Category: Director’s Corner

Avoiding Schizophrenia Or Finding the Middle Ground

Avoiding Schizophrenia Or Finding the Middle Ground

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            Authors Note: This article covers two extremes, understand biased will be shown.

They are two opposite extremes. One makes people think we are crazy and the other makes people we think we are stiff and judgmental. Yes, I’m talking about what New-agers have dubbed Emotionalism and Intellectualism. Two very different viewpoints, and yes extremes. Emotionalism is just that, an Ideology based entirely on experience through emotions, whether that be of God or of some other thing that may hold our attention. While Intellectualism is based in the intellect, the mind can solve the problems, we must have head knowledge over heart. The idea here is that we gain knowledge about God or our relationship with God is based entirely on biblical knowledge.

Traditionally the Emotional ones look down on the intellectuals for never “having loosening up and being boards.” At the same time the Intellectuals look down on the emotional ones for being “immature” or “Overly charismatic.” Interestingly enough not much work has been done to try to reconcile the two viewpoints, but that is not surprising when you consider how often one viewpoint blasts another in the church today. Is it so surprising we have no sort of reconciliation in the matter. We either Blast Rob Bell for his existential remarks of never understanding God or we go after John MacCarther for his overly intense application of his vast knowledge.

Wherever we fall on this issue most of us have visited one extreme or the other throughout our spiritual walk. Emotionalist rave against scripture and theology, while creating a dangerous personal theology that rejects discipline and sound doctrine. Relying on a “God fix” or “Spiritual High” to allow them to experience God on some “level” that is apparently higher than everyone else. While Intellectuals yell at the flock to “Settle down.” Creating legalism where there was none before, acting as though knowledge of scripture will save them There has been no attempt to reach a middle ground, we go right or we go left and as we attempt to stand divided we crumble under out own

So here we are once again, doing it wrong and ignoring the rifts until they are too unstable and the church resembles an opinionated social club rather than a family. But not anymore, no more, we need a middle ground. But we’ve been given one, one that both emotionalist and intellectuals misinterpret, the Word of God.

You see, we are commanded by Jesus to know and teach in full, the commandments of God (see Matt. 5:13-20). To also be salt and light, a preserver of the world and flavor adders, making the Life that God offers us so much more appealing than a high we chase or a bit of knowledge to grasp. John writes to the saints in his letters “So that our Joy may be complete.” As if to say that knowledge of who God is, when transferred to the heart, becomes an emotion, Joy. Do you see where I’m going? If we claim to know God we “Keep the commandments of God,” and “Anyone who claims to know God and does not keep these commandments is a liar” (2 John 2:3-4).

The point is that scripture presents itself as a focal point for the believers life. If you and I were to study scripture and seek to follow God through scripture then we will find ourselves united. Paul writes to Timothy: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, as one who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15). To keep the commands of God we must first know the commands, for them to transfer to our hearts there first must be a transformation of the mind. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good, acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2, Italics mine).

Am I rejecting emotions? By no means, my first goal is to encourage spiritual growth so that we “are no longer infants, tossed about by every wave of doctrine” (Eph 4:14). It is essential for the believer to have head knowledge but from that head knowledge, when it becomes hidden in our hearts we find that our emotions become truly defined in the way that they were meant to be.

My father recently told me “the presence of God and the word of God is so deeply engrained in us that sometimes we forget it is there. We do not always realize how much God’s presence and the Word of God impacts our day to day lives.” But what is the impact? I find I have Joy, a deep unfailing Joy, Joy is an emotion, but this is not some spiritual high this is ever present. I have love, I have a love for people that is so deep and overflowing that most days I cannot keep it in. I have sadness when one of my brothers or sisters is mourning or suffering. Instead of a fleeting feeling I have found eternal assurance both in who I am as a Christian and who God has revealed Himself to be through His Word and through prayer. So I do not reject emotions, they are a part of me, just as my spiritual gifts of teaching and exhortation are a part of me. Knowledge, wisdoms, emotions all stemming from a deep abiding faith in God, letting His Word guide and renew my heart and mind.

But here’s the kicker, this is not easy, but it also is not hard. Yes, it requires us to study, to put aside a simple feeling and to know. But we do not do this alone. We have the Holy Spirit which we received at Salvation, to guide us to show us scripture. We have the older saints who are wiser and more seasoned than us to Disicple us and most importantly we have the grace of God Himself, and the Word that He has given us so that we might be sanctified and given a place in a vast and varied body of people who love God and love each other, and who do their best to be a witness to everyone.

So that one day we may hear the encouragement and heed the advice of Paul, who tells the Thessalonians: “Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one” (1 Thess. 4:11-12). We need a balance, we need reconciliation, we need to find the middle.

Street Psalms

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Street Psalms

 

            Picture if you will a back alley way. Somewhere in between a large bookstore and a Starbucks Coffee, do you see the sidewalks leading in? They are well kept, red brick, full of people and bicycles going where they will. Occasionally a bus flies past on its way to the next intersection. There are no cars because this part of the city is meant only for pedestrians and busses. Traveling at light speed, not stopping to notice them as they stand over a trash can fire or sit on the curb or attempt to stay warm as the cold mile high night air sinks into their bones. One of them has a bottle of Jack, another has a cigarette and still another man is huddled under blankets. This is how they will sleep tonight, this is how they will awake the next morning, without anyone noticing.

That assumes of course that none of the local patrols come through and run them out, telling them to find somewhere else to sleep. Tonight that will happen and one of them will be arrested for trying to fight with the police officers. Which is what he wanted, after all even one night in prison is better than trying to find another place to sleep.

Welcome to Denver Colorado, welcome to the bleeding places. Where people who are forgotten get together to remember what community feels like. The knowledge is evident, the wisdom is coherent, you won’t survive another night without your brothers. Because there is something strangely comforting in knowing you were not the only one to hear “Get a job” or who someone looked down on during the night.

Three years removed from Denver I discovered how easy it is to forget these things. Forget nights spent with the guys flying signs or trying to sell newspapers. The same guys I would serve a meal to at Christ’s Body, the same guys who’s stories broke my heart day in and day out. I want to go back to that place, to see the faces, old and new. You promise to visit but rarely do you get the chance too. Then you hear the stories from your contacts, men such as my supervisor John, knowing that some of the guys have met untimely ends at the hands of drug addictions, police violence, the person in Aurora who is beating up God’s homeless men and women.

Where is the light in the bleeding places, where is the light that the darkness has not understood. Like a tiny watch light in the darkest place gives off so much light could be the gospel in the hands of the believers. End homelessness? Didn’t Jesus promise we’d always have the poor among us? But where is the lament? Who cares for the beggar Lazarus at the rich man’s door? Are we so caught up in going overseas that our own backyard has grown over and become unattended. Why will we pay so much to go overseas to serve meals but refuse to serve meals to the homeless  men down the street. America needs missionaries too, not Christians who are fighting over who is right and wrong or who look down on the charismatics for their charisma or the reformers for their stringent adherence to the word of God. We need to be the church again, we cannot be so camouflaged by the world that we blend in.

Yes, the gospel is essential; we need the gospel if we are function healthily. But we need crazy men and women of God to be out serving and loving and building up the church, and we need pastors who are deeply in love with God to bring the church to a place where the body deeply loves God. No intense spiritual highs that don’t last, just the pure and unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of grace and peace and does last, and goes well beyond understanding.

What if we stopped thinking it an inconvenience to serve one another? What if the church built one another up instead of tearing down? How would the world be changed, if men stood up to lead their wives and sisters. If Children grew up saturated by the gospel message, would we not see a change? If we stopped trying to have it out way, our will done, and sought God’s will. How would we make a difference? If we turned from the watered down gospel of the seeker-friendlies and turned to the gospel with its full might and transformative power, allowing and participating in the work of the Holy Spirit. How would the world be transformed?

So tonight they will sleep in a warm bed. Because two Christian families had extra rooms and didn’t find it an inconvenience to serve another brother in Christ, and tomorrow they will go to church, clean shaven and hear the height and depths of the Word of God. And though they may return one day to the streets for whatever reason but for a time, even if brief, they will know the true sacrificing love of Jesus Christ. And that, that love will make all the difference.

 

Denver

Standing With My Brothers

Some might see this as trying to take advantage of a situation, and they would be right. My life, as a Christian is to bring glory and honor to Jesus Christ, so if I have a chance to stand with my brothers in Christ I will. If I have a chance to spread the gospel well I’m doing that then I will take the time.

So to start I want to say that I believe in the traditional definition of marriage. Volatile words I know, and some of you will probably never read this blog again. But I stand with with the owners of Chick Fill-A. I know that everyone’s said it, I know that thousands of people have agreed with him and posted it on facebook, but I too want to come out and say it.

But before you boycott me consider this, while I do believe in the traditional view of marriage between a man and a woman. I do not believe in the gospel of hate that is preached by groups like Westboro Baptist Church and the Fred Phelps camp. In fact some of my closest friends have chosen alternative lifestyles. I may not agree with them but I do still love them and will continue to be friends with them.

As for those who think I’m simply blowing smoke I want you to consider the true gospel of Christ. This isn’t a gospel of hate as Phelps thinks it is, instead it’s a gospel of Love. Yes it’s true that the bible states that God calls Homosexuality an abomination that is in reference to the specific sin. You’ve all heard the expression love the sinner hate the sin. While I do believe that homosexuality is a sin I will not openly attack my friends who practice alternative lifestyles

Honestly, I don’t think the owner of Chick Fill-A does either, heck I bet his stores have employees of alternative lifestyles. Like Mike Huckabee and others have pointed out the hiring process doesn’t ask you for your orientation, I’ve never seen one who does.

The bottom line is that I’m standing with my brother in Christ. As the rest of the Fast Food Chains have decided to do, as the rest of the Christian body should do. Not in hate, not to demonize or tear down a group of people. We stand with Him in Christ and in love.

So today let’s go and support Chick Fill-A tomorrow because they aren’t discriminating, they aren’t being vicious like Westboro, the owner is simply stating his beliefs. If you can’t tolerate those beliefs just ignore them, if you don’t agree with my beliefs then ignore them, if you can’t ignore me boycott me.

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner

Our Place of Peace.

November 23, 2011
(See also: The Ministry Burn-Out July 3, 2011)

I’ve always loved coming out to my grandparents farm in Western Illinois. I remember when I was younger we would come out here and spend Christmas. The whole family gathering together at the farmhouse, opening presents on Christmas morning. The smell of Grandma’s Christmas Coffee Cake cooking slowing in the oven. The closeness of family and friends, Aunts and Uncles and cousins that I didn’t get to see at any other time in the year. In the summer we’d visit and climb up to the old Treehouse and swing on the rope swings. Grandpa would take us out and put us on one of his Mare’s and we’d get in trouble for playing pranks and doing stupid things that young kids do.

Then for some reason, most likely money and distance, we stopped coming out here. We started spending Christmas at home and the farm seemed like a distant memory. Then freshmen year of college, while I was sitting in my dorm room pondering my first Easter apart from my family my grandmother called and asked if I wanted to come out to the farm. I got the money and bought my ticket and took the train out to Gailsberg. I got off and was greeted by my Grandmother and Uncle. I spent the night at my Aunt and Uncle’s and then headed out to the farm for the first time of years.

The tree’s still there, the Treehouse isn’t, neither are the rope swings, but it was still the same farm, the place of my childhood. The hot summers, the cold winters with warm family, the memories came flooding back to me as I entered the house, that like everything else there seemed trapped in time, or apart from time.

I returned to the farm last Easter, and then found myself pondering what to do for Thanksgiving for I couldn’t go home because of money, when once again the phone rang, it was Grandma asking to see if I wanted to come up and spend our week long break here. Another train ride and I had returned once again to my place of Shalom, the place where God speaks volumes to me, where peace and timeless memories collide to form a beautiful painting, each brushstroke carefully preserved by a Holy God who created them.

We all need places like this in Ministry, I’ve talked before about the Ministry Burn-Out, this is one of the ways I’ve found to avoid this burn-out. Just getting away from where God has called me, even if it’s a forced get away. To step back and take a break from Ministering to the guys in my dorm and people on campus, from homework and Sterling and just go to a quiet place of solitude and rest. To turn off the computer and smell the cooking of my grandmother’s pies, even help if possible. To see my cousins, aunts and uncles, new family members, future family members and just let God speak to me through the quiet and re-energize me for the final two weeks of school before I get to return home to Ohio for two more weeks of rest.

Dear friends, I think this type of Soul care, just getting away is important in our Christian walks. I know Jesus did it, several times He just went away and found a quiet place to pray, to just spend time with His father. This is a part of being healthy Christians, it gives us time to study and just lose ourselves in the father. It allows Him to get us apart from the busy lives we try to lead and really work and speak with us. To prepare us for the next season of life , no matter how short.

Where is your place of peace, your escape, the place you just get to discover God? How much time do you spend there? How often do you get away? If the answer is I don’t know, none and I don’t then dear friends you are on your way to burn-out. I pray that happens to none of you, yes we must keep feeding the poor, we must keep clothing the naked, we must keep healing the sick and we must keep visiting the prisoners and preaching the gospel. But we can’t do that if we are burnt out and used up by the task God has given us to do well, we have only been portioned one life and God wants to use that to the fullest extent He can, but He also cares for us and wants us to be healthy and to do that sometimes, you just need to get away.

Jon Faulkner
10:31 Ministries