The Infinite Gap

“So I have learned this rule: When I want to do good, evil is there with me.  In my mind, I am happy with God’s law. But I see another law working in my body, which makes war against the law that my mind accepts. That other law working in my body is the law of sin, and it makes me its prisoner.  What a miserable man I am! Who will save me from this body that brings me death?” 

 

Pastor Dave read aloud from the seventh chapter of Romans to the group assembled around his dining table.  He looked up to see if they were still listening.  Every head was bowed, their eyes focused on the words of the page before them.

“This is about me,” Ainsling said to Li.

“This is what we were,” Pastor Dave remarked.  “Miserable.  Prisoners to sin.  Heading for death.”

“This is depressing,” said a girl beside Li, frowning.

“It would be if we stopped there.  It’s true; no one is perfect.  But we long to be.  We compare ourselves to each other, hoping we’ll be better than someone else.  But we can never be what we should be.  In spiritual terms, this is called the infinite gap.”

“Didn’t you say there was good news?” Li asked.

“Yes!  God knows what we are.  He sees the gap.  And he desperately loves us, so he made a way to fill the gap and free us from sin.  We can be free from the guilt that weighs us down.  He rescued us.”

“Like the Guardian?”

The Red Cloak, Chapter 9, The Infinite Gap

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Hot Youth Pastor Discount

Kayla thinks the speaker is brilliant. And . . . wait for it . . . hot. He speaks so dramatically, as if the world hinges on his every consonant. By the time I finish rolling my eyes over some lame remark, I start rolling them all over again.   My eyes grow sore from the unrelenting workout.

“God—the one who made the sun, the moon, and the stars—can use you!” he yells. I’m a bit frightened by his insistence.


Hot or not- Youth Pastors have a tough job. I’m on a mission to distribute my short fantasy story, On The Outward Appearance, to youth pastors around the country, maybe even the world… Please nominate a youth pastor you love in the comments. (Be sure to include their church, city, and state.)

I will send the first five nominees a free copy of this book about God’s unconditional love for teens (and all of us with complicated hearts).

For those of you in the Houston, TX area, stop by Café Marrese on Saturday, February 13th from 9am-1pm for your signed copy of On The Outward Appearance!


 

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YA Short Story Release – On The Outwards Appearance

“I’m glad God doesn’t care what we look like on the outside. Wouldn’t it be great if people only saw what’s on the inside, too?” Kayla interjects before Brad can speak again.

Brad squints then raises his right eyebrow.   His eyes bore into me and I’m distracted from my potatoes, shocked by how interesting his eyes are. His white teeth are so blinding when he smiles that I hadn’t noticed he had such gorgeous eyes until now. Rimmed in navy blue, his periwinkle irises appear almost violet. Definitely not boring.

“Do you care?” he asks me.

 

What if you could see past the outer appearance and glimpse the hearts of the people around you? When sarcastic, sassy Anne attends a church youth retreat she doesn’t even want to go to, she gets an unexpected gift . . .

“On The Outward Appearance” is now available in print and ebook versions on Amazon. Get yours today!

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The Infinite Gap Quote

“So I have learned this rule: When I want to do good, evil is there with me.  In my mind, I am happy with God’s law. But I see another law working in my body, which makes war against the law that my mind accepts. That other law working in my body is the law of sin, and it makes me its prisoner.  What a miserable man I am! Who will save me from this body that brings me death?” 

 

Pastor Dave read aloud from the seventh chapter of Romans to the group assembled around his dining table.  He looked up to see if they were still listening.  Every head was bowed, their eyes focused on the words of the page before them.

“This is about me,” Ainsling said to Li.

“This is what we were,” Pastor Dave remarked.  “Miserable.  Prisoners to sin.  Heading for death.”

“This is depressing,” said a girl beside Li, frowning.

“It would be if we stopped there.  It’s true; no one is perfect.  But we long to be.  We compare ourselves to each other, hoping we’ll be better than someone else.  But we can never be what we should be.  In spiritual terms, this is called the infinite gap.”

“Didn’t you say there was good news?” Li asked.

“Yes!  God knows what we are.  He sees the gap.  And he desperately loves us, so he made a way to fill the gap and free us from sin.  We can be free from the guilt that weighs us down.  He rescued us.”

“Like the Guardian?”

The Red Cloak, Chapter 9, The Infinite Gap

 

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A Bird in a Cage- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazis on April 9, 1954 for his part in a plot to kill Hitler. Days later, the prison where he was held would be liberated by US troops. He was 39 years old and newly engaged. His theological and literary legacy 70 years later is profound.

I wrote a song called “Bird in a Cage” which was adapted from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Letters and Papers From Prison” (edited by Eberhard Bethge).

Listen to “Bird in a Cage” by Diane Prokop

Who am I? the cheerful squire, a sane man? The friendly, confident man in chains?
Who am I? The bearer of misfortune, day after day? A smiling, proud winner, here to stay?
Am I really what men say that I am?
Am I only what I know of myself?
A bird in a cage, a bird in a cage, a bird in a cage
Who am I? Restless, longing, sick to the bone? A creature struggling for breath, hands caressing my throat?
Who am I? Yearning for beauty, kindness and life? Trembling at a distance for my friend’s strife?
Who am I? This one calm, the other, a hypocrite? Am I one today and tomorrow another?
Who am I? A contemptible, woebegone weakling? Is there an army in me, all but refusing?
Who am I? This lonely question, it mocks me, God.
Who am I? A bird in a cage, a bird in a cage,
O, I am Thine!

Read the English translation of Bonhoeffer’s original poem, “Who Am I?” here.

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Mad About God Book Review

“Honesty. This is the start of healing…but life is unfair, the world is selfish, and many of us will limp to the finish line…”

J. S. Park is mad. He asks the questions we all ask, those tough questions that Christians loathe to discuss in polite circles, most of which begin with the word “why” as we choke on our tears. He boldly proposes that sometimes these age-old existential inquiries may never be answered- and that even the answers wouldn’t satisfy us.

A self-proclaimed cynic, Park is raw in his conjectures, humanizing pain and suffering, leaving no room for sentimentality or gloss. He allows pain the respect it demands. There are no pat answers to the questions pain stirs up. Park doesn’t even try to explain away or sermonize suffering. From the unfairness of cancer to the self-induced repercussions of sin, Park rounds the bases and shines light on all the variants of suffering. His conclusions? Sometimes pain just hurts and there is no good reason. And sometimes the questions raised by pain force us to discover who we are and what we really believe. And, most importantly…

…pain forces us to search for a light in the darkness. We search for someone who desires to fight the dragons alongside us, not merely a rescuer, but a redeemer. Pastor Park suggests there is someone who fills that position perfectly- Jesus. Pain may not always have a purpose, but we never need to suffer alone. Jesus, our volunteer companion, isn’t ignorant to our plight. He dove headfirst into the human condition and suffered as one of us. Suffered to death.

God is mad too. In “Mad About God,” Park asks us to consider joining forces and be mad WITH God, to raise our voices to shout against the dark.

“What are we holding onto Sam?”
“That there’s some good in this world, Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”

“Mad About God” is a must-read for anyone searching for a light in the darkness, for those who demand honesty, and for humans in general.

Other books by J.S.Park-

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

The Christianese Dating Culture: On Courtship, Purity Rings, Prayer-Sex, and Other Weird Things We Do In Church

J.S. Park’s Blog

Find J. S. Park on Facebook

Nothing Is Beyond You

In honor of departed ragamuffin, Rich Mullins, who met the Lord face-to-face on Sept. 19, 1997.

This post is one of many firsts– the first time posting about Rich, the first YouTube video I ever created, and the first time posting my singing on this blog. It’s cool- I’m learning the beauty of  firsts. Life is meant to be lived and doing things for the first time may be scary, but it beats doing nothing. Or as Rich once said,

“It’s not gonna matter if you have a few scars. It will matter if you didn’t live.”

Rich Mullins

I highly recommend the biographical movie on Rich Mullins entitled, Ragamuffin.

Here’s the video!