Month: January 2012

Rest and renewal don’t always involve sleep

January 27, 2012

Before my summer in Denver I never would have considered that I needed to care for myself spiritually, outside of spending time in scriptures and going to church on Sunday. My quiet times consisted of reading, pray and go get your day underway. I was in out and on the computer checking facebook. My prayer life consisted of short quip prayers for strength and I constantly wrestled with things outwardly, trying to get my sense of pride from what others said or did, looking for comfort in friends rather than God.

Then I spent that week in silence, suddenly I found I couldn’t speak my mind, I couldn’t seek comfort from others because I couldn’t verbally communicate my problems, I was backed into a spiritual corner…Burnt out on relationships and feeling rejected I had no choice but to surrender and that was when the corner became and open space.

Flash forward to a few days I ago. I was running as fast I could, warn out from my interterm class my roommate and I decided to move into a new, more comfortable room. I spent my “off” weekend packing and preparing to move down the hall to our new room. At the same time I was helping move out my dear friend Carrie who had just graduated and so I spent Saturday moving things, skipping two meals and finally resting when my friend and her parents took me to dinner at the local pizza shop, followed by a trip to the towns Coffee Shop.

After these two hours or so of relaxing I came back and continued to put together my new room, several things still needed to be moved and plugged in and prepared. But it didn’t end there! Sunday after church we moved the rest of the stuff and cleaned our old room and relaxed to some football. Monday morning class started at 8am for me and so I ran through the day, again without rest. Tuesday was the same, three classes, starting at 9:15 and ending at 2:25, the only redemption in this was that they are in the same classroom, again no rest. My sleep schedule also had no rhythm at this point with watching TV shows that I very much enjoyed keeping me up on Monday and not sleeping well any of the other nights.

Wednesday I discovered that because there are only two men in our choir we were being moved out and the choir was going to become and all woman’s choir. This caused me to start feeling the strain of the last few days. I sat in my room and wrote in my journal about how much I was going to miss being in a group ensemble, almost emo-esque in my response to the situation. I didn’t work out that night but went to bed early instead finally acknowledging that the depression I was feeling was because of a lack of rest. Throw in the big weekend we had at 10:31 Life Ministries and you’ve got the ingredients for major burn-out.

Thursday Morning I still felt it, all through bible study and classes, I finally decided I needed to get out of here, to go and just spend time with God. I was going to go to the lake but found myself at my home church instead, sitting on the front pew listening to the clock tick, praying, writing in the journal I’d brought with me.

There God met me with open arms, I had been running from rest, saying “I need to get through this day, then I’ll rest.” I hadn’t been running from God per say, I’d spent Tuesday Night with Him as I prepared and delivered the Love Sterling Bible Study. But I had been running from rest, allowing myself to be burnt out by my experiences. I was far from healthy or in a good place, instead I fought yelling at people and even allowing God to confront me about it.

But there in that dark sanctuary I once again encountered my savior, in his full glory He whispered to me, telling me who I am, what I am here for. Just like on that mountain in Evergreen Colorado during that week of silence and in the middle of the Labyrinth. God started to reshape and renew me, reminding me that He is the only authority on who I am and my only source of strength.

I walked back feeling refreshed and restored, strengthened by the rejuvenation I found myself joyful again. The monster I could be once again subdued. The feeling I thought I’d receive through a night of sleep God gave me through time with Him!

When we get burned out one of the things we try to do is cover it up, we try to run from it and hide from it. We don’t want to slow down, we don’t want to take a step back, our goals and needs have to be met and the only way we are going to get them met is by yelling them. At least we think!

Jesus understood that the father provided for our needs, in Matthew 6:26 Christ says “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (ESV). Yes, I know this passage is talking about physical needs, but if God is going to take care of our physical needs then why would he not care about our spiritual needs as well? Why do we seek other means to revive us, these means will only drain us and burn us out in the end. They will destroy us, beat us down and put us in the situations that lead to getting hurt. 

God says “Come to me and rest” and yet we forget that so easily and start to look towards other things, even jobs as means of rest. The mentality that we need to do more, produce more and ultimately play less. Christ is calling us to Him, reaching out to us with both arms, saying come and lay these things down, listen to my voice and follow me. 

Once we learn to quiet our spirits like the psalmist in Psalm 130 suggests we will really start to hear God. After Denver my mornings consisted and will retain the constant prayer while I go through my morning activities and read my bible, stopping to listen to God and allow Him to speak and revive me and work in me. 

God can use us if we aren’t healthy, but we won’t be as effective for the gospel as we could be if we listened and allowed God to work in us and make us holy. 

So get into scripture and listen to God, allow Him to work in your life, to fill the process of sanctification to its completion and through that you will discover Him and grow in relationship with our BIG God who loves us perfectly in our imperfection. 

Related Posts from Jon Faulkner and 10:31 Life Ministries 

Why I Used to Hate Religion and still Love Jesus.

January 11, 2012

So I got on Facebook today and saw a video people had been sharing entitled “Why I hate Religion but still love the Jesus” as I started watching I noticed the first thing you saw was Jesus>Religion in big white letters. It’s Spoken word poetry, I believe Jesus is greater than Religion, so I keep watching. The speaker begins talking and it was only out of intrigue that I finished.

“What if I told you, Jesus came to abolish Religion” He makes two political statements that I agreed with and then asks “If religions so great, why has it started so many wars?” He follows this by making general statements about religion, and a few statements about the actions of those who claim to be religious. He says “The problem with religion is it never gets to the core, it’s just behavior modifications like a long list of chores.” He comments about our outward expression of our Christian Faith and how the church lives out his faith and then he talks about his own personal faith and follows this with “See this why Jesus hated Religion, and for it he called them fools, don’t you see (it’s) much better than following some rules.” He clarifies that he loves the church, the bible and Jesus but calls Religion an infection of which Jesus is the cure. He makes several other accusations about religions, for example he says religion makes you blind or makes you a slave. He closes with “So about religion, I hate it, in fact I absolutely resent it, because when Jesus said it is finished, I believe he meant it.”

So some of you might say, what’s the problem? I would have once too, I once would have shared this video all over the web going “See, see, someone got it right.” In fact this video was getting rave reviews from those who watched it all day long, it was shared and riposted and probably viewed in several different countries.. I used to take comfort in this very viewpoint, using it as an excuse to in be bitter towards my father, a Presbyterian Pastor. A lot has changed though now that I’m in the world and have grown in my walk with Christ, if you’ve read this blog you know that study of scripture does this to a man. Now I don’t know the poet, his name or his heart, I don’t claim to so what I’m about to lay out are convictions that I can hopefully support with biblical evidences. I am not attacking anyone’s viewpoints, I simply want you to weight the arguments.

Religion, Jesus and Christianity.

First off I’d like to point out how he is using Religion. More than once he makes references to what Jesus said to the Religious elite of his day. He calls them Blind, Slaves and hypocrites, the exact same accusations the poet is leveling. But I find he is using a false definition of religion, something that is easy to do when you look at (not his source mine). Going beyond the definition though we find something deeper, something more constant than the poets definition of it.

Here’s the original meaning and origin of the word.

1150–1200; Middle English religioun  (< Old French religion ) < Latinreligiōn-  (stem of religiō conscientiousness, piety, equivalent torelig āre to tie, fasten ( re- re-  + ligāre  to bind, tie; compareligament) + -iōn- -ioncompare rely

So how then, by the above origin should we define religion? If the Latin root Religio means Conscientiousness, what are we conscientious of? We are conscientious of our need for something, our need for something bigger right? The Bible makes this clear enough, Man is searching for God because He made us with a need for Him. Throw in the word Relig, lig being the root for the word ligament, what do ligaments do inside the body. They bind together the muscles and hold them in place so the body can function. So if we are conscientious of God and Ligament means to bind wouldn’t a more accurate definition of religion be something that makes us conscientious of God and binds us to Him.

Now I know the poet is talking about culture and tradition, and that’s mostly what Jesus was talking about were traditions. For instance in Matthew 15:1-20 we see Jesus doing exactly this. Calling the pharisee’s “Blind Guides” (verse 14 ESV/NIV) He says they were “Leading the people into a pit” and by their strict demands for purity, but this was not Jesus abolishing Religion. In fact Paul talks in Romans about how we approach The Law which was given to the Jewish Religion,. Paul calls them the “Oracles of God” in Romans 3:2 (ESV) these were the God given laws that we have in the Bible, a Bible that the Poet claims to love.The standards that we find in the bible are the same standards that those who study religion learn to love and do our best to apply.

It almost seems that the poet wants to overthrow these standards set forth by the creator. Maybe I’m wrong but when he says “Not a list a chores” if this wasn’t what he was talking about then he needed to better clarify his point. Even so, if it was his intent to throw out these standards then he had better read the verse two before the one in the video. At the end of Roman’s 3 Paul asks “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? On the contrary, we uphold it.” (3:31 ESV, Emphasis Authors). Everything in the bible supports the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets, I have not come to abolish them but to uphold them.” (ESV)

Religion of Life

Several years ago the professor for my New Testament class here at Sterling pointed out that “All the other religions in the world say Do this and live, Christianity says because you live do this.” This may support the Poet until you consider what the poet said. “Religion says do, Jesus says done.” I concede, based on the quote above his statements are true, but if you throw the origin’s definition of the world religion in there Christianity falls directly under that definition, that being said I adjust the statement to one my father said in a sermon. “Every other religion is a religion of do this and live, the Christian Religion says because you live do this.”

So the standards set forth in the word of God, the words that the writer of Psalms 119 says that he loves and rejoices in. If these are the lists of Chores that the author is referring to then there is no reason we shouldn’t rebel and not do them because they are religious. But if we are given life through the righteousness of God and the propitiation for our sins by grace, through faith (see Eph.2:8-9 Rom. 3:21-31 ESV) then we have joy and freedom and so the lifestyle will reflect that freedom. Furthermore, if Christian says because you live do this, is it not safe to say those “Chores” are God’s plan to carry out the work of sanctification. If we are constantly being changed by Christ like even the Poet says we are then I believe we are applying these things. I know from a personal standpoint the more God changes my thoughts and attitudes the more I want to study the bible, the more I study the bible the more I apply, the more I apply the closer I get to God. This isn’t legalism, this is application in action, it is doing what pleases God and brings glory and honor to Him.

Why I hated Religion and Still Loved Jesus. 

I must admit, as an adolescent I looked around and saw the exact same things that this young man does, even into my freshmen year of College I was so legalistic about that if you called me religion I got upset. But in reflection of those attitudes I find only one thing to be true, I was more bitter about being called religious than my peers were towards me for hating religion. Sure I still loved Jesus, I even read The Word on occasion but I disliked it because all I saw were religious rules and regulations, so if I read the bible and saw Jesus standards as Religious rules then did I really still love Jesus.

Now to the Poet, he finishes the video with “So I hate religion, in fact I resent it.” If he’s talking here about the actions of religious people that he referenced in the first part of the video than I agree with him. Christians do some awful things in the name of their religion and Christ never would stand for self-righteousness but if he is resenting people for their actions he is violating one of Jesus Commands.

I go again to Matthew 5:
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matthew 5:21-22 ESV)

The word resent would imply and even be associated with anger, if you are angry at someone or something then you are most likely resentful. The child who loses his candy will be angry, and he may resent the person who took his candy. If the poet is saying that he resents Religious people then he is admitting or using something that generally is associated with anger. If he is resentful of a series of rules and regulations then one could even argue that he is resentful of God’s word, the opposite of the Psalmist in 119.

The Relationship Over Religion argument

He never mentions it directly but he goes down this road when he starts to talk about his personal experience of God. If I assert the meaning of Religion in there according the origin’s definition then I must tie it in with the idea of Relationship. When you are in relationship with someone, say a good friend, you are conscientious of them, you spend time with them and you get to know them. Your friendship relationship ties you together, not in the same manner as Religion ties us to God. We make friends sometimes out of need for companionship, we need God and are conscientious of that need for him, sometimes we even try to fill it with our friendships.

Donald Miller, in his book Searching for God Knows what points out that the bible seems like it’s focused on building a relationship. Indeed it would seem that the idea of “Do this and live” supports this statement of the bible being relational in regards to our relationship with Christ. But let’s look at the word Religion again, focusing on the conscientious part, what are we conscience of? our need for God? Yes! how do we live that out? by living in Relationship with Him and being bound to Him through that relationship we have with Him.

To part the bible with Religion seems even harder now does it not? So if you hate religion by the origin’s definition then do you also hate the word. Or if you hate your brother on the basis of him being religious are you in violation of the word you claim to love and if you are violating the word of God are you really loving God? I have a hard time saying yes to any of this. In fact I’d go so far as to say that this poet is being very bitter and extremely unfair in his assertions about religion. Even binding himself further by not allowing himself to be called by a name that to him is a dirty word. Instead of having safe fences to play on the mountaintop (Jesus standards) he has no fences and therefore jumps off the cliff of contradiction of terms.

To my last point, as if you’re read this far you are extremely patient, I feel I must point out that when God gave Moses the ten commandments and laws in Exodus 20:1-17 he was setting in stone (if you pardon the pun) the basis of what would form the Jewish Religion. By that logic it would seem that God gave us the structure for religion, we may have invented the term, but the structure was given by God. Even Jesus gives us a what Pagans call a Cultic system of beliefs but all of it was meant so God could be in relationship with us.

Things I agreed with

Since I’ve been negative so far I’ll end on a positive note, there were some things that I agreed with. First off God does have a plan for us and He did send his son to be the propitiation (appeasement of God’s wrath) for our sins through death on the cross. The poet put this into very poetic and evangelical terms, God does desire relationship with us and chooses us because he knew we were going to choose Him (my point not poets).

Also I don’t think God is republican, nor do I believe that all Christians are republicans. It’s true that man and religious institutions have done some evil things in the name of religion, i.e the Crusades, The inquisition, The Salem Witch Trials. But I think the Poet needs to consider the doctrine of the total depravity of man laid out partially in Romans 1:20-32, (hint, hint listed actions support it)..

Jesus did say it is finished, and this is again a criticism, this is taken out of context. One must consider the weight of the cross. Jesus whole ministry here on earth was meant to build towards the cross, at least in the eyes of Mark. He came to to be the Propitiation of our sins (Romans 3:25 ESV) and that carries a huge amount of responsibility. Theologians would argue that “It is Finished” was in reference to Jesus Earthly Ministry and the accomplishment of the mission, the taking on all of mans sins to appease the righteous wrath of the father (again Propitiation)

Finally there is a way Christians should live their lives and yes, people shouldn’t know you are a Christian simply by your facebook. Christians are called to be different, to be in the world and not of it and how we learn to do that is through studying scripture and applying what we learn while we allow God to change our attitudes.

In Conclusion

I find this video to be very bitter and I pray this man finds what true love and grace are. I have to wonder who abused this poet so badly, who in his life used the demand for purity against him to the point he would resent something that connects us to God. I have posted the video below for your enjoyment, watch it with all this in mind and please be careful.

I pray that I have not been too legalistic, that God can use this to reveal Himself to you as a loving God who wants to be bound with you and fill the Hole you are conscientious of. My only goal here was to inspire you to love and good works and to free you from the dangerous place of not having religious standards. As I stated before I do not know the heart of this gentlemen, I only know my interpretation and can only give you my reactions based on a firmly grounded biblical education.

Grace and peace to you
Jon Faulkner
10:31 Ministries

The Bible

January 4, 2012

When I graduated from High School in 2009, the church I worked at gave me and my fellow graduates a small, almost pocket sized version of the NIV Student Bible. The first time I looked at the crisp type printed pages I knew there was no way I was going to be able to read it, even with glasses. So I started to contemplate givien it back to the church and asking for a large print version, or at least a larger version. But as that week progressed I felt God telling me to hold onto that bible, I didn’t know why, but I obeyed none the less.

So I took this small brown, leather bible to Michigan with me where I was going to be working for the first month and a half of my summer before College. I thought that maybe that was where God intended the bible to stay but there it sat, in the bottom of my suitcase, still in the box. The whole time I was there I prayed “God what do you want me to do with this bible, who is it meant for?” Now I already had a large leather bound NIV Student Bible, I still have it, it sits next to my larger NIV and even larger still ESV Study Bible and though I use the latter two more often that bible was the first I really read for the content.

If you knew me then you knew that I was just beginning to shake off my legalistic self and discover the grace of God. There were days when I looked at that bible and thought allowed to, “Why should I deliver this, does it even have a destination.” But God would always give me the same response “Hold on to it, it’s a very special bible.” So like a kid carries around a doll I carried around that bible. All the way through my time in Michigan and then back home, still no home for it.

While I was in Michigan I had begun talking to one of the new State Choir members who was coming in for her first year during my second. I don’t know why I started talking to her, I still don’t know, I just saw her on the State Choir Facebook page and thought “I’ll talk to her” and I did. I shared with her about the state choir and for some reason my faith, which still needed a lot of work and wouldn’t really take shape till after that fateful night in my friends room freshmen year of College (For this story see “Illumination” July 17, 2011)

When State choir finally rolled around in July I don’t think I talked to this girl at all during rehearsal week, and if I did I don’t recall. My first memory of actually introducing myself to this girl was at the bottom of the steps right before line-up for our afternoon concert sets during the first week of the fair. My first thought was how amazingly beautiful God had made her to be, my second was the heart He had blessed her with. I wondered if she was a Christian, I later found out she wasn’t.

But we spent time together, me and the other friends from her highschool and those we met in our choir family. For some reason this girl stood out in my mind and someone I was supposed to spend time with. It didn’t make any sense to me, it was just what God intended and at that time I was learning not to argue with God’s will.

But that dang Bible was still sitting in my suitcase, glaring at me from the bottom of my suitcase, with God still saying “Hey man, I have a plan for that thing.” By the last Sunday morning I had given up on giving the bible to someone at choir. I sat on the bunk before line up for church and looked at it mournfully, praying that God would reveal its future owner, praying it was someone here.

After breakfast I went out to the entrance and there was this girl standing wide awake in her uniform, waiting for the whistle and like a loud thunderclap, or a bus hitting you head on God’s intentions for the bible were made clear. The night before we had exchanged friendship letters, hers, which is pinned to the cork board behind a carbiner she gave me almost exactly two years later on my desk here at school, had said “I hadn’t really thought much about God until I met you.” Words that brought tears to my eyes because up until then people had associated me with God mostly in a negative way.

“Hold on” I told her “I have something for you.” I bolted back into the dorms and grabbed the bible, joyfully running back outside to give her the bible. I want to say tears sprung to her eyes when I handed it to her, but I honestly don’t remember, I do remember the warm hug of a friend that was the response to the gift that had traveled to Michigan, sat in a suitcase for almost three months and was almost regifted.

Now she is one of my dearest friends, one of those very dear people that I want to see every time I’m in Ohio but don’t get to. She still holds onto that bible and is now exploring her Christian Faith with passion and vigor, sometimes she loses focus but so do we all. Truly an example, like the young woman in Illumination, of God’s grace in my life at a time when I was far from gracious to others. One of the many friendships that I am far from deserving of, or worthy of.

It wasn’t to long after that the illumination miracle occurred and God began to really shape and mold me into a stronger individual. Part of a journey towards what I described in an earlier post called Re-Orientation into a better relationship with God. (I can’t remember the name of the post.)

God used a bible that I never read to start the process I had been hiding from for so long. He used someone who deliberately knocked down all my walls and got to know the heart of me. He used someone I got to surprise at reunion and one I will most assuredly surprise again.

These are the graces of God, I pray you find community like this in your journey, that you may receive the word and be like good soil, like my very dear friend. Growing daily in grace and understanding of God, working out salvation with fear and trembling and doing what Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy, “Study to become approved workman, unashamed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

God Bless you
Jon Faulkner
10:31 Ministries