Category: God’s Heart For Those

The End of Political, Colonial Christendom:

Artists rendition of The Battle of Milvan Bridge where Constantine claimed heaven opened and he accepted the Christian God.

Jonathan Faulkner

 

In the broad field of church history one of the many debates that will likely never be settled is the legitimacy of the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine who made Christianity the religion of the empire and ushered in the western “Church Age” that gave rise to the Christendom model that still exists in fewer and fewer places today. Constantine’s conversion allowed the church to solidify its doctrine, specifically the trinity and two natures of Christ, but the tie between the Church and Government that came out of it was nearly immediately problematic. Not to mention that once the Roman Empire fell and the emperor dethroned by the Goths a void existed that meant the other institution of power, the Church, was there to fill and take power leading the practice of the Pope crowning and ordaining the rule of the head of the Holy Roman Empire (800-1802)

I grant you this is a crude history that glosses over much of the details of Constantine’s conversion. Needless to say, the conversion set in motion the creation what today we call Christendom which Merriam-Webster defines as: “The worldwide body or society of Christians.” Of course, in the west we might add to this definition: “Holding power and influence over the state through political action.” Constantine’s conversion took a small, persecuted, but growing group of Middle-Eastern, Greek and African believers and set their teachings and leaders in places of power and allowed it to become a global faith. Hence the creation of Christendom.

And if we had left it at that, simply gaining freedom from persecution, even had we not had people placed in positions of influence, we would likely have been fine, but once we defined our doctrines, we found ourselves in power with little to do. As the years went on we returned to the place of our roots, waging wars against Islam and later against ourselves called Crusades. We responded to violence with violence and even committed violence of our own. The church became so powerful it could determine the eternity of the most faithful souls and condemn kings and emperors, wage wars and condemn heretics, exacting taxes and selling salvation. The Gospel became cheap and Christendom became politicized.

Then in the 16th century a monk named Martin Luther stood up to the correction of the Catholic Church and nailed the Ninety-Five Thesis to the chapel door at Whittenberg. By his own account he never intended to split, but reform, the Catholic Church, but a split occurred nonetheless and the Church in the West, which had already split many times and suffered from Schisms, split again into Catholics and Protestants.

Along the way we forgot we came from Middle Eastern, Greek and North African roots and began writing those things out of our history. By the time of Luther, Europe had already gone to Africa, The Caribbean The East Indies, Latin America and South America and with it began the ruthless and barbaric Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade which would last until the mid to late 1800’s. We called Africans, who had been Christians long before we had, barbaric, animals. We dehumanized and sought justification for our supremacy based on skin color, even falsifying scientific data to claim that these human beings were somehow less or “other” than us. We raped and murdered and sometimes completely killed off indigenous peoples and held men in bondage and rewrote scripture to justify it and make sure they did not rebel or gain an understanding of their personhood. Christendom had become the twin of colonization, often times showing up with the colonists to help them “Subdue” the natives. All of this was justified by the Discovery Doctrine which stated that if native persons did not bow and become believers they could be killed off.

 

The Discovery Doctrine, issued by Papal Bull in 1493: The Bull stated that any land not inhabited by Christians was available to be “discovered,” claimed, and exploited by Christian rulers and declared that “the Catholic faith and the Christian religion be exalted and be everywhere increased and spread, that the health of souls be cared for and that barbarous nations be overthrown and brought to the faith itself.” This “Doctrine of Discovery” became the basis of all European claims in the Americas as well as the foundation for the United States’ western expansion. In the US Supreme Court in the 1823 case Johnson v. McIntosh, Chief Justice John Marshall’s opinion in the unanimous decision held “that the principle of discovery gave European nations an absolute right to New World lands.” In essence, American Indians had only a right of occupancy, which could be abolished.”

https://www.gilderlehrman.org/content/doctrine-discovery-1493

 

In America, Christendom fought for power and prestige all throughout the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries culminating in the rise of the Christian Right and, as its death nears, an angry, renewed surge of Christian Nationalism. It apposed civil rights, continued the sins of the discovery doctrine, drove natives from their land, lynched innocent black men, stripped men and women of their dignity because of their skin color. It conflated the flag with the cross, making them synonymous. Many became cultural Christians, or Christians in name only and feeling their power wane they turned to violent nationalism, bringing with them some in the Church who had been leaders and who had grown up with the Christendom model with them. We panicked over the loss of our power and turned to a man whom we didn’t understand and could not control. Not all of us, some of us voted on one issue, the economy or whatever, some voted because they had seemingly been forgotten by the coasts and were angry because they felt they were not being heard. Racism, Hate Speech and other atrocities began running rampant. Christendom was dying, and we were confused.

The sins of a political, colonial Christendom have been exposed, there is no one to blame but ourselves, the church has lost its power and all this writer can say is “Praise the Lord.”

I know this is a bleak picture, but it is an important one, we must acknowledge our sins, some of which we are still committing. We must be willing to acknowledge our ignorance of the Church outside of our borders, a Church that is thriving beyond anything we can really imagine. A Church that is made up of every tribe, nation and tongue, that bounds across ethnic boundaries, a church that we are a part of, but have denied ourselves the benefit of fellowship with. We need to acknowledge this, we need to admit where arrogance and pride have spurned prejudice and hate in the name of power. We need to acknowledge where we have individuals have contributed to these things and seek forgiveness, while balancing a corporate acknowledgement that we, as the Western, yes, white, Church, has committed violence and dehumanized and engaged in supremacist ideas. Be humble enough to seek reconciliation that may involve some corporate and individual repentance. We have abused out power, historically.

If you are a long-time reader, and have made it this far in the article, you know I usually have a positive outlook on the church, and I do. Many are realizing that Christendom has run its course, biblical literacy is on the rise, as is the amount of churches involved in meeting the needs, spiritual and physical, in their communities. Christians in the pews are, in mass, abandoning the old model and politicized definition and acknowledging their place as part of a global, multi-ethnic and catholic church. But we must be careful not to make these changes without recognizing the ways we have failed in the past. We have to be humble enough to ask forgiveness where it is necessary and not assume the need to apologize means we are under some attack by leftist ideals. We need to recover the true Gospel that, as Paul tells us, has “Torn down the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph 2:14) which we have re-erected using race and ethnocentrism as justification.

And as we go back to living Gospel centered lives, perhaps we will see a change in the world. I have no doubt that God is calling and drawing His people back to Himself. It is evident in the research of both Christian and Secular Sociologists. That calling means we need to repent of that which has driven us from Him and from one another. Because in this time of cultural crisis, the Church needs to be the vessel of peace and reconciliation that it is meant to be, a true continuation of the presence of Christ.

Jim Singleton has said, and I agree: “There has never been a time when the culture has been closer to the first century as it is today and the same goes for the Church.” That means that sect, schism and segregation are the privileges of a church in power. We must abandon these, re-integrate and renew our mandate to be One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. So that the world may know that there is a God, the God of the bible, who created us as one body, globally placed, crossing every ethnic line, not favoring one over the other. As politicized Christendom dies, the real Christendom can rise and we can enter the age of the Global Church.

 

Jonathan D12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oavid Faulkner is a Graduate student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary working on Masters in Divinity and Church History, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry. He lives with his wife Rachel in the North Shore of Boston and seeks to be a part of the project of reconciliation in the local and international church. 

November Update:

First Congregational Church of Buffalo Center

 

Hamilton MA. We were sort of joking when we said to our friends and family at our home church here in Hamilton on the first Sunday of November that we would see them in December, however, the first Sunday in December is next Sunday and other than a Thanksgiving Eve service we have barely even driven by our home church. It is safe to say that November was one of the busiest months of our marriage so far.

What were we doing?

The second Sunday was the Sunday of Rachel’s shower, so she went out and spent that weekend with her family. Back at home I came down with a twenty-four-hour stomach bug and did not make it to church. The third weekend we were in Buffalo Center Iowa so that I could preach a candidacy sermon at First Congregational Church of Buffalo Center IA. This was my second time out, but it was Rachel’s first and gave her a chance to see the town and meet the people. The third weekend we were at Rachel’s parents for Thanksgiving and found ourselves making an early drive home so Rachel could rest after having a slight fever. That particular morning was so foggy we had to drive at a snail’s pace down RT2 for the sake of safety. Once we had done some grocery shopping (which we had not done in 2 weeks) we were unable to make to our home church and settled in to wait for the call from Buffalo Center concerning the vote that took place Sunday.

The call came at 11:46 on Sunday November 25th.

With a vote of 41-2 First Congregational Church of Buffalo Center IA has voted to call Rachel and I as their next pastor (and his wife). This timing, a process that started the day after the CCCC annual gathering, and which has been guided by prayer and faith that this was God’s will has ended with the beginning of a new adventure. We are now sixth months from graduation so we have a little bit of time before we have to make the move from Hamilton to Buffalo Center, but this gives us time to organize and prepare and maybe even ship a few things out west for the sake of lessoning the work on the front end of the move. God has opened a door and made it quite obvious we are to walk through it.

We do have some prayer requests moving forward, as we enter the third and final trimester we pray for continue safety and good, solid growth for our little girl and continued good health for Rachel. Pray also for the transition for Rachel as she has lived in New England her entire life. Pray for me as I finish out this semester, with one chapter left to go on my Thesis and all other written work done (and most of it turned in) I can focus on that. I have to defend in March or April of 2019. Pray also for a smooth delivery next February and, if possible, a mild(er) winter than the one we seem to be in for. Pray for the Lord’s protection and strength for all of us as we enter our final 6 months in New England and prepare to embark on the next adventure God has put before us.

Also, I want to personally thank you for continuing to read and support God’s Heart as we strive to be faithful to the Gospel while addressing the issues before us.

In Love

The Faulkner’s

LIFE UPDATE: The Baby…It’s A….????

HAMILTON MA. I have come to have a love/hate relationship with fall in New England. On the one hand it is cooler on the other hand there are some days that are pretty dreary and which make me want sleep all day. That is counter to getting everything done, the papers, the studying, the reading for my Thesis and of course, updating all of you. I have even missed sharing several key articles from Gods Heart that I hope you’ll go back and read.

Anyway, I was watching Patriot Games the other night and was thinking back to the book, in both the book and the movie Clancy leaves us with the suspense of finding out which gender the Ryan’s next child is going to be. So the title here is a nod to Tom Clancy and the fact that I wanted you to get this far without telling you that our little Baby, the one we will welcome into the world and which we announced in August is a Girl! We are beyond excited and have gone even further into nesting mode. So far, this little girl’s hobbies include kicking her mother, sleeping and sucking her thumb.

A dear brother in Christ told me the other day that in his home country of Sierra Leone in Africa having a girl first is considered to be a blessing. As much as I want a boy, I cannot argue with him, any child is a blessing from the Lord and I was crying when they told us we were having a daughter.

Now to fly to Iowa….more on that later though.

 

In the Love of Christ –

The Faulkner’s

LIFE UPDATE 3: Vacations & the Beginning of The Final Year.

Jonathan David Faulkner

 

Northfield MA. This morning I find myself sitting at my In-Laws kitchen table with Hebrew Syntax and Vocab sitting next to me while the late Bibleworks boots up so I can do some Hebrew translation. Meanwhile, Wolves At the Gate streams through my headphones and my coffee sits next to me. I have come to love our time at my In-Laws house. It reminds me of my grandparent’s farm in Illinois, my escape during college and my closest family during my time in Kansas. It is cool and peaceful here with a big backyard where a year and three months ago Rachel and I said “I Do” and enjoyed Ice Cream Sundae’s with our dear families and friends. I wish more seminarians had a place like this to escape too, where they could rest and recover.

August was a good month for us, we sent out resumes and enjoyed a short vacation to North Conway New Hampshire with some close friends whom we asked to be our babies godparents. Our time with them was such a blessing though it started with a 3-hour drive through a New England Downpour. The weather while we were there was absolutely incredible even allowing us to take a train ride on the North Conway Scenic Railway. We visited shops and outlets and just relaxed, no school, minimal life worries, just a chance to breathe. Then we headed to Rachel’s parents and I had the blessing of filling the pulpit for my Father-In-Law (You can hear the sermon below).

We came back out here this weekend because Rachel had a four-day weekend and we wanted the last chance to relax and help Rachel’s mother with worship one more time before the school year begins with Orientation on Tuesday (for me) and with new students (for Rachel) and a month of September that includes two weekends away for me (including this one).

It is hard to believe I am entering my final year of Seminary and how much has changed in my life since February 2016, how much I have changed since February 2015. With the healing of my brain I have discovered a new calm and new peace that I had not had before as well as a new resolve to stand up for those who cannot. God’s work, since the brain injury, has been painful and wonderful in my life and I pray it does not stop. As for the coming semester, I have already begun working on my Thesis and am studying for a Hebrew Competency Exam scheduled for Friday the 14th.

Pray for us as we continue to talk to churches and send out resumes, it looks as though we will likely be headed to Midwest, which we both have peace about and are actually looking forward too. Pray for continued health for Rachel and the Baby who we felt move for the first time yesterday and pray for me as I being this final year with Thesis and class schedule and the joys of Peer Mentoring. Pray for us too as we continue to wrestle with the Seminary and struggle for the health, physical and mental, of the students here. There have been some improvements that will ultimately end up saving money in the long term, but it remains to be seen how much these changes will save. As we are bombarded too with the story of pastors committing suicide and the hut and pain in the world, pray that we would be united as one in Christ sharing in that perfect peace and far outlasts all things and is well beyond understanding.

Life Update 2: CCCC Conference, this Crazy Life and a BIG announcement.

 

Wow, what a month July was…and beginning to August for that matter. We started our journey into pulpit supply on July 1 by preaching at a small church in Dunstable MA. Then spent a week with Rachel’s family, had two normal weeks and then this past week has been one of the busiest I have had since I left Sterling almost 4 years ago now.

 

In fact, this week alone I have put almost 60 miles on my bicycle riding the 6 miles back and forth between Gordon College and Gordon-Conwell as I have gone between the annual gathering and an intensive class on Preaching Reconciliation. On Tuesday we enjoyed the beauty of the opening worship service and a beautiful message on biblical peace from Conference Minister Ron Hamilton and on Wednesday Morning I was officially welcomed into the denomination two years after being approved to come under care.

 

God has been faithful in so many ways as we have gone through this year, showing us both his ever present care and love in the midst of the trials of a hard New England winter and hot (hottest since I moved here) summer. God has walked beside us through everything, allowing us to get away to Ogunquit in May for our 1 year anniversary and allowing us to get away again in the latter half of next week with some close friends down the hall. We have also had a brother who was deployed returned to us and have shared in the joy of welcoming him home.

 

We have also had the chance to share the blessing in private, and now to you, that in the midst of our crazy year we found out in June we are expecting again. Now that we have come through the 1st Trimester we can share our joy with you, our readers and supporters and friends as well!

 

DID YOU KNOW: the baby after a miscarriage is considered a Rainbow Baby, I did not, now I do. It’s a beautiful reality, that as Rachel and I have dreamed of being parents, to see God creating a little life inside Rachel. The ultrasounds we have had show that they definitely take after their father, jumping and moving and leaping and even doing head stands. They have a strong heartbeat and have reached every milestone Shalom did not after 8.5 weeks.

 

We are excited to announce this news to you and ask that you continue to pray for us as we move forward with our final year of seminary and preparing to welcome this precious little life into our small, one bedroom apartment.

 

God’s faithfulness abounds, we are so in Love with who He is and all He has done. He really is who He says He is.

 

God Bless You

Jonathan & Rachel Faulkner

Godsheartforthose.com

LIFE UPDATE: Website Changes, Beginning Job Searches, Health and Wellness, life after February 20th.

The following is an brief, personal update from me about life in general, changes to the website and future changes in life.

 

HAMILTON MA. God has never ceased to amaze me, yesterday I was riding alongside Gordon College’s Chebacco (spelling) Lake watching the sun rise before returning to my bike and completing the 7 mile bike ride that has become a regular part of my morning. As I sit a few days away from my first Annual Gathering of the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference (CCCC) and my final summer class (both occurring in the same week AHH!!!) and how this year has gone so far, from academic success to the loss of Shalom to being added to the CCCC pulpit supply list and getting a call for supply within five minutes of being on the list. God has cared so much for us this year as our hearts have healed from the miscarriage we suffered in February. He has surrounded us with so many amazing people, some of them we have never met in person but who have reached out to us through GodsHeart and the GoFundMe we ran to help cover the counseling bills. You and so many others have loved us with the complete love of God and we cannot thank you enough for your love and support.

You will notice, and may already have noticed, that God’s Heart is going through a number of changes in the previous week. That is because this site, while continuing to function as a resource and commentary on the intersection of Theology and Cultural Issues will also serve as a portfolio for me as we enter our final year of seminary and begin the search for a post-seminary call. God has seen fit to plant us in a denomination that is in need of pastors and who supports its pastors while maintaining congregational government in its member churches. Next week I will be fully affirmed as a conference member and then the trickle of resumes that have gone out already will become a flood as we seek God’s call. We know where we would like to go, the great state of New Hampshire, but ultimately where God has called us to minister to and alongside His people while we raise a family. This change in the website will mean more activity, more posts, more sermon uploads as I re-record the sermons I lost when my computer crashed last summer. This means you, the reader, will have a greater chance to get to know me and interact with me as we will also use this medium to share updates about our family, time in Seminary and the search. We hope this will mean we can get to know you better as you get to know us better. This means you will get more content, more recommendations and regular life-updates as well as new sections for churches looking for information that you too can peruse at your leisure.

Rachel always tells me that she wants me to be around as long as I can, there has even been something about her having to go first when we are 90 so that she does not have to live without her. I kind of hope we go together in our sleep so neither of us has to live without the other, kind of like The Notebook only, we can remember who we are. For this reason I have begun a more stringent exercise plan to go along with the many dietary changes that have come with marriage. There is a stigma about Pastors that we tend to not take good care of ourselves, and that can be true, though sometimes we are trained to burn-out cycles (as I was in my first church) and not to a healthy work-life balance. Seminary has been partially about establishing a healthy balance to avoid the disastrous and nearly deadly consequences that came with my last burn-out. That means exercising and putting away the work to spend time with Rachel and our friends. All while making my relationship with God a priority through prayer and scripture reading and investing in my hobbies (I have taken up the Banjo) to make sure that I am not just physically healthy, but emotionally and spiritually healthy. I want to get to spend life with my wife for a long time, I like her, and love her, and so I am going to make exercising a part of my daily routine beyond the weekly game of ultimate frisbee.

As I said, God has been good to us in-spite of the pain we have felt this past year. He has surrounded us with beautiful people and showered us with love and grace and beauty. As we look to the future, which includes a weekend in New Hampshire with some close friends and a Christmas trip to my parents in Ohio, the writing of my thesis and untold other adventures. We renew our invitation to come after the beautiful, wild, loving heart of God with us as we seek to do His work both online and off.

Jonathan David Faulkner

 

Children 18:3’s New Album & The LGBT Community.

     Childen

    So Stand-out Tooth ‘n” Nail act Children 18:3’s final album “Come In” came out today and I’m curious to see the Christian reaction to it. I wonder how many Christians will get back the first track, or will one line trip them up and turn them off to the rest of the album.

The song talks about the lead singers journey in life and through the music industry. The song is metaphor, but the message is simple. God has told us to “Come in” and forget our troubles and remember the lessons we’ve learned in life. The song ends with the following lines.

            “Are you empty, are you broken,

Are you lost and all alone

Unaccepted, suicidal, looking for a home

Heavy hearted, forgotten, you’ve got no place to go

Homosexual, unlovable, are you just a little low, Come in”

Children 18:3 “Come In”

 

As much as I hate to say it I am afraid the reaction to that last line will be similar to Dan Haseltine’s twitter comments last year. Fans will start calling for a boycott of the Christian Punk Rock Band’s shows, albums and merchandise and their final album could go down in history surrounded by a haze of issues.

I hope that is not the case, I would hope that Christians, especially conservative Christians have learned from previous mistakes made towards the LGBT community. Christians who are quick to condemn hateful and destructive actions committed by members of Westboro Baptist. Then join in their hate when Christians try to reach out to others by showing them the Love of God. As we saw with Haseltine last year, or have we learned from our mistake.

Have we learned, as believers, that attacking other believers for trying to reach out to people whose lifestyles we may Children 2disagree with, is only causing more division. If we have not then I am in for one heck of backlash for writing this article. Because my reasons for backing Children 18:3 is the same for my reason for supporting Haseltine, I am a Christian, called to show others the Love of God despite any aversion I might have to their lifestyle.

I have friends in the LGBT community and I have served alongside believers who have struggled with those questions and I did not form those relationships by hating them. Like Children 18:3 I said “Come in” come and be a part of my life, let us learn from one another. So many of us live under the assumption that if we disagree with someone we have to hate them, but I have been deeply blessed by some of my LGBT friends.

I find it funny that we accept the prostitute who poured perfume on Jesus feet and wept and dried his feet with her hair, but any mention of the LGBT community and a war is started. Is this not a double standard? If Jesus can accept this woman can we not be accepting of those we do not agree with? I do not want to get into the argument that “Jesus would have done this or done that” No am I saying we should accept sin with open arms. I am simply addressing our reactions to people and people groups that we should accept, in spite of their sins and are own sins.

We can accept the LGBT community without compromising sound doctrine, in fact in the interest of sound doctrine we should accept the LGBT community.  Because did Jesus not say to us “Come in even though you are sinners and screwed up and broken?” It would seem, just by a quick examination of the Gospel that he did.

We are responsible for the truth, but we are also responsible for others hearing the truth and if we bar sinners from our churches then would not any of us be allowed to enter?

Why We Are Not All Called to “Go”

Why We are Not All Called to “Go.”Fired Up Logo

 

(Making Disciples too)

 

 

            “If you are not going to a foreign country, you are not doing missions.”

“But what if I’m not called to go to a foreign country?”

“Mr. Faulkner, the bible says “go” does it not?”

This is how I imagine a conversation would go between some of my peers and I had I explained the view I hold of missions. Especially at a college that highly encourages global missions and even, in some cases, elevates those who go. In this atmosphere it would be hard to explain a view of missions that does not require a person to go to Africa or South America. Now, I fully support those who go to foreign countries, I love the fact that people are so passionate about their faith that they would raise thousands of dollars and go to a foreign country. I think it is really good for college students, but we have to acknowledge that not all of us are going to go, not all of us are called to go, at least by the definition of go that means: “Go to this foreign country and be a missionary, it will change your life.”

 

I mean, look at me, the only country I have ever been to outside the US is Canada, and that was as a tourist. I was not called to go there; I went there to eat a Cheeseburger with my dad’s side of the family and to see Niagara Falls. How selfish of me I know, where there are unbelievers in Canada.

One of the guys I mentor was recently asked: “How are you not called to go?” Easy, he is not, at least not to a foreign country. This particular young man is being trained to teach a Sunday School Class, has the potential to be an incredible mentor and teacher himself, and is starting to realize that potential. He is blooming where he is planted, encouraging others to be godly men and women, seeking to be a godly man himself. His vibrant faith draws others in, his personality encourages others, yet he knows at this point in his life that he is not called to go into all the world.

 

Getting Hung up on the World

            Here’s what I think the problem is: So often we get caught up in the “Go therefore into all the world” bit of Jesus, Great Commission in Mark 16:18 or the “Go” at the beginning of Matthew 28:19 and leave off the second part of both verses. “Making Disciples of all men” says Mark, “Go and Make disciples of all the nations” Says Matthew. Somewhere in translation we lost the fact that when Jesus said “All the World” he was not just simply referring to the places we were not, but the places we are as well. When He said “Making Disciples” He meant “Make disciples everywhere you are.”

If we are caught up on the “world” aspect of the great commission then “Go” must mean go into the world. No need to take care of your home front, no need to minister to your neighbor, unless they are your neighbor in a foreign country.

On one of our city walks in Denver Jeff showed us a house that was owned by two “Mega” evangelists. The home was in disrepair, the yard looked like a junk yard, the home was in the middle of a fairly nice neighborhood, but looked terrible. The family had been asked by their neighbors to clean up the yard but they refused, why should they? they were called to go out into the world. We were asked to consider how this made Christians look? our answer was “pretty bad.”

All too often those who are called to world missions neglect the home front. Then look down on those who are called to stay on the home front, the ones who are called to train those who are going out into the field. I once heard someone say: “He’s not going on a missions trip, he just is not close enough to God.” This is a devastating statement to hear, as a man who has devoted his life to building up and discipling others, this attitude saddens me.

 

“Going” without “Going”

My philosophy of missions is this; we are not all called to go abroad, but we are all called to do something. What do I mean? Right now I am not called to go overseas, I know this, but I am called to disciple, to witness, to share my faith and my story with those around me. I am called to be a witness, a teacher, an exhorter, a man of God. Does this make what I do any less important compared to what the person who goes out into the world does? No, it just means my calling is different from their calling. If everyone was out in the missions field who would stay home and bring up the next generation of missionaries? Would we leave our country to those we trained up? We could, I have been very blessed by foreign missionaries coming here. Yet I firmly believe that we have a responsibility to every single person we encounter, including our neighbors when we are home, to help them grow and know the Lord more.

Angus Buchan, the great African preacher, is considered a missionary, yet his ministry barely reached out of South Africa. He took care of the people around him, taught them the gospel, cared for their needs, both spiritually and physically when he could.

 

Jesus was both, Paul did the same.

If you look at the life of Jesus, Mark 1 being an excellent example of this, we find Jesus did both. Jesus preached and taught, but he also had disciples. He traveled all the way to Philippi to minister and disciple. Paul did the same thing, ministered, established a church and then left people there he had been training to minister and continue the growth of the church. Timothy is probably the best known, but there is also John Mark, Titus, Epaphraditus and many others.

Jesus left the disciples with the great commission, a call to make disciples wherever we go, wherever we are called to go.

Now I am not trying to put down those who are going out into the world. I am trying to point out that there is a need for those who go and a need for those who stay. Those who stay are where they are called, just as you are going where you are called. I am called to work for Sterling College, to educate, train, make disciples and take care of the grounds. To be a light and a witness to those students who do not know Christ. That is my calling right now, so that is what I will do. We all have an important task in the body, but not all of us are the hands, some of us have other functions that are vital to the body being healthy.

So let us go where we are called, even if “go” only means crossing the street.

FIRED UP: Good Men Exist…Godly Men Exist

Good Men Exist…Godly Men Exist

(Fear of Godly Men)

Fired Up Logo

 

            “I’m afraid of you, are you afraid of me?”

            “I’m terrified of you.”

 

I do not know why but as I was reading the first book in the popular book series Divergent this particular scene between the main character Tris and her love interest Four stood out to me. Maybe it was the tenderness, maybe it was the hopeless romantic in me or maybe it is because I have had this very conversation, or at least a variation of it, with at least three of my close female friends in the last six years. Two of those girls I was considering courting at the time. Yet as I thought through this today I had to ask myself: “Should I really be surprised?”

 

Should you be surprised?

 

At first, you may be able to make an argument for some form of shock but when you really start to boil it down you find the answer to be “No, we should not be surprised.” Why? Because culture has redefined manhood to a point that has stripped the value away from our sisters in Christ and turned them into objects for sex or property to be had or a trophy to be won. Yet if we look deeper into history we find that this has been going on for a very long time.

Egyptian women for example had one purpose, to produce strong offspring to, particularly males, who could carry on the family line. The Canaanites were the same, both worshiped gods of sex and fertility, both held women up to be objects meant for baby making. In Rome it was customary to beat ones wife if she did not give you what you wanted. Even in Jewish Culture woman’s only value was in child rearing and again sons were highly valued, a barren woman was shunned.

But in Jewish culture we also have the Law, and the law provides for a woman protection. Passages like: Leviticus 21:22 in the Old Testament and Ephesians 4 & Colossians 3:19 in the New Testament. Colossians 3:19 says specifically “Husbands love your wives and do not be embittered against them.” This is specifically a pushback against the Roman treatment of women. Jesus highly values women (John 4,8 anything having to do with Mary & Martha). Gabriel calls Mary, the mother of Jesus “Highly Favored” (Luk. 1:34-37).

So if women are so highly valued and to be protected by men then why do we have conversations like Tris & Four’s? There are a number of reasons. 1. A secular male driven culture is no different from Rome. 2. Masculinity has been lowered to mean how strong you are, how many fights you win and how many women you have slept with. 3. The glorification of Rape Culture by the media and subsequent blaming of the victim. 4. A lack of biblical understanding amongst Christians who are called to be the leaders on the fronts of biblically centered manhood & Godliness.

Considering these factors it is no surprise to me when I hear a young woman say “There are no good men in the world.” This may be true, but ladies do you need a good man? Or do you need a Godly man?

C.S Lewis says in Mere Christianity: “God is not in the business of making nice men nicer, but instead is in the business of making old men new.” Leonard from TV’s The Big Bang Theory is a good guy, a secular guy, he still wants to sleep with Penny, but he is respectful of he throughout the show. A man who’s been transformed by God will be kind, gentle, loving, faithful, peaceful, patient and self-controlled (See Galatians 5). One could also say he will exemplify the fruits of the spirit.

But here is where the problem develops. God transforms good guys into Godly men, or even transforms bad guys in Godly Men. A young woman comes along and he is genuinely and sincerely interested in her, she loves the Lord, she is following after Him, desiring His will but this young woman has also been broken by many a boy claiming to be a man and that is an area of her life that has never been healed. So her first reaction is to make him a brother or a best friend type. Which is good because all relationships should start in friendship, but as time goes on she starts to develop feelings of her own for him, but these she pushes down, rejects them. Why? Because past experience has taught her that she does not deserve to treated with respect, honor and dignity by a man. That when a man compliments her it means he wants to sleep with her.

My friend David always compliments his fiancés beauty because he wants her to know that God made her beautiful. He encourages her and upholds her, honors her. Now I do not know if this scared her fiancé, but I do know it scared my spiritual sister *Lucy when her now fiancé complimented her. She could not believe they were true because in the past compliments had been used as a means to manipulate her into doing something she did not want to do.

I read an article this week entitled “What a Girl Needs: 8 Musts before Marriage.” It was an excellent article, I recommend you read it by clicking the link above. It was very straight-forward in saying that a woman needs a man who is Godly, who works hard & who will protect her. These are things though, that a Godly man should already be seeking to do. These are things that come naturally, as an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. These are things that we should be doing to glorify God.

But how do we address the fear? If you are a young woman I would remind you that God still creates genuine men, He is still in control and if you are trusting God with your heart He will keep it til someone comes along who will guard it. Men, be aware that she may be afraid of your kindness, do not simply reassure her that it is real, show her that you are genuine in your approach and treatment. And do not rush your friendship or potential courtship, she will need you to be dependably slow in allowing her to adjust.

When Leonard asks Penny out in The Big Bang Theory they both ask Sheldon for advice. Sheldon’s response is the example of Schrodinger’s Cat. Which does not make sense until Sheldon makes the point that you never know until you open the box. Friendships with the opposite gender are gifts, they need to be cared for and built up and encouraged, but ladies do not be afraid, there are godly men, but if you never let him sweep you off your feet, or let go of your fear and open the box of friendship and courtship, how will you truly know what it is like to be loved and cared for by a Godly man. Your value comes from God, he should know that and if he does not, well keep searching because there is someone out there who does.

Part 2: Shame & Guilt

Shame & Guilt

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            “If this problem persists, we are going to call you out of the audience and shame you in front of everyone” the pastor told the youth group “we will call your parents up in front of the congregation and you will have to go and sit with them.”

            It is still difficult to believe that I had the misfortune of witnessing this event. It is also difficult to believe that in the process of sticking up for the youth I would get kicked out of the church. But at the same time if this even had not happened almost five years ago there is a good chance God’s Heart for Those never happens and I would still be somewhere huddled over my legalism, licking the wounds of two years of spiritual abuse.

            Yes, that morning began the path to freedom for me, but there are others who still have not experienced this freedom because of these two little words that the body has embraced whole heartedly, “Shame” and “Guilt.” Shame, or the act of putting someone to shame is a tear down, to humiliate someone or berate their actions. Guilt is the feeling of remorse as well as shame. Both are deadly to the body and we do not need either of them.

            Consider this scenario, a young man spills his coffee in the Narthex of a church. The pastor seeing this berates the young man, shaming him for something as simple as spilling coffee. The young man now feels shame and guilt for spilling his coffee. It may start there, or after a few more encounters like this the man may start to verbally berate himself for doing something that the pastor may consider “wrong.” Or consider the girl who is abused, verbally, physically or sexually and a or counselor or another Christian tells her it was her fault. Chances are that was already the thought process but in case it was not this may cause her to verbally berate and degrade herself, losing respect for herself if she had any in the first place. Do you see the problem? This can lead to depression and even suicide, shame and guilt can literally be deadly. They may also cause spiritual setbacks in the process of emotional healing. These are two examples (one minor one major) that show us that we do not need either.

            But what do we need? We need to regain an understanding of what Paul means in Romans 8:1 which reads “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.” Or John 8:36 which reads: “Who the son sets free is free indeed.” Or Galations 5:1: “For freedom Christ has set us free, Stand firm therefore, and do not return to a yoke of slavery.” If there is no condemnation, if we are free, are to stand firm in that freedom then why do we insist on using shame and guilt to control and berate the flock? Are not people like these the “thief” that Jesus describes in John 10:10? If they have stolen your freedom by binding you in guilt then they are a thief, if they lock you down as a “sinner” how are you going to live in the freedom that comes from putting on “the new self” (Col 3)?

Even Paul’s frustration with the Corinthians is untoned by his use of the word “Saint” (1 Cor 1:2). If we are “free” then why do we bind one another with condemnation? Are we not no better than the Pharisees’ who bound the people by “Tradition” (Matt. 15)? If I have one thing to say the body of Christ it is this: You are no longer who you once were, you are a son or a daughter of Christ (Rom. 3-8) you are a Saint, you are not under shame and guilt and condemnation, you are free.

But do we acknowledge this in our own lives? Do we acknowledge this is the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ? Most of us do not.

So let us join together and acknowledge who God is and who we are because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. And that dear friends is the difference, that Jesus Christ died fo us on the cross, shedding His blood to be the Propitiation (total appeasement of wrath) so that we could live in freedom with a brand new identity. Never let anyone tell you differently, never listen to shame and guilt, but instead live in the freedom that comes from know who God is and who you are in Him.