J.S. Park

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Posts tagged with "christianity"

Stop trying to always fix me.
Don’t lecture me.
Don’t patronize me.
Sit with me.
Mourn with me.
Cry with me.
Laugh with me.
Pray with me.
Hope with me.
Remind me of God’s faithfulness.

- Eugene Cho

Prioritizing Your Outrage - Overcoming Anger
J.S. Park

If you’re wrestling with anger or you’re just plain emotional, this one’s for you.  Love y’all and be blessed. — J

jspark3000:

Hello Planet Tumblr!

This is a sermon I preached recently at one of my favorite churches.  It’s about overcoming our anger and relocating our emotions to a healthier place.  The text is Ephesians 4 and Philippians 2.

Some things I talk about are: Yelling at old people in traffic, Jesus flipping tables at a megachurch, the only difference between a superhero and supervillain, airlifting spoiled kids to Somalia, and how to instantly stop lust.

You can also download directly here or check it out on iTunes

Love y’all! — J

The Pressure of Do’s and Don’ts: The Secret Language of Policing Behavior

jspark3000:

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Whenever I see a post titled “7 Ways to Know How” or “What You Should Obviously Know” or “Don’t Do This or You’re A D-Bag” — I get a little knot in my guts and I’m compelled to tattoo all the info in my brainfolds.  It’s an overwhelming shock of adrenaline and endorphins.  I feel both a mini-panic-attack and a bursting well of satisfaction that I suddenly know more than the helpless masses, because I got the secret sauce from Cracked and Relevant and Christianity Today, so I’m ready to flex my newfound skills to impress my witless friends.

Many of these practical tips are useful, and maybe even life-saving.  There are experts who have done it better than us, and we need to hear from them.

But all this anxiety-driven pragmatism either 1) paralyzes me into a deep fear of failure, or 2) gets me in an uppity self-righteous superiority over others who don’t know nothing.

I also get the sneaking suspicion that I’m just copying some programmatic method to earn the approval of my culture-bubble, and if I don’t know the 20 Facts on What To Do When I’m 20, then I’m totally losing at life.

I can see the slithery snake of a needle underlying all these “Do’s and Don’ts.”  We have suspected a secret insider-language suffocating every must-know list —

You should.  You’re supposed to.  You have to.  You better — or else.  If you miss this — you’re out.  Get on my program, or you’re dead.

I’m not sure this is any better than religion.  It sounds like we’re adding burdens rather than setting people free.  And a list of “How To Set People Free” is still dripping with the poison of arrogance.

It’s just adding rules about how to follow rules.  This is legalism, and it’s not okay. 

 

Bloody Puppets in Control of Control

If a preacher gives three points every Sunday, he’s smacking down over 150 points per year.  Throw in Fridays and that’s 300.  Throw in Wednesday Bible Study and Sunday evening service, and that’s over 600 things to remember.

Who else added over 600 need-to-know things on their list?

Oh, right.  These guys.  The original schoolyard bullies.

I understand why we do this.  I understand the need for it. Three-point-sermons can bring the fire, and a self-help bestseller can clean you up for a while.  But inside every book, blog post, sermon, TV host, and street-corner therapist is a desperate manic need for control.  We want to wrestle every scenario into an ideal shrinkwrapped cube of carbonite. 

So we pile on a perfectionist manifesto, and end up with a twitchy, neurotic, hardly functional clone regurgitating the 19 Steps to Keeping It Real In Ministry, and he doesn’t even know why.

We find eventually: this doesn’t work.  People are not designed to live under fear or the threat of conformity.  We are not created for slightly sarcastic non-formula formulas written by a bitter blogger in his basement.  But many of us fall into it — and we’re drowning in marginally better technique.

Most of us are marionettes hung by a thousand bloody strings attached to pragmatic fragments, without a script or direction or destination, dancing madly at the latest loudest cue. 

This is an untenable burden that will steal the God-given pneuma out of your veins.

 

Bricks, Dirt, Gut, Sun

Perhaps more importantly —

You might know all the how-to, but you’ll never know what for.  You’ll never know the why.  

Something has to compel us into an internally motivated, lifetime sustainable, inside-out life.  Otherwise, all these “do’s and don’ts” are just parole officers waiting for you to fail.  They are bricks, all shape and no soul.  We are plants, waiting for light and water to break in.

Life starts from the roots, from the pit, from the gut.  It starts from a seed of unconditional acceptance, pushing through the dirt into the sun.  Seeds have a law, but they are nourished by love.

You’ve met people who have truly been rocked by inside-out motivation.  That person who is passionate about his work, but not attached to results.  The one who loves everyone, but she really needs no one.  The guy who isn’t so hard on you when you make a mistake, and guides you into a better version of yourself without you even knowing it.  She is not moved by self-promotion, image maintenance, or Darwin-esque survival.  She appears to have a reason of No-Reason without expecting anything back.

Some of us say this comes from having children, from a social cause, from discipline, from a lover.  But all these are in danger of enslaving me once they make demands, and none of them can save me.  They cannot set me free. 

 

A Rest for Peace, a Resolve to Fight

As a follower of Christ, I take this up all the way to the highest place.  However you might be struggling with God or the Bible or the church: I believe even in my darkest doubt that we are compelled by a love who loves us before we did a single thing to prove our worth, and I’m free to walk into that love, with my gritty imperfections and messed up motives and my rough raw edges.

Where everyone else and every other system demands I prove my smarts, my resume, my sexual prowess, my outgoing-ness, my ability to follow the three-points — there is a sacred space where I can quit selling myself.  I am pre-approved here, qualified before I walk in the door.  There is even acceptance here for legalists, for Pharisees, for those who burdened others with the rules they failed to keep themselves.

In this place, the rules are helpful, but they are not the ultimate measuring stick for my worth.  They are not the be-all, end-all.  They cannot tell me if I’m good enough or not enough.  They help my behavior, but not who I am becoming.  They only remind me that I fail, and they point to the one who doesn’t.

If the story of Jesus is true, that means:

I can rest.  I can relax.  My motivation is NOT in gaining acceptance: but it starts in the acceptance He has already given.  I can find resolve by knowing He resolved to find me first.  I can fight, because He fought for me.

We can quit getting antsy over do’s and don’ts.  We have room to fail, and in this we can succeed.

I pray we move into this rest.  I pray we drink of His grace.

 

“[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.”

— C.S. Lewis

— J.S.

Why Do We Even Go To Church? - That Crazy, Messy, Weird Thing We Call The Body of Christ
J.S. Park

jspark3000:

Hello beloved wonderful friends!

This message is titled: Why Do We Even Go To Church? - That Crazy, Messy, Weird Thing We Call The Body of Christ.

It’s about why I still love the church despite it all, and how she is still God’s idea to be a force for good in the universe.  Being part of a church is messy and difficult, but it can be incredible.

Stream above or download directly here!

 

Some things I talk about are: That very nervous moment when you bring a friend to church and you see the weirdness of Sunday service,  how I reply when someone tells me that the church is full of hypocrites, how the friction of colliding with our disagreements can turn us into fully polished people, that time a church lady hit my car in the parking lot and ran, and my very first pastor loving me from hateful atheism to unexpected faith.

Be blessed and love y’all!

— J.S.

Many of us put absurd spiritual parameters on our “progress” so we expect to sustain how we first felt.

A true long-term sustainable faith will never feel like it first did, and it’s not supposed to. How could it? Coming to faith in Christ is always exciting at first — but keeping up that level of emotionalism is impossible.

Think of a hit TV show in its first season. New characters, plot lines, scenarios, dialogue: it’s all so fresh and thrilling. But even a TV show that maintains high quality will be a little stale by the third season, because we become very familiar with the tropes and twists and writing.

Think of a marriage: the honeymoon phase. This doesn’t last forever, but many people expect the “butterflies” and “electricity” to keep going. When it doesn’t, disillusionment leads to adultery or divorce or both. Because it doesn’t “feel like it used to” or the very lame “I love you but I’m not in love with you.”

Please don’t do that to yourself. We are done with arbitrary shackles and false goal lines.

If you can push past the initial barrier of fireworks and fog machines, around the bend is a breakthrough in faith that might not “feel” like it did, but was never meant to: because up ahead is an ocean-deep realness that feels more real than feelings ever could.

- J.S. from this post 

A Faith Crisis: Crushed By Doubt, Questions, and Disconnection (And Some Good News)

Two anonymous questions:

Hi pastor, i’m a 21 year old girl from philippines. i messaged you before about my doubts about God’s existence and my faith in Him. that was almost a year ago. Praise God that I was able to recover my faith and go back to normal living with God and i believe it became even better. but i feel so sad again right now because my doubts came back just a week ago. the desire to know God is still here but questions are bothering me. i still have lots of things to share. please help me. thank you!

Hi:), i write to you because i think of you as an understanding and matured faith person so i thought maybe i could share with u my problem.. So, i have a big faith crisis now, like somehow i found myself drowning among doubts … I just started a biblestudy on God’s personality but somehow i found myself on a worst place. As i do the biblestudy something says these “cool things” should make an impact in me, but they dont, like my inner radar would be broken … i wanna thank u that you share things so openly!:)

 

Hey my dear friends: Please first know that I love you both dearly in Christ, and I know how hard it is to fall into this fog of doubt.  I appreciate you both being so honest and real about this, and I’m also grateful for your encouragement even in the midst of this harder time.

You see, the Big Christian Secret is that every Christian in the world runs into doubts, question, confusion, and frustration, because there isn’t anything wrong with you that isn’t already wrong with everyone else.  This doesn’t make you a bad Christian, but an honest one.

In fact, I would say that every human being who ever existed runs into doubts about their own worldviews, a sort of existential panic about what they truly believe, and it can be downright disorienting. 

Here are three simple things we must know.  I have said them many times before and they could sound familiar, so please feel free to skip around.

 

1) Sometimes doubts are just seasonal valleys, because we’re fragile squishy human beings who occasionally get moody.

No one is expected to maintain an emotional high about their faith all the time.  Not everyday is a rocked out laser show singing to Jesus on full blast.  Maybe at that Sunday service or the retreat or revival, you felt a spine-tingling surge of divine ecstasy with God, and it could’ve been a legitimate experience: but not everyday of your marriage is supposed to look like your wedding.  That sort of hype is impossible to sustain.  We’re not in Heaven yet, and we don’t need to force it either.

Moses didn’t split a Red Sea every Thursday.  David didn’t kill a Goliath at every revival.  And Jesus didn’t transfigure — that scene in Mark 9 when Jesus shoots laser beams and lightning out his face — every time they ate breakfast.  We’re not supposed to re-create our highs, but to remember the Most High in our lows.

And you know, some days you just get tired, cranky, jaded, or gassy.  Sometimes you’re just not in the mood.  Sometimes this means for very long seasons, you might not “feel God.”  And when you feel far from Him, maybe that doesn’t get to determine your overall faith, or maybe we’ve measured our entire progress on absurd spiritual parameters.

When you think God isn’t near, you can tell Him, “I feel so far.”  God is not mad about your doubts, your venting, your shaking of the first, or your inability to get excited about Him.  He receives us in every condition, so that His grace might fill the dryness of our desert seasons.

Your feelings are very real, but they can’t be everything.  If we always waited to feel right with God to be good Christians, no one would ever get right or get good.  So it’s really not about “how to get this right,” but simply pressing into God with even the tiny little bit of faith that we have today, for Jesus said even a mustard seed of faith is enough to move mountains.

Also check out:

- Five Ways To Kickstart Your Faith Today

- See Him: If You’re Not Sure About God Right Now

 

2) Sometimes doubts are gentle promptings to investigate your deepest beliefs, especially when life hits hard.

The truth is: Doubt is not a “sin.”  It’s great to have a vibrant, robust, thriving sort of faith, and God wants that for you.  But our deepest roots are born out of the winter nights when we’ve had to dig into the shallow dirt of our infant beliefs and reach into the soil of our most core foundations.

Contrary to pop culture option, Christianity will challenge you to think for yourself. As a pastor, I never want to teach you what to think as much as how.  True faith, the kind that perseveres through pain and trials and urgency, takes a surgical navigation through all the very difficult questions of life.  Only doubts will ever get you to ask them.

When pain hits home and you’re walking through that cancer or car accident or earthquake, you want the kind of faith that can face death.  In the end, I want a faith that doesn’t just tickle my inspiration or gives me cute slogans, but a faith that can get beat up by suffering and scholars and satanic evil, and will keep on standing.  And that only comes when you’re able to hold up those doubts to the light, rotate them over and over, and take a second look at every intellectual and existential answer that Christianity has to offer.

There are too many Christians who don’t really dig to the bottom of what they believe, so that when tragedy comes, they wonder how their concept of God could ever allow such misery.  This quickly turns into a toxic disillusionment because their faith was never nuanced enough to deal with the gray-space struggle of real life.  It’s not that their God was not big enough, but rather much too small.

It’s one thing to say that “Jesus died for my sins and got up from the dead.”  Any church attender could say they believe this, and maybe they do in some esoteric symbolic way.  But what really gets you through the grinding jaws of suffering is to know that Jesus actually conquered a nameless grave, that he threw a right hook at Satan and an uppercut at sin, that the Resurrection offers a sweeping victory against entropy and aging and disease and atrocity, and that Jesus uppercut death in the face.  Jesus destroyed all our greatest enemies by entering through them himself, and then invites us into such power and grace.

The Resurrection, if it really happened, has to be both existentially satisfying and intellectually complete.  It’s totally wise to doubt that such a thing happened: but such doubt drives you to seek the truth, and when you even entertain the possibility that it happened, it’s downright electrifying.

 

3) Some of us are simply wired to be more doubtful than others. 

Though I believe Jesus is the ultimate answer and accommodation for our reality, I also doubt him every single day

When Moses split the Red Sea, there were probably 1) victorious triumphant warriors saying “This is our God!” and 2) doubtful panicking screamers running full speed through whales and plankton.  I’m a Screamer.  I’m a cynic.  I’m a critic.  I’m Peter, who fell into the water after he got off the boat.

I’m not giving you an excuse to have a halfway lukewarm faith.  I would never wish that upon anyone.  But I’m okay with my slow-burning, smoldering, sit-in-the-backseat sort of faith most of the time.  Just because I don’t sing like the front row of worship service doesn’t mean I don’t love Jesus.  It just means I’m wired to love him when I write, when I see the sun break through the stitching in the clouds, when I serve the homeless and see the face of Jesus there. 

Please don’t beat yourself up about a slowly sizzling faith.  Each day, no matter how you feel or what’s happening, pray anyway.  Read the Bible anyway.  Sing anyway.  Serve anyway.  Your life keeps going, so talk with God anyway.  And just sometimes: the Sea will split again.  Those giants fall with great aplomb.  And Jesus will be there on the mountaintop, full of light and glory and weight, unleashing his furious love poured out for us destitute, despondent sinners. It’s those rare moments which I call to mind as I descend back into the valley, and no one can ever talk me out them.  Even with my tiny little bit of seed-sized faith, I can say, "So there I saw him on that mountain, and he is true.  He is good.  He is down here, too, as He always was, and will be."

— J.S.

There are friendships I’ve mourned over where too much history got in the way. There were too many harsh words and broken promises and silent disagreements, and it rotted to an impatient grave. But there are others where we traveled the jagged road of reconciliation, mending wounds and untying knots and covering with grace: and on the other end of this is an ocean-deep intimacy of perseverance that couldn’t be reached any other way. We had to wrestle with the ugly parts of our nature. Demons were exposed. Secrets were spilled. Yet there is a joy in this sort of enduring friendship that goes the long distance; there’s a crazy sort of laughter with a lifelong friend that is colored by the weight of heels digging into the ground, a love that says, ‘I’m staying.’ We see it in the cross, and we can have it now, even in a world such as this.

- J.S.

We all find that one day, whether at five or twenty-five or eighty-five, whether in fortune or fame or failure, that we want to be vulnerable and known and somehow still loved: and that somewhere, an unfailing inexhaustible love must exist, regardless of who we are or what we’ve done. I believe such truth came to us in a person, and I find myself loving such a person to be the greatest adventure, the greatest gift, the truest journey. And in finding Him: I found that He had found me.

- J.S. Park  (via sandyquill)

What are some good books to start off reading with nonbelievers?

Hey my friend: First of all, I have to say that if your unchurched friend is willing to read anything related to Christ, that’s so very awesome and I applaud you.  Double high-five right through my screen. :)

Some books then!

 

- Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller.  The book cover itself says “Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality.”  It was rather popular with pretty much everyone when it came out, and it’s unlike any other Christian book you’ll read.

- Heroes and Monsters, by Josh Riebock.  I must have recommended this book a billion times and I’ve bought at least half a dozen of them for friends.  Simply an honest, raw, gripping story about a struggling Christian.

- Dug Down Deep, by Joshua Harris.  I know how some people feel about Pastor Joshua’s dating books, but this autobiography is both an excellent life-story and also a great intro into Christian doctrines.  He manages to get the perfect balance of both.

- The Reason for God, by Timothy Keller.  Most books on apologetics tend to be yawn-inducing and cringe-worthy, but Pastor Tim presents a well-rounded case for Christianity that touches on philosophical, psychological, and historical reasons all at once.  It answers the question, “Why do we even need God?”, along with several tough ones about Hell and exclusivity.

- Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis.  Because it’s C.S. Lewis. And you could always go with The Chronicles of Narnia, or Lewis’s buddy J.R.R. Tolkien and Lord of the Rings.

- You Lost Me, by David Kinnaman.  This is an actual statistical survey about why young Christians are leaving the church, and it asks very important questions about why the modern church is failing to connect.  The author presents both problems and solutions.  It’ll get you to have great intense conversations with your friend.

- Passion and Purity, by Elisabeth Elliot.  If you’re looking for a female author, you can’t go wrong with any of her books.  I know some Christians consider her a bit airy and sugary, but I think she’s a great writer with an incredibly tragic and hopeful testimony.

Enjoy and be blessed!

— J.S.

Where everyone else and every other system demands I prove my smarts, my resume, my sexual prowess, my outgoing-ness, my ability to follow the three-points — there is a sacred space where I can quit selling myself. I am pre-approved here, qualified before I walk in the door. There is even acceptance here for legalists, for Pharisees, for those who burdened others with the rules they failed to keep themselves.

In this place, the rules are helpful, but they are not the ultimate measuring stick for my worth. They are not the be-all, end-all. They cannot tell me if I’m good enough or not enough. They help my behavior, but not who I am becoming. They only remind me that I fail, and they point to the one who doesn’t.

If the story of Jesus is true, that means:

I can rest. I can relax. My motivation is NOT in gaining acceptance: but it starts in the acceptance He has already given. I can find resolve by knowing He resolved to find me first. I can fight, because He fought for me.

- J.S. from this post 

Whenever we dismiss someone as incapable of change, we instantly suckerpunch the sovereign grace of God.

We are downsizing His sovereignty to those people and not these. Then we’re no longer talking about God. We’re just exposing our laziness.

You know what I mean. I see a person on their first lap of faith and I make assumptions; I see 0.5 percent of a person’s life and somehow predict their future; I see half a story and presume the whole story. But this is a sort of evil that holds back potential, that undermines growth, that destroys a child’s dreams. It’s an ugliness that I’ve experienced from others, who wouldn’t give me a shot, who wouldn’t see past their negative filters and accusations and condemnations, who saw me as a deadbeat nobody with no hope of a turnaround.

But occasionally, love would cut in and open a door. It grew my heart. It embraced me in.

Love sees a greatness in someone who cannot see it in themselves.

Love keeps no record of wrongs. It hopes in all things, it does not rejoice in evil. It perseveres.

- J.S. 

The Scary Uncertainty of Following God’s Will: A Mega-Post on “The Calling” For Your Life

light-unshakable asked:

Hey Mr. Park, I have to say I’m always inspired by your thoughts/ideas/writings. I’m wondering if you have any advice or encouragement on following your calling. I have a few things I’m interested in, but not sure what will end up blooming from it all. Thanks! -Steven

 sjpark11 said:

Hey Pastor Joon! I read some of your replies to people’s questions and really liked all of your responses. I was wondering if you could give me some advice! I’ve been thinking about my future and what God has planned for me. I have a heart for ministry, worship-leading, and sports therapy. So, I don’t know if I should go into Ministry, either part-time or full-time, or pursue the career that I desire. How do I decide which path to choose knowing that it is in God’s will? Thank you so much!

 

Hey there Steve and John, thank you for trusting me with these huge questions about your future.  While I can’t hope to give you a total solid answer, I can do my best to point the way and to jumpstart your own process.  As always, please feel free to skip around.  I’ll be throwing you guys a prayer.

 

1) "God’s Will" is not just about what you do, but about who you’re becoming.

This probably sounds like a cute cliche on a cat poster, but really: Decide who you want to be before you decide what you want to do. 

When you’re about to decide on your college or career or spouse or city or home, always ask, Is this leaning into who I want to become?  Or even bigger, Who does God want me to be in where I’m going? 

And at the same time, don’t hesitate to keep serving, keep giving, keep trying new things.  We don’t need to wait for a fully fleshed out answer of your identity, and I don’t want to paralyze you with such a daunting question all at once.  You don’t have to figure out your life in a day.  If you’re really very lost, then try everything.  Out of your heart emerges what you do, and what you do with your hands will work its way into your heart too.

 

2) Consider everything you’ve done before and connect the dots.

Any time someone is wondering about God’s specific calling on their life, I always ask them about what they’re already doing.  Very often, God will call you to do more of what you’re already doing and have done.

It’s very rare that someone wakes up one day and says, “I want to be an artist” or “I want to be a pastor” or “Here we go, rodeo clown school.”  God sets up a long series of opportunities and situations in which we enjoyed a particular gifting or we ruled out other ones. 

Maybe you love to draw and you’ve filled up tons of sketchpads and suddenly the art teacher put you in an honors class.  Maybe you love dancing and you practice in the mirror and out of nowhere you tried out for a group and got in.  Maybe you like watching CSI and that ER reality show where people get stabbed, and you’re attracted to the medical world. 

Now sometimes God does the humorous thing here and calls you into an absolutely terrifying prospect.  A lot of my calling (as a pastor) requires me to speak in public, and I have stage fright and suffered from speech impediments.  But God kept opening doors to lead the praise band on Sundays and teach Bible Studies and oversee small groups, and when I got the calling to be a pastor, it was scary but also just right. 

You might be called to something you could never have possibly imagined: but it will somehow fit just like a glove.  We often see God’s Will in hindsight, and it’ll make sense when you look back at how God worked the whole time.  Your previous history of opportunities will often inform your future more than your current ability.

A side-note: Going into ministry is a very, very difficult calling, and I can’t ever sugarcoat how hard it will be.  No one just “likes” their way into ministry.  For more on that, here’s my tag on seminary.

 

3) Ask around.

I think that asking everyone else for your own vision is not the best idea: but it’s always good to ask your pastor or mentor or a wise mature friend about what to do. 

Talk things out.  Especially touch on your own fears, anxieties, and insecurities.  Talk about your own selfish vanities.  Many of us are afraid to admit, “I want to be filthy rich.  I want the fame.  I want the glory.”  But this urge for validation exists inside all of us.  When you open up your heart, with both the pretty and the ugly, then you’ll actually be able to more wisely navigate your own narrative.  You’ll start to hear yourself and realize, “Yeah, that’s kind of immature.  And no, maybe I don’t want that so badly.  And this thing I’m afraid of but I know will be awesome: I really want that, no matter how hard it is.” 

 

4) Ask God.

I know this is obvious.  But I think it’s so very obvious that we turn this part into a checklist, and we make God into an assistant who’s here to help with My Agenda.

So let’s try an experiment.  Let’s pretend for a second that you are God.

Don’t cuss me out quite yet.  Let’s say You’re in Your infinitely vast throneroom in Heaven with all the six-winged lion-headed angels singing to you every second of their existence, and you know everything there is possibly to know, and you divide the galaxies and orbits and stars and clouds and skies to this tiny little meat-popsicle named insert your tiny little name here.

And your squishy 3 lb. brain human brain is wrestling with this grand intimidating idea called the future, because you live inside this weird unrolling ocean called time.  And your spongy fleshy body has maybe just a few breaths left before you’re off into the afterlife of eternity.

With that ten seconds of your one life you have on this small speck of dirt called earth: What would You tell yourself to do?  How would You speak something into the world through you that no one can else can do the same as you?  How will You tell yourself to use your bare ten seconds of life on this tiny planet?

Now this is just an experiment, and it’s easy to tell yourself what you want to hear.  But imagine if you actually heard from God.  From the one who knows you better than you know you, and will straight up tell you the truth with zero b.s.  Imagine hearing from someone infinitely smarter than you who could smash your agenda to pieces.  Would you really want to know about that?  I mean it’s a rather huge scary audacious proposition, if you think about it.  Because for me, it would be easier to say, “I didn’t know you wanted me to martyr myself in Uganda” than to actually pursue this all-knowing God with my blink of a life in the ocean of eternity.

So dare to ask God what He really wants you to be and to do.  Dare to confront your own worst fears about failure and inadequacy: because God will plunge through that like a freight train and pull you into His very best.  It won’t be easy, no: but it will be life.

 

Please know that God’s vision for you will feel too big.  Whatever God calls you to do will require the very power of God.  I don’t mean that God will necessarily ask you to be a martyr in Uganda, though He could.  I don’t mean we’re all called to be radical missionaries and urban inner-city ministers, though we could.  And of course, I don’t mean that changing diapers or sweeping floors or collecting garbage is any less important than serving the homeless or loving on orphans. This is not about chasing the cliche of epic heroic romanticized Super-Christian.

But what I do mean is that we often don’t seriously ask God what His true calling is for our lives.  Then we shrink ourselves into bite-sized manageable goals that require little faith and little work.  We all like safety.  Whether you become the CEO of a corporation or a pizza delivery boy, we can use our particular gifting to leave a God-sized impact in our chosen corner of the universe.  Whether that means donating Bibles to China or serving coffee to your co-workers everyday or signing up to be a foster parent, there is no shortage of creative ways to be the hands and feet of Christ.  There are lives to build, stories to make, laughter to create, truth to be told, and hearts to be mended there. 

A job doesn’t have to be a clock-in clock-out affair.  Your field can be the grid in which you infuse the gracious life-breathing aroma of God by your uniquely woven history, in an overarching mosaic of daily choices where you’ll look back and be able to say, “I was part of something real on that planet called earth.”

Ask Him.  Read Scripture over and over, get to a private place, and ask Him.  Talk things out.  Time is short and your life is once.  You’ll find that the you that God wants you to be is the you that you always wanted.

— J.S.

Why Do We Even Go To Church? - That Crazy, Messy, Weird Thing We Call The Body of Christ
J.S. Park

Hello beloved wonderful friends!

This message is titled: Why Do We Even Go To Church? - That Crazy, Messy, Weird Thing We Call The Body of Christ.

It’s about why I still love the church despite it all, and how she is still God’s idea to be a force for good in the universe.  Being part of a church is messy and difficult, but it can be incredible.

Stream above or download directly here!

 

Some things I talk about are: That very nervous moment when you bring a friend to church and you see the weirdness of Sunday service,  how I reply when someone tells me that the church is full of hypocrites, how the friction of colliding with our disagreements can turn us into fully polished people, that time a church lady hit my car in the parking lot and ran, and my very first pastor loving me from hateful atheism to unexpected faith.

Be blessed and love y’all!

— J.S.

God is a spiritual being and so are we as humans, but how do we engage in meeting Him spiritually and developing our relationship with Him when the physical, intellectual, and emotional seem so much more real? Am I missing something when I read the word, pray, and worship, possibly the Spiritual encounters those things should provide?

Hey there my dear friend, the thing is: We will always feel something missing when it comes to relating to God, because this is the mystery of faith and the invisible things of eternity. 

I’m not endorsing a sort of halfway faith; I do believe God calls us to a vibrant, robust, passionate intimacy with Him.  Yet when we measure ourselves on ever more escalating parameters, it becomes this secret competition of topping our spirituality all the time. 

I mean let’s think of what you just said here.  You essentially said, “I feel like I’m missing something when I read the Bible, pray, and worship to connect to God.”  Can I just double high-five you right here?  Because dude, you’re doing a lot right there. I applaud you.  Please don’t take it so hard on yourself.  You’re living out your faith even when you don’t feel like it, and God is absolutely cheering you on.

Also, each of us are wired to learn in different ways, so that two people hearing the same sermon will receive it in wildly varying ways.  Some of us are more intellectual, or more emotional, or more behavioral: and when we think we hear a bad sermon, we’re actually listening to a preacher who teaches in a different way than we learn.  It’s like a teacher who only talks when you’re more visually oriented.  Maybe he’s a great teacher, but it’s hard to tell if you don’t learn the way he teaches.  While it’s good to stretch yourself to be a well-rounded person, it doesn’t work to instantly force yourself into a brand new wiring.

God also encourages us to experience His love by experiencing the love of real tangible people.  That’s why 1 John 4:12 says, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."  No one is meant to walk this faith alone, but we can more fully experience God by face-to-face side-by-side intimacy with one another.  So it’s actually okay to meet God when you meet people.  It wouldn’t be our primary way of connecting with Him, but it only makes sense that God designed us this way too.

You’re doing this well, my friend.  Keep fighting that good fight, and much love to you.

— J.S.

Hey Pastor Park! What do you think about interracial marriage? My parents are against it but to be more specific they want me to marry within my own ethnicity because they want to bloodline to be "pure." They also don't think marriages last outside our own ethnicity. I know God wants us to honor our parents but their reasons as to why we shouldn't marry culturally different people are well, racist. I find it hard to go along with that. I've battled with this question for such a long time and I

The rest of your question: “need someone to give me their perspective on this situation. I don’t want to hurt my parents or risk the chance of ruining my relationship with them. On the other hand, I want to have to freedom to marry who I want to marry. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. Help!”

 

Hey my dear friend: though I love to be nuanced and thoughtful and gracious, I have to say your parents are wrong.  They’ll need to come around.  I know that’ll be painful and it’ll get very messy, but they can’t dictate this part of you, ever.

I’m not saying that to egg you on or to endorse an attitude of counter-authority.  I simply believe that the idea of “keeping the bloodline pure” is a horrific type of eugenics-based tyranny, and I’m not sure your parents even know the implications of what they’re saying.  It’s a very Asian thing to say.

But please also allow me some grace to share a very unpopular opinion. 

Having a “preference for race” can be racist, but being drawn to someone of similar upbringing, mentality, and history is just natural.  We look for commonality in marriage, and sometimes incidentally that means we find a common thread within our ethnicity.  It’s not the primary attraction, but often it’s a subtle secondary connection. 

To be clear, I would absolutely want my future kids to marry any race they want, and I care most that they’re on a mutual spiritual journey together.  But I don’t want to “streamline” race into a non-factor or say something so cut-and-dry like “race doesn’t matter.”  It does, and it doesn’t.  I think to even emphasize the “victory of interracial marriage” is highlighting a guilty part of us that is compensating for prejudice, because equality and dignity should be the norm and not some kind of bizarre achievement. It’s like if I were to congratulate someone for not being racist today: I would hope it’s the obvious good.

I hope I’m not saying an insensitive or ignorant thing here.  Please correct me if I’m wrong, because I know I don’t get this right every time.  Again: I don’t ever think race is a deciding factor in relationships or marriage, and I would never exclude anyone based on race at all.  I think marriage itself is a beautiful thing, and it’s already very hard work as it is, and our energies can be focused on spiritual one-ness and intimacy above anything else.

— J.S.