Category: godsheartorthose

Dear Sisters; Discerning His Intentions.

Dear sisters; Discerning His IntentionsDS Banner

 

 

I love interacting with people. In one of the many forums that my last GHFT Entry (Good Men Exist…Godly Men Exist) I was asked what a Godly Woman should do if she sees a “Godly Man” trying to gratify his sinful desires. It is an excellent question, so let me lay out a situation.

An attractive young woman is starting her first week at a small Christian College in Central Kansas. She is from another state and knows very little about this particular Christian School. When she was on campus for her visitation she was told there were a lot of Godly men on campus, men who loved the Lord and who respected women. So at the end of her first week she is in a carpool group to visit one of the local churches, specifically a large Baptist church in the next town over. When the service starts she notices two things, 1. The church is alive & 2. The drummer for the praise band is really good looking. He goes to the same college and is a few years ahead of her, she had seen him on the first day and heard him talk about going to church. Maybe this was one of those godly men she had heard about.

After the service she finds herself in a group of people who are standing around listening to this young man tell stories. He is a junior, studying ministry and he has a great sense of humor. During the conversation the young woman also catches his eye. They start to talk and soon start to hang out, he seems like a great guy, he opens doors for her, tells her she is beautiful, all of her girlfriends tell her that he is a great guy, nice and sweet. He is even involved in several ministries on campus and at the church. She likes him, but she is not ready for a relationship, but that seems to be where he is directing things. For example he has started hugging her a little bit longer than normal, he tries to always sit next to her and though he’s nice to have around and she would like a relationship she is trying to be wise and avoid one in her freshmen year.

Then comes “that talk” or what we called the “Define the Relationship” conversation. He confesses he likes her and thinks they should have a relationship. She turns him down and suddenly their friendship seems to end. As she seeks the wisdom of her older friends she finds out some disturbing things. 1. This guy has been addicted to porn and in the previous year had many girlfriends. 2. That he had been talking to many other girls at the same time & 3. That he was also known for his various attempts to “hook up” with girls on campus during his first 2 years. Could he have had a genuine interest in her or her body? “Yes, it could have been in her, but if he left when she turned him down that should be a sign that he is not as mature as he seems. Combined this with what the young lady discovers from talking to older woman who know his reputation you can say at the least his relationship with God was far from where it should have been or should to enter into a relationship. Here are three ways to recognize the intentions of a man if they have not been spoken.

 

Friends before Anything Else.

I have always been known for saying “We need to be friends before I can consider courting her.” When my friend David recommended a young lady to me in college I told him I needed to get to know her. I did and we became good friends, we talked about courtship, but ultimately it was not what God wanted for us. In our scenario above, they were friends, but in his mind they were something else already.

This is why I tell the guys I mentor to be very conscious and aware of your intentions and to set boundaries from the get go. I did not do this with my first close female friend in college. We ended up holding hands most of the time, even though we were not dating. The result was a very unhealthy friendship, focused on my own self-gratification over enjoying the friendship. In another friendship I became too forward thinking, wondering where this will go, once again I forgot the enjoy the friendship. It made it very difficult for me when everything fell apart. It was not until recently that I was able to enjoy the friendship and not rush the talking phase when both parties are interested. I was much happier and it was a little easier to handle when everything started pointing to an end to talking and just being friends.

Ladies, a man of God is in a relationship with God first and foremost. In the first two examples from my life I glorified the possible relationship with the woman over God resulting in the loss of one friend and getting hurt by another. In the last example I can say with a clean conscious that I led with the intent to glorify God, I got hurt, but handled it in a way that was gracious and loving towards her. I put what I wanted ahead of what God wanted the first two times and God’s glory ahead of what I wanted the last time. A man who is not sincere in his godliness will abandon you when everything gets rough or when you say “No.” A man of God will be your friend first and seek to always build your friendship, even that means you are forever just friends. He will stick by your friendship even after the possibility of a relationship Is thrown out.

Do not be afraid to ask the woman whom he is friends with questions about their friendship with him. Do not be taken in by his charm or wit without asking questions of others. If he has abandoned several woman after they told him no there is a good chance he will abandon you as well if you do not give in to the demand for a relationship. Seek wisdom, with hold judgment until all the facts are in, do this from the beginning, before you get hurt.

 

His Life Will Speak the Truth About Him.

Here is what Paul tells Titus to look for in men who will be Deacons in the church:

if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.(Titus 1:6-9 ESV)

I believe this what a woman should look for when she is looking for a man. Only instead of being a “Husband of one wife” he should be seeking to be a husband of one wife. This will require a lot of evaluation on behalf of the woman. Ladies, do not be afraid to ask the tough questions of the men you are interested in. Does he drink? If he drinks does he drink in excess or is does he show self-restraint and discipline. Does he love what is good? Is helping you grow in your faith? And does he make your spiritual grow a priority even in friendship? Is the Word of God & His relationship with God central in His life and does he defend them?

Again I say, ask questions of those around him. A man who is of “Good Repute” or “Above Reproach” will be that way with everyone who knows him well. If you discover what the girl in the example did there is a chance he was not genuine. But if terms like “Mature,” ”wise,” “Caring,” “Kind” and “Self-controlled” keep coming up he is probably a genuine man of God. Ask his male friends about him, ask his female friends about him. A man of God, a man of Godly character will be known as that to those closest to him. Chances are he has at some point or is currently helping them grow in their faith. His life will be a testament to what he values, not a monument to what could have been. He will place God above else and help to bring you closer to Him, even after you say “no.”

 

His Life Will Glorify God Outwardly & Inwardly.

The church drummer in our scenario may have looked great on the outside, but what is his thought life like? “It’s like his mind is always somewhere else” a friend of mine confessed to me. “Like he is always imagining what it would be like if we had sex or looking at other women like he wants to have sex with them.” In a church that either teaches that physical contact with the opposite is bad or does nothing to teach practical ways to remain sexually pure this is sadly common. This particular man talked such a good talk, yet his relationship ended with him cheating on her because she would not give him what he wanted.

Inwardly this man was not honoring God with his thought life which led to the outward action of cheating sexually on his girlfriend. Yes, he talked abstinence but did not practice it. Job says in 31:1 “I made a covenant with my eyes, to never look lustfully upon a woman.” Sexual purity is a covenant between you, God, your body and your brothers and sisters in Christ. Our relationship with God is as much Internal as it is External (See Matthew 15:1-20). A man who cannot control his passions, be self-controlled internally, but knows all the answers and talks a good talk is just as dangerous as a man who has no relationship with God at all. He will lead you astray, where as a man of God will do his best to lead you in the way that you should go.

How? By seeking with every action and with every thought to glorify the God of the universe whom he has an invested relationship, the God who made that man to glorify Him (1 Corinthians 10:21-31). Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8-9 to dwell on what is good and right and holy and lovely and commendable and praiseworthy. I like the word dwell because when we dwell on something it stays in our minds. If we dwell on the things of God we are going to internally glorify God instead of live in what we believe to be “hidden sin.” If a man dwells on what is good, on glorifying God, he will, ladies, help you do the same.

This morning in Sunday School we were discussing what Christ did on the cross. I spend a lot of time dwelling on this, especially during Lent and no matter how long I dwell on it my response is always to be extremely joyful. Someone noticed this reaction of Joy to Christ’s saving work and said “Jon, that’s the happiest I’ve ever seen you.”

If he is glorifying God internally and externally that will manifest itself as Love, as Joy, as peace, as patience, as self-control, as loving kindness, as thankfulness, he will show the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5) and show those both externally and internally as he glorifies God with his thought life as well as his physical action towards you and others.

Again, ask questions ladies, both of him and other others who know him.

 

Conclusion:

It is true that actions speak louder than words. If he leaves your friendship after you say “no” to a courtship with him you can gain a perspective into his thought life. But my hope for you in writing this is that you are able to avoid the kind of heart break that leads you to put up the walls that make you wary of truly Godly men. To find healing in Christ first as none of this is possible without you having a strong relationship with Christ and without you experiencing and knowing the word of God, hiding it deep within your own precious heart.

Let God guard your heart ladies, you are precious to Him and to your brothers in Christ who are genuinely seeking to glorify God through the way they treat you both in your friendship and in their minds. That you may know that you have value and know the love of God.

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Jonathan Faulkner is 22 Years old and lives in Kansas, he is a musician and a graduate of Sterling College where he still mentors students.

Part 2: Shame & Guilt

Shame & Guilt

 The Things We Do Not Need Banner

            “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.  

Summer Reflections: Going Home

Reflection #10 – Going Home

 

                As Angel wrote in her first Summer Journal back in June I too hadn’t been home for several years, nearly four, for more than a 2 or 2 ½ week visit since I graduated from High School. I spent my first summer out in Michigan working and State Choir, my second summer I devoted completely to working and my third summer was spent in Denver where this blog originated. So I had no idea what to expect when I got here on May 12th. I knew I was going to miss terribly the friends that God had brought me so close too over the last nine months. I thought I was going to get a job and I had planned on taking a class. All of that got shot down and I ended up working specifically on our new 10:31 website and securing writers for next fall.

With coming home though came something else, a reminder of everything that I was before I my intervention by God on the side of that mountain last summer. The pain of the spiritual abuse that I had suffered at the hands of a pastor that had been released from that particular church and a sister who spent most of her time putting me down.

I was fine at the beginning of the summer, a great deal of prayer and time in scripture helped me to cope with everything that was going on around me. The constant insults from my sister continued but for the most part I was able to bite my tongue. That is until halfway through the summer when I started to slowly fall apart. I lapsed back into the depression and anger that had plagued me for so long before Denver. Instead of biting my tongue I would find back, thankfully I would catch myself before I did or said anything I regretted.

God used this to show me the strength of the friendships He had put into my life. Used it to constantly remind me through prayer and through loved ones that He was with me and I wasn’t the things that she was telling me I was.

As far as the church was considered, I met with the Youth Pastor twice and have visited on three different occasions. Through that God has allowed healing, reconciliation and restoration to come between me and the church leadership team and staff. As well as with several members of the congregation who had stopped talking to me probably at the request of the former senior pastor.

God also allowed a lot of good things to come from this, like getting to reconnect with an old High School friend, get my learners permit (Which is a long awaited answer to prayer), got to go on the radio to talk about the state choir and am now packing up for a trip to Boston. Through all of this though the setbacks continued God showed to me His faithfulness, promising that He would bring me through.

I think, dear friends that so often we forget, that when we are going through trials that God is right there with us. Read any of Angel’s articles for the summer and you’ll hear an amazing story of God’s ability to bring healing and restoration into our lives. When we are confronted by our past we want to run from it, but if God has brought us to it, then why would He not bring us through it.

In final reflection I think this summer God has reaffirmed and tested me in this fire to see if I believe what He told me in the Labyrinth. “I am here, I will be there.” The words repeating in my heart and in my head as I continue to walk this journey and reflect on the amazing God that I have the honor of serving, the same God who loves us enough to send His only son to die for us. The Same God who brought us to the trial, is the same God who walks with us on the journey, is the same God who abides in us and the same God who transforms our hearts along the way.

I pray you will continue in this journey with me as I continue to learn and grow and discover God’s Heart for Those.

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries
Director/Founder

Summer Reflections: Book & Books

Reflection #8: Book & Books

  

                Like most of my spring semester it wasn’t planned. I was in the cafeteria with my laptop in front of me, a blank word document begging me to write something. It was mid-term week and I was more than ready for spring break. A lot of my friends were completely burned out and several of them had already left. As I said last week I was planning on staying on campus, but by that time I had already agreed to go to Texas the next Thursday.

I started to type, before I knew it I couldn’t stop. Words flowed from my fingers, the keyboard “tap, tap, tapping” out to the rhythm of whatever song might be playing through my headphones at the time. They words kept coming, all the frustration I felt towards the fact that everyone around me was burned out started to form into a book. Everything from Denver started coming back to me as I sat in the cafeteria and later in my room.

50 pages, then 100 pages, then 150, then 200 pages, I worked on this book all day Friday, Saturday and part of Sunday. Into Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and even a little bit before we left on Thursday, I continued to write on the trip, then off into the next week after we returned. All the way up till the Thursday after. I sat back in my chair at about 3:30 in the afternoon, clasped my hands behind my head and sighed, 224 pages on the problem of burnout. Now I was burned out.

Those two weeks were probably the most interesting two weeks I’ve had since July 4th of last year. I could only write at certain times, when I had homework to do I couldn’t work on the book, a block went up that stayed there until I finished assignments. Then I could go back to counting pages and reading sections of books pertaining to the problem.

When I think back on those two weeks I can tell you that the only way I could have written a whole book and done all the research on it was through the power of the Holy Spirit. God showed up and wrote through me, not that this book is anything special, but as I prayed they be His words and not mine that is the only explanation I can give.

Bring back to the front life in the spirit. Since surrendering everything to God’s will, these types of things have been happening. Could it be that God is giving me a unique view of life in the spirit? My goal here is to give you my experiences; I know that God works with all differently, so your experiences will be different from mine. But to really get to know God, to see what He does when we lay down our desires and surrender them to Him.

The book is in the first editing phase, but I hope and pray that God will allow this to become a published work in the next year or so. When my friend Emily heard about this she told me “Jon, please tell me you’re going to grad school, because I feel as though someone who can write a book in two weeks is a genius.” She’s right, I do plan on going to grad school, but I’ll leave it up to the spirit to be the genius and rely on what God has taught me.

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries
Director/Founder

Summer Reflections Series
Reflection #1: Re-Entry
Reflection #2: Pulled Out
Reflection #3: Set Apart
Reflection #4: Focus Change
Reflection #5: Spirit Thing
Reflection #6: Science and Christianity
Reflection #7: Texas Sweet Tea
Reflection #8: Books & Books
Reflection #9: Bearing Burdens
Reflection #10: Heading Home

Summer Reflections – Science and Christianity

Reflection #6: Science and Christianity

 

I have a really bad habit of wanting to take really easy classes that I don’t need to fill out my schedule, this bad habit often rears its ugly head in the cold days of January as we go through the three weeks of Heaven or Hell called interterm. My first interterm I had really taken the easy way out because I had skipped it, my second interterm I took a class called B-Movies because I was interested in the subject. We sat and watched movies and talked about good and bad movies, as much as I enjoyed the class it didn’t get much easier than that. It didn’t hurt that a few of my closest friends were in the class.

Last January I did the same thing, took a course because I was interested in the class but this one ended up being one of the hardest classes of interterm. The subject was Christianity and Science and we were tasked with figuring out whether these two worldviews were compatible or incompatible. My “Foster Dad” was teaching the class so that did help ease the pain but for someone who failed (or nearly failed) ever science class he’d ever taken looking at these two viewpoints was going to be difficult.

I’m sure it also didn’t help that I was a little biased to one side of the argument As a Christian I had always butted heads with those who believe in science. I had refused to do a project in High School concerning Evolution because I don’t believe in it. As we discussed the different viewpoints on creation, which turned into a 30 minute final presentation, I found myself tempered more and more against the idea.

The other problem is that I tend to give myself to deep thought, perhaps not philosophical thought, but I like to think through big topics of discussion. So I wanted to over think or over argue my viewpoints, but living quietly was important so I also had to be patient, even though I ended up being one of the only people in the class who spoke.

Then end result was that we decided the two worldviews were compatible. That science was created by God so that we could marvel at His mysteries even down at the atomic level. I also grew in my faith in that class because it helped me to look and see the depth and care which God had taken to create everything under the sun.

Sometimes we are put into situations that make us uncomfortable, sometimes we put ourselves in positions that are uncomfortable. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I stepped up to take that course but I figured it was going to be fun and tough, I wasn’t counting on it being uncomfortable.

The thing about uncomfortable situations is that when we are in those situations God often does His best work. In those situations where we are being challenged God shows us His love and gives us another glimpse into His awesome mystery. Then we can experience and know Him on a deeper level then we previously have.

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries Director/Founder

Summer Reflections Series
Reflection #1: Re-Entry
Reflection #2: Pulled Out
Reflection #3: Set Apart
Reflection #4: Focus Change
Reflection #5: Spirit Thing
Reflection #6: Science and Christianity
Reflection #7: Texas Sweet Tea
Reflection #8: Books & Books
Reflection #9: Bearing Burdens
Reflection #10: Heading Home

Summer Reflections: Focus Change

REFLECTION #4: Focus Change 

3 weeks into my college career I was involved in a number of different things. I had started teaching Sunday School at the local Presbyterian church (unintentionally), I was involved in the local kids club program and I was trying to become a prayer leader in my dorm. All these things took me away from the school for the most part, with the exception of being a prayer leader. But on top of that I was involved in choir and band and so I really didn’t do much on campus.

All my ministry took place off of campus and on Facebook. 10:31 Life Ministries was just a glint in my eye, I was still trying to organize it into something coherent. We had several writers that were “regular” contributors, but most of those eventually backed out or just stopped contributing. My personal life became a spiritual mess as I pursued a girl who had no interest in me beyond friendship. I slipped further into the mentality that I was going to do things on my own and by my own strength, using God as a crutch to escape too when things got too hard.

The end result was a lot of nights spent hiding out in my room with no one around to talk to. If people wanted to find me they normally would find a much angrier, stressed out version of me who cared more for his image than for what God wanted. I spent most of my time burned out, repeating cycles of going out and having to completely isolate myself. I was extremely unhealthy spiritually, emotionally and even physically.

When I returned to Sterling after my summer in Denver I knew I needed a new focus. I had spent the two weeks prior to the return flight praying for just that with very little understanding of what to do. When I returned I found my Sunday school class had been taken over, Kids Club was under new leadership and an open schedule. I knew I wasn’t supposed to be involved in those things anymore, everything was different.

Instead I had fifteen students that I was supposed to mentor, and I wanted to do it right. See in the past I’ve neglected responsibility, been far from a good steward of what I’ve been given. That even got in the way of 10:31 Life moving forward as well as kept me from one of the greatest friendships and brotherhoods God’s ever given me.

My focus changed from what was going on outside of the school to ministering on campus. Suddenly I found myself spending time with the guys in my dorm and ministering to them the best I could. I had some friends in a dispute and so I helped them discover the biblical solutions to the issue and prayed for them. It was rather remarkable how God was able to use me in there in the dorm, a place I had never wanted to minister.

I had been so focused on myself and what I wanted that I had failed to see where God wanted me. Brotherhood became a new focus for my life as well, I needed my brothers in Christ and since I’d been pulled out of most of the relationships I had with my sisters I didn’t have much of a choice.

In the past I’ve said that one of the marks of authentic manhood is men who seek out the wisdom of other men. For the first time in my life I learned what this really meant. I met a man named *Jack who had graduated from the Honor Academy and learned to go to him to seek his wisdom. He has become one of my closest brothers in Christ, through Christ.

As a man I needed community with other men, instead of spending all of my time with girls, I spent most of my time with guys. This is the same for you women. You need time with the other women in your lives. Spending all your time with men is not exactly good for you, there are certain things that women can teach you that us men never could. Just like there are things that men can teach men that women never could.

But that is a side note, the point is that God changed my focus. From off campus to what I needed to do on campus. I met individually with my foundation students and really took the time to get to know them outside of the classroom setting. God allowed me to continue my involvement with Love Sterling and I got to experience the blessings of the community of my dorm.

God is faithful to us when we call on Him. He changed my focus because I knew I couldn’t keep up the way I was living. I couldn’t keep focusing on the ministry areas I was focusing on, I needed to go back to my home and start ministering there. Then I could branch out and reach out beyond that.

Wouldn’t you know it, shortly after this new focus 10:31 started to take off, we brought in a new writer that winter and God took it from there. Just goes to show you what happens when God gives us the focus for our ministry positions.

Ask yourself this week what God is trying to get you to focus on, where does He want you to minister. Maybe it’s at home, maybe it’s in your town, at the local church or homeless shelter, or maybe it’s internationally. Consider who God is and where He is leading you, if you feel your focus is off, ask Him to change and transform then sit back and enjoy what God will do through you

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries

Summer Reflections Series
Reflection #1: Re-Entry
Reflection #2: Pulled Out
Reflection #3: Set Apart
Reflection #4: Focus Change
Reflection #5: Spirit Thing
Reflection #6: Science and Christianity
Reflection #7: Texas Sweet Tea
Reflection #8: Books & Books
Reflection #9: Bearing Burdens
Reflection #10: Heading Home

Good Discipline – Fasting

FASTING: The Challenge

 

I sat at the table in a state of near panic, what had I just agreed too, could I do it. I had just told my friend Ashley I was going to give up sweets and desserts for Lent. The worst part was that she was doing the same thing and told me she’d hold me accountable to that. No candy, no cookies, no brownies, no ice-cream…how was I going to survive. I’d heard of dad trying this before, did he make it? I wasn’t sure.

So I set out to fast for 40 days and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done…or should say that I tried to do…I didn’t make it and often found myself renewing the fast.

Fasting is Biblical

The truth is that Fasting is hard but it’s also recommended, even proscribed in scripture. In Matthew 6:16-18 we find Jesus speaking on Fasting as part of the sermon on the mount. Jesus starts off by saying how not fast, to not look gloomy and down about the fact that you are fasting, he says “Truly I say to you they have received their reward” (v 17). But instead Jesus instructs that we wash our faces and go about our days like we are not fasting at all. Like Silence, fasting is something often done in secret so that we do not draw attention to ourselves. The israelites fasted on a number of occasions, including times of war, illness and humility. (See Exodus)

Now that doesn’t mean that we can’t let people know that we are fasting, but we should never boast in our fasts. In fact boasting our works is never a good thing to do (see Romans 3&4).  The point is to spend that day focusing on God, instead of what you have given up for your fast.

Christian George on Fasting

George writes to us; “Fasting returns the worship to God we offer to food. In our food saturated culture, I believe it is the single most neglected Discipline. And the most needed to, in my own limited experiences, fasting exposes my strenuous death grip on the things of this world. It’s teaching me to reevaluate my priorities, and how I spend my energy” (62).

George also points out that fasting requires us to lean more on God, in those times when we are ready to give up we really need to allow His strength to carry us through.  Fasting is also a good time to experience God’s love because it allows us to worship Him without other things that may have become idols in our lives. It also allows us to love Him back because it is something that He wants us to practice, notice Jesus starts the passage in Matthew 6 with “When you Fast.”

Fasting Beyond Food. 

Fasting doesn’t have to stop at food, it can be anything that might have become or has the potential to become one. Fasting can be from technology, it can be from listening to music (great time to practice silence). The point is that we should fast something in our lives, there’s nothing wrong with a good Facebook or Twitter fast so long as we spend that time with God. There’s a blessing to be found in turning off the cell phone for awhile and only using it for emergencies, something beautiful can be found in spending two months without Facebook like my friend Jayleene.

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Fasting is a tough discipline, I don’t know if we can ever really master it but it is one we need. It allows us to give back what we have taken from God, to surrender out lives and our futures and the things that hold us back from our relationship with Him. To evaluate where we are with Him and how the stuff of this world might affect that relationship we have with Him.

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries
Director/Founder

“Make a Joyful Noise unto the Lord all the Earth
Serve Him with gladness
Come into His Presence with Singing”
Psalms 100:1-2 
 

The Good Discipline Series
Week #1: Good Discipline
Week #2: Good Discipline – 
Prayer
Week #3: Good Discipline – Obedience
Week #4: Good Discipline – Art
Week #5: Good Discipline – Journaling
Week #6: Good Discipline – Silence
Week #7: Good Discipline – Fasting
Week #8: Good Discipline – Vow Making
Week #9: Good Discipline – Labyrinth Walking
Week #10: Good Discipline – Meditation
Week #11: Good Discipline – Solitude
Week #12: Good Discipline – Practicing God’s Presence

Good Discipline – Silence

SILENCE: Reflecting & Listening

 

“Jonathan, I have a discipline I want you to practice…do you know what that is?” My DUS instructor said to me after class one day

I raised my eyes, then looked back at the ground, I knew exactly what it was…

“Silence”

I shared with you in my earlier blog post entitled “Discover of Noise” that I am a loud person. I enjoy noise, I have music on right now as I’m typing this article on Silence. I had spent a lot of time hearing about this discipline, even read about it in George’s book about a month earlier but it was never one I was very good at. That morning Greg challenged me to spend a week in silence, I remember walking back into my apartment and slamming my fist down on the counter, who was he to tell me to spend a week in silence.

Then I stopped and I prayed “God is you want me to do this then let me know and I’ll do it”…I didn’t like God’s answer. I decided to obey though, knowing deep down that this would be good for me, how good I didn’t know, but somehow it would be good. I made it through the first two days, but on the third I woke up extremely depressed. Now I know I couldn’t talk, so I couldn’t tell anyone, this was God’s preparation for that time in the Labyrinth that I’ve described so many times.

Silence serves two main purposes within the Christian Walk; Reflecting and Listening. These two purposes help us move closer to God and allow Him to work out the things in our lives that we are not letting Him work out as well as knowing who God is and what His will for us is in our lives.

 

Reflecting on a Holy God

Christian George writes; “The discipline of silence is a natural reaction of God’s holiness. When we get a glimpse of who God is we find that His voice is deeper than out own. His words are worth listening too” (Godology, 62).This is certainly true, Isaiah gets to see God’s holiness and glory on full display in 6:1-7 and the only thing he can say is “Woe is me, for I am lost, I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell amongst a people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the Lord of Hosts” (v. 5 ESV).

Silence is humbling, as is God’s Holiness. I don’t think any of us would react differently to what Isaiah is describing if we were in the same situation. Another example would be driving through a thunderstorm, I find that the scarier the storm the quieter I tend to get, storms show us God’s power. So a few weeks ago as we were driving home from Formal I watched the sky in silence, occasionally offering something to the conversation, watching for one of the many Tornado’s we’d heard about.

In those times of silence we really get to reflect and think about God’s Holiness. It gives us a chance to think about God’s awesome power, even looking back to see God’s power in our lives. I love to sit and think back on that Labyrinth experience, think about how I encountered God on that mountain and how it has forever impacted and changed my life. I also think back to my salvation, on a cold concrete floor in Cleveland Ohio and how God has been working since then. In these times of Silence I get to really know God and His works, but I also get to listen.

 

Listening to a Holy God

Listening is really hard, especially if we need to listen to instruction or to directions, listening to God is even tougher at times because He isn’t physically manifesting Himself before us. As much as I wish we could, we don’t get that Isaiah like moment where we get to stand before the most Holy God and hear Him audibly talk to us.

Instead we have to come to a place where we have quieted our spirits, to a place where like the psalmist we can wait on the Lord (see Ps 130-131). In a world that is constantly screaming at us this kind of quieting our spirits can be even harder. We have to shut off the music, turn off the laptops, get away from our cell phones and forsake our social lives for a little while and really get away.

There’s a reason Jesus told the disciples “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6 ESV). Silence requires us to go away for a while, Jesus does this multiple times, most often coming back with some where new for His Disciples to go.

 

Coupling Silence and Prayer:

Silence and prayer are two Disciplines I believe should go together, when we pray we should be seeking, but seeking comes to fruition when we are quiet after that time. It’s so easy to pray and then get right back to our lives, but if we pray and listen than we have a better understanding of our mission and of God’s direction for our lives.

 

Why is Silence so Hard?

Christian George gives us a bit of wisdom in seeking to answer this question. He tells us; “we react to it violently sometimes, our own silence is an X-Ray machine and we don’t like what we are – Loneliness, emptiness, insecurity. We fill up the hollow moments with noise. We blast the radio, blast the TV, Phone our friends. Why? To avoid the deafening roar within.” (Godology)

We won’t but George is absolutely right on this point, Silence forces us to deal with the things that we hold back. They come to the surface and we don’t want to encounter them, like Isaiah’s sinfulness was exposed in comparison to the glory of God so are sinfulness and strongholds are brought to the surface in those times. The kneejerk reaction of course is to run as fast we can the other way; the challenge is to of course not to.

–         –        –

So this is what it comes to, to sit in silence before God, reflecting and listening. This is a challenging and frightening discipline, but as I discovered at the end of my week of silence it is extremely rewarding as it allows God to draw close to us and us to draw close to Him. Once those things it exposes are worked through we will find ourselves in a much better place, a quieter place.

 

God Bless You

Jonathan Faulkner

10:31 Life Ministries

Good Discipline – Journaling

April 24, 2012

The fourth Discipline we will deal with is Journaling
JOURNALING: Letting the Soul out to Dry
           
            On the second to last day of the Denver Urban Semester we had a time when we exchange gifts that we had been challenged to make out of things we found around the apartments or the city. I made a bird out of macaroni and cheese (my meal for the summer) and wrote scripture on it, I was surprised it made it home. The gift I received was a small journal with a passage from 2 Corinthians 12 and a very encouraging letter from a the young woman who had drawn my name for the gift exchange. The first morning I wrote in that journal was the morning after I received it, I didn’t write in it again for two weeks.
            At that point Journaling was still a very new concept for me, I always thought that journaling was like keeping a diary. To me that meant keeping secrets from people and as my sisters probably did in their diaries “talk about boys.” On the other side of the coin it seemed that journaling was just too time consuming and I thought I was doing good enough just by getting into regularity with my quiet time schedule. Why should I add journaling, didn’t I write enough on this blog enough, why add another discipline.
Discovering God’s Vulnerability…
            Christian George starts off his chapter on journaling by reminding us of a very simple and easily forgotten truth, that Jesus stepped out of the glory of heaven and took on the skin of mankind (Godology Christian George, 52). That the Son of God in His infinite wisdom decided to set aside the riches and glory of heaven and step into man’s skin to discover what it was like just to be like us.
            When you look at it this way it’s easy to see how Jesus was vulnerable during his earthly ministry. For anyone of power to step down into the trenches with the people who they call workers or brothers opens the door for a lot of trouble. Look at the CBS show “Undercover Boss” where CEO’s and Executive’s from large corporation like NASCAR and White Castle disguise themselves as employees so they can better serve their employees.
            In a more perfect and better way this is what Christ did when He came down from heaven. He walked alongside us, hung out with the less desirable members of society and ticked off the richer upper echelon who thought they had it all figured out. Then, because of what Jesus taught a change came to that system, but for that change to happen Christ had to be stripped of all glory and crucified, be buried and raised to life. He had to become vulnerable and submissive, even to death on a cross (Phil 2:11).
And Encountering Our Own
            How often do we actually want to admit that we are vulnerable? Think about it, we live in a culture that teaches us to be strong and to build walls on independence. Then when we think we have it figured out someone comes along and tells us we need to tone it down. These mixed messages often just make us angry and so we slip into a deadly apathy thinking we are not allowed to be anything.
            But then we hide that feeling too.
            I have discovered though, that journaling provides us a way to be vulnerable as well as a way to celebrate God’s vulnerability. We show our vulnerability by pouring out our hearts and our souls to Christ and writing down prayers.  I often use Journaling as a chance to write down what God is revealing to me in scripture, hardly to record the day’s events, but mostly to praise my creator. Journaling becomes a way of getting our emotions out, but it’s also good practice for actually showing that vulnerability within our friendships and other relationships as well.
Celebrating the Incarnation
            George has the following to say concerning this discipline
Journaling is an inward practice that reminds us of an upward reality-that God glued Himself to our planet. By inscribing our thoughts and prayers on paper, we appreciate Christ’s condescension, journaling is a celebration of the incarnation (55)
So journaling isn’t just therapeutic, it is, like Art, a way to celebrate the incarnation and bring glory to God.  When we acknowledge God in our private lives it becomes easier to acknowledge Him in our public lives. It gives us a chance to reflect on who God is and what exactly it is that He’s doing.
            If we are to seek out God on this level we may find that we will fall deeper and deeper in love with who He is and have a clearer view of who we are.
         –   –
So why is Journalism a Discipline? Well we’ve seen how prayer, obedience and Art allow us to focus on God, and that’s what the discipline of Journalism does. It allows us to pray, write out what God is asking us to do, or even draw something. It also becomes a very good tool for looking back on what we were struggling with or what we were rejoicing in two or three days, weeks or months earlier.
So go and grab a notebook and pick up a pen and take the time to write down what you are starting to work through spiritually. Write out your prayers, or a scripture you are trying to memorize or an experience or whatever might be on your heart at the given time. Then sit back and reflect on what you’ve just written and see how deeply you start to fall in love with a God who is madly in love with you.
LET YOUR SOUL OUT TO DRY, GO, WRITE & REFLECT!
God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner


Also Available from the Good Discipline Series 
Also Available from Jonathan Faulkner
The Truth (10:31 Life Ministries Blog) 
Available titles from the 10:31 Life Ministries Writing Team
To contact or support 10:31 Life Ministries email us at: hi1031.ministries@yahoo.com
To contact Jonathan Faulkner email him at: Jonathan@altrocklive.com






The Freedom Found in God’s Will

March 27, 2012

I have never seen a picture of a happy slave, no matter what kind of slavery we are talking about, I have not seen anyone who is happy in captivity. In fact as I look at pictures of people who were involved in American slavery, or the modern sex slavery that plagues this world I see nothing but brokenness and pain. When I see pictures, or hear stories of those who live under oppressive governments I don’t see happiness. Let’s face it, Slavery is a horrible place to be, to be owned by someone else is not fun, no wonder the abolition of Slavery has become a global concern.

In our busy and over worked society we have become mostly slaves to these things that keep us busy. Charlse Hummel would probably agree with me when I say we’ve become slaves to the urgent. They control us and give us no rest, no escape, here we are, this is all there is, you cannot get away. When we are enslaved to the urgent things we don’t get to experience freedom, we can only do what those things demand of us, when we finish those urgent tasks we are too burned out to do anything else.

The Apostle Paul uses slavery as one of the many metaphors he uses to describe the old and new life we have in Christ. Paul writes in Romans 6 “did you not know that if you present yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey.” (v. 16) ESV Granted Slavery in Paul’s time looked more like indentured servitude found in the places like Jamestown in the early colonial period in America, but when you start to picture any type of slavery it isn’t exactly pleasant. This is the goal of Romans 6, to show us that slavery, that living by the old sin nature only brings death, but slavery to the righteousness of God, living by faith, will bring us life.

Now, is Paul using slavery because we are in chains to righteousness? I would say not, instead we were in chains when we were in sin, we were limited by that sin, everything was tainted by it, our relationships, our business encounters, our leadership roles. But when we surrendered our sin nature, when we go through that baptism process of being buried with Christ, dying to our sin natures and being raised to new life in Him we are now declared righteous because of the blood of Christ (See Romans 6:1-14). Once we have been raised to this new life we become free, we are no longer slaves to sin, but we serve rightousness because we live by faith.

But after we become a Christian an inner battle starts, there are still parts of that sin nature that we must work through as we work out our salvation. That battle rages around our own wills, the idea that now we are free so we go out and do what we want, we go after this cheap grace and we continue to live in sin. Meanwhile God continues to pursue us, after we have fallen on our faces before the holiness of God and told Him we would turn from our old lives, then going our own way continue to sin relying on grace, God still pursues us.

In my own life I’ve seen this same struggle lived out, for the first five or six years of my Christian walk I only wanted what I wanted. I never gave a thought to what God’s will might be for me. The problem was I still ended up where God wanted me, I certainly didn’t want to be a Sterling College, I never wanted to be studying Urban Ministry, yet here I am. On these things I fought God’s will, I wanted very little to do with it and I become cold and angry, legalistic in my ways. Thinking I was unloved by God for the things that I had done, filling my days with my own works, doing my own thing, being a slave to my old self, and to my will.

Then God got through to me, starting with the graceful, yet seemingly harsh words by a good friend to that day as I sat in the center of the Labyrinth, unable to fight any longer, finally in total surrender. Now, almost nine months later I can tell you friends that there is no better freedom than to be in a place where you are totally surrendered to God’s will.

In a conversation about this with one of my brothers here at Sterling it was said “so we are robots programmed to do good!” Meaning “is God then limiting our free will, is it just an illusion.” John Calvin once said of Paul that he “never limits the Christians Freedom” in fact, if you read 1 Corinthians 10:23 Paul says “All things are lawful, but not all things build up” (ESV). In the context of the rest of the passage, there is an ongoing theme of not causing your brother to stumble, that we are free to live as long as we are not causing our brothers or sisters to stumble. In fact the very next verse states; “let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor” (v. 24). This means that we are free, but in that freedom, because we live by faith we should do what is good for our neighbors.

This passage in 1 Corinthians 10 culminates in the ultimate purpose, the goal of our Christian freedom, what Jonathan Edwards called “The End for Which God created the world.” This is found in 10:31 “Whether you eat, drink or whatsoever you do, do it all for the glory of Christ.” This is the chief end of man, this is what everything we do is to culminate in, bringing glory to a infinite and holy God.

So it is not total determinism, we are not simply pawns or robots. It is not slavery God wants but the surrender of our wills. The slave is told what to eat and drink, we are told “take and eat” (See Acts), we are simply instructed that everything we do bring glory to God.

But how do we bring glory to God? Well, if we believe God is sovereign, then we must also believe that God’s will for our lives is sovereign. That the purpose of our lives is leading to something bigger and greater than what we could ever accomplish on our own. In fact, when anytime I’ve put my will before God’s I’ve only ended up sitting angrily under a tree trying to figure out why it all fell apart. My will has only burned me out and failed me, destroyed me, God’s will brings life, God’s will for our lives gives us freedom.

But we don’t know the will of God, we are not quiet, we are too busy, our souls ache for it, but our minds and hearts deceive us. Praise God though, as Romans 8 tells us; “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words”  (v. 26 ESV). These groans that come from the spirit are intercessory, the spirit is calling out for God’s will in our lives, should we not learn to do the same?

This is why I put such a high emphasis on spiritual disciplines, because it is when we learn to quiet our spirits that we begin to not just experience God but know God. And in knowing God, we learn and know the will of God for our lives and for those in leadership, the lives of others. The battle is over, we live by faith, totally relying on the will of God, not as slaves to sin but as sons, elected for adoption (Romans 8:15). Set on a path of future glory, because God, who is trying to bring glory to Himself, glorifies us through Christ when we suffer with him (Romans 8:17).

So lay down your weapons, if you are dead to sin then you are no longer enemies of God. Stop making Him your enemy by fighting against His will for you, He is not the bad guy here, we become the bad guy. Start applying disciplines, put off the old life, live a life of total surrender. Discover for yourself the blessings that come through a true and personal relationship with Christ, unhindered by slavery to our own wills that often lead us to failed plans.

It is God’s will, through grace and the blood of Christ shed on the cross, the propitiation for our sins (Romans 3:25). That is what frees us, that is what takes us from slaves to sin, to slaves to righteousness.

Jonathan Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries

Also available from Jonathan Faulkner
Good Discipline
Ready, Reset, Go
God’s Heart for Your Relationships

Also available from 10:31 Life Ministries;
A Chosen Generation (1 Peter 2:9): Called to Societies Standards  By Angel Edwards
College Commitment: The Toughest Test by David Faulkner
The Fire & the Storm: Being in the presence of a Holy God who Speaks by David Tank

To learn more about 10:31 Life Ministries check out; http://www.facebook.com/1031ministries
To contact 10:31 Life Ministries email us at; hi1031.ministries@yahoo.com
To Contact Jon Faulkner email him at: jonemanarmy24@yahoo.com