J.S. Park

RSS

Posts tagged with "jesus"

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

jspark3000:

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.

He had to die for the depth of our sin,
but he was glad to die for the death of our sin:
because he loves us.
Such great, sweeping, heart-swelling love.

- 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

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. 

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. 

Out of my shame, my wretchedness, you rescued me.

How your cross, in my shame, makes sense to me.

— J.S.

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.

Sep 8

My Sin Ain’t So Bad: Why Do I Need The Cross?

Anonymous asked:

I sometimes don’t understand the point of the cross. I don’t feel like I did anything bad enough for Jesus to die for. Some lustful thoughts that aren’t hurting anyone, an occasional lie that (again) doesn’t have consequences…Im not a great person, but almost nothing I or any “normal” person could do seems bad enough to earn Hell, or Jesus’s death. I want to feel thankful for it, but it’s hard when it also seems kinda unfair to make Jesus (or us) go through such wrath for such small things.

 

My friend, I know exactly what you mean, and I hope you will allow me the grace to dig deep on this one and perhaps challenge our thinking together.  I won’t try to convince you that you’re so bad and sinful and evil, and I also think it’s way more complicated than that.  We’re also free to disagree here, because I know that most of us do not see eye-to-eye on this one.

Before I even look at the idea of “sin,” I think it’s way more helpful to talk about our idea of “good.”  In my entire pastoral ministry, I never had difficulty talking about “sin” to the addicts, the ex-convicts, the struggling, the criminals.  They already knew they’ve messed it up. 

My difficulty was always with very “good people,” because what could I say?  They weren’t in desperate need for correction, for a Savior.  They would hear the sermon and say, “Oh yeah, I already do all that stuff.”  Most people in general are not doing black tar heroin or punching animals.

I came to Christ very late in life, and as an atheist, I absolutely believed that everyone was capable of moral good.  I still do believe that.  My morality back then was simple: I believed we all have a common human decency, and we ought to respect each other out of dignity.  Anyone who didn’t do this was a jerk.  I didn’t want to be a jerk. I thought this was common sense.  If you needed a “God” to love people, then I thought: you’re already a terrible person.

 

When I heard about Jesus “dying for my sin,” I felt two things.  1) This is absolutely stupid, because I didn’t ask for anyone to die for me, and 2) I was aware of the wrong things I did, and so at the very least, Jesus made a pretty nice gesture.

Here’s where my logic turned into Swiss cheese: and as I’ve said before, we might not agree, and our journeys might look very different from here. 

The Bible made it clear that my self-inflation and self-comparison were merely self-righteousness.  To say, “I don’t want to be a jerk” is still a jerk-ish thing to say, because I’m instantly condemning others.  My morality for “common human decency” was rigging my heart by pride, so that my motivation was to look like a good neighbor and upstanding citizen.  I would look down on others if they were not. 

On one hand, the “fear of God” is the worst kind of motivation to be a good person, but on the other hand, the fear of lettings others down or letting myself down was an equally false motivation.  Even respecting each other out of “dignity” was grading myself on a moral paradigm of performance that would crush me or crush others.   I was tricking my behavior while never really changing on the inside.  I was using shame and guilt-trips to motivate me into morality: and we all do it.

If we’re motivated to do good to look good and get good back, then of course: none of this is very good.  We need a pure motivation, a piercing kind of goodness that doesn’t need self-inflation.

Some of us are simply “bad” because we fall into being very “good.”  Trying to escape your life by thrills is just as toxic as trying to elevate yourself by self-will.

In Colossians 2, Paul doesn’t call out the obvious bad things that we do.  He says that our drive to be good people is a “deceptive philosophy.”  It’s a sort of inner-flagellation with an “appearance of wisdom” and “self-worship” and “false humility,” and it “lacks any value to restrain sensual indulgence.”  In other words: the only reason we’re good is so we don’t look bad, and it’s bad when that’s your only reason to be good.

 

The problem isn’t so much that I’m a “bad person,” but that I need healing from my selfishness.  We can do good, but it’s always for the wrong reasons.  I’m in constant seeking of approval and affirmation by my actions; I long for a love to tell me “You’re okay, you did great.”  We yearn to hear, “Well done.”  We want to be both fully known and fully loved, and until we get to Jesus and the love of his cross, we’re still in this desperate sin-filled race of validation.

Now it’s true that many of us might not do many wrong things.  But our capacity for evil also runs way deeper than we think.  No one is so bad that they’re beyond redemption, but no one is so good that they’re beyond corruption.  This is the plotline of nearly every successful movie and TV show, from Breaking Bad to The Dark Knight to Rugrats.

I look at the genocide in Iraq, or the pyramid schemes of CEOs, or the 27 million slaves in the world: and I think, I’m definitely not as bad as the perpetrators of these crimes.  I could never do what they did.

Then I think of myself in the same situation.  I think, What if I had grown up with the same temptations, upbringing, cultural “values,” and corrupted ideologies as the oppressors?  Would I be any better than them?  Would I really be so much more sophisticated than the worst people in the world?

What if I was Adam or Eve in that Garden?  How long before I would also rip the fruit off the tree?

You’ve heard of the Stanley Milgram Experiment.  It’s quite famous for answering the question, How could these Nazi “doctors” exterminate so many people but go home to kiss their family?  In other words, Did the Nazis simply follow orders?  And as far as the experiment goes: it appears that most people are willing to electrocute someone against their screams, so long as we’re told to by an authority figure to keep pressing the button.  Sixty-five percent of them kept going even when the subjects “died.”

Do you remember the old Twilight Zone episode called “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street”?  Hang with me here.  This small town has its power shut off at random, and all the townspeople blame each other and start looting and setting fires and eventually kill someone.  The surprise ending **spoilers** is that aliens were controlling the power to see how humans would react if you just shut off a few lights. 

At the end, the aliens say this:

First Alien: Understand the procedure now? Just stop a few of their machines and radios and telephones and lawn mowers, throw them into darkness for a few hours, and then sit back and watch the pattern.
Second Alien: And this pattern is always the same?
First Alien: With few variations. They pick the most dangerous enemy they can find, and it’s themselves. All we need do is sit back and watch.

And the narrator says this:

The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men.

I know it’s just a TV show.  But read the news long enough: and you’ll find people just like you and me, who never did a very wrong thing their whole lives, get thrown into a crazy situation and suddenly become the monsters on Maple Street.

 

All that to say: Each of us are capable of the worst atrocities imaginable, given the proper conflicts and resources and time.  It only takes the quiet bubble of a suburban Westernized neighborhood to truly fool ourselves into thinking we’re “good people.”  When you take away your roof, your toys, and your laws: we all become the enemy.

The only reason you probably haven’t killed your boss when you’re mad at him is because of the police.  It’s also a lot of work to buy a shovel and dig a hole.  The only reason you haven’t looted your local Walmart or punched your ex-boyfriend is because you’ve restrained yourself with societal norms. 

Is that true goodness?  Because in a post-apocalyptic world of zombies, we’re all the Governor.  None of us are Rick.  None of us are even as good as Carl. 

We’re all two steps away from utter chaos. 

The world is pretty crazy, but maybe we should be astonished that it’s not even as terrible as it could be. 

I know who I really am inside.  I’m a wretched, wicked, twisted up rebel.  I’ve only been good out of self-righteous motives, to prove I’m good: which means I’ve never done any good on my own.  None of us are truly altruistic at the core. 

Yet such deep sin points to a deep need for a correction of the universe.  How could we know things are very wrong unless there must be a very right?  Why do we feel anguish at injustice unless we knew of justice?  I’m sure a philosopher or psychologist or very witty blogger could beat me here point-by-point.  I’ve heard them all, and frankly, I’m jaded by all the debating.  I’ve lived long enough to know that we all love to justify ourselves to death, to get what we want, at the expense of each other.  And this is more reason and not less to believe that a righteousness must be outside us, beyond us, supernatural, not from this world, but breaking in, in order to bring healing to a busted up people.  

Jesus had to bear the curse of the hostility of a broken world, for all we could do and have done.  And though he had to die for the depth of our sin, he was glad to die for the death of our sin: because he loves us.

I choose to believe, with my weak little faith, that the righteousness we need comes from Jesus.  It’s out of his own self-initiated, one-way, just-because love, and he expects nothing back: which is the only way our hearts could be big enough to do the same.  I believe, in the end, that the cross cuts us down to our true size and exposes our great need.  But there in the cross, we also have a Great Savior, who does not say, "Look what you did to me," but instead, "Look what I’ve done for you."  This is the only kind of grace that will wreck my sin and bring me back to who I was meant to be.

— J.S.

Sep 6

Don’t think that you’ve been gone too long to come to Him. God is not some spiritual parole officer waiting for you to fail. If you’ve strayed from prayer, He is not keeping some score. If you don’t feel Him at all, tell Him that: “I don’t feel you right now, God.” Pray with any amount of faith that you have; believe that prayer works; ask for faith if you have none. If you’re mad, tell Him. If you’re ashamed, guilty, confused, afraid, doubtful: tell Him. He can handle that. He is understanding, patient, gracious; He loves you. You’ll soon find you’ll want to talk to Him, because He’s actually pretty awesome to talk to.

- J.S. from this post