Month: April 2012

Good Discipline – Journaling

April 24, 2012

The fourth Discipline we will deal with is Journaling
JOURNALING: Letting the Soul out to Dry
            On the second to last day of the Denver Urban Semester we had a time when we exchange gifts that we had been challenged to make out of things we found around the apartments or the city. I made a bird out of macaroni and cheese (my meal for the summer) and wrote scripture on it, I was surprised it made it home. The gift I received was a small journal with a passage from 2 Corinthians 12 and a very encouraging letter from a the young woman who had drawn my name for the gift exchange. The first morning I wrote in that journal was the morning after I received it, I didn’t write in it again for two weeks.
            At that point Journaling was still a very new concept for me, I always thought that journaling was like keeping a diary. To me that meant keeping secrets from people and as my sisters probably did in their diaries “talk about boys.” On the other side of the coin it seemed that journaling was just too time consuming and I thought I was doing good enough just by getting into regularity with my quiet time schedule. Why should I add journaling, didn’t I write enough on this blog enough, why add another discipline.
Discovering God’s Vulnerability…
            Christian George starts off his chapter on journaling by reminding us of a very simple and easily forgotten truth, that Jesus stepped out of the glory of heaven and took on the skin of mankind (Godology Christian George, 52). That the Son of God in His infinite wisdom decided to set aside the riches and glory of heaven and step into man’s skin to discover what it was like just to be like us.
            When you look at it this way it’s easy to see how Jesus was vulnerable during his earthly ministry. For anyone of power to step down into the trenches with the people who they call workers or brothers opens the door for a lot of trouble. Look at the CBS show “Undercover Boss” where CEO’s and Executive’s from large corporation like NASCAR and White Castle disguise themselves as employees so they can better serve their employees.
            In a more perfect and better way this is what Christ did when He came down from heaven. He walked alongside us, hung out with the less desirable members of society and ticked off the richer upper echelon who thought they had it all figured out. Then, because of what Jesus taught a change came to that system, but for that change to happen Christ had to be stripped of all glory and crucified, be buried and raised to life. He had to become vulnerable and submissive, even to death on a cross (Phil 2:11).
And Encountering Our Own
            How often do we actually want to admit that we are vulnerable? Think about it, we live in a culture that teaches us to be strong and to build walls on independence. Then when we think we have it figured out someone comes along and tells us we need to tone it down. These mixed messages often just make us angry and so we slip into a deadly apathy thinking we are not allowed to be anything.
            But then we hide that feeling too.
            I have discovered though, that journaling provides us a way to be vulnerable as well as a way to celebrate God’s vulnerability. We show our vulnerability by pouring out our hearts and our souls to Christ and writing down prayers.  I often use Journaling as a chance to write down what God is revealing to me in scripture, hardly to record the day’s events, but mostly to praise my creator. Journaling becomes a way of getting our emotions out, but it’s also good practice for actually showing that vulnerability within our friendships and other relationships as well.
Celebrating the Incarnation
            George has the following to say concerning this discipline
Journaling is an inward practice that reminds us of an upward reality-that God glued Himself to our planet. By inscribing our thoughts and prayers on paper, we appreciate Christ’s condescension, journaling is a celebration of the incarnation (55)
So journaling isn’t just therapeutic, it is, like Art, a way to celebrate the incarnation and bring glory to God.  When we acknowledge God in our private lives it becomes easier to acknowledge Him in our public lives. It gives us a chance to reflect on who God is and what exactly it is that He’s doing.
            If we are to seek out God on this level we may find that we will fall deeper and deeper in love with who He is and have a clearer view of who we are.
         –   –
So why is Journalism a Discipline? Well we’ve seen how prayer, obedience and Art allow us to focus on God, and that’s what the discipline of Journalism does. It allows us to pray, write out what God is asking us to do, or even draw something. It also becomes a very good tool for looking back on what we were struggling with or what we were rejoicing in two or three days, weeks or months earlier.
So go and grab a notebook and pick up a pen and take the time to write down what you are starting to work through spiritually. Write out your prayers, or a scripture you are trying to memorize or an experience or whatever might be on your heart at the given time. Then sit back and reflect on what you’ve just written and see how deeply you start to fall in love with a God who is madly in love with you.
God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner

Also Available from the Good Discipline Series 
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The Truth (10:31 Life Ministries Blog) 
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Good Discipline – Art

April 17, 2012

For the fourth week on my series I’m talking about the discipline of art.

ART: Exhibiting God’s Creativity 

On page 79 of his Novel Transapparent  Roy Stucky records the following conversation between a pastor and his wife. 

Wendy, told her husband “I believe you should open up about art.”
“We have the arts in our church”
“Only bible dramatizations and praise music”
“That’s what belongs in church.” 

 The point of this exchange, and the rest of the conversation, is to show that art is probably the least encouraged discipline within the church. Unless of course you are a drama teacher, graphic designer or play some kind of musical instrument. Just as pastor Zane said to his wife “that’s what belongs in the church,” it’s sad to think but Roy Stucky’s got the church pegged, he also understand the importance of other forms of art finding their way into the church. But things like painting, crafts, dancing and drawing are not encouraged, in fact some denominations even frown on them. 
My dear friends Alex and Angel love to do art, and they are wonderful at it. When you walk into their room you can’t help but notice the colorful paintings and drawings hung up on the wall, some they have done together, some they have done separately. Not only do they bring glory to God through their art, they also show us a quality of God we rarely think about. 
God’s Creativity: 
Christian George writes; 

God is artistically oriented and He seeks to share His inclination with His re-made creatures. But art is rarely considered a spiritual discipline, it’s not like fasting, praying, meditating or even Labyrinth Walking. It’s not even proscribed in scripture, But by surrendering to God the creativity we deepen our spiritual awareness. By sketching a sunset or pointing at plants we adore the God who paints the skies and hangs the heavens. (Godology, Christian George, 42)

It’s strange to think of God being artistically oriented, especially because we generally talk about nature in the sense of God’s glory. But there had to be a beginning to the glory that is revealed through nature (Romans 1:20) there had to be a beginning, just one of the innumerable thoughts of God (Psalms 139:18) had to be creative, if not all of them. Look at the intricacies of nature, tell me it didn’t take a well formed thought to create the human brain with all its functions.

Then consider the transformation in your own life, just as George points out “God creates and re-creates us.” In Psalms 139:13-16 David writes of God knowing his frame and forming his inmost parts while he was still in his mothers womb. Then at the time when we become Christians, we move from sinner to new men and women who are now made new in Christ (Galatians 2:10).

Exhibiting God’s Creativity and Glory

When I think of my friends Alex and Angel and their artwork I can’t help but praise God. It is truly and exhibition of God’s creativity and glory, they are rejoicing in God and He is undoubtedly rejoicing in them. In my own life art takes the form of songwriting, but not in the traditional worship song sense but the kind that has been called not “corporate.” Not church music, but songs written from seeing the pain and beauty from my own life and the lives of others. .

Capturing God’s glory through his creativity allows others to worship and praise God as well. We may not think about it when we look at a painting, but seeing a painting like my friends can draw us into God, help us fall deeper in love with Him. The psalms give us a great example all throughout of poetry and songs written to praise and help the reader to fall deeper in love with a God who loves us!

Art doesn’t just exhibit God’s creativity, it also exhibits His glory, allows us to praise God in a different form and help others to acknowledge the being greater than any other conceivable being.

Becoming an Artist 

One thing I’ve found to be true in my own life is that the closer I get to God, the more I surrender to Him the more my creative abilities come out. Consider that before my experience this summer I had written a total of 4 songs to completion, since returning God has inspired me to write 7 or 8 more, and I’ve even considered taking up drawing perspective again. My song writing has also taken on a different form, more encouragement, a little more worship and definatly a lot more originality.

As we draw near to God, He draws near to us and our personalities that He gave us, and with that our creative abilities start to come forward. I find the more I am pursing God the more I want to create by writing, singing a new lyric, writing a new guitar rift and as I said even draw.

Art is something God uses to draw others to Him, so why not let the church hold painting classes as Roy Stucky suggests. Why not get a group of Christians together who love to dance and form a church dance team? Why not practice art so that others can see the glory of God and rejoice in His creativity!

I hope my dear friends Alex and Angel never give up their art! Let’s join them in praising the God who creates and re-creates us, bringing glory and honor to Him who makes all things and makes them good!

God Bless You
Jonathan Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries

Art is God’s Creativity Expressed through us
Let us write Poetry, sing songs and paint for Him

Also Available in the Good Discipline Series from Jonathan Faulkner
Good Discipline
Good Discipline – Prayer
Good Discipline – Obedience

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The Truth (10:31 Life Ministries Blog)

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A Chosen Generation: Called Beyond Societies Standards  by Angel Edwards
The College Commitment: Those Puzzled Athenians-and Us by David Faulkner
Con of a College Freshmen; On Buying Groceries and Other Things By Amy Faulkner

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Good Discipline – Obedience

April 10, 2012

The second of Christian George’s 11 Spiritual Disciplines is the Discipline of Obedience



My parents will attest to this, but I never wanted to obey growing up. In fact, we were given what mom called Chore Charts and I would do my best to make sure I avoided having to do those chores. When it came to school I lived in very similar rebellion, I knew the precepts set out in scripture, I’d been taught all about spiritual abuse, I knew I was a Pharisee, expecting others to obey what I thought they should while not obeying what God was telling me to do.

The best example of my insolence has to be my decision on where to go to college. I remember I was so drawn in by Indiana Wesleyan University, by the big atmosphere, the many majors to choose from. I shuddered at the thought that God might want me to  go to a little town in Sterling, resisted it, fought against it. It didn’t make sense to me to go to a place so not-urban to study Urban Ministry. I learned though, that God is in the business of doing things that don’t make sense to us.

I battled, fought God’s will for most of the early years of my Christian walk, all the way up until the summer of my Junior Year of College, up until DUS and that fateful week of silence. Up until that point I wanted nothing to do with spiritual disciplines, obedience was far from the top of my priority list, I wanted more than anything to have my will, and my will was quickly failing me.

It makes sense to me, but it might not make sense to you, but we are actually much worse off when we disobey. Think about it this way, if the conductor of a train is told to head to a siding because there is a Freight coming, but disobeys that order because to him; “time is more important, and I’m behind schedule.” Then there are going to be dire consequences for not following that order.

When we choose to follow our wills over God’s, we can have similar incidents. If the wills of two people don’t line up, they will butt heads and friendships will suffer.

Obedience, especially to the will of God, will help us to avoid those incidents. Two people who are totally surrendered to the will of God will get done the work of the kingdom much quicker than two people who are trying to work their own plans into the kingdom. A great example of this can be found within the confines of the 10:31 Life Ministry Leadership Team. Because we all want the will of God in our lives and for this Ministry, God has given us the ability to work together, seeking after Him in prayer and devotional time. Because we see the need within the kingdom, and because we believe that God put this need on our hearts, we can move together, make decisions quickly and be effective workers for the kingdom.

Some might say at this point “Well that’s great for you, why should I obey?” The truth here is two-fold, the first is that Jesus obeyed, Take a look at Mark 1:35-39. Here, after one of the busiest days of Jesus Ministry the Messiah doesn’t sleep in. Instead it says “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus left the house and went out to solitary place and prayed” (v 31 NIV).  So Jesus applies our first Discipline (Prayer), from his response to the Disciples found in verse 38 we can probably assume he spent that time seeking the will of the father. Because instead of staying “Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come” (NIV)

In the Garden of Gethsemane we .see another picture of Jesus praying, this time his words are actually recorded. Luke 22:42 gives us this prayer “Father if you are willing take this cup from me, yet not my will but yours be done” (NIV). Here Christ is resigning himself to the will of God, “not my will, but yours be done” if we only we would pray this prayer. If we are to be imitators of Christ (Phil. 2:5-11) then shouldn’t we seek the will of the father, then obey that will like Christ did? In my life, the answer is yes!

The second truth is that God wants to be good to us, again I go to scripture, to Romans 8:28. “And we know that God works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” We can take this to mean that all things will work for our good, if we are surrendered and willing to obey God’s purpose. When we are living in rebellion, disobeying God, we are not doing what He has called us to do, therefore who will it work out for us, most likely not to our liking or benefit.

But when we surrender to God, when we obey, we begin to discover His heart and we are blessed by Him for our obedience. Situations still might not work out to our liking, but God uses those moments to teach us something about Himself and about ourselves, to mold and shape us into His image, so we defiantly benefit. Since I’ve surrendered God has allowed my friendships to grow exponentially, I haven’t been blessed with financial means, but with relational means, something more valuable than money. Not that God doesn’t bless people in other ways, indeed He will bless each of us according to His will.

Prayer and Obedience go hand in hand, we must pray to know the will of God, to discover His direction for our lives. Then once we know that direction, we have to act on it, or face the consequences.

God’s intent is not to destroy us, but if we are disobeying, habitually rebelling He will eventually get our attention, sometimes in unpleasant ways. This breaking is good for us, and I pray if you are experiencing that right now that you let God lead you through it, trust me, the end result is far better than your current situation.

So I challenge you to stop fighting, lay down your will and seek out and practice obedience to the will of God. Dear friends, it will go great for us as we seek to be imitators of Christ.

God Bless You
Jonathan Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries 

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Good Disciplines – Prayer

March 31, 2012

I think it’s time, as I’ve been talking a lot about disciplines to start to expand on these disciplines. So I am going to use the eleven spiritual disciplines set forth by writer Christian George in his book Godology: because knowing God changes everything. These eleven Disciplines can be found on page fifteen of the introduction where George challenges his readers to trade their rakes for shovels and go deep.The 11 Disciplines that George outlines are Prayer, Obedience, Art, Journaling, Silence, Fasting, Vow Making, Meditation, Solitude, Labyrinth Walking, Practicing God’s Presence.

These 11 Disciplines, when applied at different seasons of our lives build on our relationship with Christ and can even help us build on our relationship with one another. So for the next 11 posts of this blog we will be looking at what I call “Good Discipline” and specifically the 11 that George has given us.

The first is Prayer.

Prayer; More Than God’s Telephone

I like to think of Prayer as a telephone, yes I know this is definatly an inadequate example. There is more to prayer than just being able to call God, as we’ll discover, it’s about communicating with God, actually communicating with Him. When we pray we can be by ourselves or we can gather together in a small or large group and pray together, we can pray one on one, we can pray all the time.

Prayer is a very important Discipline, don’t believe me consider that Luke gives us 11 instances of Jesus going out to pray by himself. In the book of John we get a whole two chapters of Jesus just praying for His disciples as He’s about to go to the cross. Jesus last hours before getting being arrested were spent in such fervent prayer that one of the gospel writers describes as “sweat like drops of blood.” Prayer is important, if it wasn’t there wouldn’t be instructions given to us in Matthew 6:5-14.

So prayer is important, but what is it? And what is it not? I recently put out an article on praying in troubled times. In that article my words may have come across more as Therapeutic Deism, that was not my intent, God will not make our suffering better, He will give us a way to get through, that is why praying in times of trouble is important. So prayer is not some way to make us feel better. Prayer is also not a way for us to boast, consider the Parable of the Pharisee told in Luke 18:9-14, who thanked God that he was not like the tax collector, while the tax collector couldn’t even lift his eyes he was so ashamed of his sin. So prayer is not a way of boasting in our greatness, instead it is something to be done in secret (see Matthew 6:7) or humbly in groups (Matthew 18:20).

Praying helps to build unity between us and God as well as us and other believers. I remember a night not too long ago when the 10:31 Life Ministry Team got together with a few of our friends and prayed over our campus. In that moment we were all united in a common prayer and in the fact that we were, through prayer seeking after God. One night, after a particular troubling situation was brought to my attention, my brother and I went down to the lake and spent and hour in silence, praying and seeking God through scripture. In this moment we were united with God as we sought to align our wills with His.

Often times we use prayer for our own personal gain. I can remember several nights (and will have many more) when I’ve prayed for God to give me a good grade on a test I didn’t adequately study for.. Other prayers I’ve prayed include really wanting a relationship, or even what I’m going to wear the next day (no giggles please). But in going to God for what I want never seemed to satisfy me, and to be honest I never got what I wanted, and if I did it was only temporary.

Prayer, especially contemplative prayer, is a time to discover the will of God. What do I mean by contemplative prayer? I mean what Henri Nouwn meant when he wrote “Contemplative prayer deepens in us the knowledge that we are already free, that we have already found a place to dwell, that we already belong to God” (In the Name of Jesus, Henri Nouwen, Crossroad Publishing, 1989). By this we can say that when we are praying we enter into the presence of God.

Prayer is also a tool for thinking God, as kids we always used to pray “God is great, God is good, thank you Jesus for our food, give us Lord our daily bread….amen.” We used to pray a prayer similar to this before every meal, it was a prayer of thanksgiving, thanking God for the food we were about to eat. Prayers of thanksgiving also take the form of thanking God for something that happened, a major life event like a promotion at work might inspire you to pray a prayer of thanksgiving.

Pray doesn’t have to be audible, we can pray through thoughts, a few of my friends even write our prayers out, especially when we are praying for one another. It is not only encouraging, but, over distances, allows others to know that we are truly praying for them.

Prayer is our connection to God, Christian George calls it our “Direct line to divinity” (Godology, Christian George, moody pub. 2009). It is through prayer that we can actually have a conversation with God, to take our cares and burdens to Him, but also to hear directly from Him, to discern His will for specific situations we might be facing.

So right now I challenge you to take an hour out of your busy schedule and devote it to prayer, take your bible and pray the scriptures, pray the psalms, take your cares and your burdens to Him who wants to bring you into His rest (Hebrews 4:11). Then Listen, as the Lord meets you in that place hear what He has for you and pray for conformation.

Dear friends, in every situation, let us pray!

Jon Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries

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College Commitment: The Toughest Test by David Faulkner
Confessions of a College Freshmen: On Buying Groceries….by Amy Faulkner

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