to attach that one differing view to how you see the person who is speaking. Don’t be so afraid of uncertainty. Everyone is learning and growing, so neither avoidance nor aggression is appropriate. It’s a shame to run away from a conversation for fear of feeling uncomfortable. And it’s a shame to only engage these conversations for the opportunity to interject an impressive counter remark to persuade or embarrass the person you disagree with.

I think love looks like stepping closer—not so that your voice would be heard any louder, but so that you might be better equipped to hear. People are more than their opinions, but those opinions were formed through the journey of their experience and their story is just as valid as yours, so maybe if you would just give each other a chance to finish their sentences, you might learn something. Don’t be so quick to judge a person for not seeing the world through your eyes. Can you blame them? They were raised in a different area by a different families who valued different things. We all have been places and seen faces and felt feelings and made choices and heard voices that have left thousands of fingerprints on the works-in-progress that we all are. So to be quite frank, how dare you be so quick and petty to judge a person for how they understand their place in the world? How dare you close yourself off from people who you know hardly a fraction of just because they think differently than you?

When you hear something that makes you wide-eyed and uncomfortable, take a breath and remind yourself, “they’re not crazy…” Because really—either no one is crazy, or everyone is, and if you think someone’s opinion is crazy, that just means that to someone else, yours is too. No one pulls their opinions out of nothingness. Every thought has an origin and a goal. So, when you feel judgment sprouting, don’t let it take root because it will grow weeds that kill your opportunity to learn and love the people around you, it grows vines that suffocates the chance of any compassion growing for one another, and eventually, it will have constructed a barricade that closes you into the lonely solidarity of self-righteousness. It isn’t valid to justify avoidance as wisdom or maturity. Valuing your opinion more than you value learning or building relationships is not wisdom, it’s pride. And being content in your ignorance is not maturity, it’s fear.

I’m not suggesting that you compromise convictions or weaken your stance on any matter, and I am definitely not saying to exchange truth for tolerance. But. I am telling you to grow up, be who you say you are, think what you think, and humble yourself before you jump to conclusions about another person without genuinely seeking to understand their perspective. It’s a natural response to run away when you’re confronted with a mind that doesn’t resemble yours, but that doesn’t make it ok. Know that unless you stop limiting your interactions to carbon copies of yourself, you will grow stale, stiff, and cold. Stop avoiding what you don’t understand and learn to lean in more than you pull away. Stop waiting for a pause to interject, but listen long enough to allow names and faces and stories attach themselves to the ideals you’ve resisted—the ideals that were easy to demonize when they were isolated from the reality of humanity. Your opinion doesn’t deserve to be heard until you’ve learned to say, “I may not agree, but I understand.” When was the last time you cared to understand? It’s lazy to ostracize people by belittling their opinions as “crazy.” Your voice matters, but it will never make an impact as long as you care more about being right than you do about understanding how people came to their conclusions.

Jesus’s death and resurrection built an iconoclastic world-upheaving truth that is upheld by the counterintuitive element of grace.

Jesus is existentially satisfying because he accurately describes the human condition and provides the solution. Every other system of belief is built on performance, maintenance, reward/punishment, dichotomous banner-waving division, moralism, superiority, self-improvement, and self-isolated relativism. Jesus destroys all these categories and provides a way above all ways that I have absolutely NOT found in any other system of thinking.

He speaks to my desperate need for self-justification. All day long, I’m justifying myself to prove I’m worthy. I am making myself better than others and comparing my weakness to someone who is weaker than me. I am in a moral race that causes me to laugh at a celebrity’s downfall or to help the poor to look righteous. Jesus destroyed this in the cross by calling us all equally guilty and all equally loved. It was never in us to justify ourselves, but only Jesus can do this.

He speaks equally to my lack of humility and my lack of confidence. Jesus had to die for my sin so I can’t be prideful: but he was glad to die for my sin so I can’t be in despair. Both are somehow true at the same time, and it’s this paradoxical union of tensions that keeps me oriented to a self-forgetting love for others and a right estimation of myself.

He speaks to my need to serve myself and make life about me. I’m set free because my life is not about me. Life is about the story of God and we’re all bit players. Imagine this sort of freedom: when you can quit living selfishly for yourself. You’re no longer enslaved under the tyrannical dictatorship of self. Imagine this sort of Gospel-shaped person who loved you but didn’t need you, because they’re not using you as a vehicle to serve themselves. They’re not killing you as an obstacle who is in the way of their desires. They’re instead seeking to love you simply because they love you and not because of what you can or won’t do for them, and this is because they are loved the same way.

You see: Every other kind of motivation is inherently selfish. It is all seeking a means to an end, one method using another for self-gain. We’re motivated by fear, by conformity, by trophies, by pleasure, by social standing: and while they might benefit a few, they really just benefit me. The love of God is entirely intrinsic unto itself, in a single direction initiated by its own essence, with nothing to gain and no reason to exist except that it does. When we understand such a love: we’re motivated by a purely one-way love to love in the same way, motivated by the reason of no-reason, because it has inherently punctured through our souls. There is no stronger force than this in the entire universe.

- J.S. from this post

(Source: jspark3000)

Only a love the size of God could ever win over our sin.

- J.S. from this message

In line with your most recent post (or answered question), what would you recommend for those who do their devotions but couldn't understand the metaphors used by Jesus? I usually look up the interpretations online and go from there but I was wondering if there's a better way to go about it. Thank you for your help!

Hey there dear friend, I believe you’re referring to this post.

One book I highly recommend is Henrietta Mears’ What The Bible Is All About.  It’s a very simple commentary with pictures (woo!) and practical explanations of every book in the Bible.  It’s not too specific on any one book, but gives just enough context to help us think through Scripture for ourselves. 

The wider we read, the more we’ll start fitting the pieces too.  I’ve probably read tons of Timothy Keller and C.S. Lewis, and they’ve helped formed my theology just enough to get a foothold in Jesus’s words.  While I don’t mean to make it only a matter of intellect, it does help to read broadly.  That means both diving into Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem or something light like Max Lucado.

I would also recommend a good huge Study Bible.  My personal favorite is the very classic Zondervan 1984 NIV Study Bible.  The best thing is to browse a few Study Bibles at a bookstore and see which you like.  I’ve seen some friends also like the Life Application and Quest Study Bibles.

May I add: Jesus did say some pretty tough things to figure out.  Scholars still dissect the particulars to this day.  If these really smart people are struggling with them, then a simple-minded person like me will too, and that’s okay.  I think there are probably very simple meanings to all of Jesus’s metaphors, and it would be best to receive the most obvious meaning, then apply it.  I’m sure there’s an infinite amount of wisdom we can receive from every parable, but they can also be easy enough for the five-year-old to understand.  So we want to look into them and always remain curious, but also don’t worry too much if you wrestle with them a bit too.  We can enjoy that process of lifelong discovery.

— J

Hello, sir! Big fan from Manila, actually been so desensitized by all these Christian blogs until yours came along. Would just like to ask if you have any plans to write a book or do you already have one, which I just didn't know about. Thank heaps and God bless, you are an inspiration!

Hey my dear friend, I’m seriously very flattered and humbled.  I’ve written several books on my own but haven’t quite sent them out yet.  At one point I was talking with a literary agent, but that fell through too. 

It’s been a lifelong dream to be published somehow, but honestly, it scares me like crazy too.  I’m already anxious over Tumblr sometimes because of the cruelty and thoughtless messages that come through; I can’t imagine that multiplied in a more public way.  Also, publishing a book takes about a million miracles to happen in a row.  I’m not even sure I have it in me to endure the whole process.  But if God wills it and He opens that door, I’ll gladly go through.

Thank you again for asking and I appreciate your very kind words. :)

— J

I was deeply encouraged by your post on the slit of sunlight being one of God's daily moments where He asks us to bask in the beauty of Him. Thank you for writing it.

Thank you so much my friend, I believe you’re referring to this post.

Sometimes (and lately) I’ve been slipping into autopilot and just moving quickly from one assignment to the next.  I forget to just enjoy and engage with the moment sometimes. 

On Mondays (my day off), I’ve started to leave my phone and laptop at home.  It feels crazy and even itchy inside, but man, what a relief too.  I remember how good it was when we actually had to look people in the eye and taste the food we’re eating.  I wasn’t thinking of how to pose for Instagram or capture my feelings on Facebook.  I don’t mean to sound old-fashioned and I’m not judging all that, but probably we all need days when we’re not connected to everything but connected to one thing.

— J

jspark3000:

When I know someone has heard gossip about me, I get really self-effacing so that I don’t confirm the gossip somehow. I end up becoming a twitchy perfectionist and deadly afraid of messing it up.

Please don’t put someone in this position. Everyone has some kind of reputation, and it’s unfair to imprison another human being into performance-mode. Even a few kind words will help them relax. Extend grace and think for yourself about this person. This is hard to do: but you’d want the same chance if it were you.

— J

How Do I Recognize False Prophets?

imageAnonymous asked:

I am really confused, the Bible talks about false prophets and false teachers but I don’t quite understand how to recognize them.

 

Hey my dear friend, I believe there are probably two extremes when it comes to “false prophets” —

1) Anyone who says anything weird is a false lying antichrist scumbag, or

2) As long as you’re positive and you name-drop Jesus, you’re a legit preacher.

But I’ve noticed that —

1) When someone yells false prophet, usually they’re saying, “I disagree with him, therefore he’s the devil,” or

2) We only like preachers who tolerate exactly what I already want to do.

 

Mostly I think we’re both too quick or too slow to say “false prophet.”

We’re too quick to say false prophet because most of us enjoy the surge of self-righteousness in our bowels when we find a point of disagreement, and we feel a divine-messenger-high when we can go after a pastor who does something slightly different than us.

We’re too slow to say false prophet because most of us enjoy watered down preaching that emotionally tickles us and goes down like cotton candy and entertains for a while, as long as we’re not challenged or convicted or have to change anything in our over-privileged comfort zone.

I also think there are some “misinformed” teachers who just don’t have all the information, and they end up misleading others. Other times it’s a tolerance of a certain idea or practice because they’re guilty of it too, and people flock there even when the Bible is expressly against it.  They’ll twist just the one part of Scripture and people will go “Oooh aah” and gravitate to a loophole, because you know, flesh attracts flesh.

Yet here’s what I think in general.  There are very, very few false teachers out there who are purposefully trying to deceive you — but there are ways we latch onto a false idea and get misled, even when it’s not the teacher’s original intention. 

 

I’m not saying it’s always our own fault.  Certainly we need to have very high discernment in all we read and hear.  Obviously there are some false teachers who are sneaking into your wallet and they’re only in it for themselves.  But many people hear what they want to hear.  They’ll say “Yeah false prophet” if they want to dismiss someone, or they’ll say “Oh right on amen” if it fits their own choices. 

Let’s take for example, our dear brother Joshua Harris.  He wrote some books on dating that had really good intentions — purity, intimacy, courtship — but some Christian subcultures latched onto these and drove them to an intolerable extreme. Other subcultures started calling Harris a false prophet.  And while I don’t agree with everything Harris says, it’s unfair to call him “the antichrist” just because his books have spawned some bad ideas.  All good ideas are at the mercy of sinful people.

There is NOT a false prophet lurking in every corner.  The worst false prophet is the sin that deceives us inside our own head.  And to flip that, some of the best prophets can be those who are NOT Christians, but simply extend love like God does.  I wouldn’t endorse all they believe, but what they do is so Christlike that it’s hard to argue. 

So ultimately everyone can be a “false prophet” because we all live in our sin-broken condition, but there is a degree of truth in all of us by the grace of God.  We just need wisdom and discernment to see what really comes from Him. 

 

I’ve been accused of being a false teacher before — but in the end I always find that there are some people who don’t like my idea of grace or that I sometimes use the Bible as allegory (because so did Jesus) and that my God happens to love everyone, including the people they don’t like.  And also, we throw around “false teacher” way too casually, when it’s a huge serious accusation that needs patience and prayer — and maybe we need more grace than that within our Christian circles.

So when a preacher uses tons of Scripture, it doesn’t mean they’re biblical.  If a preacher is super smart and flashy, it doesn’t mean they’re all correct.  If a preacher says a few things you disagree with, it doesn’t mean they’re not worth hearing at all.  And all that is okay.  We can show grace for when people mishandle truth, and we can seek the truth together in grace.

I would very much question everything but land on something.  God wants us to be critical thinkers AND gracious listeners.  It’s unwise to dismiss a whole person based on a single sentence.  There might be a time to do that, but it’s not gracious to constantly grade others on an impossible scale.  It’s also unwise to believe everything a person says, even if you really like that person.  There might be a time to do that too, but God does want us to think for ourselves.

And a last thing. If you conclude that someone really is a false prophet, then instead of demonizing them with a nasty blog post, maybe we could get on our knees and pray for them like crazy. The very few people who are false teachers are also dynamic engaging speakers, so imagine if they repented and decided to get on God’s glory instead of their own. His grace can reach even the worst of us and uppercut us back to truth. And Jesus says you’re the evidence of that.

 

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

— Matthew 10:16

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

— Aristotle

— J.S.

Sometimes someone will make a premature, hasty judgment without knowing all the facts, and they will say some hurtful inconsiderate things. In their own mind, they believe they are doing the right thing by “standing up” for what is right. It is sincere and they are not the villain. We can’t blame them: because they just don’t know. They have been fed certain lies from a perpetuated false narrative, or they are speaking from an incomplete paradigm that cannot empathize with the many layers of a complex situation. It does not mean he or she is a bad person, but that gossip is really intoxicating even to the best of people.

We must not be so hard on someone who doesn’t have all the information. It doesn’t help to be rude to our “enemies.” Not everyone will be happy with our decisions, even if we get to explain our side of the story. Be gracious to gossipers, be kind to those who do not understand, and stay humble. I believe that the truth will always win, that hard work pays off, and that our integrity comes from both our actions AND our reactions. Trust God, love others, keep above the drama.

- J.S.