Month: October 2011

Up and Up!

October 20, 2011

“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,)
(Colossians 1:21-22 ESV)

For my Homiletics (preaching) class last year I wrote a sermon on Colossians 1:15-23. When I got to verses 21-22 where Paul begins talking about who were before Christ. I made it a point to point out the importance of know ing who we are. I pointed out that Paul was pointing out our sin nature, he was saying, this is who you were before you met the Jesus he was talking about in 15-20 and in 22 He talks more specifically about what Christ had done for us.

So why did I emphasize knowing who we were before Christ? It seems like a bit of a depressing sermon point doesn’t it? After all isn’t the past in the past and therefore shouldn’t we just forget about it and move on? Why should we remember the things we may be ashamed of? What credence does our “Before Christ” action have on our spiritual walk?

Well if you’re like me (human) than your sin nature and your “Before Christ” actions followed you right into your post Salvation life. Let me give you an example, last semester I became very anti-social and even mean, I guess I shouldn’t say became, I had pushed those tendencies down so as not to deal with them, so when they finally surfaced, they surfaced in a nearly destructive way. These attributes along with the depression and self  pity that come along with them were part of my life before I was a Christian. I wanted so bad to get attention that I turned into the very thing people didn’t want to be around (because I wasn’t getting attention).

Part of Illumination (see Illumination July 17, 2011) for me was seeing those characteristics and recognizing them and realizing that they only caused negative affects. Illumination also helps us to take something positive out of the experience even if that is just that you never want to have that experience again. Sometimes really picking apart those experiences can teach us deep life lessons. Negative experiences can have plenty of positive lessons. Before I was a Christian I did a lot of things I am ashamed of, because I remember thsoe negative experiences I have taken a positive lesson in a lot of different areas of my life. I know if I repeat that same behavior of those days then I will reap the same consequences, but if I take a positive lesson from those experiences I will not repeat those mistakes and reap positive consequences.

Here’s another example, lately I’ve been feeling the Lord leading me in a certain direction. In the past, when God has called me to do something I’ve often jumped so far ahead of Him that I left Him in the dust. This time I began doing that and Monday because of the frustration I was feeling at myself for not taking rushed personal action I became irritable and even snapped at a dear friend of mine. I needed to take the time to sit back and pray and just spend time with God, so after a conversation with a brother here in my dorm God had renewed my concentration on Him and granted me a new patience to wait on Him.

This was because I recognized my behavior, I knew who I was before, when I would run away from God or ahead of Him and I know who He wants me to be. I know what the Illumination did for me and revealed for me, and God knows I’m better than that.

So who were we before Christ? Where did we come from? Who are we now and what are some of the lessons we’ve learned since the day of our salvation?

The work of the spirit is ongoing, anyone who thinks or preaches that we are instantly transformed is going to end up with a lot of mixed up Christians, who as soon as a piece of their old nature surfaces are going to turn away or feel misled and ashamed. Yes there is an instant change as Christ comes in but most of us are going to have to put off our old self and put on the fruits of the spirit. We have to go through the refiners fire and that is a process that will require us to work through the things from the old self. We have to allow God’s work to happen in our lives through the washing of regeneration (dealing with the old stuff) and the renewing of the Holy Spirit. These things require us to drudge through things that we thought just disappeared.

Jesus calls us to be Holy as God is holy and to become Holy we have to go through this process of Sanctification. This is an ongoing process that we will never see completed while we are on earth. But have faith my friends, that work is astounding and it can lead to seeing God do wonderful.

So why should we not forget where we came from? Because it shows us what God has been doing in our lives and allows us to look ahead at where He is leading us!

Jonathan Faulkner
10:31 Ministries

The Best of Education

October 7, 2011

“The story of learning doesn’t tell us all about who we are, but the story of learning certainly tells us a lot and it’s a powerful story” Dr. Arn Froese

I was sitting here working on a research paper on Thomas Aquinas, going through the boat load of information on Church Histories greatest thinkers, getting a headache, when I started thinking to myself “Why do I do this?” Why do I get up and go to class everyday so I can get more homework, headaches and reading? Didn’t Solomon have a point when he wrote “Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless” and when he was ranting about everything under the sun.

 It’s a good question I suppose, to ask why one would pursue and education, of course, if it wasn’t for an education Thomas Aquinas couldn’t have been the greatest thinking in Church History. If it wasn’t for education we wouldn’t have gone to the moon, been able to read and even as I type this I realize that without education I couldn’t possibly be writing this with cohesion and you wouldn’t be able to understand it without education.

But what is the point? As a ministry major I find myself confronted by this apathetic question. What is the point of pursuing education? Well if I were to rush into Ministry without knowing how to minister it wouldn’t end well for me. Most great evangelists and preachers didn’t get that way without having some understanding of hermenuetics if they did the result might actually be disastrous, instead of using Exegetical (taking away from the text) principles they may use Eisegesis (inserting ones own meaning onto the text) principles which are very different.

The same is true in Psychology! How can one become a psychologist without even the basic principles and knowledge of human behavior that make up this field. This is true of Mathematics, Sciences, Communications and any other field you can think of.

In a conversation I had with Roy Stuckey, author of the book Transapparent: A Novel for Three Dimensional Christians. I learned that most people quit learning once they leave College, at least quit learning academically. He encouraged me to continue to pursue education, to keep learning beyond the age of thirty even if it kills me. This is good advice but again why must we learn?

Based on what I’ve stated above my question is now just the opposite! Why wouldn’t we learn? Why wouldn’t we want to continue our education? Why wouldn’t we want to (if God calls us) go all the way to get out PhD’s and Doctorate’s of Ministry?

Just think, if Aristotle, Plato, Sacrates, Augustine, Leo the Great, Athenaseas, St. Benedict, St. Thomas Aquinas, John Wesley, John Calvin and all the great Scholastic thinkers had stopped their education what would the world be like? Calvin and Wesley never would have formed their doctrines, Augustine never would have been converted, Plato would be a dog on a cartoon and Aristotle and Socrates would never have been remembered by the next generations.

To keep growing and learning, to keep getting a better education and to move up, or if you practice biblical servant leadership, move down. I want to encourage you put education as a priority, to continue to learn and experience learning. God has gifted us with minds that we might use them to bring glory to Him and filling them with knowledge that we can use as a weapon for His kingdom.

Yes education is meaningless when compared to eternity, it’s something we do while we are on earth, that part Solomon had right. However God gave men the ability to think and thanks to men who have thought we now have historical giants that we can stand on the shoulders of to see the whole of God’s plan for humanity. Continue my friends to learn, continue my friends to discover, continue my friends to gain knowledge and wisdom.

For education exists because God made man to think and because of that we are given wisdom.

        to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
(Proverbs 1:4-5 ESV)

God Bless You
Jon Faulkner
10:31 Ministries

God’s Surprising Movements

October 4, 2011

When I was growing up I always wanted to be a firefighter or a spacemen, I once told my mother that I was going to be a policeman. When God came into my life at the age of 13 none of these dreams, that were for the legally blind very optimistic and unrealistic, they didn’t seem to matter anymore. Suddenly I was faced with a new  world of things I would love to do. I tried being a Missionary, I went to Dallas to change the world and came back feeling like I had done nothing. I had always been interested in Music, so I set out to be a successful musician. I started learning Guitar (even before my salvation) I got back into Piano and I even picked up the drums. I had already been writing songs, so I thought that would be a viable career. I also got into the graphic design side of things, designing powerpoints for the Sunday Service at the big church I served in so I thought that was something I could do, Maybe these were my calling and what I was going to do professionally for the rest of my life.

But when the band broke up, the show was over and my vocal/guitar/drum skills were no longer needed and playing clarinet/piano seemed like a chore I dropped out of the music scene altogether. It would have seemed my music days were over, I still had a few contacts with bands I’d met along the road but none of that seemed to matter. No, at the end of High School, I’d be going to a small Christian College to study to be a Youth Pastor who just so happened to have led worship for AWANA’s and Youth Groups.

But all this time something else had been sneaking up on me, something that I never expected to have form in me. In 2008 I had published, through Tee-Publications The “Man Up” series, a short and somewhat legalistic series on authentic Manhood based on Jim George’s A Man After God’s Own Heart. Tee was privately owned and so I signed a contract with them and was soon writing legalistic articles that would get published by obscure journal’s that no one will ever hear about. When Tee parted ways with the organization that was publishing this stuff I went back to writing for them to sell.

But Music was still there, I was still playing Guitar, still writing Lyrics, still singing in Choirs and part of me held on to a faint dream of one day making it. I wanted to find a way to incorporate my Love for music, specifically Christian Rock into my writing. My first attempt, a publications of bands that people should avoid was again legalistic and in being that way it was a failure. Then a friend suggested maybe I should review and critique Christian Music instead and give a qualified opinion based on knowledge of those Genres. So freshmen year, after we’d started 10:31 Ministries and I’d gotten over my arrogant Legalistic self I began writing reviews.

Now two years later God has taken this beyond what I thought He would, but should I be surprised? God’s also changed my major from Youth Ministry to the pursuit of Pulpit (pastoral) Ministry and revealed to me and interest and skill I have for radio. God has taken the young man who wrote for fun to the young man who is given the chance to write, to influence in a positive way and to reveal the love and heart of Christ through blogs like this. I write this not to gloat but this week I was officially make a member of the team as their Christian Music guy. I cannot believe where God has taken this, to the point where I even have a book in the works.

Now I’m one who believes that God puts us in certain situations for certain times in our lives. I may not be writing for or even for my own Ministry next year. But I praise God for allowing me this opportunity and now I want to ask you. What has God subtly brought to the forefront of your life? What has He moved into your life that may be as a surprise?

Now I still play guitar, write songs, play piano, clarinet, drums, lead worship and do graphic design, all these things are still a part of my life. But I am called to be a pastor, then someday and husband, a father , a friend and for now a writer and could possibly be involved in radio.

What has God moved into your life? What has He allowed you to do that you never would have seen yourself doing? How has He allowed that to work in others lives and how has He used it to impact your life? I can tell you that writing has helped to work out my salvation and theological ideals. What has God stirred in you to help you grow in your walk?

God Bless You
Jon Faulkner
10:31 Ministries

God’s heart for your Relationships

October 1, 2011

– – – Our hearts should be so lost  in or in such hot pursuit of God that others have to seek Him to find us – – –
I want to preface this blog by saying that I have practiced none of these principles I am going to describe within the context of a romantic relationship. However I am writing this to those who have been single and may be looking to enter into a relationship at some point. I have applied some of these principles to a lot of my friendships and the results have been good, God-centered, strong friendships. 
Almost six years ago now I made a decision to become single, I strayed once in High School but for the past four years, though I’ve gotten close, I’ve been pretty straight ahead in this area of my life. The purpose was to prepare myself for God’s plans of marriage and fatherhood for my life, to become “A Man after God’s own heart.” It has been a day by day thing since that day, learning and growing and now I’d like to share some of the wisdom God has granted me with you.
So here are some principles or concepts, that when applied to relationships of any kind allow God to work in his mysterious and wonderful ways. 
1. A Relationship must be God-Centered – As we know God has called us to let Him be the center of our lives, as Christians we are raised learning that “Jesus is Lord/brother/friend” and God is “Father” and that they should be the center or axis of everything we do. So it makes sense to apply this to our romantic relationships as well. If we, who are by nature selfish, step back and allow God to lead us in our relationships and make Him the center it’s much easier to listen to His direction. This might take the form of Bible-studies, praying together and separately about God’s direction for the relationship and attending church together. 
It’s not easy, applied to friendships it works better if it’s a mentor-mentee relationship. 
2. Keep Learning- There is a difference between “knowing someone” and really knowing them. Part of the problem I ran into in my last relationship was that I thought I knew the person. I had gone to church with them for two years and though we hadn’t spoken for two years when we decided to “date” we never actually got to know each other. As Christians we are called to live in Community, we need each other to lift up and encourage one another. If we don’t know the other person then we can’t really lift up and encourage them in things that are outside of the relationship. 
Also, people have a great deal of depth to them whether we, or ever they, realize it or not. Getting to know the other person takes time and requires a hiatus from a deep physical relationship, which can become distracting. 
Also, learning outside of the relationship is important too, spending time in the Scriptures by yourself and putting your education above the other person in the relationship (if you are in college or whatnot) is okay to do. The list should most likely go something like this; God, Education, Relationships. 
3. Isolation and infatuation are the quickest way to breakup – In my time working with young people and even in my own story I’ve seen it a hundred times. We cannot become infatuated with the other person, mostly because that leads to isolation which can lead to sin or breakup or breakup as a result of sin. Sexual Purity is on the top of the list of things God wants from us, but if we cannot control ourselves 1, we shouldn’t be in the relationship and 2. we are breaking God’s commands (thank God for grace right.) Joshua Harris gives this advice “Seek out other Christian couples, both the same age as you and older than you. Go on double dates and don’t put yourselves in situations where you might be tempted” 
which brings me to my last principle 
4. Set Boundaries – This is probably the second most important of these four. It goes right after making your relationship God centered. Boundaries are important to set from the beginning, saying “This is what I’m comfortable with” is a very good thing. God has set boundaries for us so now we should set boundaries within our relationship based on his standards for us. This is where God Centered relationships are so important because if you’re relationship is God focused instead of him/her focused it makes it easier to set boundaries based on your Christian convictions, which makes it easier to avoid sexual temptation and makes conversation and communication easier. It is boundaries that open the door for us to get to know each other, God Centeredness provides us with a lens to set those boundaries so that we can get to each other. 
I hope that this, in some way helped you in your quest to seek after God. I pray that God brings into your life the person He has been preparing for you. 
God Bless You
Jon Faulkner
10:31 Ministries