J.S. Park

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Posts tagged with "Christian blogs"

Aug 9

So About Mark Driscoll and Pastor Implosions

pumpsandgarters asked:

I’m lost on what’s happened recently to Pastor Mark Driscoll and his removal from the Acts 29 church planting network, can you give me a brief summary of what’s going on or send me a link to a reliable source so I can understand what’s going on? Love this blog by the way it helps in the most arduous of moments!

 

Hey my dear friend, thank you for your very kind words.  Though I might not be the best source on this, I won’t pretend that I haven’t been reading on it. 

If you don’t know Mark Driscoll, he’s a “famous” megachurch pastor in Seattle, which is the second most unchurched city in America.  He’s written a ton of books, is a very strong speaker, and is especially geared towards young men.  He’s an unapologetic Reformed Calvinist with an encyclopedic memory and a sharp sense of humor.

In the last few years, he’s been accused of: plagiarism, verbally bullying other pastors and staff, paying $210,000 to get on the New York Times bestseller list, posing as a commenter on his message boards to make purposeful misogynistic statements, and misappropriating a charity fund to an unknown place.  I’m sad to say that many of these accusations have turned out true or worse, most by his own admission.  He has apologized numerous times, but I suppose most people want to crucify him.

Here are a few things to consider.

 

- The only reason the general public discuss Mark Driscoll is because of our current state of celebrity culture.  If this happened in the 1980s, we’d laugh him off as another Jimmy Swaggart or Benny Hinn, and it would be a footnote in history.  While I really endorse social media, it’s also made an unnecessary circus out of dang near everything.  To be truthful, I’m a bit embarrassed to be writing about this.  The fact that we even put Driscoll on a level to attack in public really speaks volumes about our insane voyeuristic blogosphere.  It’s a drunken idolatry that’s gripped the Western church, while our faithful brothers and sisters are getting killed for their faith overseas and have never even heard of a podcast.

 

- The Christian commenters on every online post about Pastor Mark is unsettling and disturbing.  Of course, Christians love to shoot our wounded and devour our own.  The church doesn’t look any different than the world when it comes to the internet: we’re just as much an orgy of hate, whining, name-calling, and immature butt-hurt slander.

 

- But the truth is: I’m no better than these commenters.  I’m no better than Mark Driscoll.  I’m no better than Adam and Eve.  If any one of us were given the immense power and under the same pressure as Pastor Mark, there’s no telling how awful we would become.  That’s not to absolve his behavior, but that’s to say I understand.

 

- I have zero authority in disciplining Pastor Mark.  I only have authority over what I myself say and do: and I’m unqualified even for that about half the time. All these pastors and bloggers calling for “repentance” and “stepping down” are probably correct, but that’s like going over to my next door neighbor’s house and trying to spank their kids.  So really the Christianese internet needs to sit down, close their laptops, and eat a cake or something.  All of Driscoll’s woes need to be handled internally, and it seems like steps are being made (especially by Acts 29, the network he founded) to keep him in check.  Some of these protest groups are probably justified, but if he’s broken the law, they can go through the appropriate channels and press charges.

 

- I’m 99% certain that “Christian watchdog bloggers” are going to hell.  I’m not kidding, and it hurts my heart.  Every Christian blogger who writes a TMZ-like column to be the “gatekeepers” of faith are wasting their damn lives.  You know who I’m talking about (just Google any famous megachurch pastor, and you’ll find the critics).  What the hell do these people even do?  Do they even care about truth?  Or site views and ad clicks?  I’m sorry to sound so harsh, and I’m normally not this way.  I do believe there’s grace for them too.  But it doesn’t matter if they serve their church or love their kids and have “a heart of gold” — they’re absolutely destroying the church from the inside, and they know exactly what they’re doing with the controversy.  They make Jesus look like an idiot: and anyone who does that is like messing with my mama.  I’m sort of defeating my own point here, except really I’m just heartbroken about it.  They have no idea how much they’re hurting the body of Christ with all this blatant innuendo and trashy classless garbage.  Before we call out some megachurch pastor, let’s call out the so-called watchdogs.  Unless you’re okay with one of them bullying a pastor’s 15 year old son to suicide.

 

- Instant forgiveness is cheap and pointless.  Half the online world is jumping to Pastor Mark’s defense (including me sometimes), but the truth is that he’s done some terrible things.  Forgiving someone must always directly acknowledge what they’ve done wrong, or else it cheapens the forgiveness.  So yes, Pastor Mark needs to be held accountable for what he’s done.

 

- But we need more grace and prayer and unity, and not less.  In the long run, whether he steps down or not, Pastor Mark still needs his brothers and sisters to love on him.  I’ve really been blessed by Pastor Mark’s ministry.  He’s one of the first podcasts I ever really listened to regularly.  I’ve heard him preach in person and I grew to like him.  He has a wife and kids.  He’s very gifted.  So I’m rather grieved over the whole thing, and if even half the accusations are true, it’s disappointing.  All this is more reason he needs our prayers.  Our faith is about restoring the losers and bums and bad guys.  To the degree which we receive them: that’s the degree to which we understand what Jesus has done for us on the cross.  Plain and simple.

 

- I’m a little more interested in alleviating poverty, human trafficking, and addictions in my own community.  I don’t mean to diminish those very real hurts that were suffered by members of Pastor Mark’s church.  Certainly there needs to be justice there.  But eyes on the mission.  There’s a bigger story here.  Our tight little Western ghetto subculture of Churchianity is not the only thing happening.

— J.S

"A Day In The Life of a Christian Blogger"
By Naked Pastor (David Hayward)

"A Day In The Life of a Christian Blogger"

By Naked Pastor (David Hayward)

Jul 9

I love your blog! I read it on an almost daily basis and it has seriously strengthened my faith so much and helped me through some tough situations. I was wondering if you had any favorite blogs that you would recommend following? Ones similar to your own? God bless!

Hey my friend, thank you for your kind words.  I’m always so humbled and overwhelmed when someone shares that I’ve been a part of their faith journey.

Here are some recommendations! Not all these are necessarily “Christian inspiration” nor do I agree with 100% of everything written (when do we ever? we can still love each other through that) — but I love their honesty and grace.  And certainly they are smarter than me or better writers or more solid in their faith.  I apologize in advance if I missed some great blogs.

- tblaberge

- yesdarlingido

- asklaurenbritt

- breanna-lynn

- scripturesketches

- peterdwebb

- lazarusknowsthetruth

- joshtheyipper

- hislivingpoetry

- blakebaggott

- thepoorinspirit

- gothicchristian

- brianli

- unapproachablelight

- wongdavidjacob

- risingofthesun

- lovecourtney

- shrimpsays

- benshim

- yeahmicah

- dynastylnoire

 

I also read Jon Acuff and Rachel Held Evans.  My guilty pleasure is Relevant Magazine.

Here are some thoughts on blogs:

- How Do You Do The Blog Thing? A Mega-Post-Testimony on Blogging

- Use Your Unfollow Button

And lastly, here are two disclaimers about reading them:

- Blogging Is Easy: Living Your Blog Is Not

- Don’t Trust Me: Because I Will Let You Down

Be blessed!

— J

Feb 7

Popular Discontent: There’s Something Wrong With Everything

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The internet shouted down Donald Miller the other day after he admitted he doesn’t regularly attend a church, and once more when he wrote a follow-up

I absolutely love Donald Miller and I sincerely believe he loves Jesus.  There’s no but and this isn’t leading up to a negative critique — I really do think he’s great.  His books re-energized my faith during a particularly bad slump, and like Lewis or Keller, he will always be one of my biggest influences in my personal faith journey.

I attend church.  Donald doesn’t.  We can still be bros. 

I agree with just about everything that Donald Miller wrote about church. How could I disagree? When we’re really honest about it, the state of the entertainment model of the evangelical church is downright horrifying. We’ve managed to package the eternal saving power of God into a 1-800-number enterprise. We’re mostly tickled one hour a week to compensate for the guilt of our secret second lives, which only enables us into the spiral.

 

But the thing is: I can find discontent in just about anything. It’s hard to disagree with most criticism because as soon as you find something wrong, it’ll be wrong for life.  Look hard enough and you will see flaws. A critic-filter will always taint how you enjoy a movie or a book or a friend or the church.  It’s inevitable that imperfection will rear its ugly head. 

I was talking with my friend recently about Timothy Keller.  I love Keller’s work, but my friend was less impressed.  I asked why, and he said, “I think he’s great, it’s true he does good work for the city, he has solid theology … but just, you know, I don’t get him. Just something about him.” 

I really couldn’t understand this.  Something about him?  Couldn’t we say that about anyone? Isn’t it enough that he does good work for the city and has solid theology?  What more could we ask for?

Not to demonize my friend here: But if you dig deep enough, you will always find a reason to dislike someone or something.  That’s easy.  And we can write off an entire group or culture or work because of it.  For most people, they will never be pleased no matter how good they have it.

 

There’s the rub.  You can never be fully satisfied with anything on this earth, because complete satisfaction in transitory things is an impossible standard.  To look for it is futile.  There will always be something missing.  And if you hold people or systems or churches to that curve: you have already damned yourself on the same curve.  When I try to be satisfied by any manmade system, no matter how good its intent, I will always come up short. I will always be restless on this earth. I think it’s unfair to squeeze the burden of my satisfaction from any one sermon, preacher, or church building.

I can find something wrong with anything.  That’s how a lot of bloggers appeal to their readers.  It’s how pastors build churches.  It’s how politicians build platforms.  They throw around a ton of complaints, talk about those “other people across the street,” and their whole agenda is born of a reactionary whiplash. The battle cry is, “I’m not like them.” 

It’s easy to criticize.  It’s easy to sit in a room and go on about why the church has failed us, why those “other Christians" lost it, why those tribes and camps are so wrong.

Think of every successful blog or author or speaker.  They appeal to you because they pick apart things like crazy, and this presses our critic-button.  Their posts begin with a snarky smug deconstruction of “what’s wrong with the world today.”  “Oh your pastor is wrong.  Oh your church screwed that up.  Oh you’ve been right the whole time.  We feel the same way about your problems with church.”  Maybe they’re right on every point.  But in the end, it’s a cheap direct appeal to your right-ness, which is the same as permissively enabling your flesh, which is the same as Pharisee-like self-righteousness — and there are still zero offered solutions.  There’s no grace.

 

Anyone can do that.  People get rich from it.  I’m probably doing the same exact thing in this post.

The hard part is looking forward to constructive restoration

None of the comments on Donald Miller’s blog really offered anything except “My way actually works, you should come to my church.”  There was really nothing inclusive that attempted to bridge the disunity.  Most of it was banner-waving triumphalist horn-tooting.  I can understand that, because we believe my way works.  

But I wanted to see someone say, “I agree.  So what next?  What can we do about the church today?  What do you propose?  What can we do together?  How can we pray for us?  What can we repent of?  How can we extract the poisonous elements?  How can we go to God on this one?”

I wanted to see dialogue.  Because going at this side-by-side is how we arrive to a better place.  Christians are called adopted for a reason.  We have a Father and we’re family.  We can disagree — but we can rise above those disagreements to something better than the world.  We can even use something impulsive like the internet and flip that for the better good — or so I can hope.

And you know, there’s plenty the church has done right.  We don’t celebrate that enough.  Any ounce of true-to-God goodness in our churches is a God-given miracle.  Can we maybe thank God for that?  Can we cheer when we actually see grace?  Because as much as Jesus is probably grieving over our craziness, I’m sure there’s a lot he’s happy with.  It’s overly romantic to be so negative on things, but it’s really not as bleak as we want it to be.

I’m still a fan of the church.  I love my church, in all her flaws and everything.  I apologize for the church a lot, but I still love her, and Jesus died for her.  I agree that she needs work — but that means I myself need work, that I need Jesus.  It means we need each other. 

I will probably always be dissatisfied with the church somewhere: but that doesn’t compel me to give up on her.  It only compels me to take care of her while I still have days left on this earth.  I will only be satisfied when I’m face to face with our Lord.  Until then, I’m serving hard.

— J

Feb 1

How Do You Do The Blog Thing? A Mega-Post-Testimony on Blogging

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Anonymous asked:

- Can you describe your experience with starting up the blog? Why did you make one, how was it, how did it develop? I’ve recently started my own blog and want to remind myself I first and foremost it is for God and me and anyone who stumbles upon it is a blessing, not a goal. If you wanted to take a look yourself and provide any insight I would be extremely star-struck.

- Hello Pastor. :) I just wondered how could you ever find time to update your blog. Like yeah? I bet you’re a person with a busy schedule. But then, have you ever found yourself restless? If so, what do you do to find rest in the Lord? :)

 

Hey dear friends: This post will probably end up being very pretentious and self-centered, so I apologize upfront for tooting my own horn a bit.  I’m afraid it will not be terribly interesting unless you enjoy writing.  And I’m no expert on blogging either, but I hope even a small part of this testimony can encourage you.

Please allow me to take you way back.

I have always, always, always loved writing.  When I was about eight years old, I got my first notepad and walked around the lake behind my father’s business and wrote these elaborate detective stories about the mystery of the murderous ducks.  There were these flock of ducks out back that were fodder for my ridiculous imagination.  It was the mallards versus the other ducks with the red junk on their face.  The mallards were too pretty so I made sure the ugly ducks won.  When I was ten, I also wrote a fanfic about an amnesiac Mario (from Super Mario) who wakes up in a public bathroom with blood on his hands and framed for murder.  Turns out, the bad guy is Luigi. 

I began blogging in my first few years of college.  This is before we had the term “blog” and when Geocities was still popular.  It was the time of Myspace and Xanga.  My friend gave me a website as a gift, a simple text site that didn’t have a comments section.  Since I wasn’t quite a Christian then, I would rant about the stupidest things.  To my own shame, sometimes I’d call out a person I didn’t like and verbally destroy them.  I always deleted these posts later.  (That website, joonwritings.com, no longer exists).

In 2004, I tried to send out several novels.  One was about a rogue spy who entered North Korea to overthrow the regime, and the other was about a group of Asian kids trying to fit into American culture, so they try out the “hooked up cars” and “white gangsters” and “church culture” until they realize they have no home.  At some point, I even combined both these books into one.  No agency would take me, but I got several handwritten rejection letters that said, "Your story is weird, but you can write."

I kept writing.  A few years later, I began to take my faith much more seriously.  I was still blogging.  I started a Wordpress in 2008 and a Tumblr in July of 2010.  When I wrote this post in 2012 (and on my Wordpress here), both my blogs received a little more exposure. 

So here are many random things I’ve learned over the years. As always, please feel free to skip around.

 

- I didn’t start off writing about God.  I started off ranting.  But God can change even false motives into something incredible for His Kingdom.

 

- I’ve been blogging for over ten years and I’ve been writing almost my whole life.  Most bloggers expect that they’ll promote a new blog to their close friends and then it’ll go “viral.”  Unless you’re already famous, I’ve never seen this happen, ever. 

 

- This is obvious but: If your blog is dependent on how many people are reading, you’ll get exhausted and quit.  Most people quit their blogs because of “low traffic,” and it only reveals the real reason they started.  Half my blogging time was without knowing who read, without a comments or “likes” option, before social media.  Foremost, your blog is a journal for you.  It’s between you and God.  Write just to write.  You’re making a snapshot of your short little life on this earth.  It is beauty wrapped in expression.  Any other motive lacks soul.

 

- I’ve learned to let go of blog-fame.  I’ve stopped obsessing over site stats (and we all do it).  It was a struggle at the start, but by God’s grace I just thank Him for even having a voice.  If I get a thousand “likes,” praise God.  If I get none, of course it feels stinky, but praise God.  Being “Tumblr famous” is not even an actual tangible thing.  Fame is not real.  People can see right through you if you’re just writing to fill the attention-void in your stomach.

 

- At the same time, promoting yourself isn’t really wrong.  If you’re writing things that will encourage, relate, and speak truth, then you want to get it out there.  Certainly there’s a trashy type of self-promotion, but anyone who quickly accuses an earnest writer of this is most likely a jealous, misinformed hater. 

 

- Just so you know, I really don’t have that many “followers.”  I hate even using that term.  I know plenty of bloggers who can (and do) boast about that stuff, but using the term “followers” denotes some kind of dictator mentality that I will never be comfortable with.

 

- Balancing the time to blog can be tricky.  But for me, writing is rest.  It’s my time to unwind.  It almost never feels like work, and when it does, I take a break from it.  You’ll need to find your own rhythm on that.  I know some bloggers who only write once a week.  I know others who need to slow down and take care of their own stuff first.  For me, I need to write everyday or I go crazy inside.  My brain won’t stop spinning until I get the words on paper.  I also have no less than three notepads where I handwrite my own thoughts, most of which never go public.  Here’s one of them that did and another.  I also have a Facebook fanpage (again, I dislike the word “fan”) that I update every Sunday night to queue posts for the whole week.

 

- Having a blog with an ask box doesn’t mean you have to be equally accessible to everyone. You’re not obligated to answer every message. You’re allowed to pick and choose and give yourself space. Maybe someone will call you uppity or something: but you never owed them anything in the first place.  Just be gracious about it.

- And to fandoms: If your favorite celebrity has a social media presence, it doesn’t mean you’re their friend or anything else. They don’t have to reply to you. They’re people, with their own friends and schedules and lives and fears and dreams. If they don’t respond, they’re not being uppity. They just don’t know you like that.

 

- I haven’t gotten much hatemail, but when I do: people online can be savage animals.  I’ve also realized they’re quite normal people like you and me, sitting in their boxers with no expression on their face while listening to the same music you enjoy and letting their fingers fly.  They’re not evil.  In other words: Resist the urge to reply quickly to the criticism.  When someone says, “Well what-about-this and you missed the point and you suck” — no one is really looking for a response, unless you fuel that fire.  Don’t repeat that stuff in your head. 

 

- Tumblr also saved my life.  Seriously.

 

- Another time I had a completely angry meltdown online, and no one judged me for it.

 

- A few “always” and “nevers” for this blog: I will never ask for money.  I will never bash an individual by name or otherwise.  I will always apologize for my mistakes.  I will never intentionally belittle anyone.  I will always bring it around to God.  I will always be honest. I will never send a message that couldn’t also be shown in public.

 

- Like anything, we can be enslaved to performance-driven paranoia about our blogs.  It’s not healthy.  I know I’m saying this a lot, but I want to prepare you and protect you from the inner-struggle that happens when you suddenly have a platform.  I knew a guy who mapped out the exact time that a blog post would get the most hits.  That was a little much (and yes, I used the info).  You’ll have to purge all these gross urges to get a pat on the head from your writing, and you’ll need to extract yourself by living off the random praises and criticism of other bloggers.  I say this for your health. 

 

- My friends: Praise God for this whole thing.  Praise God we even get platforms.  Be thankful when even one person is encouraged by what you write.  I get moved to tears when someone writes an encouraging message about how I helped their faith.  It’s like when someone takes notes while I’m preaching: I just can’t believe the privilege and honor that another human being would write down what I’m saying.  It’s really crazy, when you think about it.  I’m still overwhelmed and blown away by this, every day.  Please don’t ever lose the awe of what you get to do.  Don’t miss the God-ness in all of it.

— J.S.

Hi Pastor Park, I wrote one of these a couple days ago but it was more of a selfish motivated 'here let my drop off a link to my blog so I can be blessed by anything you might have to say' kind of message. Now I truly want to thank you for being an inspiration. From the way you speak to your audience and hold yourself, I see my own blog becoming much like yours. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. I hope I don't copy your blog but continue to use you as a role-model.

Anonymous

Hey my dear friend, thank you very much for your kind words. It’s even okay if you wanted to promote yourself here. Many Tumblr Christians are looking for more fellow Christian blogs, and it’s always an honor to use my little platform for endorsing other legit bloggers. There are so many other cooler, smarter, more well-spoken Christians out there.

— J

Thank you so much for taking the time to run this blog. I'm always happy to see your posts on my dash. I was wondering if you have any recommendations for other blogs like yours? I'd like to see some more good stuff when I log into tumblr, but many Christian blogs out there seem to be mostly fluff (if that makes sense). On a related note, anything you could suggest relating Christianity and fandom culture? Thanks again!

Hey my friend, sure do.

For Tumblr: I’m blessed by these Five Asian Guys.  They’re pretty raw, real, and honest about their faith.  I’m also a fan of Ramses.  He’s got like a billion followers and he’s a cool dude.  I’m also blessed by Blake, Breanna, Alvin, James, and Gothic Christian.  I’m sure I’m missing a lot here, but you can see who they follow too.

As for “big-name” blogs, I’m blessed by Donald Miller, Rachel Held Evans, Jon Acuff, Mark Driscoll, and Eugene Cho. 

As for Christian fandom culture: maybe some fellow bloggers can help with this one?

As always, please read with discernment and with grace.  When you read blogs, you’ll always have the urge to think “What about __?" — which is sort of a combative reflex to argue with someone about a point they missed.  But when someone misses an angle, it does NOT mean they believe the opposite of what they missed.  It just means they can’t possibly cover every nuance of an opinion in one blog post. 

Be gracious and be blessed!

— J

Dec 4

The Mosaic

I got recommended on Patheos as one of the many Christian bloggers who are not white.

Cool. :)

— J

Don’t Trust Me: Because I Will Let You Down

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The Christian community fervently follows tons of bloggers, preachers, and voices to aid them in their spiritual walk, and I think this is awesome: but please, please, dear friend, you must also please think for yourself.

If something in a sermon sounds funny or off or weird, don’t believe it just because it’s coming out of the mouth of your favorite preacher.

If your favorite blogger is saying something you silently disagree with, it’s okay: you don’t have to fanwank them to protect their pedestal in your mind.  It’s okay to disagree. 

If they say something obviously wrong, it doesn’t make them a bad person: it just means they’re still learning, and so are you, and so are we, and no one gets it right every time.  Most of them — and me too — are still working on the things they’re preaching.

Every single person you listen to is just as broken, crazy, and capable of error as you are. I’ll go further and say: some of these guys only care about blog hits and revenue and the number of followers and likes and reblogs, and don’t really care about you, and they have their prepackaged automatic statements ready to fire when they want to act like they care about you. We all do.

Some do love you, but are not truthful. Some are truthful, but don’t love you.

Don’t trust them; not fully, ever. Don’t trust me. Just trust Jesus.

 

I’m not saying this out of some kind of reverse-humility, as if to look more humble. I’m dead serious. Don’t trust me.

I’m also not as cool as I try to make myself. If you met me, I’m much shorter than you imagine, I laugh too loud in public, I usually smell like Asian food, and my teeth are pretty crooked. You’d be disappointed.

None of these preachers and bloggers are heroes. They’re not the sacred hologram we might have built them up to be. I’ve seen many wonderful men and women of God completely melt down, freak out, throw tantrums, and go violent (including myself) — and again, it does not make them bad people. It just makes them people.

 

Question everything. Use the Bible as your lens. Ask: Would Jesus have agreed with this? And at some point, land your heart on your conviction. We can’t walk this walk emulating other peoples’ opinions and secretly hoping for their approval and applause when we can parrot back information.

I am not discounting community, but the danger of numbers can often lead to conformity.  True transformation only happens when your mind fully closes on the truth, and that journey of discovery must happen on your own. 

Otherwise, when you find out these people are only people: your identity will be crushed, too.

 

Don’t look up to me, or to some supposedly eloquent, articulate, witty, humble blogger. Please don’t get caught up in the magical spun spell of a brilliant-sounding idea that is backed by the icing of so much self-aware, juiced-up, over-hyped scaffolding. At its central core, even when the “good idea” is true: it cannot work in the space of your deeply held convictions unless you actually swish the idea in your mind and clamp your mental jaws upon the meat.

It can’t become a part of you until it passes through you: and even then, it needs to pass the test, to be rotated in 3D, to be examined in the light of reality. You will be disturbed by how many ideas so quickly fall apart this way. Yet you’ll also be liberated towards pure wisdom that is not only functional but alive, a pulsing breathing life that is more than inspirational pep talk on a page.

Wisdom, then, is so much more than mental assent or reblogging a “convicting” post — but to be held up against itself, in the scorching no-nonsense eye of God, stripped of flowery layers, and arriving in your heart before applying it with your hands.  This is how great revolutions began.

 

Try an experiment. For a week or so, do not read any blogs or listen to any sermons. Don’t read any Christian books or seek someone else’s advice. Instead: Spend time in prayer and Scripture, in your bedroom or out in nature, and question everything. Talk with the Father. See what you find. Solidify your convictions, and when you come back to the open world of voices, see if you have a refreshed perspective.

I think your outlook will change. I think you’ll find that many of the paradigms and social constructs that you held dear were wrong: not because anyone is bad, but because we buy into ideas that sound good but don’t really work.

You’ll find that some authors and pastors and bloggers probably have noble intentions, but they’re writing from a vacuum-sealed, isolated laboratory without true love for your soul. You’ll see the cute little catchphrases and preprogrammed statements and all the self-promotions and attention-seeking — and you’ll see it in me, in you, and realize there is Only One we can truly trust with our entire being.  Because He absolutely loves you within Himself, without extra motives, without working an angle.  I would check with Him first.

Follow Him.  Please: follow only Him.

 

Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22

Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?
– Isaiah 2:22

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
– 1 John 4:1

The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.

– Psalm 19:7-8

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.
– Jeremiah 33:3


One of my blog posts was published at ChurchLeaders.com …!
It’s about giving more attention to “attractive” people in the church.
Thanks for all the encouragement and prayers.  Love you guys!
— J


One of my blog posts was published at ChurchLeaders.com …!

It’s about giving more attention to “attractive” people in the church.

Thanks for all the encouragement and prayers.  Love you guys!

— J

Dec 4

If your theology is not pushing you towards a seriously grief-filled heart for real living human beings and to say I love you Jesus, it’s not a theology worth having. If your theology does not allow you to rejoice, cry out, smile, sing, and have fun, that really sucks. If your theology does not encourage you, but condemns you and puts you on eggshells and makes you constantly anxious about ‘having right doctrine,’ that’s pretty lame.

Who cares if you win the internet? What I care about is you look me in the eye and you love me. That the Holy Spirit is working. That you love Jesus. People can tell if you don’t. They only need to see your blog.

- from this post

Me Is Angry At Blogger So I Ranting: A Letter To Angry Christian Bloggers


When a Christian blogger calls out other Christian bloggers, I always get a little concerned.

I really admire the fiery passion and I’m certain there’s good motives, but I always sense an angry spiteful resentment that just lacks grace and forfeits Christ.

There’s a way to speak to people that just makes you kind of an unhappy jerk and sort of small and hostile.

It’s a dead giveaway that maybe you don’t speak eye to eye with human beings and you’re only used to a cold screen.  It’s not that you’re wrong or insincere, but it’s easy to see you’re riding a bandwagon tidal wave to rouse your fanbase-choir.

Dear friend: I love you.  So many of you are incredible writers.  You might get a lot of “likes” and reblogs and applause from like-minded followers for your hotheaded rant, but the very audience you’re aiming at won’t ever hear you.

No one who reads an angry post that’s intended for them thinks, “Oh wow yeah I never saw it that way before so thank you for entering my life and pointing that out to me in your very aggressive voice.”  Try reading your own posts as if you’re a stranger to the church: and maybe you’ll see.  It’s not effective.

Please consider that while some cleverly articulated piercing arrows might guilt-trip a few people to modify their behavior, it’s only grace that will cultivate long-term change.

That takes a thoughtful patience to reach people with humility instead of yelling, and will actually require more from you.  It requires you to pray graciously over who you’re writing for.  It requires a deeper love that stops describing the water we’re drowning in and instead sets us free.  It requires you to be like Jesus.

If you are an influential Christian blogger, please tell us not what should be, but what could be.  Challenge me to a greater level.  Tell me what but also tell me how.

I’m telling you this because I know you can do better and you really could change a whole corner of the universe.  My heart hurts for you most because you are so gifted.  Please, please, please use your powers for good.

— J

Question: Favorite Authors?

Anonymous asked:

Do you have any favorite authors? Why or why not?


Indeed, though my taste is changing.  If you would’ve asked me this a few years ago about Christian authors, I could’ve given you some very generic answers about all the famous pastors that are hot right now. 

But having read over 200 Christian books and having been challenged more recently in my theology, it’s obvious that most of these Christian authors don’t have a clue what they’re doing.  They write in church to church people about church because church is all they know.  Meanwhile, real people with jobs and bills and everyday pressure are drowning in a sea of hurt while the preacher pontificates on some pointless doctrine.

I’ll offer a few standbys who are more or less legit.


Timothy Keller — A very, very smart man who speaks both to new Christians and church veterans.  He completely understands helping the community and working through doubt, questions, and personal struggles.  He’s also one of the few megachurch pastors who purposefully stayed at a tiny rural church for a long time and reluctantly became “big” through his writing. 


Andy Stanley — A lot of people diss Andy Stanley because he’s “shallow” or has shaky doctrine, but he actually gets people.  When I read his stuff and hear his sermons, it’s like he’s been following me around and reading my mail. 


Francis Chan and David Platt — I put these guys together because they have nearly an identical voice and the same passions (I say that as a compliment).  While occasionally they drift into a guilt-driven tone, they are all about the Great Commission and urban inner-city ministry.  Platt refuses to go multisite with satellite videos and Chan stepped down from his megachurch to ultimately pursue the poor in San Francisco.  They haven’t written much between them, but their voices are badly needed in America.


Jerry Bridges — I don’t know why he’s not more popular. While he does fall into the trap of speaking to the typical suburban, mid-30s, pop-Christian Reformed culture, often he has a razor-sharp simplicity with zero fat.  He’s like the cool laid-back uncle that keeps it real over a cup of tea.


C.S. Lewis and old dead Christian guys — Everything you feel is something everyone else in history has already felt.  Except today you have better healthcare, more civil rights, air-conditioning, and too much food.  When people ask me if it was harder to be a Christian back then, I always answer with a thunderous YES.  Which is why it’s so important to read them: because their convictions came about in such tumultuous times, and sometimes even because of them. 

C.S. Lewis, of all people, should NOT have been a Christian.  He fought in WWII, saw the worst of human atrocity, was a raging atheist with the best education this side of Hogwarts, and could’ve eaten Dawkins for breakfast.  Yet Christ totally KO’ed him.

The bar for following Christ over history has been tremendously high.  The word “Christian” is ridiculously easy now unless you’re in a third world country.  And if you think these “new atheists” are something, they’re tranquilized kittens compared to the intellectual greats of centuries past.  It’s worth your time to endure the outdated vocabulary and some of the cultural trappings to examine a dead Christian dude’s life.  They had every reason to walk away from Christ but they kept the faith.


Christian blogs — I’ve completely stopped reading from The Gospel Coalition and other similar sites because most of them are honestly just ignorant out-of-touch jerks.  I’ve unfollowed a lot of the popular “Christian Tumblr blogs” for the very same reason: it’s mostly just guys in their 20s being all shrill and hyper-spiritual, as if that’s convicting.  I check out Mark Driscoll’s blog occasionally.  But the best blogs I still read are: Unka Glen, Lee Younger, Jed Brewer, Jon Acuff, Joshua Harris, and Ramses Prashad.  Follow them and I promise blessing on your face.


As for non-Christian authors, I enjoy Stephen King, Michael Crichton, James Ellroy, Raymond Chandler, George Orwell, Chuck Palahniuk, and Haruki Murakami.  I appreciate the occasional classic like The Count of Monte Cristo and Frankenstein and I, Robot.  My favorite books are by far Watership Down, The Catcher In The Rye, and The Big Sleep.  You can check out my Goodreads account here.

Jun 1

Question: You Can’t Say He’s Going To Hell


Anonymous asked:

So I just started reading your stuff because someone showed me an article of yours where you claimed that apologists like Ken Silva were going to hell. Uhm, seriously? How do you back up that?


You’re referring to this (about five paragraphs down).
I wrote:


I say this without apology: guys like Ken Silva at Apprising Ministries plus a handful of bloggers at The Gospel Coalition are almost certainly going to hell.  I’m not kidding, and I say that with absolute grief and sickness in my stomach. It doesn’t matter how many “good things” they do or how well they raise their family, because it’s so obvious they’re dividing the church — and no good works can make up for that.  Jesus loves them and so do I, but they have to stop the nonsense.


First, I have no power to declare anyone is going to hell.  No one does.  So you’re correct in being incredulous, and I don’t blame your tone.  I’m sorry for being a bit hyperbolic.

Second, I wouldn’t wish hell upon anyone.  Not Hitler, not Dahmer, not Pol Pot, not Bin Laden, and certainly not Ken Silva.

Third, I’m absolutely certain that Ken Silva could go through my blog and my podcasts, line by line, and find all sorts of heresy and blasphemy and incorrect doctrine.  All that without a single conversation with me, with zero gestures of brotherly love.  And that’s the problem, isn’t it?

Fourth, I recognize the futility of what I’m doing, since I’m basically doing the very thing I’m calling him out on.  I hate to cause any more division in the Body than there already is.  You got to believe me when I say that my heart aches for Silva and I love him regardless of what he does.  I’d have dinner or a phone call with him, but I doubt that will ever happen.

Fifth, if I did have to guess the spiritual status of guys like Silva, this is what I’m going from:


14 Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.
— 2 Timothy 2:15-16


Paul is talking specifically to teachers and preachers and ministry workers.  James also talks about teachers undergoing the stricter judgment (James 3). 

The thing is, SOMEONE has to stand up to Christian bloggers who go out of their way to be purely nasty to other pastors.  There’s a proper way to call out heresy, but you don’t do that using pet names and ugly sarcasm and straight-up insults as if they’re substandard second-rate people.  I was once called a “lying witch abortionist” by one of these bloggers.  I mean, come on bro.

Trust me here: I hate being that guy, the one who has to point out the obvious truth, and I don’t relish it one bit (not like many bloggers do).  It makes me a bit sick to my stomach to say stuff like he’s “almost certainly going to hell.”  I prayed over it, prayed for Silva, prayed for bloggers, prayed for the church, prayed for me.  As best I could by the grace of God, I prayed with a loving heart.

But look at those blogs for a moment.  If you take a step back: Isn’t it damn obvious what’s happening here?  Am I the only fricking one who’s actually going to say something about this?  Are we walking on so many eggshells that we can’t call out the reality of hateful divisive words?  Isn’t it also obvious that he’s doing this for publicity, to stir controversy, to gain blog hits, to look “doctrinally correct,” to cater to the hyper-conservative subculture, to preach to the choir?  Am I just fricking crazy?

Everyone is afraid of these kinds of bloggers, because again, I know these so-called gatekeepers of the faith could theologically tear me apart.  That’s easy.  But I’m not afraid of human beings.  I’m afraid of God’s wrath.  And I fear for these bloggers because of God’s wrath.

Later in 2 Timothy 2:19, Paul writes, The Lord knows those who are his …” So again, I can’t claim any divine judgment here.  God knows.  I don’t. 

I just know that standing before God at the end of this short life on earth, I bet a lot of people will be surprised at where they go.  I could be one of them.  So I just want to lovingly point out the obvious truth: that writing all this garbage (and I’m talking to myself here too) does NOT help our case.  My motive is not to slander, but to speak the truth even when it’s not pretty.  I worry for them.  I love these guys, but they need to stop. 

The Top Ten Posts of 2011

These are the Top Ten Blog Posts of 2011. Thank you to every reader and supporter, your prayers and encouragement are welcomed and appreciated. Here’s to 2012!


10) A Christian Is Not Up To Your Damned Standard
An angry post that caused me to lose some followers, tick off some Reformed people, and indirectly caused a blogger to call me an “abortionist” and “witch whore.” I did apologize for my angry tone.
See also: I Love My Doctrine More Than Jesus: Why No One Cares About Your Theology
And: Gospel Idolatry

9) Movies That Christians Should See: The Truman Show
The most popular review of “Christians Should See” series, with perhaps my favorite film of all time.

8) Book Review: Erasing Hell
Francis Chan writes a succinct response to Rob Bell’s Love Wins, which I was also interviewed for by the local newspaper.

7) When Pastors Just Want To Quit
When your church is falling apart: no one’s listening, no one’s cares, no one’s convicted. But why it still matters.

6) It Would Be Easier If I Wasn’t A Christian – Part One
A four-part philosophical look into why we should consider being a Christian. Part Two here. Part Three here. Part Four here.

5) Why Is The Old Testament So Crazy? — Part One
A multi-part discussion about the insanity of the Old Testament. A straight reading of the OT is like a bad acid trip, with its supposedly misogynistic, slavery-endorsing, pagan-esque ways. Plus Part Two.

 4) How To Lose The Gospel
We tend to fear the boldness of the Gospel. Whether you’re the everyday churchgoer or a pastor, we water down the cross of Jesus Christ. Here’s how, and how not to.

3) The Beneficial God: Modern Christianity and Its Ubiquitous Psychological Slope
How the Gospel has become a Marketing Campaign for the psychological advantages of the Christian religion. Every preacher is doing it.

2) Porn Addiction, Part One: Excuses and Myths
As a recovering porn addict, this is an ongoing discussion about what porn does, why it’s “bad,” and how to quit. Parts two and three also included.

1) The Problem With Heart Motives
A critical look into a popular teaching model called “Heart Motives,” which has a small fanbase but a rising backlash against its unsound theology.