Month: June 2012

Summer Reflections: Focus Change

REFLECTION #4: Focus Change 

3 weeks into my college career I was involved in a number of different things. I had started teaching Sunday School at the local Presbyterian church (unintentionally), I was involved in the local kids club program and I was trying to become a prayer leader in my dorm. All these things took me away from the school for the most part, with the exception of being a prayer leader. But on top of that I was involved in choir and band and so I really didn’t do much on campus.

All my ministry took place off of campus and on Facebook. 10:31 Life Ministries was just a glint in my eye, I was still trying to organize it into something coherent. We had several writers that were “regular” contributors, but most of those eventually backed out or just stopped contributing. My personal life became a spiritual mess as I pursued a girl who had no interest in me beyond friendship. I slipped further into the mentality that I was going to do things on my own and by my own strength, using God as a crutch to escape too when things got too hard.

The end result was a lot of nights spent hiding out in my room with no one around to talk to. If people wanted to find me they normally would find a much angrier, stressed out version of me who cared more for his image than for what God wanted. I spent most of my time burned out, repeating cycles of going out and having to completely isolate myself. I was extremely unhealthy spiritually, emotionally and even physically.

When I returned to Sterling after my summer in Denver I knew I needed a new focus. I had spent the two weeks prior to the return flight praying for just that with very little understanding of what to do. When I returned I found my Sunday school class had been taken over, Kids Club was under new leadership and an open schedule. I knew I wasn’t supposed to be involved in those things anymore, everything was different.

Instead I had fifteen students that I was supposed to mentor, and I wanted to do it right. See in the past I’ve neglected responsibility, been far from a good steward of what I’ve been given. That even got in the way of 10:31 Life moving forward as well as kept me from one of the greatest friendships and brotherhoods God’s ever given me.

My focus changed from what was going on outside of the school to ministering on campus. Suddenly I found myself spending time with the guys in my dorm and ministering to them the best I could. I had some friends in a dispute and so I helped them discover the biblical solutions to the issue and prayed for them. It was rather remarkable how God was able to use me in there in the dorm, a place I had never wanted to minister.

I had been so focused on myself and what I wanted that I had failed to see where God wanted me. Brotherhood became a new focus for my life as well, I needed my brothers in Christ and since I’d been pulled out of most of the relationships I had with my sisters I didn’t have much of a choice.

In the past I’ve said that one of the marks of authentic manhood is men who seek out the wisdom of other men. For the first time in my life I learned what this really meant. I met a man named *Jack who had graduated from the Honor Academy and learned to go to him to seek his wisdom. He has become one of my closest brothers in Christ, through Christ.

As a man I needed community with other men, instead of spending all of my time with girls, I spent most of my time with guys. This is the same for you women. You need time with the other women in your lives. Spending all your time with men is not exactly good for you, there are certain things that women can teach you that us men never could. Just like there are things that men can teach men that women never could.

But that is a side note, the point is that God changed my focus. From off campus to what I needed to do on campus. I met individually with my foundation students and really took the time to get to know them outside of the classroom setting. God allowed me to continue my involvement with Love Sterling and I got to experience the blessings of the community of my dorm.

God is faithful to us when we call on Him. He changed my focus because I knew I couldn’t keep up the way I was living. I couldn’t keep focusing on the ministry areas I was focusing on, I needed to go back to my home and start ministering there. Then I could branch out and reach out beyond that.

Wouldn’t you know it, shortly after this new focus 10:31 started to take off, we brought in a new writer that winter and God took it from there. Just goes to show you what happens when God gives us the focus for our ministry positions.

Ask yourself this week what God is trying to get you to focus on, where does He want you to minister. Maybe it’s at home, maybe it’s in your town, at the local church or homeless shelter, or maybe it’s internationally. Consider who God is and where He is leading you, if you feel your focus is off, ask Him to change and transform then sit back and enjoy what God will do through you

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries

Summer Reflections Series
Reflection #1: Re-Entry
Reflection #2: Pulled Out
Reflection #3: Set Apart
Reflection #4: Focus Change
Reflection #5: Spirit Thing
Reflection #6: Science and Christianity
Reflection #7: Texas Sweet Tea
Reflection #8: Books & Books
Reflection #9: Bearing Burdens
Reflection #10: Heading Home

Summer Reflections: Set Apart

Reflection #3: Set Apart 

1 Peter 2:9 says; “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a chosen nation, a people for His own possessions; that you may proclaim His excellences of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

The first time I heard this verse was actually when we were trying to figure out the title for Angel Edwards 10:31 Life Ministries blog. It’s hard to think I went over 20 years without hearing it, I’m actually pretty sure I’ve read it but like most of the bible I’d read before this transformation I didn’t remember it. The funny thing is though that I could take this verse and apply it to everything that was happening in my life.

Let me explain like this:

Before my time in Denver I lived for myself, everything, even my spirituality was meant to advance my position. All my actions and my attitudes were meant to make me look good in the eyes of everyone else. Those who knew me knew how miserable I was failing, but those who didn’t were very much deceived. I wanted validation, I wanted people to love me and so I present I nice little front. I’ve spoken on it before so those who have been reading for awhile know exactly what I’m talking about.

But after that day in the Labyrinth everything was different, I didn’t want their validation anymore, I actually didn’t want anything to do with them. I know that sounds horrible but it is the truth, I didn’t necessarily want my old friendships or even new ones, I wanted God.  I wanted to be drawn in and make my life not just talk but actual, real walk. To go out into the garden and meet with God in solitude, to pray and seek His will and His face, to really be different, I didn’t want to go back…I couldn’t.

As I prayed I noticed that God was transforming things around me, I’ve shared with you that my friendship with my roommate changed, as did several other friendships. I’ve shared with you that I started to find joy in my brothers in Christ and built good and strong friendships with them.

But that desire for validation was gone, as was the desire to be in a relationship…for the most part. God was weeding things out of me, things that for so long had held me back were being burned in the process of sanctification. The refiner’s fire was burning away all the things that were keeping me from truly experiencing the fullness of God.

And that’s the best part, I was actually getting to know the glory and fullness of such a great and holy God. It was amazing and incredible, still is amazing and incredible. It wasn’t so much through relationships at this point, but through my quiet time. As I sought to discipline myself things began to change radically.

I didn’t expect it, I was surprised by it, surprised by grace. Looking back on the blog entries from those months they point to that surprise. It’s unbelievable to me that God would speak to me the way that He did during that time and still speaks to me today. It was also amazing how much contrast there was between my old lifestyle and the new one, God was moving in my heart, I was becoming Set Apart.

This was new and exciting for me but also hard. It meant that I had to give up on some things, like hope of a romantic relationship with a specific girl. (We’re now very close friends) and my desire to so dutifully plan out my life.  I also had to give up my own image of myself, that is, I had to learn to not worry so much about what people were seeing and what they were saying about me. Sadly these things had defined me (well the crush didn’t) but now they had to be dealt with.

When I got over the initial struggle of letting God reshape everything (especially my priorities) I found it peace about what was happening, for the first time in my life I could really say I was happy, even content with every area of my life.

If I have any regret through that time it’s that it didn’t last very long….but you’ll read about that next week.

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries Director/Founder

Summer Reflections Series
Reflection #1: Re-Entry
Reflection #2: Pulled Out
Reflection #3: Focus Change
Reflection #4: Set Apart
Reflection #5: Spirit Thing
Reflection #6: Science and Christianity
Reflection #7: Texas Sweet Tea
Reflection #8: Books & Books
Reflection #9: Bearing Burdens
Reflection #10: Heading Home

Summer Reflections: Pulled Out

Reflection #2: Pulled Out

This reflection might seem a bit odd, to some of you but I think the reason that it happened was because God knew I needed time to process what I had been experiencing. In fact I didn’t even realize this had happened until I was talking to a good friend of mine right before spring break during my second semester. But when I got back to Sterling God pulled me out of everything. As I said in my last reflection, I wasn’t going to be involved in Kids Club anymore, my Sunday School class was taken over and a lot of my friendships just dissolved.

Like I said, it sounds odd to say that God pulled me out of everything and that’s the only way I can explain it. Out of kids club, out of some of my friendships, out of teaching Sunday School, out of everything. Then he took away the desire to form new relationships with anyone except the students I’d be mentoring through the Foundations Class.

It was extremely odd to me, instead of being ever active I now had a lot of time to myself. A lot of time to apply the spiritual disciplines I had been learning so much about over the summer. Instead of being everything to everyone at all times I started spending a lot of time with just my roommate and one of my close friends.

It was funny though, because while those friendships weren’t there anymore, when God started to put me back into them there didn’t seem to be any issues with the fact that I’d been absent. The purpose behind this pulling out wasn’t clear to me at first, but it had to come clear at some point or another.

The point became very clear to me a few weeks into the semester. I was different, I had just gone through this radical change of heart and spirit and I couldn’t spend a lot of time with the people I’d spent so much time with. It wasn’t them, it was literally me, I needed to get to know and minister the guys in my dorm, instead of spending a lot of time with girls I needed to become a light in my dorm and work out my own schedule so that I could be available as needed.

This was something I’d always struggled with, I’d never put much stock in brotherhood. In fact even when I was a prayer leader freshmen year I spent most of my time in my room hiding from people or with a girl who eventually got sick and tired of me. I had no close friendships with anyone other than my second roommate and then we spent most of our time with women.

When I came back I knew I couldn’t do that. I started taking long walks with my roommate and later another close brother. Talking about anything and everything, our interests and general, “I’ve lived with you but don’t know you,” information. We learned what God was doing in each other’s lives and how best to encourage one another.

Through this I learned that as Christian men we have to have friendships with other men. It was also during this time that I stopped running away from David Tank who would later become a member of the 10:31 Life Ministries leadership team.

For men, finding other men who are strong in the Lord is essential. I never realized this until God pulled me out of all but a few of my relationships with women. Until the women at DUS weren’t entirely accepting of me while the guys were and until God started to radically change my perspective.

If we are to be men of honor and integrity we must seek out the council of other men and allow God to use them to teach us. Because of God pulling me out and having so much time I was able to get to know my brother and roommate a lot better. They became brothers and then God used them to encourage and guide me as I was exploring this new heart posture I’d been given.

If I have any encouragement for you it’s to go out and seek friendships with other men. To find that community and manhood starts and is encouraged by seeking out the men around us, getting to know them and watching how they treat their sisters in Christ, for the ladies reading this encouraging the men in your life to band together will help them greatly.

And may God lead you as men in the way that you should choose

God Bless You
Jonathan Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries

“Who is the man who fears the Lord

Him will He instruct in the way he should choose”

Psalms 25:12

Summer Reflections Series
Reflection #1: Re-Entry
Reflection #2: Pulled Out
Reflection #3: Focus Change
Reflection #4: Set Apart
Reflection #5: Spirit Thing
Reflection #6: Science and Christianity
Reflection #7: Texas Sweet Tea
Reflection #8: Books & Books
Reflection #9: Bearing Burdens
Reflection #10: Heading Home

Summer Reflections – Re-Entry

This series is meant to be a reflection on my school year and life after the Denver Urban Semester. A chance to look at where God has been leading me through all of these amazing experiences that I’ve been so blessed to have as I’ve continued studying Urban Ministry at Sterling College.

REFLECTION #1 – Re-Entering Life

I craned my neck as I tried to look out the window as the wheels of the 32 person airplane set down on the black tarmac. After spending the morning on a plane I was more than happy to be back on the ground and moving through the terminal at Mid-Continental felt oddly like a homecoming. I couldn’t believe three months earlier I’d left Hutchinson KS by train, spent seven hours dehydrated in Ratone NM waiting for a bus. Spent two months in Denver CO and two weeks at home and was now returning to the very place God had called me two years earlier.

I greeted my brother in Christ who’d come to pick me up and as we walked out to his truck I knew it would be a good ride back. We cranked the music and I watched as the Kansas countryside I’d grown so accustomed greeted me once again with the end of summer colors.

It was safe to say I was seeing these plains differently, something radical had occurred inside me over the summer and I returned with a new perspective. I knew I wasn’t the same man I’d been when I arrived at Sterling, or even when I’d left three months ago. Something was different, something had changed, and something had been radically and defiantly transformed.

God had taken over…

It had been about two weeks since that last night in Denver, the night God told me to drop the Youth Ministry major and pursue Urban Ministry. I knew as soon as I stepped onto campus that would be something I would have to do, but there was another thing on my mind. “I want you to practice being quiet” Greg had challenged me as we parted company “I want you to live quietly.”

How could I do this? I was coming back to be a peer mentor to fifteen students. I thought I was going to be involved in the kids club program, and what about 10:31 Life Ministries and what about…

But the longer I sat, the more I thought about the quiet life the more I realized this semester was going to be extremely different. My re-entry was going to consist of a pulling out and for the first time in my life that was okay with me. Instead of getting involved in everything I got out of everything. By that I mean God transformed my priorities, I didn’t do kids club, I only had mentoring, 10:31 and school that was it.

Yet this was fine with me, I had no problem with this, for once I didn’t mind not being busy.

To say Re-entry was easy would be a false statement. Because when you’re not busy you have a lot of time to think and I tend to think a lot and in the past that kind of thinking has gotten me into trouble. But now God was teaching me really apply spiritual disciplines and build my faith around that. These disciplines I just finished writing about in my “Good Disciplines” series came to life and I found the more I applied them, the more I wanted them. The more of God I discovered in my quiet time, the more of Him I truly wanted, it was amazing.

I could no longer live the way I did, I wanted God and I wanted the things of God and that was all I wanted. No more validation from my peers for the things I’d done, no more wanting to be desired or desiring anyone else. For the first time in my life I can honestly tell you all I wanted was to be in the presence of my God and worship Him with my life.

I’m sure the people around me thought that I’d gone crazy, but it was and still is all I want. I really wanted to live like I claimed to believe, to be set apart for the gospel of Christ (1 Peter 2:9).

God had changed my priorities, just like He’d radically transformed me in Denver I knew my re-entry would be painful but it would also be a continuing of the good work that had started with a week of silence and gone on the rest of the summer.

Join me again in this journey of reflection, as the summer goes forward I pray that we can once again learn together by the grace of God. Walking hand in hand as brothers and sisters in Christ, as I shift from teaching back to the original intent of this blog, I pray you will laugh and cry with me and learn from what God has been teaching me.

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries

Who is the Man who Fears the Lord

Him will He instruct in the way he should go.”

Ps 25:12