Month: January 2017

Fire With Fire: We have to Stop Hating.

By Jonathan Faulkner

 

A long time ago, in high school and college I was a big fan of the TV show Bones. For those familiar with it one of the characters, Jack Hodgins is a Conspiracy Theorist who spends a great deal of his dialogue during the shows early years taking every opportunity to remind everyone at the Jefferson-Legal Lab that Big Brother is watching and how corrupt the Government is. At one point, during an especially tense episode Jack and his co-worker and soon to be lover have a bit of a dust up. “I guess I get so worried no one is listening, that if I just keep talking someone will care.” Angela’s response: “Yeah, you have to be careful that you don’t speak so loud that no one wants to hear you.”

I do not know why, but this scene has always stood out to me as profound, a unique moment in a show that should not have carried past six seasons (it lasted 11). The idea that we can become so loud in our protestations that no one wants to listen and shuts off our viewpoint because we have gone so far as to discredit ourselves. Contrast that with the person who, also a true believes in their cause, seeks to use education, research, logic and action to show the validity of their points. For example, if one believes in caring for others they will find the best avenue possible for caring for others. Russell Moore and Timothy Keller are examples of men, in the church, who have a good standing among secularist because they have chosen this second route. To engage culture and ask the questions culture is asking with the intention of seeking to being healing and reconciliation.

Today, we have largely ignored both options, choosing instead to go beyond the rantings of Dr. Jack Hodgins in Bones, to a the constantly critical and hateful rhetoric employed by Westboro Baptist Church, now adapted for the use both the Far-Left and the Far-Right. Both groups, being so out-of-touch with the reality before them they will use any means necessary to get across their point including, and not limited to comments about how “Deplorable” either side is and some pretty terrible comments targeting a 10 year who happens to be related to our President.

Of course, if you call both sides reactions to the other what it is, you are in danger of becoming the target of such hatred and vitriol as you have never experienced before.  Both sides hate the other and as they continue to railroad each other they allow their hatred to further drive them apart. Relying on what are essentially false narratives to fuel their hate-laced tirades. Take note, I am not talking about one particular side, I am saying that both sides have done this; whether it was the hate filled tirades over President Obama that some spent 8 years making or the hate filled tirades against Trump that have only escalated. Hate has continued to breed hate, division has bred more division. No one who speaks of Tolerance, be it left or right, has any idea what it means to be tolerant. Those doctrines which we most completely claim to cherish are the first things we abandon when someone disagrees with us. Speeches about Equality give way to actions that continue to keep other viewpoints down in the name of said equality.

I am of the firmest of opinions that if we had laid down our picket signs and let go of our hatred after the Election was final we would have been much better off by now. Had we put the energy we have put into hatred and angry protest, we would have been able to heal divisions and at least be working towards reconciliation. Had we taken it upon ourselves to seek a peaceful and loving solution to these issues long ago we would already be living in a much better world then the one we live in now.

Please note, I am not saying there is anything wrong with anger or with having frustrations, but when you allow that anger to cause you to degrade any person, no matter how wrong they may be, you have done nothing to aid your cause. If you stoop to the level of the bully, you have not ceased the bullying, only created another bully.

I have said before, true and lasting change will not be achieved through the picket-lines. True and lasting change comes from an everyday desire and challenge to be better individuals so that we can be a better community. It starts with the Resolve to be first-and-foremost a peacemaker, to forgo hate in the interest of love and what is best for all.

Now, this is not a thing man can do of his own volition, it is impossible for us to even lay down our corrupt natures, given to hatred, without the work of the Holy Spirit. I know my non-Christian readers will disagree, but as a believer who holds to Trinitarian beliefs that is my stance. We cannot, and will not be able to conquer these issues on our own. Even the simple task of giving up the vice of hatred towards another is impossible because of our fallen state. We need the washing of regeneration, we need the renewal of the Holy Spirit. That only comes through the blood of Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins. We need the Holy God to come and make us Holy and Righteous people. Our own human efforts have continued to fail, we need the saving grace of Christ to flood our hearts.

Oh Friends, we have resorted to fighting fire with fire, hate has begotten hate, our dissenting viewpoints have become so loud that no one wants to listen. It is time to lay down those picket signs and step across dividing lines. Let us acknowledge our pain and brokenness and work through the work of peace and healing that comes through the Cross of Christ.

I love you all.

 

Jonathan D12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oavid 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

#GospelDrivenSissyPreacher: I am Not Afraid of Donald J. Trump; I am Resolved.

I AM RESOLVED TO LIVE OUT THE GOSPEL!

By Jonathan David Faulkner

Let me set this out right now so there can be no confusion; I was not nor will I ever be a Trump supporter. I did not vote for him and this website was very open in its opposition to him and support of another candidate who did not make it out of the Republican Primary. I cannot justify voting for someone who would degrade women or speak so condescendingly to those who disagree with him. I am not qualified to judge his heart, but the fruit of division, anger and fear that he has gardened is enough to turn me and those around me off to him.

That being said, I have seen more than one person make the joke that Friday, January 20th 2017 is a day to be dreaded because, that morning, Donald J. Trump will take office. I have listened and read various articles in both the Washington Post and other news outlines that are little more than fear-mongering and seen those around me spout off angry tweets and facebook posts, some of which would make The Donald blush. I have seen posts by the most Liberal of the my friends predicting all sorts of disasters and evil deeds. Everyone is telling me that I should be terrified of this man.

But, I am not, in fact as the Inauguration of our 45th president approaches I have a great and lasting peace. A greater peace than that which I had after the election of a man who’s every policy I have mostly disagreed with. I have a peace about Friday, I am not afraid, I am at rest.

Do I sense the uneasiness of my friends? Yes, I feel all of it.  Am I living in some privileged position because I have this peace and to some that might seem like I am “Shutting it off?” I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. Do I want to invalidate concerns about our incoming president? No, at least not the reasonable ones, but those which are unreasonable and the result of fear-mongering and hate speech from those who so strongly appose him that they would say anything to cause others to cast doubt on him, I would if it meant my brothers and sisters getting to rest their weary, worried souls.

No, I am not afraid of Donald J. Trump, I am resolved. I have a task, and I am going to carry it out.

My task is this; to live a life that first and foremost reflects Christ and, while holding to the Orthodox doctrines of my faith practice living a life that cares for and builds up all around me whether they be LGBTQ+, Black, Muslin, Disabled, Trump Supporter, Trump Hater. Those I agree with and most-definitely those, I disagree with. To find the healthy tension between what I believe and how I practice it and to practice it well. To live out my calling as an image-bearer and Disciple of the Triune God for the benefit and blessing of all I come in contact with, whoever they may be. It is my job now to do the work that Scripture has laid out for me to do and to do that work well.

I do believe, that the words spoken through the prophet Jeremiah can apply to us today, that now that we are in an unfavorable position and with an unfavorable ruler we should: “Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. 6‘Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. 7‘Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’ 8“For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream. 9‘For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,’ declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 29:6-9).

The time has come for us to be the blessing we were called to be, to be salt and light to an increasingly darkening world. Right now, as a direct result of displacement, fear, persecution and the pain of death. Thousands of Arabs are turning to Christ because a light has met them in the darkness. We can have the same result here if we just stop fighting and go about doing the work we are called, by God, in Christ to do. The fields are ready for planting of the true seed. People are questioning, afraid, alone, starring into the immense darkness and beginning to lose their minds. Brother and Sisters, now is the time for us to stand up and work for the betterment of our nation. Not merely because we live here and are planted here, but because others are with us.

Now we must be the people of God. Now we must lay aside our differences and come together as a living, Worshiping, Serving, Missional Body with the Cross and the Word of Truth going before us. A Word that we have learned to rightly divide by the Power of the Holy Spirit so that we may teach and preach it with our words but also with our lives; we must now carry out the greatest two commandments. To Love God and Love our Neighbor. Let us set aside our opinions and cast off that which divides us and be united as one body of Christ, One Church.

No, I am not afraid of Donald J. Trump, I am resolved and at peace for I know that my God is the God who parted the Red Sea, who brought down the walls of Jericho, who made the sun stand still in the sky, who defended Jerusalem. My God is the God who created the world, who sent His only son to die on the cross for the worlds sins. My God is the God of Peace, The God of Mercy, the God of Love, The God of grace, The God of Justice, The God of Righteousness. He is; to use the words of Pastor Matt Chandler: “Immensely Powerful and Intensely Personal.”

This is my God and there’s so much more to Him than this.

This is why I do not have to fear a man and have no fear of who is in the White House. Because my hope is built in nothing less than God himself and my faith will not be shaken by fear mongering or hate-speech from either side.

I am not afraid of Donald J. Trump; I am Resolved to live the Gospel.

And if that makes me a Sissy Preacher, then so be it.

#Gospeldrivensissypreacher

 

 Jonathan D12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oavid 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

Scared of Marriage – And Glad for It!

By Jonathan David Faulkner

 

Being Vulnerable is hard, but in this instance, I think it is absolutely necessary. Since this has been on my mind a lot lately, I want to share these, maybe unconventional, maybe strange thoughts with you because I think they are important.

Every day I get close to marriage to the most incredible woman I have ever had the Joy of knowing and as the day gets closer I have this growing fear and sense that I am not ready and that produces fear in me. Am I really ready for this new chapter?

I started planning my honeymoon this morning, called the resort, got the rates I needed so that I can hopefully book a week with my new bride before I have to come back and start classes again. But it was there, the sense that I am not ready for this, that I am afraid to be married. When someone asked me if I was going to take a Dave Ramnsey course offered by my church my answer was: “I have no problem handling personal finances, it’s handling finances for two that scares me.” Unfortunately I cannot take the class since I am teaching one that starts before that class ends.

We have not even started Pre-Marital Counseling yet and I am already feeling the weight. Maybe it’s the years of asking God to prepare me for marriage, knowing that I would never truly be prepared. Maybe it is my over developed sense of moral responsibility. I mean, I am taking on the responsibility of another life, one that I do love and cherish, but even so, I have never really done that on a day-to-day level for anyone but myself.

How do I take the gentleness and care and love that has so beautifully defined our courtship and help foster that 24/7 365? I know, I know, that’s an unrealistic expectation and there will be hard times, but that doesn’t mean I should give up on fostering the most loving relationship I can. I mean, I am screwed up, what if she sees all my faults and she finds something she doesn’t like. What if the hard man I used to be surfaces, the one my parents and sisters always warned me about. I can still be overly sensitive at times and I have to check my attitudes and make sure I am listening.

I mean, I have to care for another human being and do my best to continue showing her the grace of God and the love of the Church. I have to care for her physical, emotional and spiritual needs and I have to lead her.

What if I mess up our finances?
What if I get hurt and can’t provide?
What if I am a terrible father?

What if I do not follow God?

So many questions, but that last one scares me the most. Why is that? Because I cannot properly manage and steward a household or be an effective leader in my marriage unless I am following Christ. He should be my first and only focus that all other focuses come under. If I look at my marriage through the lens of my focus on Christ I can handle it, if I do not, then I will fail.

It may not be that black & white, but as a principle for helping us navigate those murky waters of the fears associated with not feeling ready it is a pretty good one. If I am following Christ, I should be able to carry our my responsibilities to her and guard her heart and spirit and body. If I diverge from that, try to do these things on my own strength, I will fail to care for her.

The words of Sanctus Reel’s “Lead Me” come to mind in my morning prayers a lot. Knowing that I can call on the God of the Universe for leadership and Guidance is as great a comfort as one can get. Knowing that He has promised to do just that, lead me and guide me, gives an even greater comfort still.

Guys, I’m terrified by the responsibilities of marriage, and I am so not ready. But God has ordained this and I trust and have faith in Him for all wisdom and guidance going forward.

Yeah, I’m scared of marriage, but I am glad I am. That fear has driven me to Christ and I know I can trust in Him for and in all things to come.

 

15822632_1873486419538283_9070681434368236510_n-1

 Jonathan D12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oavid 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

Hope in the Disaster: A Personal Reflection on 2016

By Jonathan David Faulkner  

 

2016 is over, and I think we are all glad for it.

Well…most of us.

Unlike the rest of my facebook feed I actually had a pretty good 2016, yes, I was not thrilled with the outcome of the presidential elections and yes there were some horrendous crimes and atrocities committed and yes, those things should be addressed and talked about, but as far as personal reflection goes, 2016 will go down as one of the better years of my life. Maybe it was the fact that, after experiencing the Hell (for lack of a better term) of fighting my own brain in the long recovery process that was 2015 things could only go up. Or maybe it was the total perspective shift that had come into full effect by the time 2016 began. Certainly learning to totally and completely rely on God for all things important and mundane and the decision to enter 2016 with no other expectation that God would be God were certainly healthy things to do.

But in reflection, 2016 was not a bad year for me.

As a recap:

  1. I overcame a lifelong struggle with mathematics and finally finished my diploma (After 7 years of trying)
  2. I started praying the Psalms
  3. I conquered the language that gave me fits when I first arrived at Seminary in the fall of

2015

  1. I met, courted and proposed, and in 100 some odd days am getting married to the most amazing woman (pictured above)
  2. I played in a pretty awesome band, with a great group of brothers.
  3. I made a ton of new friends
  4. I traveled

This is not meant to be a “hey look at me” type article, there were a good deal of lows in 2016 as well (the aftermath of the presidential election being one of them). But in the end, I cannot say that 2016 was a terrible year because I would be lying.

Really, I cannot take credit for a good year because I thought I had 2015 begged as the greatest year of my entire life. It turned out to be the greatest nightmare of my entire life. 2016 became for me the “year of no expectations” where I expected nothing of anyone or anything but for the God of the universe, the God who brought me through 2015, to be the same God who brought me through 2016. I had no hopes that a man in a white house would help my life, but that a God who was sovereign over that white house (even when we do not think He is) would continue to be. I did not give myself a good year, God allowed, and gave me the tools and support to accomplish and overcome and created and provided the means. The same God who prompted random church members to hand me a check that helped pay the bills or put food on the table at the last second when I thought I was not going to make it in 2015 was the same God who walked with me through those math and Greek courses in 2016. Along the way reminding me of that soft and gentle comfort he whispered to me in the Labyrinth on the sunny day in July; “I am with you, and I love you.”

Yeah, I do not have it all together, and there are things in 2017 that scare me like the responsibility of marriage and wondering about jobs and finances. I am still concerned about school and how I am going to pay back the massive debt I am incurring because I am in Seminary. But though there are things that scare me I am not afraid and I have peace.

 

Peace and hope and the knowledge that the same God who saw me through 2015 and who prospered me in 2016 will be the same God who is guiding me and walking with me in 2017. I have confidence and I have assurance through Holy Scripture and through the gentle love of those around me.

If you are reading this and you had a rough 2016, let me encourage you in this: If you surrender completely to the will, provision and love of GOD. You may begin to see the struggle that was 2016 in a whole new light. I can look back on 2015, from Jennifer’s death to the fall to the move to failing my first seminary class as an act of Mercy because in that I learned to fully trust and be at peace with God and who He made me to be.

Dearest brothers and sisters; there is a peace that surpasses all understanding, there is a hope that never fails us, there is grace in the waiting and there is love in ever moment. Let them draw you to deeper faith and let God teach you to trust His holy provision and guidance.

 

 Jonathan D12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oavid 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

2016 Book List

By Jonathan David Faulkner

Dear Reader:

 

Contained here is my 2016 book list, a list of all the books I read this year. It includes some great books and some not so great books. Some of them were quite informative, some of them were not. Some are fiction, some are non-fiction, some are really good books and I recommend them, some I recommend caution in reading. Regardless I pray you are blessed by this and that you may find in this list a book that encourages you and energizes you in 2017.

 

2016 Book List:

 

  1. The Doctrine of the Covenant in Reformed Theology: Vox
  2. The Reformed Doctrine of Justification: J.I Packer
  3. The Plan of God: J.I Packer
  4. Religious Affections: Jonathan Edwards
  5. Becoming Good: Dr. David Gill
  6. The Excellency of Christ: Jonathan Edwards
  7. The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship – George Marsden
  8. On the Incarnation: Athanasius
  9. The Rule of St. Benedict: St. Benedict
  10. The Rule of St. Francis (all three): St. Francis
  11. The Life of St. Francis: Bernardo
  12. The Little Flowers of Asissi: Bernardo
  13. Jonathan Edwards Bible: Stephan Nicole
  14. The Outrageous idea of Christian Scholarship: George Marsdon
  15. Spiritual Friendship: Aelred of Reivoulx
  16. Practicing Christian Doctrine: Beth Felker Jones
  17. Christian Historiography: Five Rival Views:  Jay D. Green
  18. The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind: Mark Noll
  19. The Real Scandal of the Evangelical Mind: Karl Truman
  20. Catching Ricebirds: Marcus M. Doe
  21. Histories and Fallacies: Karl Truman
  22. Why Church History Matters: Robert Fea
  23. The Ecumenical Creeds (Vol 1): Philip Schaff
  24. The History of the Christian Church in 8 Volumes (Vol 1) Philip Schaff
  25. What is Church History: Philip Schaff
  26. The Life of Philip Schaff, In Part Autobiographical, Philip and David Schaff.
  27. Concerning Christian Liberty: Martin Luther  
  28. A Treatise of Good Works: Martin Luther
  29. Ethics: Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  30. Discipleship: Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  31. Life Together: Dietrich Bonhoeffer  
  32. Sanctorum Communio: Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  33. Creation & Fall: Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  34. Act & Being: Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  35. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906-1945 Pastor, Martyr, Thinker, Man of Courage: Ferdinand Schlinensiepen
  36. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Eberhard Bethge
  37. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy: Eric Metaxas  
  38. Lectio Divina: Giglio
  39. The Book of Margerie Kempf: Margerie Kempf
  40. The Life of St. Francis: Paul Saubat
  41. France of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas: G.K. Chesterton
  42. Spiritual Theology: Simon Chan
  43. Invitation to a Journey: M. Robert Mullholland Jr.
  44. Emotionally Healthy Christianity: Peter Scavvaro
  45. The Cistercion World: Collection of Cistercion writings: Various
  46. Liturgies of the Christian Tradition: Various
  47. Water to Wine: Brian Zahnd
  48. Basic Christianity: John Stott
  49. Streams of Living Water: Richard Foster
  50. The Phantom of the Opera: Gaston Laruox
  51. The Hunt for Red October: Tom Clancy
  52. Patriot Games: Tom Clancy
  53. The Cardinal in the Kremlin: Tom Clancy
  54. Clear and Present Danger: Tom Clancy
  55. The Sum of All Fears: Tom Clancy
  56. Debt of Honor: Tom Clancy
  57. Executive Orders: Tom Clancy
  58. A Child’s History of England: Charles Dickins
  59. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – Selected
  60. The Writings of St. Francis: St. Francis of Assis
  61. Plato and a Platypus walk into a Bar: Philosophy through Jokes:
  62. Eager to Love: Richard Rohr
  63. Fools Talk: Oz Guiness
  64. Casket Empty: Carol Kaminski, Dr. Palmer
  65. Boxen: C.S. Lewis
  66. In the Shadow of the Almighty: Elizabeth Elliot
  67. End of Discussion: Guy Benson and Mary Katherine Ham
  68. The bible, Disability and the Church: Amos Young
  69. We are Market Basket: Grant Walker Daniel Korshun
  70. Freakonomics: Steven J. Levitt, Stephen J Gubner
  71. Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Thomas Carthcart, Daniel Klien
  72. Awesome Bill from Dawsonville: Bill Elliot, Chris Millard
  73. Shame: How America’s past sins polaraized society: Shelly Steele
  74. Hard Driving: A Wendell Scott Story: Brian Donavan
  75. Favre: Brett Favre
  76. Epistle Against the Arians: Alexander of Alexandria
  77. On the Manicheans: Alexander of Lycopolis
  78. Exposition of the Christian Faith – Book One: St. Ambrose
  79. Exposition of the Christian Faith – Book Two: St. Ambrose  
  80. Domby & Sons: Charles Dickens
  81. At Home in Mitford: Jan Karon
  82. *Building God’s Kingdom – Inside the Word of Christian Reconstructionism: Julie Jinglesoll
  83. Thoughts for the Quiet Hour: D.L. Moody