Month: September 2012

Foggy Mornings

Growing up in the foothills of the Appalachians I can recount many a mounting in the spring and the fall where we would wake up to a wall of fog. So think in fact there were mornings you could barely see the neighbor’s house across the street and up the road. There were some mornings when you could only see the school bus by the bright flashing fog lights as it moved down Ramar drive across the housing development.

It was mornings like those when creation stood out to me the most. As I stood looking out at the soupy fog I couldn’t help but imagine what might be behind it. Would the hills reappear when the sun came out? Or would they be replaced by something else, maybe mountains would fill the landscape, or maybe a dragon would be seen flying over head. Fog always brought out the adventurer nature in me, always asking “What’s back there?”

This morning was the first time in a while I’ve seen fog as thick as pea soup. But as I walked to breakfast reveling in the beauty around me I started to think of God and His creation that was inevitably hiding behind that fog. In Kansas, unlike Ohio you can see for miles without anything to block your view. This morning the fog took that away and it made me wonder if I’d ever see the plains again.

I’ve come to learn that often times this is how we view God. Sort of like the Wizard of Oz, hiding behind some mysterious thick cloud or smoke, or concealed by fog. We go through our lives trying to get all our ducks in a row, thinking that the will of God is hidden, and often times it is. Or we think, God will reveal himself when we get ourselves straightened out. When we get through everything God will come out from behind the curtain or the fog and be revealed.

The truth is both of these are lies. Now, I’m not saying that God isn’t a mystery, He most certainly is mysterious and wonderful and terrible and all the things words we use to inadequately describe Him. For us to try to understand God will take a lifetime, that’s why we constantly need to pursue Him. But the notion that we have to have it together or figured out to learn who He is, is ridiculous.

God has said to us through the psalmist “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10). We are told by Paul that “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20 ESV). And Jesus promises at the end of the great commission;  “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 ESV).

With those promises why do we think that we cannot know God, true we can’t fully know Him in this life, but to say that He is hidden from us is like saying that we couldn’t tell the NFL replacement refs blew the call on Monday night. We can know God, we can come to Him and say “God I need you, God I want to know you” and He says “I will be with you always” or “I have been with you” and even still “You are my son or my daughter.”

If we want to become like Christ or in Christ (Phl 2, Gal. 2:20) then there has to be a way to know God. That is through the revealed or special revelation of God, aka the Bible. The “God Breathed” 2  Tim 3:16) inspired word of God. Meaning that word that God gave to men to write down so that we, 2000 years later could know who God is and how He works.

As for the idea that we need to get things together before we can go to Him, remember that we are His children. That God is about building people, Check out Romans 8:30 “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified”( ESV). Meaning God prepares us for what He has called us to do, He does a work in us. Titus 3:5 says “Not by works of righteousness that we have done, but by the washing and regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit” (ESV).

This is amazing, that we can go to God as we are and He will begin to do the work as we get to know Him. As God draws us closer we will find healing, we will find restoration, we will find that God is not hidden behind a wall of Fog. That He is living and present and active in our lives and it doesn’t matter if we have it together, He has said “Come as you are.”

I find that when the fog lifts, things look a lot more beautiful. Back home the fog would lift and the sun would hit the wheat fields behind the development and nothing in nature has since captured my eyes as part of God’s revelation of Himself. When the fog lifts, and we start to seek after and pursue God, man how our perspective changes

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner

The Ministry Eb & Flow

            It’s just common sense that when you do Ministry you are going to see some changes in the people and the faces around you. Throughout the journey of Ministry we will see lives transformed, and not just the lives of those we are ministering too but those who work with us. No matter what you do in Ministry there will be change.

I was reminded of this during the week when the assistant director of Social Media & Marketing told me he felt the need to step down. Now, believe it or not this wasn’t a surprise to me, I knew it was going to happen, I expected it to happen. I had already started making plans with the leadership team to add one other person, though I was expecting them to be in place long before David stepped down. As it stands though David has stepped down and we haven’t even received an answer from our fourth leadership team prospect.

But that is how ministry goes, I suppose. You may have people who are in it for the long run and you may have some people there for  a short amount of time. David was only in leadership for five months before stepping down to join the writing team. But in that five months he practically built the 10:31 Life website. He updated and set in motion a growth in our social media presence and helped to get the organization on its feet again.

It won’t soon be forgotten all that David has done to help this ministry get restarted after it was nearly dead at the beginning of the last ministry year. But that’s the way Ministry goes it seems, as I said, some people are there for the long run and some are just short term. While it’s true that David will still be involved at 10:31, he will not be a leader that is a change, now Angel and I have to adapt, find someone to take the place.

So what do we in times like this? I’m finding the best thing to do is to pray. God’s in control of your ministry, doesn’t he know what’s best for all involved. I know that I’ve felt led to step out of ministry positions because of the amount of strain it has put on me in the past. Someone is always there to fill the role, and if they aren’t then maybe there’s a reason. At 10:31 we found someone within the organization to temporarily fill the Social Media and Marketing position. The person actually said if they like it they would take on the full responsibilities of the position.

I think a lot of the time when we do ministry and something goes wrong we give up. At least the perception is that something’s going wrong. Some might gasp at the fact that DT stepped down (in fact some have) but I know there’s a bigger purpose there. This ministry, as much as it has my name on it, isn’t mine, it belongs to the Lord. If this type of surrender is what’s needed for it to be effective then so be it.

The goal is to learn how to do ministry anyway right? So why wouldn’t God teach us how to handle personnel decisions beyond hiring new writers? Which by the way we have added two new ones. God’s got a plan for every ministry, He has a purpose for every good work. As I learn this it becomes clearer that He is also going to see that plan through to the end.

Because I can’t tell you how true it is that God qualifies the called, this is just part of the qualification process.

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

10:31 Adds 2 New Writers!

David Tank to Step Down from Leadership Team

                From the Desk of the Director

After much prayer and consideration I am pleased to announced that starting this month, September, we will be adding Bay Baker and Evan Belk to the 10:31 Writing Team. Bay is a communications major and Evan is studying Christian Ministries here at Sterling College. Evan will be writing the second installment of the Confessions of a College Freshmen, the first of which is written by Hannah Kelling. Bay will be writing The Culture War which will focus on living out our faith in the culture that we live in. We are really excited to have her on board.

In other news David Tank has come to the decision through prayer and consideration to step down from the 10:31 Life Ministries leadership team. His position as Director of Social Media and Marketing will be temporarily filled by 10:31 Life Ministries Writer and now interim director of Social Media, Alexandria Broeker who writes the breakout article Dare to Believe. David is not departing from 10:31 but will stay on board as a contributor writing Worship Wars as part of the 10:31 Big Four.

10:31 will begin the search for a new assistant director of social media and marketing but has no plans to fill the position immediately.

Sleep: And Why it was so Hard

What you’re about to read isn’t an extension of “The Good Disciplines” series but a journal reflecting on the idea of Sleep in modern Christianity done for my spiritual formations class.

 

It was probably the strangest weekend of my entire collegiate career, coupled with the strangest homework assignment of my collegiate career. But yet as I returned to my room for a short practice session for my upcoming concert at Broadway Market I couldn’t help but think about that homework assignment. The assignment was to sleep, something I’m normally very good at, in fact I generally get around 8 hours a night, going to bed at 10 and waking up at 6, I’ve never really had a problem with getting sleep. That was until it became the first spiritual discipline we would be practicing for Spiritual Formations.

As I said, I returned that night intending to be in bed by ten, but ten came and passed and me and the young lady who was helping me with the music and I decided to head over to another friends room. There I wasn’t going to stay long but instead stayed for a movie and staying there until close to 1AM. I know that this was a choice, but it actually became a struggle between should I hang out and should I work hard to get this assignment done. Sleep became a battle, do I stay up and fellowship with the ones that I love or do I take the healthier route and go to sleep. In the end I decided to fellowship and actually had two of the more spiritually invigorating late nights I’ve had at Sterling. Obviously I’ve recounted the first night, watching a movie with 8 of my closest friends after worshiping and songwriting with a close friend and sister in Christ.

The second night continued that same pattern as an old friend of mine came down to visit for the long weekend, which led to another late night worship session including another new friend, two guitars and amazing conversation. That all ended by about 12:30 and I finally climbed into bed around 12:45, with church the next morning it would be impossible to wake up after laying in bed until I wasn’t tired anymore. Like the morning before I got up at 7 and started going about my day as I normally would. At this point I could tell the toll this schedule was taking on my body as I woke up Sunday with a nasty headache and a stuffy nose. Now this was part of dealing with allergies but by the time I left the cafeteria I could barely keep my eyes open, I needed a nap.

Now I know the assignment wasn’t meant to be done in a nap setting but I ended up taking a four hour nap, after which I felt slightly refreshed. My allergies were still a factor, I still felt like my head was going to explode, but I was able to hold a decent conversation with people again and that was what mattered to me since I had people coming over to work on Homework before Chapel. I took some Benadryl to help with the congestion and told myself I was going to bed at 10…

One would think at this point, even with the four hour nap I would have just passed out there on my couch with a bottle of water in one hand and a math book in the other. Instead when 10:00 came I was still wide awake and losing focus on my homework. This night though was different from the others, I had no commitments in the morning, it didn’t matter when I went to sleep. When 10:30 rolled around I got my chance to sleep, it wasn’t as late as the previous two nights but it felt just as late. I crawled into bed and resolved to not wake up until I absolutely had too or I couldn’t sleep anymore, whichever came first.  At 7:00 the next morning I found myself unable to get back to sleep, I had slipped back into my regular sleep schedule for the first time in a long time, it was the first night of that long weekend that I’d actually slept my usual amount of time and I felt strangely refreshed. I went to the café and did my devotions, said goodbye to my visiting friend and thought about how long it was going to take to recover from my crazy sleep schedule.

Before going to Denver two summers ago it was always a mystery to me why it was so hard to stick to developing good spiritual habits. Bible study and prayer were about the only two I practiced, that coupled with sleep but I was still extremely unhealthy in more ways than one. I think now more than ever I am convinced of the fact that the enemy doesn’t want us to be healthy, even to do some of the basic spiritual formations like sleep. Even though the activities that kept me from sleeping Friday and Saturday were actually healthy when I finally went to bed at a decent time it was difficult for me to fall asleep. Brad Stine once said “If the devil did anything for you he probably just woke you up in the morning[i]” I disagree, though Brad was talking about the things we blame the devil for, I defiantly think he has a hand in trying to throw off our spiritual lives. I know I can name countless times where because of depression or fatigue or some kind of personal, inward distraction I haven’t wanted to practice any of the spiritual disciplines that I have become acquainted with.

In C.S Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters the main character Screwtape tells his nephew, a tempting Demon “The best thing is to keep the patient from the serious intention of prayer altogether[ii]” (pg 15). Now here Screwtape is talking about prayer, but I think the same thing can be applied to sleep when sleep is viewed as something that will help us to be healthy, formed Christians. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13 when he says’ “When I was a child I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child, when I became a man I gave up childish ways” (v.11 ESV).  If we must start doing what is healthy for us then it stands to reason that the enemy would like to see us fail in every effort to keep us from giving up “Childish ways.”

Of course I cannot discount the human aspect of failing to really practice this discipline multiple nights in a row. I could have sent people away from my room at 10, told them I needed to sleep, but yet I chose to spend my time in fellowship with others, which as I said is healthy, but when you recount our busy lives it seems that choosing to sleep more than one night would have been a wiser choice. Especially As Smith pointed out in his section on sleep, Americans do get less and less sleep every night. We certainly haven’t thought about the consequences  of not sleeping enough, I certainly don’t think about them until I am suffering greatly from lack of sleep. I know I would rather be with people then sleeping, but I’ve also come to realize, and this weekend reaffirmed, that I need my sleep to function, I can’t become so busy or so wrapped up in church or in hanging out with friends that I don’t allow myself to get the right amount of sleep.

I also think that now that I’m conscience of this disparity in sleep it will be more difficult for awhile to actually get the right amount of sleep. For example last night I left my friends on the porch at 10 and went inside to get some sleep, that didn’t happen, I didn’t go to sleep till an hour later, this wasn’t intended but because I knew I needed sleep for some reason it was hard for me to go to sleep. If that makes any sense at all, that act of getting ready for bed and then climbing into bed became extremely difficult and now today, without an adequate amount of rest I’m feeling the effects of even missing that extra hour.

It seems difficult to think about how important sleep is, In fact we don’t put enough emphasis on the idea of sleeping. Instead we complain when we don’t get enough, pump ourselves full of coffee and slowly get more and more unhealthy until we become the poster child for burned out Christians and slip head first into apathy.

In conclusion once I get over the idea of sleep as a discipline and actually practice it from night to night it will be less of a struggle. This really is a sort of mind blowing idea for someone like me who is so focused on getting things done in a timely manner.

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


[i] Brad Stine, Put a Helmet On, 2002

[ii] C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, 1942, Harper, San Francisco, San Francisco