Month: June 2016

What is the “Old Guard” really Guarding?

By Jonathan David Faulkner,

I will be honest; it was hard to get on the internet last week, especially after Tuesday Morning when over 500 Evangelical Leaders met with Presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump. I read some of the more legitimate articles on the subject, Jerry Falwell Jr. and James Dobson’s comments on the meeting, notes from those outside of the group of “Evangelical Leaders.” I took it all in, saw the article about Trump’s Constantinian style Conversion to Christianity (wasn’t he already a Christian, something about a speech at Liberty?) It was hard to read all of it, it really was, I mean, both sides were just aghast and fighting with one another. It was, for lack of a better term, pathetic.

All of it leading to a deeper disillusionment with American Christianity. One that would have grown this week had I not read any of those articles and simply heard the promises Trump made to Evangelicals. Promises like allowing Religious leaders to endorse presidential candidates and creating a “Christian Advisory Panel” that includes Michele Bachman, Falwell, Dobson and others, members of that Old Guard Fundamentalism that at one point was a very good thing for the church in America (I mean, it gave us Jim Elliot, so it wasn’t always bad). Now claiming that Trump has “Accepted Jesus into his heart;” An ideology many Christians in the coming generation have abandoned because it is simply not biblical (See the book of Romans).

Of course, I am not questioning Trump’s conversion (though I am personally skeptical of it) the fruit of his life will determine if it is true or not. But I am wondering, what are Dobson and Falwell and others, the “Old Guard” actually “Guarding?”

I mean, if you are a guard you must be guarding something, either as a leader or a knight or a soldier or whatever, you are guarding something. My question is, what are they guarding, because it does not seem to be the Gospel.

What do I mean? The Gospel is by its very nature unifying to those who believe in Christ. In its truest, unadulterated form, will bring the believers together and through that unity and love draw in outsiders. This point is not in dispute, that’s why we do not only verbally speak the Gospel message we actually live it out. The idea is a two-fold evangelistic approach of living out and speaking, you must let your actions back up your words. It would not be enough for me to talk about encouraging my girlfriends walk with the Lord daily, I actually have to do it by 1.) making sure I am walking with the Lord daily so I can lead her by God’s grace and 2.) by asking her what the Lord has been teaching her and actively showing her what God has been showing me. If I talked about those things and my actions did not back them up I would simply be doing lip service to what I want to do. But if people see her grow closer to God and be encouraged in Christ then they will know that I am not merely talking about doing such a thing but actually doing it.

It is the same with the Gospel, we must live it out and proclaim it. But here’s the thing, part of proclaiming the Gospel is living it out. It also means that instead of throwing in our lot with a man or woman whose rhetoric and life have been openly lived in sin for the sake of having some government influence we should be focused on the building up of the Church and the Kingdom of God where our true and genuine future hope and citizenship lie. Since the church gained power under Constantine it has misused and abused that power in many ways. If the Gospel is in ruins because non-believers see Christians seeking worldly power and caused greater division instead of relying on the God who is all-powerful and Sovereign then the Gospel has not been guarded, it has been left in ruin.

They are not guarding the church, the simple act of doing something so divisive (there was another group of Evangelicals that support Hilary) that it would deepen the already surgically deep wounds in the American Church then you have not guarded the church. The church is meant to be one body, one people (read Galatians) and to not follow any other Gospel but the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If your actions cause division in a body that is mean to be one and it becomes two factions (or in our case many factions) then you have not guarded the church by promoting unity and grace among all believers. The catholic (universal) church can be the most influential and greatest influence in the world, in fact, it actually is, but when it is divided, when the American Church looks more like Ephesus or Corinth, you have failed to defend it against Heresy and Division. If all people see of the church is a group of people divided and bitter because of your actions then you have denied them access to the true and pure gospel.

They are not guarding the individual people: A short study of history tells us that Christians who gain and use power often leave the commoner open to more persecution and hatred based on actions. Just look at those who act as though all Christians are like Westboro, the regular, bible-believing Christian becomes the target of outrage and hatred because to some the name “Christian” means hatred because of what one group in Topeka Kansas has done. The people always suffer, whether it was the oppressive authoritarianism of the Medieval Church in the High Middle Ages or Christians in Germany who persecuted the Confessing Church for not backing Hitler or whatever example you want to use. The Common people, those outside of the clergy or those outside of those 500 evangelicals who met with Trump in New York, the everyday Christian suffers. Granted, so do the Clergy who oppose such a group.

So what are they guarding? If it is not the Gospel, if it is not the Church, if it is not the individual people, then what are they guarding? It would seem the answer to that would be simple and sad…”Earthly Power.”

See, since the 1950’s the church has had a perceived Earthly power, I say perceived because while the church did have great influence and it did help define policy and while Christians still made up the majority of the population of the United States (they still do by the way). “Christian Power” was still a bit of a misnomer and the power Christians did have was often misused or not used at all (which was the case during the Civil Rights movement). But that’s what Dobson and Falwell Jr. and so many others are clinging too so viciously, they want that power, as if Christians can’t effect change without a role in government (because Jesus was an ally of the state, you know…that killed him). They want it so bad they will even meet with a presidential candidate who has made a living by living a life that is in almost all ways contrary to the Gospel. As if the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are dependent on Christians holding influence in the government. Or the Gospel needs a lobby to be spread effectively.

It has become for Dobson and Falwell and others an idol of clay and wood. It cannot see them, it cannot hear them and it cannot do anything for them. Earthly Power will not save the American Church from itself or from the direction our society is taking. In the end it will only make things worse for those who are genuinely trying to live out the Gospel. It will lead ot the ultimate destruction of the American Church and not its rise. Just like the Authoritarianism of the Catholic Church in the 14 and 1500’s the desire for power will become our downfall and only further divide and destroy us. These men are watching the church they helped build slide into perceived irrelevancy and they are quite literally grasping at any tidbit that can be dropped to them by almost anyone. Like the Prophets of Baal they want fire to fall down from heaven but they are relying on man-made means to get it.

Here’s the thing I wish I could say to these Evangelicals (who I do believe are sincere believers): We do not need some Earthly power for the Gospel message to spread like fire throughout the land. We do not need to have our voice heard in the government to have the most relevant message of all-time. We have that solely in one place and one place alone. The Gospel of Jesus Christ which has been passed down throughout the ages by men and women who knew, like I do, it to be true because it was confirmed over and over again by God the father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit which dwells within us. The Godhead three-in-one, that is where our power lies, that is where our relevancy lies, that is where our hope lies, that is where our joy lies and that is where our love lies. That is truth and it has been the same since it was first given to us when God created. Because man changes, God and His truth do not.

Does that seem harsh to say to men who have gone before us? It is meant to be an exhortation, men who did a pretty good job at one point building the church in America. In the hopes of seeing them restored to seeking after the Kingdom of God by God’s means and not by mans. The only hope for the American Church is a total reliance in the sovereign God of the Universe. To rediscover the greatness of what God has given us and to turn from the idols of earthly power and trust wholly on God.

It’s time to stop waffling, either we follow God, or we follow Baal.

 

12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oJonathan 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 Day I learned the Boston Transit System.

By Jonathan David Faulkner

It is 12:15 in the afternoon on a Monday and I am sitting on the patio outside the cafeteria talking to my brothers and sisters in Christ. But in the back of my mind I am slowly driving myself crazy. This all started a few weeks back…(cue flashback music)…I had just returned from a trip to Northfield Massachusetts after one of the best weekends I have had in my life and I had no way to get back from the Bus Station in Boston. I had requested a ride from my brothers and sisters at the Seminary but class schedules seemed to make that impossible.

On top of that I do not drive, so I had been talking to the associate pastor and my mentor about finding a ride and freaking out because people at the Seminary were telling me to use Public Transit and people were sending me maps that I could not read and I could not get people to understand that for the visually impaired this was a near impossibility without a guide the first time and I was going to have to do it sooner rather than later anyway because of upcoming trips. I mean, what if I got lost? What if I did not know where to get off the train…I knew nothing about Boston Transit, though I had lived in the North Shore for nearly a year. What was I going to do?

Finally, a brother from the Seminary came down to get me (Thank the Lord because I was seriously concerned I was not going to be able to get home and have to stay in Boston and become a street musician or something. Which you know, I could do, I had my guitar, I’d lived on the streets before (voluntarily) and so I knew how to survive, but doing it for a long period of time?

Okay, okay, sorry, so now back to Monday (Music back to reality). My pastor and I had agreed to go down to Boston so I could learn the transit system. So here I was, sitting outside the cafeteria with friends silently freaking out about the afternoons adventure. I mean, I had mastered the Denver transit system, after getting lost about 20 times, but Denver is not as big as Boston and not as busy. I get it, okay, suck it up Jonathan, you are a 25-year-old grown man who needs to be able to be independent. You need to learn how to do this and you won’t be alone. Pastor Kevin will be with you and God will be with you.

Okay, okay, we can do this, Pastor showed up and we headed for Boston North Station, stopping for lunch and then at the train station so I could look at the departure and arrival times for my respective trips into and out of the city. Learning how to read the board with the help of Pastor showing me how to read the times. Then we headed for North Station and did the same thing, looking at the “Big Board” of arrivals and departures with my magnifier, flying my “I’m visually impaired banner” with great pride and dignity. We then talked to a kind gate agent who informed us that there one can get disability passes that allow you and a guide to travel for free but you have to jump through 20 legal hoops to prove you are disabled (cause you the magnifier doesn’t give it away). But that was really helpful because it would save this poor seminary student money and help me get around the city a lot easier and rely less on people to drive me the hour into Boston and pick me up afterwards.

Alright, I can do this, I can master this system and I can get myself and  my girlfriend around the city without fear…I can do this…I mean…I can right?

We purchased our Subway Tickets and headed out the doors, down the sidewalk, across the street and down to the Orange-Line Station. I was still alive, I had not gotten lost, I inserted my card and the doors opened and I stepped out onto the Subway platform. I had never taken a subway trip before, this was exciting…but scary…I mean…I’ve seen Law and Order and Batman. But I’ve got this, I can do this.

We boarded the train, the doors shut, I was not shut in a small metal box traveling about 2 blocks a second and I was going to be on it for three stations. You know, what could possibly happen?

We followed the train down three stations and then, instead of switching to the Red-Line to South Station, which I will do when I go down on Friday. We decided to go check into these Disability passes and so we exited the station and walked down to the store and talked to the lady and then we decided to go up to summer street and walk down to South Station and we found it with great ease and then we decided to walk to Boston Commons and get coffee at “The Thinking Cup” and then we took the green line back to North Station…and…I did it…I learned a good amount about the Boston transit system, enough to try it on my own…Which I get to do…on Friday.

Cause you know, freaking out about things is not always the best, when you have great people in your life who love and care for you and who point you to Christ. Then you really have all you need in life and whatever happens God is going to be good and the Spirit is going to be within you and your sins are forgiven and God is in control and well…that makes learning the Boston Transit system a breeze.

Now if you’ll excuse me I am going to train for NASA…I can do that right?

 

12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oJonathan 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

I Am Done Talking About It.

 Jonathan David Faulkner

 

I think it was about 3AM sometime last year. I was lying awake because my dorm room was way too hot for early-november in New England and I had fallen asleep way too early because my allergies had been really bad that day. I had missed dinner and was hungry but knew that getting up and eating was probably a bad idea. All I could do was lay there and sweat and wonder if I was going to get back to sleep.

Of course, God had other plans for that moment, he usually does, a thing I quite enjoy about Him.

The day before I had met with the assistant pastor at the church I had begun attending (the same one my older sister is a member at) about fulfilling the Mentored Ministry requirement for my degree at that church. I had some concerns about stepping into a ministry role where I was there to learn more about doing practical ministry rather than to just do ministry. I had served as a pastor for the previous year, managed 10:31 for five years and was concerned that my own ego would get in the way of me actually learning. I was stressing about this, I did not want to let those things that once got in the way of doing ministry well, I wanted to minister.

There in my bed I asked God what I needed to do…the answer… ”Just do it.”

“Excuse me Lord?”

“Just do it”

“What do you mean?”

“Don’t just talk about it and do it…do ministry…trust in me…and do ministry.”

“You know what, that makes sense.”

Not that talking about ministry is a bad thing, it certainly is not, and it certain is necessary that Christian Leaders talk about ministry. But all too often Christians become very good at talking about doing things and then never actually do them. It sounds great to say something like: “We’re gonna make this a great Christian Community.” And then converse about creating this great Christian community to the point where we have convinced ourselves we have actually created that community even though we have not enacted those practices we talked about doing. Or we can latch onto an idea, such as Servant Leadership and preach about doing it but not actually be servant leaders ourselves.

A more popular example would be the idea of “Doing Life.” Think about it, how many times have heard the phrase “Doing life together” or the word “Intentional?” Sure, it’s great to say “Be Intentional” and it’s nice to talk about “Doing Life” but as a kid in a satire piece by The Babylon Bee so puts it “Everyone’s talking about doing life, all the time, but I have no idea what that means, to be honest, no one’s explained it to me.”

We talk about it, and we’re really good at it, but it is never demonstrated to us, in talk we leave out practicality, people grow wary of us and instead of actually doing life together, we become separate from one another. And of course, we are humans, we are fallen creatures, broken and messed up. We get frustrated with each other and hurt one another’s feelings. The reality then being the times we are actually doing life or being intentional are when there needs to be some healing work in a friendship or relationship.

Ministry falls into the same issue when we sit in planning meetings and talk about what we should do and then do not act on what we know we should do. I have even heard pastors go so far as to say: “If we want this done, we will have to spur others to do it.” Which is true, but if a pastor is not doing something himself, leading by example, how can the church really be intentional in ministry and actually do it. Programs sound great on paper, but if they are enacted out of some misinformed obligation or done half-heartedly by people who are there because they felt coerced into it then they will be ineffective. One of the things I appreciate most about the church I attend here in Hamilton is how they care of us as a church…all of us…

Why is that? Because our pastors, all of them, lead us by example, not through mere words or grand prose, but by loving us and being supportive of us as a body of Christ. All while maintaining Orthodoxy within the Reformed Tradition.

The truth is without practical practice of what we say we are going to do our words fall on deaf ears. And truly healthy relationship can operate on words alone It is easy for the Christian to talk about loving ones enemies, but when was the last time we actually did it? Even amongst believers, when disagreements arise we would rather run to our own ideological camps for protection. They will say things like: “We need to fix this” but nothing is ever done. It sounds good, but when no action is taken, it is not good.

Practical practices must be the result of prayer and seeking God in ministry. “Doing Life together” is a very “Intentional” thing when done this way. When we talk and then act the church and those who see us acting are edified instead of torn down. It also shows to them grace and the effects of the Gospel in our own lives. When love truly does spur us to good works people really will have no complaint against the body doing those works. And who knows, the Lord may add to our numbers more so than He currently is.

Jesus words were always backed by his actions. He did not merely love Lazarus, he wept over his death, he did not merely preach a message to the woman at the well, he treated her with dignity and kindness as he shared the Gospel. Even his words and actions towards the Pharisees may be construed as loving when you consider what Christ accomplished. Paul also backed up his words by his actions and the Gospel spread throughout the land.

So let’s stop talking about doing life together and actually do them for the glory of God. So that others might hear and see the good news and live.

 

12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oJonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree inChristian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

Explanation for our (Near) Silence on Orlando Shootings.

By Jonathan David Faulkner

If you do not know about it by now, then you have not been watching the news or the internet. Last Sunday a gunman walked into a LGBT nightclub and killed 50 people while injuring 53 more. This sad and tragic act has been the topic of almost every news story and point of debate everywhere from the Campaign Trail to the creators of memes and those who I call “Internet experts” that always seem to have the right opinion on Social Media. Resulting in a flurry of accusations and comments on race and violence and gun-control and treatment of the LGBT community by Christians and Republicans, debates about what an “Assault Weapon” is and finger pointing that would make the greatest debater fear for his life building to an incoherent babble that would make a Greek blush.

Everyone making comment, everyone making debate, everyone having to have their voice heard…well…except us.

I know “Jonathan, a Muslim walked into a LGBT nightclub and killed 50 people, shouldn’t you be talking about how it was God’s judgement or demanding life be sacred or defending the second amendment or talking about Islam…You’re a Christian, should you not have something to say on this?”

It turns out that I did release one statement on the subject, it was as follows.

“The fact is those who died in Orlando were made in the image of God, as was the shooter. Yes, the image was distorted and skewed and lost in depravity. But we must still mourn and pray with and for those who passed away and those who they left whether they are children of the covenant struggling with sin or not. As for what God will do, I know that He will be Just. #PrayforOrlando.”

That was all I had to say, the post was released both on the Jonathan David Faulkner Facebook Page and on my own personal profile. After that statement we moved on, choosing to engage in a discussion on the difference between Call and Vocation. An article that garnered our lowest reader count of anything we have ever released and saw none of the usual reactions to that kind of article. Meanwhile sites covering Orlando exploded, their comment sections filling up with outrage, anger and prayers for the victims.

“You could have really blown up over this, I mean, people listen to your opinion.” We know, but we did not want to be a part of what we knew was coming, and for the sake my conscious, I am glad I was not. It was like the day we released an article about Westboro Baptist by 10:31 Writer Josh Williams and our site blew up because we mentioned Westboro. But my conscious was troubled because we had stooped to their level, we had attacked them and in turn became targets. We had treated them ungraciously and I did not want to manage a ministry that sunk to that level. So I told the guys and gals that Westboro was off limits unless we could talk about them in a gracious manner. That event was also why I maintained a desire to see Joshua Feuerstien restored and see him transformed by the true Gospel way back in January when we first started researching his theology. I did not want to participate in the hatred, choosing to have fun when we and many others were called “Sissies” in a video earlier this year instead of firing back with an angry tirade of our own. I do not want to be that person, I do not want to run that type of Ministry.

Consider also that any other response would merely have been us adding to the noise and deluge of opinions without a complete understanding of the situation. I know, a Muslim man walked into a Nightclub during Ramadan and killed or injured 103 people. I know it came shortly after a Cleric spoke at a Masque in Orlando with an open anti-gay message. I know that Christians and Republicans have been blamed for the attack because they have impeded “LGBT Legislation” and proposed “Anti-LGBT Legislation” creating an environment where this was possible. I have seen the gun control debates, though I know little about guns or the finer points of the legislative process. I know that all the arguments I have heard this week have baffled me, as has all the finger pointing, and while I have opinions on Gun-Control that I will tell you if you really want to know, I also know that legislation cannot stop something like this.

So, I refused to engage in the public discourse, refusing to add to the ruckus because I did not want to be party to more division, hate and fear. I choose to do something else instead, I chose to Pray for Orlando and to carefully consider what was going on so that if I was asked I could have a well thought out, articulate response to something horrendous. I chose to react through actively praying, actively seeking the Lord and being there for those who needed comforting. To not offer an opinion, but to offer hope and love and care when it was needed most. Choosing the Gospel over destructive words.

Because, while I will never accept the LGBT Lifestyle I refuse to be hateful towards anyone who disagrees with me, in fact, to quote Glenn Beck’s statement to the LGBT Leaders in New York a few weeks back: “If someone was trying to shoot you I would stand between them and you and if I had a gun of my own, I would even shoot the person trying to shoot you.”

I hope you have seen, through reading these posts that God’s Heart considers all human life sacred. Beginning from the Imago Dei, seeing all people as made in the image of GOD and wanting to see that image renewed in Christ through Faith in Christ. We want to see people free from the bonds of what we, as an organization consider sin, but we know that being hateful and cruel does not a free man make in the end. We do seek to stand united with those who are suffering and hurting while being messengers for the Gospel. All human life has value in God’s Heart.

So that is why I have been quiet on this issue, I cannot, and will not speak out of hatred or ignorance on the issue and instead of throwing my opinion and intellectual weight around I found it better to be a light and witness to the broken and hurting. So that all might know that God is as good as He is just

 

12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oJonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree inChristian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

 

Are you really called to your Vocation?

By Jonathan David Faulkner,

This is a Think Piece, as in, we are thinking through this topic and this is not our final stance on it. Please be gracious as we take on you on this adventure of us learning. 

One of my brothers from Sterling brought this question up in a group chat with me and another brother last week, and I am glad he did. As we have all been thinking through what it really means to be Christians and have taken a critical look at the American Church we have used the group to raise those questions which often come up when looking at what we have always accepted as true. American Christianity has always taught us that you are called by God to a certain vocation and you have to be sure that God is calling you to that Vocation. This might be alright if Scripture taught it and if it had not left an entire generation of believers wondering what God was going to lead them to do as a career.

Of course, this was the idea I encountered when I first arrived at Seminary: “You should be seeking God to help you figure out your calling while you are here.” As if those unsure just do not know what God is going to do with them so they should seek Him to figure that out while they are here. Part of that is right, we should seek God to know what He has for us to do. When it comes to both our careers though I have started doubting that God calls people to specific vocations.

Do not get that confused with “I have started to doubt God,” nothing could be further from the truth. I have more confidence and a deeper faith in Him than ever, I am not questioning Him and I certainly do maintain that God can do what he wants, which includes calling to a certain vocation, but I do not think that it goes that way most of the time.

I also do not find that to be the case in scripture. Sure one can look at (as they often do) the calling of Peter or of Paul. The great Theophany that is described in the narrative of the four Gospels and the book of Acts. But to say that “God is going to do it this way with you” is to make experience normative. It makes sense of God to work that way in Israel at the time. It was for the establishment of His catholic (universal) church. The Gospels had not been written yet, the Gentiles had little to no access to hearing the good news and so God had called these men to do a specific task. And sometimes God does call us to a specific task, in fact, we are all called to a shared task. Being ministers of the Gospel.

That does not mean that we are all pastors, because we are not, but we are called to share the good news of the Gospel and make disciples of all nations. That is the shared calling of the church and because we are all created uniquely we all will do that in a different manner and through different means. This separates Calling from Vocation because it says that we are not called to a specific vocation but a specific, and shared, task. The calling of the believer is plain to us in Scripture, it is stated in both the Old and New Testaments by various writers over thousands of years and it never changes.

As for the idea that churches call pastors, I think that is sound, because God is sovereign over where we go and churches should seek after Him in deciding who is going to serve them under the leadership of Christ.

What about Vocation?

So what about our vocations? You might also ask, “Well, how did you know you are supposed to be a pastor? How did you come to the conclusion of your Vocation?”

That’s a tricky question for me, given my story one would think that I would run fast and far at the prospect of being a pastor. I remember distinctly when God brought that idea to mind, and I say He did it, because it was an unnatural thought to me at the time, to even consider being a pastor. But as other evaluated my skills and walked with me through life they began to affirm that as a very good potential vocation for me.

As God changed my heart over the next few years after it began to become something I wanted to do. I wanted to be with God’s people, I was starting to love them more and more deeply. I love the church, with all our dysfunctions and I want the church to know of the deep love of God for them. As much as I rail against the American Church, I do love it, I just want to see it built up and abandon those things that have kept it from knowing the fullness of God.

One of my brothers pointed out that what should lead us to our vocations then is where our pleasure, desires and skills place us. Those skilled in teaching scripture should probably be pastors or professors. I have had two vocations in my adult life, working as a grounds keeper and pastoring a small church. Both were enjoyable to me, I could have been happy in both, but my love for God’s people makes the second one more preferable.

For the man who is good with numbers, perhaps accounting is the best vocation for him based on the skills that God has given him. That man is still called to be a minister of the Gospel, this would make his vocation a means to carrying out his call.

Vocation as means to call is closer to what Scripture describes for us. We see this specifically in Paul who made tents so that he could carry out his call. Tent making became was his vocation, preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles was his call.

When we separate vocation and call we create less panic in the life of the believer. God has called us to live out and be ministers of the Gospel, the means by which we do that are our vocations.

I think this view also requires us to abandon the rampant individualism that has become a huge problem within the church in America. Forcing us to see one another as part of a large body, trying to carry out that which we are collectively called to. It also forces us to stop seeing as some vocations as “Less holy” than others. Eliminating dividing lines that society puts between the Pastor and the Janitor. Making us one body, carrying out one call through different means.

Because we are one, with one call, let’s do it together and seek to do it by grace alone.

12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oJonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree inChristian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

FOTF: Clarification on Comments on Christian Rocker Trey Pearson:

By Bradly Taylor:

Every other Friday Jonathan answers questions from me and you. This week we felt we needed to go a different route and respond to some of those who messaged us through the website and Facebook over Jonathan’s Comments on Trey Pearson “Coming Out” in a letter to his fans.  God’s Heart for Those does hold to a reformed view of Theology and accepts Homosexuality as one of many sins the bible speaks plainly about.

 

From the Desk of Jonathan David Faulkner

On Thursday, June 2nd I posted the following post on Facebook regarding Trey Pearson of Everyday Sunday who recently “Came out” to a letter to his fans. I got a lot of mixed responses to I want to clarify my position so that you are aware of where I stand. The post was as follows:

Christian Rocker Trey Pearson of Everyday Sunday came out as gay to his fans this week. This saddens me, I love Everyday Sunday and own all their albums and covered them a few times while working for the media. That being said I will still listen to them and forgive Trey and pray for him. I do not know or pretend to know anything about this struggle and as one who believes in the council of Scripture on this matter I have to walk the line between not wanting a person to live in what scripture irrefutably calls a sin and loving that person right where they are at. I will pray for Trey, he is still my brother in Christ and I want to see him restored in every way. I will still love and treat him as such.

In this day and age it can be hard to get across a point in a post on the internet, it is much easier to get our point across when we have face to face communication. However, in the world of the internet, people want to see a reaction so they can react. Honestly, I did not post this so people could react or so I could start disagreements. That was farthest from my point. I wanted to convey an attitude of prayer towards Trey and of love in the hopes of seeing him restored to Christ.

One commenter asked me how I could “Love him where he is at” if where he is at is in sin? It is a great question, and I am glad he asked it, and this tended to be the most contentious point so I will make it the focus of this reply.

First of all, as believers I do believe that Jesus does love us wherever we are at. Sure, we do grieve him by either rejecting him (unbelievers) or a believer living in habitual sin. I honestly believe Trey would fall under the second category if he has acted upon and continued to act upon what scripture tells us is a sin. I have no reason to doubt that he is not a believer, but in a culture where even the church has abandoned teachings on true Christian Identity, should we be surprised? I have never met Trey, but in his music I can see no evidence that suggests he was never a believer. On the contrary, I have seen his ministry yield good fruit. Both in my own life and in the lives of others. I do believe he has fallen into sin (if he is practicing) and needs to deal with that sin. He needs loving council, he needs grace, he needs to know where his identity lies and know the truth of the gospel.

He needs correction, and it must be done right. However, I am not the person to do that.

As I said before, I do not know Trey, I have never met him, I have seen Everyday Sunday once in my lifetime, reviewed “The Best Night of Our Lives” for Altrocklive.com and talked to their manager about doing a benefit concert once a long time ago. If there was anyone less qualified to correct Trey it is the Christian who has never listened to the band, knows nothing about them, knows nothing about Trey and who probably wrote a blog post about how Trey is now going to hell. (I have not checked; I was on vacation).

Now, that being said, regardless of whether or not he is a believer or a non-believer I am called to love him as Christ. If he is an unbeliever I have to love him by praying that someone would bring the Gospel to him and that by that the Spirit would correct his chosen life course that is contrary to scripture. If he is a believer to love him means to pray that someone would come alongside him and correct his behavior in love and by the Holy Spirit. I cannot correct Trey by boycotting his music, condemning him in a blog post or standing up at an Everyday Sunday show and shouting at him. In fact, as a believer, as one who has had that charge leveled at me for doing “Folk Rock” and who has got to witness the brutality of Westboro Baptist first hand I refuse to do any of those things. It is not my place, I will not be a voice that could potentially drive Trey further from the true and perfect Gospel of Christ. I will pray that there is someone in Trey’s life that can minister to him in this time and do so lovingly.

As for the comment about continuing to listen to his music, I cannot truly say how I will respond to hearing an Everyday Sunday Song until I actually hear one. Since I have been out of town since the story broke I have not had a chance to. But I hope that the good, life-giving memories that I associate with those songs will be untainted by what the artist does.

Folks, I do not claim to be perfect, far from it in fact, but I serve a perfect God. A God who does love Trey and who desires to see him restored to Himself. Therefore I must trust that God to do the work that is necessary in Trey’s life. A work that I, as someone who does not know Trey, cannot be a part of in any other way then loving and praying for my brother in Christ.

 

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Bradly Taylor is the Content editor for God’s Heart for Those. 

You Might Be at the Right Church If…

By Jonathan David Faulkner

 This is a humor piece, a fluff piece if you will, it is meant to make you laugh, please be gracious with us and all those who might want to discuss its content. 

I go to a Congregationalist Church here in Hamilton MA. It is one of the few churches in the area that Seminary Students want to go to, which is unfortunate considering the Seminary is right here in Hamilton and Gordon College is on the other side of town. It is a growing church in the reformed puritan tradition, over 300 years old. George Whitefield preached on the steps there a long, long time ago. They were also responsible for the founding of Ohio University, which I will let you decide if that is a good thing or not.

But being from this tradition they follow the Liturgy which I like, I am liturgical at heart and I like that we say the Creeds and sing the Doxology and sing our responses to prayers. It is a happy mix between the High Church Anglicanism that I am fond of and the low-church Baptist Church I pastored after College. We do Communion, once a month, which I am okay with because how often we do communion is never a hill to die on…unless you never do it…or do it like the Corinthians.

We even say the Lord’s Prayer, which I love cause I was raised Presbyterian and really love saying the Lord’s Prayer. More so these days since I have the tools to study it further and see its beauty…but sometimes I still make mistakes when saying it, like last Sunday:

I was going along, on auto-pilot, after all of the 1,300 Sunday’s in my 25 years I have probably said the Lord’s Prayer on 70% of them. So you know, I’ve got this…until the last line when I started on “Thine be the glory…dang it…dominion and glory forever.”

I had done the unthinkable…I was not sure what to do…this was a puritan church at one point, did they still draw and quarter people? I started looking around for notepads and rolls of quarters. What if the pastor heard me utter the word “Dang” during the Lord’s prayer, does pressing hurt? Can I get some feedback on this? I mean, I was seriously worried. Can a Calvinist still be burned at the stake? I started planning my escape, the thirteen year old next to me snickered, my older sisters roommate leaned over and said “I did not know dang it was in the Lord’s prayer.”

I mean, at this point I have committed heresy right? I should be taken out back and stoned, I messed up the Lord’s Prayer. Maybe I should not have taken that class on Medieval Spirituality, maybe I am going insane. It’s okay, I will be gone next week…I just have to get out of the building that Sunday..

A few moments later I had a chance to redeem myself, the Doxology, nervously clutching my bulletin in hand in case I forgot the words to this too and had to rely on a piece of paper to remember something I should have memorized. And I did, I got it perfectly, even sang the melody because I am a Calvinist and Calvin did not like Harmonizing and I was already facing stoning or stake burning or the fires of Hell…perhaps even Purgatory, I could not mess that up too and I did not. To which I was met with the response by both my sisters roommate and the thirteen year old who had snickered at me saying “You go that one.” Which was good because I do not like the idea of having people draw me and throw quarters at me (that’s how that works right).

In the end it was okay, I asked for forgiveness from the thirteen year old, after all I had failed ot be a good example of how to memorize the Lord’s Prayer and no one threatened to hang me from the big tree in the side yard of the church.

Why?

Because I am at the right church, the kind of church that I know loves me and cares for me and is interested in seeing me grow in my Christian Walk. Who wants me there on Sunday and who wants me to be involved on a Sunday. They preach the gospel, show grace, pray for each other and most importantly love God and know that God loves them.

I mean, I did have legitimate fears about stepping down from my pulpit and moving to a whole new town and searching for a new church home. I am a victim of a spiritually/emotionally abusive church, when I arrived here I had been in the same church for 2.5 years before taking my first pastoral position and then I did not have to worry about distrusting the pastor because I was the pastor. I had had to deal with a major church change since I left for college in-spite of leaving the PCUSA church I was attending in favor of an ABC church my friend attended. So when I moved to MA I had to deal with those fears again. Partly because I was adjusting to a new environment and partially (I am sure) because I was still recovering from the concussion.

But, my now mentor, the associate pastor and I talked through things, everything. I even sat down with our senior pastor about it and left that meeting with a lot of peace of mind. I have since joined the church as a full member, a step it took me almost two years to do at my previous church (keep in mind I was only there for 2.5 years).

I joined a church that cared for me as a believer and wanted to see me grow in both the individual relationship with God and grow within the corporate body of the Church. To stretch me and give me wisdom when I needed it and to strengthen my faith through solid preaching and great community, offering no judgement but instead open arms to this man who once hated the church, who could have called himself an enemy of God’s people while still counting himself one….Who God would meet in a far off city and call to Pastoral Ministry and a ministry of renewal and revitalization.

Because, that is how God works, He calms our fears when we are simply resigned to trusting in Him and His design for life. You can trust Him with your life because He is in control and is constantly with you. Abiding with you and dwelling in you. If you can grasp that, maybe not understand it because I know I do not, but grasp that truth it can totally shift your perspective on life. Free you from whatever it is that has been keeping you back and as you learn to just allow God to work in you and through you find the reward is so much greater, if not in this life, the next for sure.

I could have left the church, I could have failed miserably, I could have told God “No” when He called me to the Pastoral Ministry, but instead I chose to follow after Him knowing that He could use my brokenness for something greater, and He has.

Look, I do not pretend to know what you are going through, but the reality is that you are not alone. That God and His people are there for you, just trust that He can bring you where you need to be, that He can heal the scars from your past and suddenly little old ladies with notepads or teenagers holding quarter rolls seem a lot less intimidating (cause, that’s how that works right?)

 

12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oJonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree inChristian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry