J.S. Park

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My dear beloved friend:

 - No one really has it all together yet. We force so many self-pressuring parameters on our performance that most of us are neurotic, twitchy, over-productive busybodies with no real destination. In a culture where we celebrate only victory and are scared to talk about defeat: please don’t measure yourself on an impossible grading scale. Don’t measure your private moments with everyone else’s highlight reels.

 - Mistakes are how you learn. Everyone is afraid of failure: so we protect ourselves by bargaining with the teacher or begging for extensions or ensuring we never get a scraped knee. Such a pampered coddled culture will keep you feeling safe for a while, but it’ll also keep you sterile, shrink-wrapped, and cold. It’s a lifeless journey. It’s okay to make mistakes, and occasionally it’s even better. Scrape a knee, brush it off, get up and move on. Learn from the past and laugh with it too.

 - You’re doing better than you think. You’re in the middle of your motion, so it’s hard to see where you are. But so long as you’ve been taking one heavy step forward after another, no matter how awkward your stumbling, then this is worth celebrating. Every moment you’ve done right is a miracle in itself.

 - Be willing to pursue a new dream. Sometimes we try so hard to grab our old dreams that we’re not open to new ones. We look too long in the rearview instead of what’s ahead of us. I’ve missed a lot of opportunities this way. But keep your eyes open for open doors, and be flexible enough for a new vision that will be even better than the last.

 - Dear Christian: Your confidence is in Him. We are works in progress looking towards the work finished, Jesus. We believe in a God who knew we couldn’t ever reach perfection, so perfection came to us. If you feel like you’ve failed today, the very reason Jesus came was to take on your failures, your ego, your pride, your pain, your sorrows, your sin. And He’ll keep working on you until glory. Everything good in you is God in you: and anything bad in you, He’s working on that. 

This is His grace.

— J.S. from What The Church Doesn’t Talk About

(Source: jspark3000)

Honesty, Grace, Wide Open Space

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This is the Preface for my recently released book, What The Church Won’t Talk About.  It’s only 4.29 on Amazon.  Be blessed!

Hello there, fellow traveler and dear friend.

Over the last seven years as a pastor, blogger, and professional rambler, I’ve been asked thousands of questions through my blog that have absolutely punched me in the gut. Over and over, my heart was broken for such wonderful, struggling, fellow travelers.

From sex, dating, sexuality, doubts, depression, pornography, abortion, apologetics, to family drama, these were questions that I’ve always wanted to ask in church, but was too afraid to ask out of fear of judgment, stirring the status quo, and getting another Sunday School lesson-bomb.

I felt ill-prepared to answer them too, because I was so often in the same boat. I’m not qualified. I wrestled with faith just as much as everyone else who was asking me about it.

But I found we all had something in common.

We wanted to talk about these things

with honesty,

expecting grace,

out in the open,

and we all wanted the kind of church where we didn’t have to be afraid of the hard questions.

We wanted authentic truth, no sugarcoating, no watered down theology, yet with a gentle reassuring hand that there was a way forward from the occasional mess of life. I began to answer with excitement. I was electrified because maybe I wasn’t alone in this, maybe we’ve all been shot down in church when we earnestly sought the truth, and maybe all of us smart-sounding church-attenders were the same insecure people scratching for a summit of vulnerability.

Soon I found, so many of us were in the same place, clawing for air, looking for space.

We were enduring the consequences of poorly made decisions. We had no idea how to help our friends go through their terrible trials. We were disappointed weekly by the church’s avoidance of tough topics, or the black-and-white binary boxes. The church gave us cat-poster clichés or pulpit-pounding guilt-trips. So we adopted the self-improvement techniques of culture, which turned out to be self-improvisation, and it only made us worse.

It’s not that we needed the universal binding theory of reality. We were all looking for the What-now? We wanted theology that would endure the heat of the moment, that would make it past Monday in rush hour traffic, in between the panic of bills and conflicts and a wrecked up home. We need something more for the raw, gritty, everyday lived-out faith.

I found that much of our Churchianity only works in theoretical abstracts or within the safe confines of Christianese Sunday subculture. People neck-deep in the dirt of life find it hard to pull Heaven into the heartache. In the throes of anger or despair: our carefully constructed theology goes out the window. It only takes a single emergency to expose the shallowness of our propped-up faith.

I don’t mean to badmouth the church. In fact: I wish we could turn to our church first when we encounter the hard questions. But the church doesn’t make this easy, because we go for the quick formulas and the neat three-point sermons. We like our sugary ocean-wallpaper Instagram slogans and Jeremiah 29:11 (but not verses 12-13). And they all fall apart just as fast as we do, because our seams cannot be held by sound-bites and surface-level confessions.

I don’t know more than you. I just want to meet you there, in the middle of that gritty gray-space where there is no bullet-point formula to fix our lives overnight.

I want to meet you there in that long walk between the back door of your church and the door of your car, where we shake off the sermon and re-enter real life, back to nine-to-five and hospital bills and family turmoil, back into the daily grind.

Most Christians can’t help but live a double-life because we’re not sure how our faith fits into daily living. We don’t feel safe to ask those sticky embarrassing questions. But I sense that we do want Jesus in our whirlwind of deadlines and demands. We sense the church might not have been very good at affirming that God is ready for our honesty.

So here we are, in that sacred space: where honesty is okay.

 

I’ve compiled seven chapters with seven different topics, each with five to ten of the toughest, most viral questions I’ve been asked through my blog. The book is designed to be like a pull-down menu, so please feel free to skip around. There might just be one or two questions you’re interested in, or you’ll go front to back, or maybe there are a few topics you’ve always wondered how to answer to a friend. And if we don’t see eye-to-eye on these, that’s okay. I still wrestle with these questions, and God is really okay with our constant seeking, learning, and re-learning.

I can’t promise I’ll have the “answers.” I won’t get it right every time. You might discern a different way, a better way. I won’t always cover every angle or hit every base. And none of this is anything to memorize or formulize. My hope is that it’ll start a conversation, or start off your next Bible Study, or your next prayer item, or a reflection for a long-night-drive. It could even change the path you’re on. But the important thing to know is that we’re not alone in our questions. Living our faith in the middle of the fire can feel crazy sometimes, and we wonder how Jesus makes sense in the mess.

But my dear friend, he does.

In the crooked question mark of my heart, He was the only one there.

— J.S.

A Conversation Worth Having

Thank you so much for your help and your review, Lauren!  Your name is totally in the book! :)

— J.S.

yesdarlingido:

Hey all!! In case you don’t already know, my dear friend J.S. Park just officially released his first book, “What The Church Won’t Talk About: Real Questions From Real People About Raw, Gritty, Everyday Faith." I had the honor of reading and editing it about two weeks ago, and here is my review:

If you’ve wished that you just had someone who would take the time to sit down and hear you out, willing to talk through the obstacles, doubt, and confusion you’ve faced in life and how it connects to truth, this book was written for you. If you are sick of hearing spiritualized clichés in the face of questions that aren’t that easy to shoo away, this book is for you. It’s incredibly conversational, so in that way, it’s easy to read. It is also incredibly thorough, and in that way, it’s filling and thought-provoking.

I’m in awe of how multi-faceted this book is without ever losing a sense of coherency. It is one thing to introduce a book with a disclaimer that “nothing matters unless it connects to Jesus,” but it is another to actually write from that platform regardless of the topic, and that is what J.S. does. I read the book in three sittings, and I know that I will be referring back to several parts of it in the future. In the face of tough, complicated questions, J.S. offers practical, relatable responses to the most relevant topics. It never felt forced, or out of reach. The wisdom offered through this book makes spirituality henge on reality in such an easy-to-digest way. It’s clear that the Lord has inspired and equipped J.S. to be a voice of truth in others’ lives. I’m so grateful to have this wisdom literally at my finger tips.

Just yesterday, I recommended it to a friend and described it as “a conversational encyclopedia for things that actually matter,” and that’s exactly what it is.

 
Hello beloved wonderful friends! 
My e-book has finally been released!
It’s called, What The Church Won’t Talk About: Real Questions From Real People About Raw, Gritty, Everyday Faith
The Foreword is by the amazing T.B. LaBerge of tblaberge and the cover art is by my most excellent friend Rob Connelly.
It’s only $4.29!  With every purchase, you’ll also be supporting my new calling into urban inner-city ministry, plus a soon-to-be-married couple!  And if you’re blessed by the book, please consider writing a review on Amazon! The reviews will really, really help out.
The book is made for the Amazon Kindle Reader program, which is totally free and works on everything. You can download the program here or directly here!
Love y’all and be blessed, dear friends!
— J.S.

 

Hello beloved wonderful friends! 

My e-book has finally been released!

It’s called, What The Church Won’t Talk About: Real Questions From Real People About Raw, Gritty, Everyday Faith

The Foreword is by the amazing T.B. LaBerge of tblaberge and the cover art is by my most excellent friend Rob Connelly.

It’s only $4.29!  With every purchase, you’ll also be supporting my new calling into urban inner-city ministry, plus a soon-to-be-married couple!  And if you’re blessed by the book, please consider writing a review on Amazon! The reviews will really, really help out.

The book is made for the Amazon Kindle Reader program, which is totally free and works on everything. You can download the program here or directly here!

Love y’all and be blessed, dear friends!

— J.S.

Maybe you don’t know if this new person you just met will be your friend. Take the chance anyway. Maybe you don’t know if this girl wants to have lunch with you. Take the chance anyway. Maybe you’re scared to hit up that church event. Go anyway. You don’t have to wait for the fear to subside. Often fear is obliterated by the very act of deciding and doing.

The more you can act in spite of yourself — you’ll suddenly find that none of your worst fears are all that bad. The sky doesn’t fall on you and your pants don’t spontaneously disappear (if that’s happened, I’m so sorry). True confidence is just going for it anyway. Emotions are a good fuel at best and unreliable at their worst. Your emotions are real, yes, but they can’t determine your decisions. As determination wins, it gets easier every time.

- J.S. from What The Church Won’t Talk About

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. from What The Church Won’t Talk About

It’s really cool you want to be passionately in love with Jesus as much as you can, but please don’t beat yourself up about this. Be prepared for the seasons when you’ll barely hang on to God with an intellectual thread, and other seasons where you’ll be so head-over-heels for Jesus that you’re getting tattoos of him on your ribcage. Be ready to be honest in your dry valleys, and be ready to rejoice on the mountaintop.

Enjoy both seasons, because both help you grow and both have significance in our lives. The winter and fall teach you to grow deep roots into God even when you don’t feel Him, and the summer and spring are those powerful weeks of blooming fruits and plentiful harvest that will have you laughing and weeping at the same time.

Soon you’ll also see: loving Jesus is not even really up to you, because he’s the one who woos, who draws, who beckons, who calls. Loving Him is the easy part; God loving you cost His Son. The more you know that it’s less about you, the more free you will be to love God all the more.

- J.S. from this post 

Hey Pastor Park, what are some Bible stories (not just short verses) that talk about waiting patiently when it seems like God's promises are taking forever? And, what are some stories to read for when you feel lonely? Thank you!! :) (by the way, I love all of the answers you give when people ask questions.. sometimes I have the same questions and your answers are totally wonderful! Thank you for everything!)

Hey my friend, thank you so much for your kindness.  Here goes one of my favorite stories of waiting.  My other advice to you is to check out Acts 12, Genesis 37 and 39-50, and the story of David from 1st and 2nd Samuel. And about loneliness, please check here.

Mark 5.  A synagogue leader (a local pastor) named Jairus approaches Jesus and his entourage.  Jairus has a sick daughter who’s nearly dead, and Jairus knows Jesus can blow it up.  They travel together through a crowd, but at this point Jesus is a rockstar and there are masses of people pushing and bumping and moshing to get to him. 

One of them is a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years.  She’s tried doctor after doctor and probably herbal tea and a vegan diet and kale, but nothing has worked.  She grabs at Jesus in hopes that he will heal her. 

Suddenly, Jesus stops.  He says, “Who touched me?”  Now in a crowd like this, it’s a ridiculous question.  Probably Jairus and the disciples were like, “Yo master, there’s an almost dead-girl, we gotta go.”  The bleeding lady is on the ground gripping Jesus’s robe and she’s been healed.  For the first time in twelve years, she doesn’t feel the life draining out of her.  She tells Jesus it was her, she had grabbed him.  He tells her, so tenderly, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.  Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”  By the way, I teared up again just reading this passage.

When Jesus and the J-posse get to Jairus’s crib, his daughter is already dead.  But Jesus says, “Nah son, she sleeping.”  All the professional mourners (real historical thing) start to laugh, like “Lol wut.”  Jesus is angry and he only takes in Jairus, his wife, and the disciples.  He tells this dead young girl, “Talitha koum,” which literally means, “Baby girl, wake up.”  And she does.  She wakes up.  They rejoice.  Someone sings Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.  I’m tearing up again.

 

Here’s the kicker.  Why did Jesus make Jairus wait?  The bleeding lady in the crowd had been bleeding for twelve years and she was still alive.  Jairus’s daughter was near death, and then dead.  But Jairus had to wait. 

An important thing there is that Jairus was a synagogue leader.  He had clout, esteem, a rep, an image.  This bleeding lady couldn’t go to the market, get a job, or get married, because she was considered “legally unclean.”  So in a sense, Jesus went to the disadvantaged person first.  The privileged person had to wait.  Jesus was throwing human values upside-down. 

Not only that, but the bleeding lady had the more urgent need.  She had a superstitious half-formed faith; she thought simply “touching a healer” would heal her, but she needed a true encounter with the savior.  So Jesus stopped to really meet her, not just as a miracle worker, but as the Son of God.  That’s remarkable.  Jesus knew what he was doing.

Now I’m not saying Jesus thinks that every waiting person is over-privileged or entitled.  I’m not saying that someone else’s needs are more important than your own.  But this account demonstrates that God knows exactly what He’s doing, within His timing, by His grace, and He doesn’t leave us without resources in our time of wait.  All of us in a way are the bleeding woman; we think God isn’t paying attention, but He’s orchestrating all this to prioritize our wants and our needs.

Think of what waiting really means.  It means the delay of what we really want. If God were to give me everything I wanted at this exact moment, it could ruin me.  Ten years ago, if I were to become a lead pastor and famous preacher like I really wanted, it would’ve turned me into an egotistical arrogant jerk.  God puts us through various seasons of training so that we might become the kind of person who can handle what He will eventually give us.  If you think of every person who prematurely gets what they want (think celebrities), it always ruins them.

Of course, there are some things we sincerely need right now.  I know it’s tough.  Waiting sucks.  I don’t think that suffering is always meant to teach a lesson; I don’t mean to over-spiritualize our pain.  Yet we can still choose who we want to be on the other side of this suffering.  This hurt is more reason to trust God and cling to His wisdom, and not less.  We can still crawl our way to him, badly bleeding and desperate and raggedy as we are.  Even if you feel dead: Jesus can work with that.  Trust Him in the waiting, because the pay-off in the end will always be a greater closeness with Him.

— J.S.

Is there such a thing/anything wrong with placing too high of an expectation for your future spouse? This is when what you desire does seem to align with what God wants for us?

Hey my friend, I think it’s totally right to set good expectations for a spouse.  You’ll be living with this person the rest of your life and they’ll be raising children with you and at least half-responsible for your well-being and future direction.  It’s a pretty big deal.

Yet as much stock as we put into a spouse, here’s a few things to consider.

1) Setting unreasonable expectations on a spouse can crush them or crush ourselves.  I’ve seen when men or women focus too much on finding the “right one” instead of making themselves the right one first.  When this happens, a subtle shift in our heart makes us into a blame-shifting nightmare.  When things go wrong, we blame the other person for falling short or we blame ourselves for screwing it up.  Or if your spouse is in a bad mood, having a bad day, or feeling distant because of their own inner-drama, you’ll crush yourself on thinking you did this to them.  An over-emphasis on anything in life will always control you or you’ll end up trying to control them. 

2) Having a “wishlist” won’t work.  I understand that some of us have an ideal picture of who we’re looking for.  The problem is that every person is their own unique individual with the same weird gritty well-hidden flaws as the rest of us.  Any kind of romanticized perfectionism will always remove grace from the equation.  The person you end up with is almost never the person you could’ve imagined, and your future spouse will be a million times more interesting than any made-up soul-mate that we might concoct in our idealized fantasies.

3) Find a person who is running alongside you.  The simplest expectation I could tell you is to pursue someone who is pursuing Christ.  Find Jesus, you find yourself, and maybe you’ll find someone else.  When God is leading someone’s life, this is the only time that he or she is also fit to lead.  I’m not qualified to be the boss of myself; only God is.  Only God could ever break my pride enough to apologize first, to repent of my wrong, to confront my ugliness, to find healing for my darkest hurt.  Only God could ever empower me to lead, to love, to be a good husband and father.  Find a person who knows to be humble before God; this is never ever too much to ask.

— J.S.

Hey Pastor! Some of my friends and I are starting our own youth group/small group this next week! It's been something we have talked and prayed about for a while now. We are so excited to see what God does in it. Do you have any words of advice for us? All of us are late high school and early college and this is our first time doing this. Thanks so much!! Blessings.

Hey that’s really awesome!  Thank you for even trusting me to ask about it.

I would really hate to offer you any formula that you feel the need to memorize or emulate, but please allow me to point you to a few posts:

- The Totally Awkward Bible Study and Four Ways To Push Forward

- I Want To Read My Bible — But How?

- How To Do Discipleship

- The Sloppy Truth of Discipleship (Podcast)

I would really say there are two important elements to remember: 1) the Bible, and 2) getting to know each other.  However you can advance both of these things, try it, try it again, plan it, re-shape it, and have fun.  Rejoice in the Bible, rejoice in each other. 

People will get straight up healed in these small groups.  It’s where the Spirit does surgery.  So long as the Bible and the people are the focus, you’ll get there. 

— J.S.

Your blog post about never hearing back from people once youve helped them reminded me of that one story about Jesus going out and healing a big group of lepers, and only having one of them came back and thank Him. Ive always thought of the other lepers as ungrateful and terrible people, but now i realize how much that alludes to us. Ive never personally talked with you, but one of the things youve written helped me completely break my ties with lust, and im so sorry for not thanking you before.

Hey my friend, you had a second message here:

"Another thing im grateful for: you are extremely realistic. Another thing you wrote a while ago taught me that its ok and even good to be brutally honest about God with your feelings, rather than try to push them down and paint a facade to fool yourself and God, hoping that one day you will mold into the shape youve created (a problem i had at the time). There are many more things too, but you along with a few other Christian bloggers expanded my mind, and for that- thank you. Thank you so much."

 

I believe you’re referring to this post.

Thank you first for your encouragement.  I’m always overwhelmed by such kind words from fellow bloggers, and also blessed when God does anything through a dude like me.  I know my place, and I never write those things to condemn or to say I’m better than anyone else.  And it’s also awesome you’ve been able to break lust that way, I praise God for that.

What’s interesting in the story of the Ten Lepers is how quickly our brains say, “I need to be like the Tenth Leper who was thankful, and not like the other nine.”  Every sermon I’ve ever heard has done this too.  But the truth is that we’re all the other nine lepers.  I’m ungrateful; I’m forgetful of God. 

When Jesus told the lepers to find a priest, this was a common ritual to be instituted into society again.  These lepers had been cast out, but also ostracized, mocked, and considered inferior.  Once they were healed, the temple would’ve been their portal to go back to humanity.  In a sense, Jesus took on our cut-off condition and he became the leper.  He was mocked, disfigured, put on a cross.  He was the broken temple who made a way for us, to go back into grace, into humanity.  Jesus became the leper so we might be healed.

The Bible is pretty good, you know.

— J.S.

How do you deal with failing to contact God under times of great stress? I tried to pray to him as fighting was happening and to vent, but I froze and ended up venting to everyone else but him, and now I feel like I failed. The worst part: I read a devotional that addressed the issues I'm having, and I was committed to carrying it out, only for it to fall flat.

My dear friend: I know how hard it is to reach out to God during tough times. You’re definitely not alone in this, and I’ve been going through a very similar season.  Maybe I’m not allowed to say so, but such times of “prayer-aversion” happen to all of us.

Because 1) We’re not sure it’s working, 2) it can feel ridiculous to talk with an invisible God, 3) tangible friends feel more real, and 4) we feel like maybe God caused the stress in the first place.  I think we need to be honest about those reasons. 

But mostly, it could just be that we don’t know how to reach Him.

You don’t need eloquent prayer vocabulary to reach Him.

You don’t need to set aside 8:30 to 9:00 with a checklist and a devotional and the latest Hillsong album.

You don’t need to force your emotions with images of angels and clouds and thrones and halo Jesus.

If all those help, then awesome and please go for it.  I don’t mean to belittle what you might have learned in church, because it can help some of us.  But as for me, when I’m stressed, I pretty much vent and scream and yell out to God.  I yell at Him and with Him.  He can handle it; He’s God.  If this sounds blasphemous, look no further than the Psalms or Jeremiah or Isaiah or most of the Old Testament.  Whenever these Bible “heroes” didn’t feel God, they straight up told God, “I don’t feel you.”  They were almost embarrassingly honest.

You know how you think you failed?  This is the exact moment that God can roll in and restore.  The truth is that we all fail at some point to truly rely on God.  Whether it’s in the first five minutes of prayer or in the middle of a holy moment or when you try to carry out what He envisions: we all get distracted and tempted and carried away.  He doesn’t want that for you, but when it does happen, you can still go to Him, right then.  He is the door who is always open for your knocking, seeking, and asking, for your venting, frustrations, and stressful seasons. The very thing you’re feeling right now is the very reason Jesus went to the cross, to die for all the ways we have failed.  It’s never too late to embrace this grace.  That’s why it’s grace.

I plead with you to try again.  God has grace even for our messy, horrid stumbling, for all the try-agains.  The true friend always receives you back to hear your heart, no matter how far or long you’ve been gone, and Jesus is the truest friend.  I promise, He will love you, over and over, into the truest you.

— J.S.

jspark3000:

Remember, you are:

- A work in progress, looking towards the work finished, Jesus.

- Under construction, in a process, two steps forward, one step back.

- On a journey of faith, because faith is not a light-switch.

- A messy, gritty, raw, real, complicated creation called a human being, and no one should ever shame you for being human.  Jesus was one of us, too.

- Not defined by your mood, situation, or circumstance.

- Not defined by the “amount” of your faith, but rather by the perfect author of your faith who receives even your weakest stumbles towards Him.  It’s not about your grip, but rather the strength of the branch that holds you.

- So loved that God preempted your failures with the gift of His Son Jesus, who died to pay your price of Hell and who also died exactly for those times you would feel far from Him.

- Always allowed to approach the throne room of God with all your anxieties and fears and requests, no matter how petty, because God can handle your venting and clenching of teeth and He will not bite your head off.  It’s also His very grace and acceptance that begin to restore the broken pieces back together.

- A Christian, a profoundly broken person who has met Jesus the Messiah, who radically transforms you by being who he is: the Savior, Redeemer, King, Brother, Friend.

— J

Church: Keep Afloat

jspark3000:

Your church can be ridiculously frustrating, and you’ll want to give up and walk out and say you were right about them the whole time.

I know you’ve probably had a million ideas they didn’t listen to, and you want worship to be deeper, the Bible studies to be harder, the activities to tone down, the atmosphere more gracious, people more real, the pastor to be more serious or more in-depth or more thoughtful or more attentive. You want more missions, more conviction, more change, more open dialogue.

But please, please, please hang in there.

You’ve probably been trying for a while. I know it hurts to not be heard, to see others halfway committed, to hear the stories of two-faced lives.

Please consider that the “hypocrite” might be someone on their first lap of faith, and they just don’t know yet, and not everyone is paced at your speed. Consider that your pastor has a vision that he is desperately trying to tie together across dozens of conflicting opinions. Consider that what you feel are glaring flaws in your church are NOT sins against anyone, but simply a preference that rides against yours.

Church is exactly the place for you to endure through disagreement and discontent: because it teaches us patience when nothing goes “your way.” It doesn’t mean we remain complacent as things unfold: but that we extend grace for the growing pains of our church body, and we offer solutions lest we become part of the problem.

Fighting for unity is not the same thing as complaining about what’s wrong. I get this confused a lot too, and people can always tell the difference. The church knows when you can’t handle being told “no” and if you are pushing a vengeful reactionary agenda. You know your heart on this one, and if there is bitterness there, you probably wouldn’t listen to you either.

If you’re really hurting for your ministry: I just hope we act to restore and not out of righteous vindication. People walk into church with a divided mind already. They don’t need more of that. If you’re secretly venting to others about what is wrong, even in a “humble” articulate manner: you are poisoning the well. If it’s a legitimate concern, there are better ways to be heard and move forward.

People hear the ones with their sleeves rolled up, and nothing less. They will know if you really care or if you are really bitter. There is certainly a lot wrong with your church: but that’s because we attend them. There could be a time to walk away: but not in anger. There is a time to confront: but not to look back, and only to bring healing.

Have room in your heart to struggle together in the mess we call church. You will be heard this way. More importantly, God will speak this way.

It’s not easy, but don’t give up. Don’t give in. You are needed. Keep afloat, dear friend.

— J.S.

See Him.

jspark3000:

If you feel far from God today —

He’s okay with that.  You can draw near Him and tell Him, “I feel far away from You.”  Jesus welcomes your doubts, confusion, frustrations, and questions.  He invites you in any and every condition.

 

If you’re mad at God today —

He’s okay with that.  He made you an emotional being, and more than that, a human being.  You can vent to Him and He won’t bite your head off.  He doesn’t want you to pretend your feelings at Him.

 

If you’ve messed up on God today —

He’s still rooting for you.  He still wants to work on this together.  He will receive you the very second after you mess it up.  Your moment of defeat matters less than the moment right after.  He has grace to pick you up, to dust you off, to keep you moving towards Him.  Choose grace.

 

If you haven’t spoken with God in an embarrassingly long time —

He’s okay with that too.  You have right now.  He’s given you this moment to talk to Him.  Don’t wait another second.  Find the endless well of joy that’s waiting.

 

If it’s all gone upside-down and life has been unfair —

Please don’t write off God just yet.  You will need more grace and not less.  You will need more help, more strength, more wisdom, more truth, and not less.  Go to the source.  Please don’t let your life throw you around into a lesser version of you, but let God say who you are amidst your surroundings.

 

If you don’t like yourself today —

God loved you before you stepped into the room.  God pre-approved of you before you did a single thing.  God will love you when no one else does.  There is nothing you could do to change His heart towards you: and it’s His unchanging heart that will change you.

 

If you’re not sure that God loves you today —

See the cross. See Jesus.  All our fears, worries, hurt, injustice, and rebellion are answered there.  Jesus knew what we would do to him: but He set this plan in motion before time to be with you for eternity.  The cross has removed every single obstacle between us and Him.  Jesus achieved the cosmic victory of demolishing sin, Satan, and death, for your good and for His glory.  Know this love, and everything else will be okay.

— J