Month: March 2016

Celebrating You, Our Readers!

cropped-easter.png 

By Jonathan David Faulkner

 

Let us be honest, it has been a downright gloomy few weeks for us. We’ve talked about division and about voting and politics and comments thrown at us. There has been a lot of negative topics covered as we have sought to build up others in the face of those who would tear them down. But not this time, for the sake of my own soul I need a break from addressing those who would rather shame us than encourage and exhort. So I want to simply take a moment to encourage you.

Yes you, you reading this, the person who puts up with all of my words and who have encouraged and sought to build me up. My regular readers and those who are reading for the first time, I am edified by you, encouraged and even driven to praise of the Lord because of you. Because you walk with me in this journey to discover God’s Heart for…well…everyone. Listened as I preached the gospel, what I hope to be the true gospel, of salvation by faith in Christ. Walked with me through the journey of this awesome Healing work God has been doing as He has restored and redeemed the church. You have been part of that, with your outpouring of love and support and even by just reading this blog. I did not set out to inform you, to teach you or to exhort you. But to encourage and love you as God as encouraged and loved me.

So I have one thing to say after nearly five years.

You are all awesome and I love you. Let me dote on you, you who are Saints of the Living God, sons and daughters of His Majesty. You are beautiful and handsome, strong and powerful, wise and kind. You are called sons and daughters of God; a title you cannot lose no matter how many lies the enemy throws at you. You have hope of deliverance from every temptation and every valley. You have hope in the dark places and a light in the midst of troubles.

I want to celebrate you, celebrate your love and kindness towards this broken man. The joy you have shared in your emails to me both through 10:31 Life Ministries and through God’s Heart. You deserve it, for helping me shed the chains that had so long held me. You deserve it for liking our posts and for keeping up with us over the last five years. For sticking with us when our writings were about the worst thing on the planet, to now when they are…slightly better.

Always remember that you are loved deeply by God and by myself. Stand firm in the promises of our savior and I hope to see you out on the road.

God Bless You

Jonathan

 

14140_10151927346899245_829737775_a
Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in
Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

Good Friday Reflection:

empty_tomb_view-1024x768

Reading: Luke 22, Philippians 2:1-11

It sounds strange to celebrate a death, but today we do, the death of our Messiah, the death that ended the war and gave us victory over sin and Death. Equally important because of this death, because we are now covered in blood the wrath of God is satisfied and the veil that kept us from Him is torn and we have access to the Father through the Son. All those who believe now have the Spirit of God dwelling within them who testifies to our redeemed reality of righteous standing before God. The same spirit promised by the Son who was sent by the Father to die on the cross for our sons, he was crucified, dead and buried and on the third day he rose again from the dead and now he sits at the right hand of God the Father. Praise the Lord that he, being by his very nature God, considered equality with God something to be grasped, but instead humbled Himself to death so that we might have life.

If there was ever a greater reason for the believer to celebrate then know not what it is. This life we have been given so freely, how can it not so stir up in us such love and affection for God. That our debt would be satisfied by a most perfect lamb without blemish, the perfect son of God. Such a great thing it is that it should move us to praise when we think on such, as Luther put it: “A Happy Exchange.” Christ has received our the punishment of death our rebellion has earned for, we have the glory that Christ deserved by his Obedience. Oh what amazing grace, oh what a great joy and comfort to the believers.

Let us lift our voices in praise, all Heaven and Earth rejoice, in the midst of sorrow comes Joy, in the midst of death comes Christ. The Salvation of all who believe is assured by the indwelling Spirit

We are free, sins bond is broken, we have a new name, let us praise Him for it.

EASTER

The Fruit of Joshua’s Ministry.

images

By Jonathan David Faulkner

When I first met God’s Heart Content Editor Bradly Tucker he was an unbeliever. He was such when I invited him to become the content editor at God’s Heart. I had met him through the late Morris Tee and after 10:31 shut its doors last April and God’s Heart set out on its own he stepped up to hold me accountable. Almost a year later Bradley has accepted Christ and has submitted to being discipled and brought up in the faith. Running God’s Heart with a brand new Christian has been very interesting and very eye-opening. I have been a Christian for twelve years and so it can be easy for me to take for granted the basic doctrines of the faith that he is now learning. I have found though that he is already becoming very discerning

This has been a very valuable asset to me as we have attempted to address the Ministry of Facebook Evangelist Joshua Feuerstein, a man with whom we find many troubling doctrines and who’s radical form of Fundamentalism we find extremely dangerous and a huge hindrance to the spread of the Gospel in the present culture. The Americanized Christianity that he and his followers cling too has those living in Post-Christian parts of the country baffled as we watch. As has been said in many times in God’s Heart meetings: “This is why we cannot have nice things.”

Addressing this has been difficult for us, because as we have looked deeper into the issues and the fruit of these things that are being perpetuated we want to maintain a tone and rhetoric that edifies the Church and even Joshua. We do not want to demonize him, only point out and try to discern what is being taught so you can make a decision and so, perhaps, even see Joshua come to a fuller understanding of the Gospel that is beyond the limits imposed upon it by Modern Fundamentalism. We have maintained that Joshua is our brother in Christ and should not be met with hate and disparaging remarks. Joshua and his supporters have laughed at us, mocked us and told us we can move on from their posts.

Sadly, this is the fruit of Joshua’s ministry, hate and fearmongering, authoritarianism no different than Donald Trumps; the kind that says “Disagree with me, and you’re wrong,” A group that is not dividing in any way, shape or form, arguing over link bait. That is only designed to draw people to Feuerstein’s Radicals website so they can read his opinion that often come across as haughty.

This is the fruit of Joshua’s ministry, division, chaos and hurtful comments towards those who disagree. To such a degree that Bradly told me one evening; “Jon, if I were still an unbeliever I would not want to become a Christian based on this alone.” Praise God that Bradly came to our ministry. Was nurtured not only in Biblical Truth, but also the intense and beautiful love of Jesus Christ, something Joshua professes but does not practice when you actually evaluate the fruit of his ministry.

But Joshua does not care about this. Recently in the comments of an anti-abortion video depicting President Obama as Satan Joshua said: “Frankly I don’t care what anybody thinks .. I never did this to be famous … I do this to Speak Truth! I care much more about the millions of babies dying .. than I do your opinion!” This was followed by the hashtags #unfollowme #byefelicia. Yet millions of people eat this up, though many are beginning to realize there is a problem with this. There were two hundred and sixty-five comments below that one, most of which were admonishing Josh in the same way we have been and still many others expressing disillusionment with the Evangelist.

God’s Heart cares about the babies dying too, we also care about the ones who are already alive, the adults, all of God’s creation. We try to speak the Truth, but more so we try to practice the truth in all facets of life, whether it be our Facebook Posts or our daily interactions. We also make it a point to do so in such a way that those we encounter know of the Love and grace of God and free gift of salvation. Or their identity in Him and His image that is so engrained in all of mankind. That includes President Obama, regardless of our politics here at God’s Heart. We believe that trying to destroy a person does nothing to reach them for the Gospel. We took that stance with the Chicago protests back in November and we will take that stance regardless of the situation.

According to Joshua that makes us; “Sissy preachers who won’t speak the truth.” It is his God given right to think that about us. We will continue to minister to all people and endeavor to live life based concretely in scripture. We believe it shows greater courage to go forth in true and genuine love than to rant and rave about something. Following in the humble traditions of St. Francis, Aelred any many, many others, knowing that the work of an evangelist is not only to speak the word but to live the word out of deep love and regard for God the father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit. Trinity, Three-in-one.

The fruit of Joshua’s ministry is strife and division, fearmongering and hatred, is that the mark of a true Christian Ministry? Is that the mark of a mature Christian? We’re not perfect at God’s Heart, we fail daily, we have to repent, we miss opportunities, but we hope we can reach others for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Spur those who already believe on to love and good works and a much deeper walk with Christ. If this makes us “Sissy preachers” let it be, but if the Gospel is spread and those who see us see Christ and a spurred to love him, then let that be as well.

 

14140_10151927346899245_829737775_a
Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in
Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

 

 

 

EASTER

Faulkner on the Fifth: Andy Stanley, John Kasich, update on writing and music.

14140_10151927346899245_829737775_a

By Bradly Tucker

In this series Jonathan answers five questions from myself to either update you on current happenings at God’s Heart as well as any other issues we have chosen not to address in article.

 

Q: Alright, we’re going to jump right into it, readers have noticed that after your original reaction you have been silent on Andy Stanly’s comments on “Small Churches” while other popular websites have addressed it. Why is that?

A: Let me start by reminding my readers that I pastored one of those small churches that Stanley was talking about. That being said when I first read the article I was extremely put off by it. However, at the end of the article, which I read on Church Leaders Website, acknowledged that he apologized for his comments. Thus I can forgive him and move on. We have also seen numerous other groups come out and Demonize Stanley for his comments, disregarding the apology completely, making him out to be some kind of monster. I believe that it would be contrary to, and undermine the purpose and goal of God’s Heart For Those to attack Stanley, especially after he apologized. I also do not see this as an issue, the size of your church is not important to me, small church or large church, God uses them, they serve a purpose in the Kingdom. Others are allowed to think differently than me on that. It is not an issue of salvation, it is not a matter or persuasion, it is an opinion and he’s allowed to give it. I refuse to play the game of snubbing someone for what they have apologized for. As far as I know this is the first time Andy Stanley has said anything outrageous, his record would seem to speak for itself. Leave the man alone.

 

Q: What is the purpose and intention of God’s Heart For Those?

Our purpose is two-fold, one to provide practical advice and wisdom for those who desire to do ministry, building up the flock through encouragement and exhortation. A Spiritual cheering on and teaching, if you will, as I go through the start of what I hope to be a career in Ministry. The second purpose is to warn the flock against potentially abusive groups or teachings or teachers that are teaching contrary to scripture but to address them in such a way that we do not demonize them or rebuke them in such a way that others demonize them. The goal for such writings is restoration, that is our desire.

 

Q: During Super Tuesday you encouraged readers to vote for John Kasich. What makes Kasich a good candidate in your mind?

I first heard Kasich speak on Meet the Press last August, at the time I only knew he was the popular governor or Ohio. Unlike all the other candidates I heard that morning he was ready and willing and able to comment on the actual issues facing the American people. I said then that he would make a great candidate. As time went on and the fiasco we are calling politics became increasingly like a circus I watched Kasich continue to do just that, talk about the issues. It meant less airtime and less media attention, but people kept dropping out and he kept gaining popularity. He has consistently addressed actual issues and has a record of success as a politician, something no one else in this presidential race has with the exception of (maybe) Ben Carson. Now, I know he is in third place, but we may be heading for a Brokered Convention and that could be good for Mr. Kasich. His striving for peaceful solutions to current racial tensions and hate-mongering perpetuated by the Trump Campaign is quite attractive as well.

 

Q: How are the current writing projects coming?

Mozzaratt’s Palace, the first of four planned books is done. It will go to the editing phase over the summer and potentially be out by December if we can get everything worked out with Kindle Publishing. I have started working on a deeper outline for the second book as I need a break from the first book before I begin editing it. I continue, in my free time to research for two books, one on reconciliation and another on a popular Science Fiction series, so that keeps me busy outside of Seminary Life.

 

Q: Any new developments with the music projects you’ve been working on?

Only in that I have been extremely busy playing in various functions here at Gordon-Conwell, worship and chapel bands. The three brothers we did the Reggae video with and I are planning to get together to have another Jam session. The Type A EP has been put on hold for the time being because I need to fix the software. I did just replace my electric guitar and picked up a Banjo while I was at it, I am going to learn how to play it, this will be fun.

 

Bradly Tucker is the Content Editor for God’s Heart For Those.

 

cropped-header-ghft.png

Blind Eyes Perceive Much:

Fired Up Logo

By Jonathan David Faulkner

I am always amazed at the ignorance expressed towards the disabled. For instance, if someone is has a disability that is obvious people are willing to comment on it and even make fun of that person. When you cannot perceive the disability clearly it makes the ignorant comments even more annoying. Questions like: “Why do you hold you phone so close?” or “Can you not see that?” have frequently been thrown at me throughout my life. When I tell people I have a visual disability they will say; “Oh, I could not tell.” The implication being: “You do not look blind; therefore, you must not be.”

It is even worse when the comment comes from the passerby. Recently my friend Abigail shared the story of how she had overheard a father’s answer his daughter’s inquiry as to whether or not ‘the girl with the service dog was blind. The father’s response was appalling, stating that my friend was “too beautiful” to be blind.

I met my friend Abigail in 2007 on a bus between Dallas and Garden Valley Texas. We were headed for Global Expeditions Missions Training and had grabbed the last two seats on the bus. Neither was aware of the others disability until one of the people sitting across from us saw us looking at our phones. I remember, they said something like: “Excuse me, are you two visually impaired?” Despite distance and the busyness of adult life I still consider Abigail a friend. By the way, she is beautiful, inside and out.

Growing up with a disability you would think one would get used to comments like that, but you do not, they can be hurtful and if they are not that, they are at the very least annoying. I once had to tell new friends they were not allowed to make jokes about my disability until they had known me for a year. That was to assure that they were not making them out of ignorance if they did make them. I do not mind the jokes so much as I mind people who make them without actually knowing me. Ignorant statements and people suddenly shifting the way they treat me in light of my disability (i.e talking louder because you consider me dumb). Those things I mind.

My father tells a story about his high school music teacher changing the music on him right before the concert. My brother in Christ Gerald shared a story with me about a whole group of people ceasing to talk to him because his disability had caused him to have to drop out of that activity. I have experienced friends create distance because they are uncomfortable with my disability. As though my “Blindness” makes me less human or something, or less deserving of consideration.

During a Leadership Forum put on by The Ohio Governor’s Council for Disabled Leaders, actress Jeri Jewel told our group of delegates: “The real disabilities are the human ones, fear, hatred, ignorance, selfishness, bitterness, pride.” Jeri has Cerebral Palsy which affects motor functions and limb control. Her disability is a visible one, mine is not, but the idea holds true.

That poor child, growing up thinking that blind people look a certain way. Yes, we use different aids, my friend Abigail uses a Service Dog, Gerald uses a Cane and I use a Biopic Lens and contact lenses. Of those three, mine is the least obvious, unless you try to scroll around my computer or listen to a book with me. But the use of aids does not make us any less human and it doesn’t make us any less independent.

And all three of us are quite independent in most everything. Abigail runs marathons, Gerald is an excellent Keyboard player and musician, I write books and songs. We do not live at home, we live normal lives, depending on people when we need to for things like rides to events and what not and occasionally for help in classes (It is hard to read Greek when you cannot see it). We look and live exactly like you do. We just have a disability.

It is hard for me to accept the idea that someone has less value then another. Regardless of their disability, race or gender. Are we not all made in the image of God? Are our disabilities and abilities not meant for the same purpose and isn’t that purpose the glory of GOD (Jh 9:3)? Are we not all valuable in God’s kingdom?

One of the greatest issues with Western Philosophy is that it teaches us that it is okay to ignore or even completely reject something we do not understand. We do this with thought and we do this with people. “They think different than me” or “They are different from me” becomes justification for treating people any way we want. If something does not fit our idea of what something is or is not, instead of seeking to understand, we just write the idea or the person off. To say that someone cannot do something because they are blind or cannot be something because they are blind is absurd and relies on a logical Fallacy to even be justifiable. “If a person is blind then they cannot do X. They cannot do X because they are blind.” It is even accurate to say that, in some ways, the person who has an adverse reaction to someone based solely on their disability is actually the blind one. Blind, because they do not recognize the intrinsic and inherit value of the individual because the lens they view them through is that of a person with a disability. Rather than the reality that the person was created by God and has value to God.

We are beautiful, handsome, tall, short, strong, weak, runners, thinkers, dreamers, musicians, lovers, fighters, friends, brothers, sisters, parents. We are black, white, native American, Latino, Italian, Irish. We are part of the Human Race just like you are. We may be visually impaired, but that makes us no less human than you.

So next time you see a person with a service dog, a cane or a Biopic Lens remember that they are really no different from you. They are beautiful, they have value and purpose. They are not weak or poor or dumb or whatever bias you may have towards them. They are a created child of God, loved and cherished by Him, bearing His image. If you take the time to look around you then you will find disabled people doing amazing things every day, and not just the blind.

 

14140_10151927346899245_829737775_a


Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

 

 

cropped-header-ghft.png

Who are you to decide?

images

By Jonathan David Faulkner

 

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 1 Sam 16:7

One of the tactics used against me by the pastor who spiritually abused the church I attended in High School was to tell people that “God could not possibly be laying something on your heart if you were not sure of your salvation.” This did a lot of damage to my own family members as well as to my already damaged Psyche. Sad as it is, questioning the salvation of others is an earmark of Authoritarian Leadership. “You are not a Christian if you do X” is a common line or “God cannot use you unless” or “God cannot use you unless” and of course “You are not a Christian if you…”

So when the radical fundamentalist and the leader of the “Facebook Church Movement” Joshua Feuestien comes out and says “You cannot be a Christian and vote for Hilary Clinton” my immediate reaction is to reject the idea completely. While it is true that there are moral issues with voting for Hilary, God’s Heart does not dispute that, nor is this an endorsement of Hilary. We take issue with saying someone is not a Christian because of who they vote for. Or saying someone is not a Christian in general.

In some ways this is also a pushback against things that I myself used to stand for. I have ruined my share of Christian Walks with the legalism I used to practice with great zeal. However, as I have grown and done ministry for myself and as God has redeemed the church and His word for me and redeemed His people, as the spirit has taught me, I have grown to reject those former things. I suppose it is the natural progression of the Christian to maturity, though I am far from mature and far from worthy of being called such.

It came down to having to question myself. “If I claim to be a believer but do such and such, but condemn that act in someone else’s life, calling them non-Christian, how am I actually a Christian?” The radical revelation of our changed condition in Christ thus gave me an answer. “Who are you to say anyone who claims to be a Christian is or is not a Christian, is God not working in them just as He is working in you?”

Who am I to decide if a person is a believer or not? Yet we do, as recently as last month the Pope called Trump an unbeliever. Some Christians have even questioned the faith of those Conservative Evangelicals who have thrown their lot in with Trump, who by the way, professes to be an Evangelical.

We do, also acknowledge, that American Christianity has largely grown illiterate, Biblical Literacy is at an all-time high as anti-Intellectualism sweeps through the laity. It is hard to practice the wisdom given us in 2 Timothy 1:7 when we do not know what it says and preachers preach on Opinions instead of building up the flock to stand firm as people of God.

Still, I am not qualified to judge them as unbelievers, I can look at their fruit (Matt. 7:15-20), I can discern an action or a thought to be in line with the Gospel or error or false teaching or even Heresy. But I cannot say for certain if an individual who professes faith in Jesus Christ is a believer or not. They could simply need guidance, direction, spiritual wisdom, discernment. They may just need to be shown their error lovingly and lovingly led to repentance. That has ben the way shown to me by those who have helped to rehabilitate me as a member of the Body of Christ. Had someone come to me and told me “You are not a Christian because you are a legalist” I would have laughed at them. Which is why we refuse to say that Feuestien is not a Christian, only that his teachings depart from Christian Orthodoxy, into Gnostic Heresy.

As the verse from 1 Samuel 16:7 states: “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” God said this to Samuel while as he was looking at David’s brothers, considering their height and strength and physical appearance. But David, who was the youngest and not initially present for Samuels arrival, and certainly not a weakling himself. Was chosen to replace Saul as King of Israel. God calls David a “Man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22) despite the terrible sins of adultery and murder he committed.

Matt Chandler points out in a sermon series on James that “David would not be able to get a job at our church.” And he’s right. Were David alive today we might say “He is not a Christian, look at this horrible thing he did.” Yet David, when he was confronted by his sin repented and God kept his Covenant with David and if was from the line of David that Christ came into this world and now sits enthroned forever.

We are all being Sanctified, we are all being lovingly corrected by the Holy Spirit, learning how to live Righteously and sometimes that is a slow process. We must allow for it, we must also recognize our need for others to come alongside us and speak life into us and most importantly we need to recognize the constant and eternal presence of the Triune God and the Trinity’s role in our lives. Living in accordance with Scripture, becoming refined into the likeness of God while acknowledging and encouraging our identity as one body in Christ.

Friday morning, I released the following post of Facebook after seeing Feuerstie’s indictment against believers who vote for Hilary. I pray you will consider these words prayerfully and with a grain of salt: “It is not a sin to vote for someone in an election. And it is extremely foolish to tell someone they are not a Christian for voting for a candidate. However, we do need to look at the fruit of those who are running. Whether it be Hilary, Trump, Kasich, Cruz, Bernie or Rubio. We have to prayerfully discern through the lens of Scripture the course each Canidates platform could take us and look at the fruit of their past actions and come to a conclusion based on that, a conclusion that should be informed by the Spirit. But we also must not judge our brothers and sisters, calling them Non-Christians for voting for any particular candidate.”

We should not be divisive with our words, participating in foolish talk that causes quarreling among the saints (2 Tim. 2:23). Rather we should seek to build up, exhort and encourage one another. Wisely admonishing our brothers and sisters and joining together to worship God as one body of Christ (Col 3:10-17). Living in the spirit of “Power, Love and Self-control” (2 Tim 1:7) we have found in Christ. Praying for all people and living “Godly and upright lives before all men. For God desires that none should perish” and come to the saving grace of our Lord Jesus (1 Tim 2:1-5).

So let us stop focusing on who is a Christian and who is not. Let’s stop saying “you are a believer, and you are not a believer.” Let God judge the hearts of man and let us look at the fruits we bear and pray that we might produce the good fruit as we are commanded. Not dividing, but uniting, vessels of grace and love that bring people into the Covenant relationship with God that we daily enjoy.

 

14140_10151927346899245_829737775_a
Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

The Memory of Angels: Remembering Jennifer Shannon.

cropped-p42800061.jpg

By Jonathan David Faulkner.

 

“For by doing so, some have entertained Angels, unaware”
Hebrews 13:12

Of all the people in my life who have passed on I can think of few who have impacted me more deeply than Jennifer Shannon. She entered my life at the age of 21, my junior year of college and one of the first people I was blessed to meet after Denver. She was small, with curly blonde hair and a round face. Her skin was about as pale as could be and when she spoke she was often interrupted by severe coughing that, if I remember correctly, drove some of her classmates crazy. I had the privilege of serving as her Foundations of Servant Leadership Mentor under Pastor Joel Wood whose church would become her home in the year and a half she was at Sterling.

She had Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes trouble breathing, long hospital stays, strict medical treatments and regiments, dependence on medication for survival and illness. Like my own, Jennifer’s battle had been life long, but unlike my own blindness Jennifer was in pain, coughing and fighting for every breath. Fighting her body just to get up in the morning. She quickly found a home amongst our group, a group of loveable misfits that also included a Paraplegic.

Her gentleness was contagious, her joy was evident, her hope in the Lord. For the next year and one-half we would be blessed by her. I remember one instance when I had offended one of my sisters in Christ and walked away without resolving the issue (I was much rougher around the edges then) and upon feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit returned to apologize to that sister for my offense. After it was done and the wrong had been forgiven Jennifer said “Wow, I am so glad I got to witness that.” I do not know what impact that incident had on her, but her response to it seemed to be affirmation from heaven and I still hear her whisper those words three years since whenever I have to repent and ask someone for forgiveness.

I do not know why, perhaps because I was the peer mentor for the entire class, but she actively sought to continue that mentoring relationship, being gracious with me in my own missteps and miss spoken words that I was quite well-known for. I was blessed to be one of the people she would call upon for prayer and blessed to be able to pray for her. When her grandfather died she came to us for comfort, when her friend Ben, a Sterling Resident, passed away we had a conversation about it.

Jennifer was aware that she might not live very long, yet she pursued the dream of becoming a teacher, coming to college with the hope of earning a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. This alone spoke volumes; CF was not going to slow her down if it could be helped. She showed the willpower and drive to do the work asked of her. She felt the strong call of God on her life towards that and blessed us with an example of working towards a goal in the midst of vast obstacles. Her entire body was such an obstacle, having to stop speaking or working to cough. In her suffering she found peace in Jesus. In her pain she found comfort in her heavenly father, in deterioration she found rest in the Holy Spirit.

In 2014 we got the news that she was to have a Lung transplant. Finally, it seemed, the thing that had kept her from us may be alleviated, perhaps she may be able to return to us, to teach us again about perseverance. We rejoiced as we prayed the transplant would go well and for a time we heard good reports. We thought we were going to get our friend back.

I was at work on a Wednesday in late January when I got the call. “My body rejected the lung” she said “They told me I don’t have long left but I wanted to thank you and say goodbye, thank you for always praying for me and for being my mentor and friend.” I left work in a daze, sitting down at the lake praying and crying. A week and a half later, on a Sunday Morning, February 7th, while I was delivering a sermon on Joseph, Jennifer Shannon went to be with the Lord. I got a text message during the sermon, though I did not read it until I was in my office after the service.

What is the measure of a life well lived? That I do not know, but maybe Jennifer gave me an example. Maybe, it is, in the face of every opposition, persevering, following after Christ and loving Him with all your heart, soul and mind and blessing others with your words and with your life. Maybe it is not giving up, knowing that you live for something higher than yourself and bringing Glory to God is just the natural by-product of every act. I do not know, but I do believe I have visited with an Angel here on Earth and though she be in heaven, free from her sorrow and suffering, I was blessed to be able to call her sister and friend.

 

In her last days Jennifer’s family told us that she was at peace, fighting for every breath, willing to live so that she could grace us with her love for a few more hours. She was a Saint if ever we have met one. Pure in heart and spirit and one day we will see her again, walking with her savior she will be sitting at His feet, breathing without pain, praising without being interrupted by a cough.

I have included here another story from another friend who knew her during her time at Sterling. So that her testimony might live on and we might praise God because of her life.

 

Kara Delauretis:

This is one of the most memorable moments that I had with Jen, and I have never shared it with anyone because it was a very memorable moment that I had with her and is one of the memories that I think the most on.

The lesson I learned from her was that life is difficult and knowing what decision to make can be even harder.

It was during her last year at Sterling before she could not return due to her health. I do not remember what season it was, but it was very late at night like 2 a.m. It felt like everyone was asleep in the McCreery dorm but me and Jen. She came to my room in 2nd East to see if I was still awake, and she wanted to talk. I went to her room in Parlour because she had more seating in her room and she felt more comfortable there. We started to discuss certain guys on campus that we liked and what we should do about our relationships because we didn’t know if we should be brave and take the first step and ask them on a date or let them ask us. We were having a good time laughing in the middle of the night talking about guys, homework, and classes. Simple and ridiculous things. The conversation though turned and she asked me about her lung transplant. She trying to get advice on what she should do. She told me about the risks about getting a lung transplant, and what life would be if she was able to get a new set of lungs, and the complications she would live with for the rest of her life. Yet, we also talked about the fact that if the transplant was successful she could return to Sterling and graduate with an elementary teaching degree and work with children which she loved to do. There were risks and benefits to her decision, but it was a major choice that she had to make and did not want to make alone. She was scared and I did not know what exactly to say to her. I told her to do what was in her heart, and she was the one of the bravest person I have ever met. She faced one of the biggest decisions in her life with her faith held strong and a smile. She loved God, but was still scared. I remember her crying on my shoulder as I rubbed her back praying that I would say something that would sooth her. I don’t know if I did, and it is too late to ask now. There is so much I would love to say to her now, and I still talk even though she is in Heaven. Her life was difficult and I could see it in her eyes that night, but she was a great friend and I am happy that she allowed me into her life. She taught me many lesson about life despite her youth, and I hope that she thought me as good friend as well. I was always there to listen to her in her times of need no matter the late hour, and she has left a profound impact on my life.

 

14140_10151927346899245_829737775_a


Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry