Month: March 2012

The Freedom Found in God’s Will

March 27, 2012

I have never seen a picture of a happy slave, no matter what kind of slavery we are talking about, I have not seen anyone who is happy in captivity. In fact as I look at pictures of people who were involved in American slavery, or the modern sex slavery that plagues this world I see nothing but brokenness and pain. When I see pictures, or hear stories of those who live under oppressive governments I don’t see happiness. Let’s face it, Slavery is a horrible place to be, to be owned by someone else is not fun, no wonder the abolition of Slavery has become a global concern.

In our busy and over worked society we have become mostly slaves to these things that keep us busy. Charlse Hummel would probably agree with me when I say we’ve become slaves to the urgent. They control us and give us no rest, no escape, here we are, this is all there is, you cannot get away. When we are enslaved to the urgent things we don’t get to experience freedom, we can only do what those things demand of us, when we finish those urgent tasks we are too burned out to do anything else.

The Apostle Paul uses slavery as one of the many metaphors he uses to describe the old and new life we have in Christ. Paul writes in Romans 6 “did you not know that if you present yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey.” (v. 16) ESV Granted Slavery in Paul’s time looked more like indentured servitude found in the places like Jamestown in the early colonial period in America, but when you start to picture any type of slavery it isn’t exactly pleasant. This is the goal of Romans 6, to show us that slavery, that living by the old sin nature only brings death, but slavery to the righteousness of God, living by faith, will bring us life.

Now, is Paul using slavery because we are in chains to righteousness? I would say not, instead we were in chains when we were in sin, we were limited by that sin, everything was tainted by it, our relationships, our business encounters, our leadership roles. But when we surrendered our sin nature, when we go through that baptism process of being buried with Christ, dying to our sin natures and being raised to new life in Him we are now declared righteous because of the blood of Christ (See Romans 6:1-14). Once we have been raised to this new life we become free, we are no longer slaves to sin, but we serve rightousness because we live by faith.

But after we become a Christian an inner battle starts, there are still parts of that sin nature that we must work through as we work out our salvation. That battle rages around our own wills, the idea that now we are free so we go out and do what we want, we go after this cheap grace and we continue to live in sin. Meanwhile God continues to pursue us, after we have fallen on our faces before the holiness of God and told Him we would turn from our old lives, then going our own way continue to sin relying on grace, God still pursues us.

In my own life I’ve seen this same struggle lived out, for the first five or six years of my Christian walk I only wanted what I wanted. I never gave a thought to what God’s will might be for me. The problem was I still ended up where God wanted me, I certainly didn’t want to be a Sterling College, I never wanted to be studying Urban Ministry, yet here I am. On these things I fought God’s will, I wanted very little to do with it and I become cold and angry, legalistic in my ways. Thinking I was unloved by God for the things that I had done, filling my days with my own works, doing my own thing, being a slave to my old self, and to my will.

Then God got through to me, starting with the graceful, yet seemingly harsh words by a good friend to that day as I sat in the center of the Labyrinth, unable to fight any longer, finally in total surrender. Now, almost nine months later I can tell you friends that there is no better freedom than to be in a place where you are totally surrendered to God’s will.

In a conversation about this with one of my brothers here at Sterling it was said “so we are robots programmed to do good!” Meaning “is God then limiting our free will, is it just an illusion.” John Calvin once said of Paul that he “never limits the Christians Freedom” in fact, if you read 1 Corinthians 10:23 Paul says “All things are lawful, but not all things build up” (ESV). In the context of the rest of the passage, there is an ongoing theme of not causing your brother to stumble, that we are free to live as long as we are not causing our brothers or sisters to stumble. In fact the very next verse states; “let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor” (v. 24). This means that we are free, but in that freedom, because we live by faith we should do what is good for our neighbors.

This passage in 1 Corinthians 10 culminates in the ultimate purpose, the goal of our Christian freedom, what Jonathan Edwards called “The End for Which God created the world.” This is found in 10:31 “Whether you eat, drink or whatsoever you do, do it all for the glory of Christ.” This is the chief end of man, this is what everything we do is to culminate in, bringing glory to a infinite and holy God.

So it is not total determinism, we are not simply pawns or robots. It is not slavery God wants but the surrender of our wills. The slave is told what to eat and drink, we are told “take and eat” (See Acts), we are simply instructed that everything we do bring glory to God.

But how do we bring glory to God? Well, if we believe God is sovereign, then we must also believe that God’s will for our lives is sovereign. That the purpose of our lives is leading to something bigger and greater than what we could ever accomplish on our own. In fact, when anytime I’ve put my will before God’s I’ve only ended up sitting angrily under a tree trying to figure out why it all fell apart. My will has only burned me out and failed me, destroyed me, God’s will brings life, God’s will for our lives gives us freedom.

But we don’t know the will of God, we are not quiet, we are too busy, our souls ache for it, but our minds and hearts deceive us. Praise God though, as Romans 8 tells us; “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words”  (v. 26 ESV). These groans that come from the spirit are intercessory, the spirit is calling out for God’s will in our lives, should we not learn to do the same?

This is why I put such a high emphasis on spiritual disciplines, because it is when we learn to quiet our spirits that we begin to not just experience God but know God. And in knowing God, we learn and know the will of God for our lives and for those in leadership, the lives of others. The battle is over, we live by faith, totally relying on the will of God, not as slaves to sin but as sons, elected for adoption (Romans 8:15). Set on a path of future glory, because God, who is trying to bring glory to Himself, glorifies us through Christ when we suffer with him (Romans 8:17).

So lay down your weapons, if you are dead to sin then you are no longer enemies of God. Stop making Him your enemy by fighting against His will for you, He is not the bad guy here, we become the bad guy. Start applying disciplines, put off the old life, live a life of total surrender. Discover for yourself the blessings that come through a true and personal relationship with Christ, unhindered by slavery to our own wills that often lead us to failed plans.

It is God’s will, through grace and the blood of Christ shed on the cross, the propitiation for our sins (Romans 3:25). That is what frees us, that is what takes us from slaves to sin, to slaves to righteousness.

Jonathan Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries

Also available from Jonathan Faulkner
Good Discipline
Ready, Reset, Go
God’s Heart for Your Relationships

Also available from 10:31 Life Ministries;
A Chosen Generation (1 Peter 2:9): Called to Societies Standards  By Angel Edwards
College Commitment: The Toughest Test by David Faulkner
The Fire & the Storm: Being in the presence of a Holy God who Speaks by David Tank

To learn more about 10:31 Life Ministries check out;
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Good Discipline

March 24, 2012

I remember growing up to be disciplined was a bad thing, more often than not to be disciplined in our house meant that you were you were in trouble. I remember we would run away from our parents, but we knew that we were going to be disciplined, and it was going to hurt. I know some people think that you shouldn’t spank your children, they don’t like it, but this kind of discipline gave me incentive to not participate in that activity again. It was because of the “rod of correction” that I learned some of the biggest lessons in my life, though I had to learn them the hard way.

In our spiritual lives we often face the same struggle, we hold onto a lot of stuff from before our salvation and that makes it extremely difficult for us to obey. Or, when we become Christians we think that “freedom” means “freedom to do our own will.” While we are free, free from sin, free from fear of death (see Romans 3), as we’ve discussed God’s will is to conform us to His will. To do that He needs to bring us to a place where we can truly listen.

Conformity: It’s not all bad. 

In school students are taught to conform to the schools academic standards, at home we are expected to conform to our parents belief systems or rules and at church we are expected to conform to the expectations of church government. Some times this demand for conformity becomes too much and we get a Demand for Purity, something we just don’t want to do it, so we rebel against conforming. In high school it was popular to say “I’m not a conformist,” the funny thins was, in saying that we were conforming.

Conforming to God’s will is not a bad thing, it actually becomes a blessing, friendships deepen and we are blessed by those we interact with instead of turned off by them. By conforming to the will of God we turn ourselves off to our selfish desires and learn to listen to God, we lay them down and take up the example of Christ (Philippians 2:5-11). To conform to Christ, that is the call of the Christian, to glorify God through that conformity, to become like Him, this is a great blessing.

Spiritual Discipline: Something we need

When I began to study Spiritual Disciplines I didn’t want them, in fact I hated them, I thought I was doing just fine without them. I was introduced to them through a book given to me by my older sister named Godology: Because Knowing God Changes Everything by a man named Christian George, after reading this I hope you will seek out a copy of this book. I read over a period of about two years, at a time in my life when I was still recovering from the spiritual abuse I suffered the last year and a half of high school.

Finally, in the spring of last year, God brought me to a place where I had no choice but to practice them. I was living in the dorms with one other guy for two or three weeks before moving to Denver for the Denver Urban Semester. Since the other guy worked I didn’t see him much, so I had a lot of solitude time and a lot of time to think. In those two weeks I got to see God’s hand in my life, I could see a direction, but I didn’t know what that direction was. In Denver, when I learned to be quiet, that direction became very clear after walking the Labyrinth, suddenly Discipline was something I needed.

Application: A Fountain of Blessing

When I started to apply these disciplines, practice them, live by them, things began to change. Something in my spirit was transformed, I believed I was loved, not just believed but knew, and because of my increased love and faith in God I started to get closer to Him in a way I never thought possible. I was truly able to heal and lay down everything, my will, my friendships, my life, it all went to God. Then there was an increase in the depth of my friendships, I found I could really love people, no more walls, no more false fronts, I want nothing but what God wants. More importantly I felt for the first time that Romans 5:1 made since, I actually felt like I had “Peace with God, through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This was a new knowledge for me, and it grew and grew and I wanted more and more of God. I also had peace with others, I could listen and not stir up trouble, instead of people rolling their eyes when I spoke I was removed from the situation long enough to know what was going on. This allowed God to work in those friendships in ways that I will never understand, and He’s still working in them.

Am I say that by applying these disciplines we won’t have a need or a want or that life will be perfect. By no means, instead I am saying that we will be much, much better off. These things are hard, but as we are silent God will speak, when we practice Solitude He will meet us, when we practice meditation scripture will come alive. When we pray God listens, when we do art we see the beauty of God, when we practice God’s presence we catch a glimpse of His holiness, when we walk a Labyrinth God reveals His heart and so on and so forth.

In Spiritual Disciplines God is the one working, we have no control over God, He is totally Sovereign (Romans 8-9). These things help us to connect to God in such a way that we can focus on that Sovereign nature of God and His Sovereign will for our lives.

I Love you all
God Bless You
Jonathan Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries

Also Available from Jonathan Faulkner
Ready, Reset, Go
Outta Control and Outta the Lifeboat
God’s Heart for Your Relationships
The Truth: Why Love the Word?

Also Available from 10:31 Life Ministries
A Chosen Generation (1 Peter 2:9): Called Beyond Societies Standards by Angel Edwards
College Commitment: The Toughest Test by David Faulkner

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In Awe

March 10, 2012

I don’t really know how to start this blog post, I guess the best thing to say is that words fail me at the moment but I feel a sweeping need to write about this and to share this with you.

It’s strange to say this, but up until recently I never really thought God’s love extended to me. I was a Christian, I certainly loved God and wanted to obey Him but something inside of me could never accept the fact that He loved me, that was until that day in the Labyrinth. That day that God took me through my entire story and showed me where He was, told me He was there and loved me and told me He’d always be there.

I guess I can say I didn’t believe it because I thought there was no way God could love someone like me. I was angry and bitter and a workaholic, I cared for others on my time and didn’t consider the things of God. How could God possibly love me, I spent my first 13 years of my life hating His righteous standard and the first four years of my Christian walk consciously rebelling against it. I treated God’s people like crap, I was a legalist and I hated myself, how could God have loved me? How could He love someone in so much pain?

Then that day happened, that bright warm day on the side of a mountain, the first day I ever really spent in quiet meditation. “I love you” I heard Him say “You are my child, my son and I love you.” For the first time I heard the honest and straight forward voice of God speak to my guarded and healing heart. I was forced into a place where I had to listen and this is what God told me…I was…in awe.

Recently my friend David and I reached Romans 8 in what has become a 3 month long study through the incredible book. As we reached the end tonight I was once again reminded of that voice of Love. You know the section I’m talking about, specifically 8:31-39. The part that says “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (v31) and “Who shall bring charge against God’s elect, it is God who justifies” (v33). The part that points out:

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (v.34 ESV)

The section that ends with

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (37-39 ESV)

As we read these passages as well the rest of the chapter we got excited, this is our hope, this love, the love of God, this is what we hope in. I was moved to tears, I had to go and contemplate and pray through this, God love us? How are we deserving of this?

Maybe you aren’t sure of God’s love for you, maybe you think that your past is too messed up, that the only way left to earn God’s love is by good works or by being a good religious person or by your church attendance. I want to tell you that none of these things are important to God, that His love can’t be held back by any of these things, that you have nothing to be ashamed of because Christ’s death on the cross has covered our pasts. You are free from condemnation from that, no one can come against you and nothing can destroy you because of God’s love.

God Loves YOU

It’s not just some cliche, it’s not just some propaganda act, it’s the real deal. It’s why Christ came and suffered a horrible death on the cross so we could be buried with Christ and raised to life in Him. All this He did so that we would have an example of His love, that we might see what true love for us does. “For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).

I pray you sit with this thought, that you let it permeate you, that it changes you. That you will allow the Love of God to come into your life and completely change it, you can’t stay separated from it if you’ve been trying to do that, none of us can, eventually every wall we build to keep love out will be broken down because God loves you so much that He will do anything to be close to you.

Let go dear friends, Let God tell you He loves you.

Love in Christ
Jonathan Faulkner

Also available from Jonathan Faulkner
The Surprise of Grace
The Changes Everything
The Mountain Stream

Also available from 10:31 Life Ministries
The College Commitment  By Rev. David Faulkner
A Chosen Generation (1 Peter 2:9) By Angel Edwards
The Truth by Jonathan Faulkner

Ready, Reset, Go:

March 3, 2012

It’s as natural to us as Lather, Rinse, Repeat, as simple as eating Ice Cream, as deceiving as Tabacco adds and as dangerous as a mass murderer on the prowl. Every year thousands of people approach it, reach it and grasp for it desperately as they seek to save themselves from burn out. They sit back on their couches and say to God “just give me strength to get through this” or “I’ll rest and I’ll be fine” and the most famous of them all “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

Yes I’m talking about the end of a burnout cycle, I’m talking about the place we come where we cannot go on any further. When the pressure of school, work, relationships, personal and external demands and ministry become to much and we hit a very heavy brick wall very, very hard. We have ignored the signs, the sicknesses, the pain, the tiredness and suddenly we have to deal with it, we no longer have a choice. We feel suffocated, destroyed and torn down to a point and we can’t always see how we got there. We might say “I’m relying on God’s strength at this point” or “God will see me through this” but when we look at it we’re not sure God’s there at all, and we are scared.

I know this feeling all to well, I’ve been there on at least seven different occasions since starting College and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been there before college. I was there last summer at the moment when my roommate stepped in to tell me to chill out and just let people see me, I was there a week ago when I forgot to meditate on the word of God, and I know the reactions to it. I know that we think we can just back off, that we think we can cut things out of our schedule, that we think we can prioritize. That we know we can go to God and He will “fix us” and send us back on our way to do His work.

But there’s a problem here, we are simply restarting the cycle: “If I get this worked out” my brother in Christ told me once “I’ll be fine.” Six months later my brother was back in the exact same place, he was struggling under the same weight, the same hurt, the same burn out.

Ready, Reset, Go: Why we won’t be alright. 

If experience has taught me anything, resetting and going doesn’t mean we’ll be alright. I remember one night after a rehearsal during my High School’s production of Fame, my drama teacher noticed how burnt out I was. I told her I would be alright but she pointed out something that has stuck with me every since. “Jon” she said “You’re a rod and real Christian, you give it to God and then you pull it back in.” I didn’t admit it at the time, but she was right, and I can point to every time that I was burnt out that was why, I carried to much junk around and it only hindered my relationship with Christ, and in the end all of this nearly killed me.

So here’s what we do, and why we won’t be alright, this list may sting a bit but friends bear with me.

  1. Prioritize: Now there is nothing wrong with having your priorities in line, this is actually a great thing to do, I myself have before given you a list of my priorities, God, Relationships, Education. The problem is that prioritizing without slowing down or skipping a beat, we put those things in order, get to feeling better and keep going as fast as humanly possible, give it two more months and we’re burnt out again. Whenever I prioritize I have this nasty habit of not letting God set the list, something I’m getting better at thankfully. I sit there and focus on what I think is important and so soul care and spiritual formation either don’t make the list or get put on the back burner. This is probably the least destructive of our behaviors because it does force us to think about what are priorities are, the problem comes when our priorities aren’t God’s priorities, when we jump back into the totally busy lifestyle and God takes a back seat, that is to say quiet time with God takes a back seat.Our list of priorities should have God at the top, then we should sit back and allow Him to set the rest of the list, God’s will should be the priority, not ours.
  2. Demanding Purity: This is the most dangerous, the demand for purity tells us that we must be doing good works at all times, it is what leads us to the point of burn out. Those who practice this put a lot of pressure on themselves, in cults the leaders put on the pressure, but I’m talking about those who put the pressure on themselves. They say “I must not quit, if I quit I’m a bad Christian” which is totally the opposite of the truth. Steve Martin points out in his book The Heresy of Mind Control that “Good works our not are way into heaven, rather it is God who grants salvation as a gift, an act of grace.” (pg 52). Steve also gives scripture to back this up, Eph 2:8-11, Phil 2:13, James 2:17-18, 1 John 2:5, 29, 3:5, each of these passages tell that our salvation is not dependent on works; works are expexted by God but not our means of salvation This being the case why should we demand purity of ourselves, if we believe that this will make us good Christians we will find ourselves burnt out and believe it or not, ineffective for the kingdom. The best thing about Jesus is that he is always going out into the wilderness, Martin also points that after the 12 came back Jesus tells them to go find someplace to rest (pg 49, Mark 6:31).
  3. Just Give Up, Push it Down and Go On: This was my favorite one to do, I would lay down in my bed or on my couch and just cry it out, yelling at God for allowing me to get to that place. I wanted nothing to do with life or people or school or life in general. I remember specifically after my closest friendship of my freshmen year of college suddenly burned out, I was laying face down on the floor of my dorm room trying to figure out how we’d gotten to that point, knowing quite well how it had happened. I didn’t surrender at this point though, I pushed it down, held it in and let it consume me like everything else I’d been holding in my entire Christian Walk. This led to an ultimate burn out last December which culminated in a fateful night where I punched on of my best friends in the face and sat under a tree with another while she talked me through things. This was far from a good place to be but I had to deal with these things and finally the Lord forced me to, I could have died that week, I was near suicidal. 
If we continue in these ways we will eventually get sick and die early (maybe not for several years but it will happen, our bodies will give up on us and we won’t be able to go on), commit suicide or have something worse happen to us. We are not meant to keep these heavy paces, we are not meant to be everything to everyone at all times. We were meant to carry each others burdens, but not to get burnt out doing it, we were meant to be salt and light but how can we be salt if we lose our saltiness or light if we are burnt out. 
In Contrast: The Sovereign Will of a Sovereign God, 

Dear friends this is not God’s will for us, I’ve done all three of these things and I can tell you now that I’ve learned there is a better way. I talked about Saltiness in the last paragraph, let me expand on that for a second. For that I go to Luke 14:34-35: 

“Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (ESV)

This passage comes right after Jesus talks about the cost of Discipleship and right before Jesus gives parables about coming to save sinners. In 14:25-33 Jesus says if anyone does not give up all they are holding they cannot be a true disciple. Then He says the verses above. Think about Salt, it only had a short shelf life in those days, it was mined from the Dead Sea and had to be processed very specifically as to remove the impurities, Carnalite and Gypsum, two chemicals that make salt tasteless.

The truth is when we are burnt out we are holding things in, when we go through this cycle over and over we never truly deal with things. We push them down and go on, until we reach burn out again and then its ready, reset, go.

God says differently though, if you think about it, the analogy of salt is rather beautiful. Like I told you above salt had to be processed, they had to weed out the impurities and the work of Sanctification is the same way. It’s a process by which we are thrown into the refiners fire, onto the potters wheel and the impurities are weeded out. Slowly over time we are made holy, we are made complete in Christ, just as God is holy and in that holiness complete we are made that way, a process that takes a lifetime and will never be complete until we reach eternity.

The trick is to surrender our wills totally to God’s. This sounds painful, even scary, I know from my personal experience this is not something we all want to do. This is however what God wants, Paul aknoledges this in 2 Cor. 12:9, he says: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me”.(ESV).

Paul is talking about surrounding his will to the will of Christ, he does the same thing in his letter to the Galatians.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (ESV Italics authors)

This is total surrender to a Sovereign God, a God who lives within us, a God who gives us strength in our weaknesses, it is God who says to us “My grace is Sufficient, it’s all you need.”

The more I learn to live in daily surrender the more I find the sovereignty of God is greater than we could imagine. That He will speak to us, affirm us, validate us and as we learn to sit in stillness and solitude and listen to Him we will be transformed, we won’t have to much to handle because what we are doing will be His will. The more I sit in stillness and solitude and communion with God the healthier I am, the healthier I am the more  effective I am. God has restored my saltiness and raised me to life, He has validated me, taken away my self hatred and moved me into a better place.

I know this is long winded and if you’ve made it to this point I thank you, I love each of you with a love I can only attribute to the father. We must start caring for ourselves, we must deal with the things we push down, we must surrender to our loving father in heaven. God wants us to be effective, but to do that we have to allow him to work and we won’t do that if we are burnt out all the time, going our own way, trying to figure it out on our own.

I love you, I pray grace finds you as you ponder these things, please dear friends, find wisdom and love in my words, not condemnation. I thank the Lord for each of you, blessings.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;

fools despise wisdom and instruction.

               (Proverbs 1:7 ESV)

Jon Faulkner

Quotes from: The Heresy Of Mind Control: Recognizing Con Artists, Tyrants, and Spiritual Abusers in Leadership, by Stephen Martin, ACW Press, Nashville TN. Copyright 2007, 2009.

Also available from Jonathan Faulkner
Outta Control and Outta The Lifeboat
This Changes Everything
The Truth: Why Love the Word?

Also available from 10:31 Life Ministries
College Commitment: Playing With a Thunderstorm by David Faulkner
Devoured, Withered, Choked and…Alive?  By Angel Edwards
The Storm & The Fire By David Tank (Official writer Fall 2012)

To learn more about 10:31 Life Ministries visit us on Facebook:
To Contact 10:31 Life Ministries Email us at:
To Contact Jon email him at: