J.S. Park

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This is the second test cover for my upcoming e-book.  The first test cover is here.  Both are made by my amazing friend Rob.  This one was also really hard not to pick, but I wanted to share with everyone. :)
Here are the official Table of Contents for the book!

Foreword, by T.B. LaBerge: A Better Place For You Preface 1: Honesty, Grace, Wide Open Space Preface 2: You Can Stop Reading After This  Chapter 1 – Struggling With Struggling: The Frustrating, Messy, Uphill Journey of Faith  Chapter 1.5 – Interlude: A Letter To The Tenuous Christian Who Has Left Church And Is Hanging On By A Thread  Chapter 2 – Everyone’s Doing It: Sex, Dating, the L-Word, and the F-Word  Chapter 3 – Confrontation and Conflict: Dealing With People  Chapter 3.5 – Interlude: When You’re Too Quick To Dismiss That Guy, You Can’t See What God Is Doing  Chapter 4 – The Deep End of Icky Awkward Issues: Sexuality, Society, and Politics  Chapter 5 – Why (Me) God? Doctrine on Disasters, Death, and Staring Down The Devil  Chapter 5.5 – Interlude: Around The Corner, A Second Wind  Chapter 6 – Extreme Trauma: Stressed, Depressed, and Stuck  Chapter 6.5 – Interlude: Mistakes Don’t Say Everything About You, And It’s Okay To Make Them  Chapter 7 – Heaven, Hell, Heresies, and The Hairy Mess of Religious Objections  Conclusion – The Final Authority: Why This Book Doesn’t Matter

Look for it on Amazon before the end of the month!
Be blessed and love y’all!
— J.S.

This is the second test cover for my upcoming e-book.  The first test cover is here.  Both are made by my amazing friend Rob.  This one was also really hard not to pick, but I wanted to share with everyone. :)

Here are the official Table of Contents for the book!

Foreword, by T.B. LaBerge: A Better Place For You
Preface 1: Honesty, Grace, Wide Open Space
Preface 2: You Can Stop Reading After This
Chapter 1 Struggling With Struggling: The Frustrating, Messy, Uphill Journey of Faith
Chapter 1.5 – Interlude: A Letter To The Tenuous Christian Who Has Left Church And Is Hanging On By A Thread
Chapter 2 – Everyone’s Doing It: Sex, Dating, the L-Word, and the F-Word
Chapter 3 – Confrontation and Conflict: Dealing With People
Chapter 3.5 – Interlude: When You’re Too Quick To Dismiss That Guy, You Can’t See What God Is Doing
Chapter 4 – The Deep End of Icky Awkward Issues: Sexuality, Society, and Politics
Chapter 5 – Why (Me) God? Doctrine on Disasters, Death, and Staring Down The Devil
Chapter 5.5 – Interlude: Around The Corner, A Second Wind
Chapter 6 – Extreme Trauma: Stressed, Depressed, and Stuck
Chapter 6.5 – Interlude: Mistakes Don’t Say Everything About You, And It’s Okay To Make Them
Chapter 7 – Heaven, Hell, Heresies, and The Hairy Mess of Religious Objections
Conclusion – The Final Authority: Why This Book Doesn’t Matter

Look for it on Amazon before the end of the month!

Be blessed and love y’all!

— J.S.

Grace is both our rest and resolve. Grace restores our broken places while also confronting our sin head-on. Grace meets us in our pain but also revokes our pride. It’s the great equalizer which recognizes our desperate human need.

This is why Christ must be the center of everything, of all we teach and preach. Not our fancy pop-psychology or behavioral checklists. As Paul says, ‘I resolved to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified … with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.’

It’s only out of gratitude for the grace of Christ that we can really be motivated to follow God at all. The only other option is to beat you down with rules and laws. When you have the security of a never-ending unconditional love, then there’s nothing you wouldn’t do for the one who gave His very life for us. Nothing is off the table for a love like that.

Grace is the unchanging love that changes us; it disturbs our ego and complacency; it is the limitless love that provokes us into the same love. This way takes longer, but its roots grow deeper. It is harder to preach, but its proclamation is what truly transforms.

- J.S. Park

(Source: risingofthesun)

I Keep Sinning: So Am I Still A Christian?

love-inpursuit said:

What if I keep sinning? Am I not really saved? I can’t pinpoint the fear of losing my salvation.

 

Hey there my friend: So every once in a while, I get this question from fellow Christians and I see two very different motives.

1) I’m really worried that I’m not doing enough to overcome my sinful selfish inclinations, or

2) I want to know how much I can keep sinning without pissing off God.

Since most people are not binary creatures who fit in a one-dimensional box, your motives might be a mix of both.  But if you’re more #2 (I want to get away with stuff) than #1 (I want to overcome), then it’ll be very hard for anyone to reach you.  It’s like the addict who keeps saying “I can handle a little bit, I know my limits, just once, only one more time.”  If you’re already convinced in your mind that you can do what you want, then I can’t help.  I can only graciously ask you to gut-check your motives.

But since you even asked me this question, I can see that it bothers you that it doesn’t bother you, and that shows you actually care.  This means you’re in the right place, right now, making a step forward. 

You see, every spurt and blip of righteousness in your life is a God-given miracle.  Our default mode is sin.  We’re all naturally selfish in the wild.  Left to ourselves, we’d devour each other in Darwinian cycles of the walking dead. 

I meet Christians who freak out when they slip up over a melt-down or flip-out or back-slide or relapse, but if you even care that you messed up, that’s a miracle.  An act of Christ-like righteousness is like giving birth.  It’s amazing, it’s supernatural, and it’s worth celebrating.

I don’t mean to pamper you here.  I’m also not talking about “worldly sorrow,” where you’re just sorry you got caught or you’re sorry about the consequences.  I mean: there’s a certain kind of grief when you’re not becoming the person that God has made you to be and saved you for, and if even a tiny seed of that grief is pulsing in your heart, you’re growing in the right direction. 

 

I might get blasted for this by smarter theologians and pastors, but I’m believing more and more that salvation is not some overnight epiphany or an altar call (which it can be those things), but more of a slow-burning awakening to who God is and what He’s done.  It’s to recognize that God has been pursuing us, wooing us, and beckoning us ever closer to His grace.  It’s to be rescued from wandering darkness with our eyes stubbornly shut into a glorious heavenly light with our eyes wide open. 

This means that salvation can be both a decision and a stretching into faith.  There’s no Christian alive who knows everything there is to know about Christianity, so how can we expect “salvation” to explode a person into super-rock-star-faith after one Sunday?  I absolutely believe that theology is crucial and necessary, but that’s actually more reason for our faith to be a journey, because there’s so much to discover.

When someone asks me, “When did you get saved?” — I always answer, “There wasn’t any single moment it happened.  It was a lot of moments, over three or four years, and one morning I woke up and I realized that I loved Jesus.”  I’m not saying this happens to all of us, but I’m saying that our Western culture relies too much on one-time decisions and checklists, when faith is way messier and more organic than that.

 

At this point, I’m always asked, “But what if I really can’t stop sinning?  What if I keep going back to that old-life / boyfriend / girlfriend / porn  / addiction?”  And I think that’s not exactly the right question.

Let’s imagine for a moment that your current struggle was totally over.  Your addiction, your destructive habits, your old ways: that they were all gone.

What would you do then?

I have to ask, What if your sin-issue was no longer an issue?  Now what?

Most Christians are so busy overcoming all the time that they’re crawling up to the edge of a pit but forgetting to look up at the light.  We forget there’s a mission beyond our struggle.  Recovery and repentance are awesome, but so is a fruitful life found in Christ.  We’re not merely forgiven of sin, but we’re forgiven for a greater purpose in Him.

Both of these things happen in conjunction: we turn away from our internal afflictions while pursuing our Kingdom-purpose.  The Christian life is both personal repentance and outward restoration.  We become both radically pure and radically generous by the radical grace of God.  

I can almost guarantee that if you move your meter towards God’s mission in your life, then the volume of sin will get turned down and become less attractive to you.  That’s why Galatians 5:16 says, “Step by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of your flesh.”

Maybe you never heard this in church before, but I know that when I get one-on-one with broken hurting people and serve them and love on my church and step out of my safety, then I’m much less likely to relapse into my old life, because the joy and freedom that Jesus has given me is too good to refuse.  I’ve tasted the goodness of God, and I don’t want to go back.  

— J.S.

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.

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.

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.

- J.S. from this post

I spent years measuring myself to on-fire believers, and I’m simply just not one of them. My faith burns slower, more methodical, seated in the back, plagued with questions, desperate in prayer, trusting those rare moments when Christ is fully visible.

- J.S. Park

A Conversation With My Non-Christian Mom About Being A Pastor.

jspark3000:

My mom asks me what it’s like to be a pastor, and how hard it must be to get so involved with so many lives.  She says, “It has to be like living with a bunch of people all at once” — and that was probably the best description I’ve heard of ministry.

At one point my mom says, “Be careful though.  If you blow up just once, you’ll never be respected ever again.”  She said this was true in marriage, in parenting, in business, at home.

I had to disagree here.  I couldn’t believe in “You mess up one time and it’s over.”  My mom kept repeating, “No, when someone blows up on me one time, I cut them off and it’s done.  Because they’re showing me who they really are and they’re just a low-class nobody.”

So I tell her: “Mom, you know: I’ve hung out with people long enough to see them the moment after they blow up, that part when they regret what they said and wish they could take it back and want to re-do the whole thing all over again.  No one sees that part.  I see it all the time.  The look in their eyes, like they just want to punish themselves.  Their stammering confession.  The guilt.  This idea that they thought they were making progress, but suddenly they melted down, so they doubt that they’ve ever done anything good.  It kills them.  I talk to these same people at 3am and they can’t sleep because they think their life is over from their one mess-up, and they’re convinced that one time marks them forever.

"But the thing is that we’re all pretty crazy inside.  Seriously, I thought I was pretty crazy, but church people are really crazy.”  At this, my mom laughs.  “I mean we all are, more or less, you know.  There’s this thing that lives inside us that’s not really us.  I mean you see a person’s fault and flaws and they’re lashing out and everything” — and I sweep my hand to show a flat surface — “but underneath this is something very broken and hurting and needy” — and I make a fist to show a curled up soul below it all.  “There’s this back-story and upbringing and a long history behind their actions, and it doesn’t excuse what they did, but it’s an explanation.  If I can get there, and not attack where they messed up, then maybe they can change for the next thirty years.  Maybe we can break out of that pattern. 

"I mean I’ve said and done a lot of things I want to take back too: but I hope no one ever just writes me off for some tantrum I had when I was seven.  I’m sure you had some moment like that, but the people who love you didn’t hold it against you very long. Even if what we did is wrong, or we mess it up more than once, I don’t think anyone is beyond change or forgiveness or redeeming themselves.  I think God knows that too."

My mom nods, slowly.  Her face has changed a little.  She is seeing the stirrings of grace.

She gives me a long hug before I leave her place.  I think she is tearing up, or it’s just the street light.  She knows the person I used to be, that selfish horrible kid who threw things and used up people and cursed God at the top of my lungs.  She tells me, “I’m glad you have God.  If you can see people that way, then maybe God is good for something.”

I tell her, “I’m not always like that.  It’s hard.  But God understands that too.”

— J.S.

You Are More Than Your Drama: You Were Made For A Story
J.S. Park

Hello beloved wonderful friends!

This message is titled, You Are More Than Your Drama: You Were Made For A Story

It’s about looking above the petty conflicts and drama that so easily pulls us in, and moving towards God’s purpose and all we were made for.

Stream above or download directly here!

 

Some things I talk about are: Overhearing a woman catch her boyfriend cheating with another woman in my apartment complex, watching a TV show and yelling at all the dumb decisions they make, our first reaction if God were to rip the roof off your house and make eye contact with you, those O.G. 1st century Christians rebelling against the Roman Empire, getting pulled into the vortex of crazy yelling ugly cry-face drama, and the most hardcore gangster preacher of all time.

For other messages from the podcast, check here.

Be blessed and love y’all!

— J.S.

Being a Christian doesn’t mean being a good person.
It means following the Only One who is good.

- J.S. 

Why Don’t We Care More About Persecuted Christians?

prism0prone asked:

Why isn’t anything being done about ISIS? The Muslims I know are silent, & we’re all just living our privileged little lives. As the days pass I feel more depressed & farther away from God. I cry to Him about it but I hear nothing & I’m afraid. And every time I see a cheerful Christian post about God keeping us safe, I feel bitterness and anger and I can feel my emotions slowly shutting down and I don’t want that but it just hurts. So. Much.

 

My friend, honestly, your question very much stirred me and disturbed me and convicted me.  It broke my heart.

Because I think I’m part of the problem.  I re-blog prayer requests about ISIS or some other atrocity or disaster or tragedy, and I question myself.  Am I doing this to show I care?  Do I really care?  Can I do more?  If there are 27 million slaves in the world and 26,000 children who die everyday of preventable causes: how could I even be on this blog?  How could I even think about anything else?

It’s so discouraging.  To be truthful, it keeps me up at night.  I’m not saying that to boast.  The one time I really did anything about it a few years ago, I gave away half my salary to fight human trafficking, and even then, I felt guilty that I wasn’t doing enough.  I don’t say that to boast, either.  We live in a painfully broken world where even a single glance at it could eat us alive.

There’s another layer to this guilt, too.  Sometimes I think I use poor people as a prop for my own “savior-narrative.”  Or I become a pseudo-Social Justice Warrior about Michael Brown, or I try to be a Google-Expert about statistics that I haven’t double-checked.  I donate money to various charities every month, but maybe even this is because I look around my apartment and I see wealth, and it disgusts me, and I donate out of a self-loathing heart.  I want to boycott a billion different things, or say to everyone, “Your problems are dumb, because kids in Somalia are dying and there’s still genocide in Iraq and 80% of the world lives on less than a dollar per day.”

The more news I read, the more it kills me inside.  The more I see mocked up selfies, and cute Christianese slogans on Instagram, or these theological debates that only other theologians care about: the more I get angry, frustrated, hurt.  How can we break free from this cycle?

 

I have no simple solution for this.  The only thing I can actually say here is that each of us, by God’s grace, has a limited amount of resources and ability and knowledge, to do what we can, where we are, with reckless abandon.  We cannot save everyone, nor can we fully “move the needle” on poverty and slavery and oppression, nor can we make even a small dent in all the injustice of the world. 

But each of us have a part in our brief little time here on earth.  Each of us participate in the divine nature, in the history of the universe, and each of us individuals are just the one endangered species of our own kind, who can do something in the world in such a unique way that no one else can do.

I think most of us will ignore that burning hot passion to do justice, and we’ll go back to Facebook and our phones and our planners and laugh it up.  And maybe we do that because we’re afraid to face the horror.  But I also believe that many of us are scared of our own ability, and that we actually can do something great, and we just don’t want the responsibility of such God-given power.  I believe we are more scared of the light than the dark, because it is so much harder and more terrifying to do good than evil. 

My friend, I cannot rebuke everyone for their lack of sympathy.  I can’t yell on my blog to make others do something, or this will only be an external apparatus that forces behavioral change.  I can only be changed by God myself and go do justice, and act justly.  I can donate to churches in Iraq (which I did) and pray for the Christians and Muslims there (which I have) and raise awareness (which I could do more of).  And if God does call you to become involved at the government level or to be a missionary there or to lead the charity efforts, then my friend, you are much braver than I, and I hope others such as myself will join you in every way that we can.

The hard part is not to get bitter.  Not to get overwhelmed.  Not to be distraught.  Not to sneer at others.  But simply do your part. 

I pray you will receive this in a spirit of gentleness and love, because I want to encourage you and nothing else.  You have a special burden in your heart for a certain people, and I pray you will find every way you can to be God’s instrument for them, and that others might join in your wonderful journey.

Godspeed and God bless.

— J.S.

I’ve donated to ChristianAid.org for their Iraq Crisis Appeal.  They’re directly at ground level.  Please check them out here.  

A religious person says, “I’m following the rules and I’m doing good.”

The Christian says, “I’m in a relationship with God, and He makes me good.”

- J.S. 

Hi J.S. I am a recent follower of the blog (love it). I was intrigued to read that you describe yourself as an intense introvert. I am exactly the same, though I have wrestled with deep feelings of guilt and shame over this fact. The effort it requires for me to be with people is monumental and I have wondered if my introverted heart actually glorifies God - after all, how can people see Him through me if they only rarely see me? Any thoughts on God's greater purposes for intense introverts?

Hello there my friend!  Indeed, I’m an intense introvert, though I’ve also been labeled a “social introvert” because I get along just fine in social situations, but I also need plenty of rest and recharge time.  But yes, I can go days or even weeks without being in a group of people, because I’m wired for small spaces and one-on-one intimacy.

A couple years ago, I wrote a post on introverts that went unexpectedly viral, and shortly after there was an online backlash against introverts.  Mostly I heard, “You’re using introversion as an excuse to be antisocial, moody, critical, and crappy!”  And while it’s true that perhaps a few “introverts” were doing that (just like some people hijack the words “struggle” or “broken” and therefore diminish actual struggling people), the majority of introverts find it absolutely difficult to adjust to our fast-paced culture.  Extroverts are prized and treasured in a Westernized society of achievement and productivity, while introverts are viewed as lazy or dysfunctional or unpleasant.  

I see this as a two-way street.  On one hand, we all need to have grace for how God has made us.  I beg of us to please respect and cherish your introverted friends.  Introverts like me simply cannot be in a crowded gathering for too long, or are very unsure of how to start a conversation, or generally get along better with our pets than people.  There will be NO changing that.  Not every Christian wants to share in Bible Study, or raise their hands to sing, or try to make a good first impression during meet-and-greet.  Some of us feel comfortable with only one or two people, and we don’t want to be friends with every person in the room, and we only want to be our awkward shrill weird loud self around someone who understands.  We shouldn’t be shamed for that.

On the other hand, if your introversion is imprisoning you, we must also remember that grace is what brings out the best in us.  It’s what allows us to risk ourselves in those big crowds, to attempt to trust people, to let down our guard.  I know you’re scared to do this, and so am I.  It hurts to be vulnerable.  Yet we do have a cushion called grace, which is the fixed, unfailing, permanent love of God as our anchor, so that we would not be crushed by the praise or criticism of others. 

I’ve seen plenty of introverts become pastors, praise leaders, doctors, civil servants, business owners, and more.  An introvert can do everything an extrovert can do too.  It’ll look different and there will be different obstacles to overcome: but please do not allow the binary labels of “introversion” or “extroversion” to hold you back nor to mold you into something you’re not. 

God has called you His child, and that’s more than enough.  God has wired you to be you, so please let yourself out to play.

— J.S.

I understand what it’s like to disappoint people. I know what it’s like to walk into church unable to look at people in the eye. I know what it’s like to believe you can’t do anything right and to think an entire ministry hates you. I especially know what it’s like to imagine a room full of people who are talking about you, berating you, saying “I always knew he was a little weird,” and maybe saying some truth in there, but filled with their own embellishments.

I’m not trying to play the victim-card. We know what we’re responsible for. Sure, our motives might be a hot mess and our actions messier still, but we still know where we got it wrong. People might be rightly upset with you, and you need to let them have that, which it appears like you’re doing.

This is why the moment of defeat matters less than the moment right after. That probably sounds like the Christianese thing to say, but I am so dang serious. You can’t beat yourself up forever. You can’t keep sitting in the back of church with your head down. You can’t revel in your own shame and self-pity as if this is paying your debt. You might think, “I need to show these people I’m really sorry” and I understand that mentality, but there is no end to that, and life goes on, and so must you.

- J.S. from this post

It’s not that you were merely forgiven of sin by Christ.

It’s that you’re given grace to be so much more: for a mission specifically wired for you to heal your corner of the universe, to live a fully forgiven life that passionately seeks restoration in all the broken places. God saved you from sin, but He also made you for Him. He brought you from death to a real life, to not merely soak in but also pour out.

- J.S.

Does Prayer Even Do Anything? Doesn’t Stuff Happen Anyway?

peterpencomplex asked:

hi pastor j- i think your blog is AWESOME, but i didn’t have enough room to explain myself. just wanted to say i think you should keep being completely 100% honest/real, because that’s how everyone else knows their walk of faith is not in vain. wanted to ask you about prayer. why do i pray? am i the only one that feels like i am closing my eyes and whispering into a vast darkness of nothingness? why is God so insistent on prayer, yet I don’t see anything changing? (matthew 7).

seeking-a-revival asked:

When we pray for someone I know that our prayers alone cannot change them but when we see prayers answered God has listened and His spirit has helped the person we prayed for? I am not sure what to think when I see a prayer get answered no matter who or how many prayed for a specific cause.

 

Hey my friends: May I first please commend you because you both actually care about your prayer-life.  When people tell me, “The least we can do is pray,” I always think, "That’s the most we can do."

But I also know that prayer is extremely, ridiculously, awfully difficult.  Whenever a preacher starts with his guilt-trip — “When was the last time you really prayed, huh?” — I immediately feel like crap.  I’ve never heard anyone say, “Man I got that prayer thing on lock.”  I haven’t met a single person who’s fully confident in the art and results of prayer.

Mostly we feel icky about this because —

1) We feel too guilty to pray.  We’re not sure God wants to hear us after we looked at porn / cussed out my parents / gossiped for two hours / punched that guy in the ear.

2) We’re self-conscious about it.  We’re not sure how long, or what words, or if we’re doing it right, or if we’re truly sincere.

3) And of course: We secretly wonder if it even works.

 

So here’s one thing I know about prayer.

It’s totally natural to doubt and wonder if prayer is working.

At times I think God just does what He wants: so why should I pray?

At times I think the world will spin without me if I stop praying: so why should I pray?

Very often it feels like I’m chucking coins into the dark: so why should I pray?

At times I’m so distracted and distraught and intermittent during prayer, I don’t think God will hear that one.  Or maybe all that stuff about “unconfessed sin” or “not enough faith” is really true.  Or God didn’t answer a big one and I’m done with Him. So why, oh why, should I pray?

 

You see: Jesus taught his disciples to pray in a way that we’re participating in God’s story.   Let’s consider that in the Lord’s Prayer, there are several direct petitions, most remarkably, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

God wouldn’t challenge us to ask for things unless the turning of our hearts in His direction actually changes a part of the universe.

I know it sounds like a drunken power-trip. But in other words: Jesus is telling us that when we pray, that somehow this touches upon the heart of the Creator so that the very fabric of reality is moved and shifted and infinitely rippling in incalculable motion, so that we are active participants within the narrative of God.  None of us are bystanders or spectators, ever.

When we ask God to do something: even the very act of asking Him has caused a chain reaction.  It’s already moved you.  And sometimes, like a divine tower crane, God intervenes into history and orchestrates things for your good and for His glory. 

It’s by God’s very own grace and love and mercy that He gives us the opportunity to re-write a part of His narrative.  Just think of how crazy that is.  I don’t mean to give you a swole ego here.  I’m just saying: even this knowledge that God hears us should already change the way we pray.  It puts us in the right perspective, in reverence, with gratitude, because He hears you and me, little fragile squishy meaty bony fist-shaking people with our desperate daily worries and concerns.  He hears us.  The God who can smush galaxies with His thumbnail also has His ear on your heart.

When we don’t pray, it could be that by sheer grace, God just answers a prayer we forgot to pray for, to demonstrate He hears us anyway. 

It could be that He knows what we wanted before we get a chance to tell Him. 

It could be that by sheer grace, God withholds what we wanted, not because He has “something better in store,” but simply because you already have Him

 

In the end, asking “does prayer work” is probably the wrong question.  If I asked, “Does marriage work?” or “Does love work?” — we’ve suddenly diminished these things into mechanical institutions. 

Here’s an example.  Sometimes I feel like I’ve wasted a day when I don’t do enough, because to me, a productive day is about accomplishing a to-do list.  Most days I feel horrible because I haven’t done all that I set out to do.  Yet: If all I care about is “doing,” but I don’t ask “Why am I even doing this?” — then everything becomes a blunt tool for me to fulfill my daily agenda.  I’m taking the essence out of beauty and replacing it with function.  It’s making a living, but not a life.

Every time I ask, “Does prayer work?” — well, I’ve sort of turned prayer into a pragmatic savior.  It’s a good question, but it’s incomplete and only gives half the picture. 

Jesus taught us that prayer begins with, Our Father.  This is important.  This is the space in which rich, vibrant, heart-pulsing intimacy happens.  And when we can rest in Our Father just long enough, then I don’t think we’ll be too disappointed when our prayers don’t “serve” us. We trust that He’s already served us by His Son, who has opened the throne-room to the King who who heals our busted hearts.  This is the ultimate answered prayer that we didn’t even know we were looking for: but He answered anyway.

And it’s only a King-healed heart by the work of Christ that can actually appreciate and appropriately manage the physical provisions that God does give us.  Imagine if you got everything you wanted this very second.  Imagine instantly getting all the fame, the money, and the power in the world.  I would die.  So would you.  When I see a celebrity meltdown and say, “I would be way smarter with all that money,” that’s a terrible over-estimation.  God wants us to be a certain people so that we can do with His earthly blessings.  You’ve seen what happens when we get this out of order.  So it’s definitely okay to ask for things, but prayer is primarily about getting the character of Christ by osmosis.

 

My friends, a last word. I know it hurts when God doesn’t answer a prayer.  I know that very often, prayer can be a mystery, and we constantly second-guess ourselves, and we’ll feel powerless.  I want to humbly ask that you continue to talk with God regardless of what’s happening around you: because He’s there, regardless of what’s happening around you.  I want to ask that you soak in His grace before His gifts.  I want to ask that you trust Him, that even if He’s not working a miracle you can see right now, that He’s possibly working a much bigger miracle in you and the people around you, and even if nothing else changes, you will.  As corny and cliche as it sounds: I want to ask that you would approach Him as a child sits on his Father’s lap, to both ask for things and to bask in Him. 

— J.S.

Sep 8

Our Story, Carved of Grace and Glory: What It Means To Glorify God, The Most Important Purpose of our Lives
J.S. Park

One of my final sermons at my last church.  Be blessed and love y’all.

— J

jspark3000:

Hello beloved wonderful friends!

This message is titled: Our Story, Carved of Grace and Glory: What It Means To Glorify God, The Most Important Purpose of our Lives.

It’s about the very Christianese phrase “glorifying God” or “bringing God the glory,” and why this is perhaps the most important thing we could learn about the emptiness and fulfillment of our lives.

Stream above or download directly here!

 

Some things I talk about are: Our Christianese church-language that we never question, when you walk into a crowded room and you suddenly hear the desperate clawing fight for validation, the Main Character Syndrome when we treat everyone like supporting props for the Movie of Me, the insane frothing monster we become in rush hour traffic, the overarching meta-narrative of the Bible in one rushing swoop, how to anonymously donate a kidney, and when Jesus finally returns with 100 million angels at the final conclusion of the universe.

Be blessed and love y’all!

— J.S.