Category: Jonathan Faulkner

Why Conservative Evangelicals Should Support Social Justice.

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By Jonathan David Faulkner

In the news this week has been the Urbana 2015 Missions Conference. I had many friends who attended as well as a sibling and have heard many good things about the conference. Alongside those good things have been the coverage of Michelle Higgins comments declaring the Pro-Life Movement to be a “Spectacle.” Higgins is a worship leader, #Blacklivesmatter Activist and director of “Faith for Justice.” In her comments she also took shots at conservative evangelicals who she accuses of bowing to the “Idolatry of white supremacy.” Which she says evangelicals have made their “Sidepiece.”

InterVarsity, who runs the Urbanna Conference, released a statement affirming their support of the Pro-Life Movement. Joe Ho, InterVarsity’s National Director of Asian-American Ministries supported Higgins initial comments and InterVarsity’s embrace of this new Social Justice Movement mentioning the fact that Evangelicals largely failed to support the initial Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. King and others, stating that “I (Joe) do not think our neutrality in those years honored God.”

(Read InterVarsity’s response to Higgins Here)

As a student of Urban Ministry, having served in an Urban setting with Global Expeditions, World Vision and Mile High Ministries. As well as holding a bachelors in Urban Ministry I am not afraid to admit that I identify very strongly with the Social Justice Movement. I have seen, and lived in the conditions that are often being protested against. I have sat out on the street with the homeless, seen the shame on the face of the father who cannot find work. Talked with street kids and worked in impoverished neighborhoods. I love the goal of social justice, it is good.

But Higgins comments reveal several problems with the Modern Social Justice Movement. The first is that it stands deeply divided. Higgin’s attack on the Pro-Life movement, another social justice movement, reveal this to be true. Despite the fact that 60% of abortions are African or Middle American, sparking a #BlackLivesMatter movement within itself. Secondly is the fact that social justice activists are quick to condemn conservative evangelicals who they see as “Unsupportive of their cause.” For instance a mem on Facebook that proclaims “Instead of building mega-churches, we build mega-homeless shelters instead.” Failing to realize that Mega-Churches tend to be the largest supporters of Homeless Shelters and Orphanages and Crisis Pregnancy Centers. The Day Shelter I worked at in Denver, was funded, for the most part, by Grace Chapel, a Mega-Church. The pastor, was a Conservative Evangelical, like myself, who cared for those men and women who came through his door everyday. Third is the push towards Cultural Absolutism, which is reflected in the attitude of condemnation towards Evangelicals and final is the lack of strong doctrine and good theology behind the movement. Take the Progressive Presby’s or the Chicago Protestors from Black Friday, who operate from an extremely liberal interpretation of Jesus that has been modified to justify their actions.

All of this has brought the Social Justice Movement to an all-time low. A point where it is doing little more than clanging like a gong. Leaving Higgins words sounding as hollow as an empty coffee thermos. Not that Conservative Evangelicals are any better, we are just as divided, moreso in fact, due to having much more time to do so. We can have bad theology, we are far from perfect, but largely the evangelical church has sought to live quietly, sometimes to our detriment.

With all the issues given above you might be questioning the title of this article. Wondering why you should become involved with such a mess of a movement and how I could possibly support the kind of “Movement” described above. I gave the reason, because the goal is good, it is, in most cases, a noble goal. Racial Reconciliation is a good thing, one I pray is one day realized. The issue becomes the methodology chosen to carry out the desired “Justice.”

This is where Conservative Evangelicals can have the greatest impact, by bringing in a strong biblically centered, theologically sound and spiritually effective backbone to the Social Justice Movement. See, we have the study, we have the knowledge and the sense of the Holy Spirit that Liberals admittedly lack. We have the moral and ethical background and teaching and have the ability to put that into practice on the individual level. Often times Conservative Evangelicals are very good at this, not all the time, but often times.

Instead of using this study and biblical insight to work to better the earthly kingdom in the hopes of leading people toward the heavenly one most Conservative Evangelicals have chosen  isolationism and some have even chosen anger and hatred. Some have even taken the Conservative Evangelical equivalent to Higgins position and attacked their like-minded brethren. Yet again furthering the division within all Evangelical circles.

So why should Conservative Evangelicals support the Social Justice Movement? For the sake of unity amongst the people of OOD and for the sake of effective spread of the Gospel in its purest and most attractive form, guided by the Holy Spirit, with us as vessels. To marry spirit led sound theology with what I believe to spirit driven zealousness for those in need.

This is a hard road, it will require both sides to lay down presuppositions about the other and acknowledge the good points of both sides. It will require reconciliation and sincerity in attempts to renewal, acceptance of and forgiveness for past mistakes and most importantly an ever deepening devotion to being led by the power for the Holy Spirit by all within the Kingdom of Heaven.

In closing I think that Joe Ho is right, after reading Dr. King Jr’s. Letters and various speeches, Conservative Evangelicals should have supported the Civil Rights movement. Perhaps if we had, we would not be in our present predicament. We are still here though, we can reconcile, we can be united again.

Authors Note: These are the thoughts of a conservative evangelical pastor and you are free and welcome to disagree with the above comments. 

Jonathan Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a pastor. He has served in the projects in Dallas, Wichita and Denver, he is also a musician and writer. 

 

 

 

 

An Open Letter to the American Church

Christians 1, Jesus 0: An Open Letter to the American Church.An Open Letter Picture

            Warning: This article will offend you but for that I do not apologize, for I believe now I understand how Paul felt when writing letters to the Corinthians. My grief, even coming from some of my own comments during the past week, is only surpassed by the greatness of the forgiveness of Christ and the Joy that comes with such forgiveness.

Who are we church? Are we a group of people with individual voices? Or are we to be one voice? A positive change in a world that so desperately needs one? Which one are we to be? Did Christ tell us to make sure we got our opinions in and tell others how very wrong they are? Did the world come to our table only to find us fighting and argumentative. As I prepare to preach on 1 Timothy 2:1-7 I am increasingly aware and find myself constantly reminded how much we have forgotten the glorious mission we have been called to. Who has bewitched us, who has led us astray and turned our eyes off of Christ.

For all of you celebrating the court’s decision concerning Hobby Lobby, that’s all well and good, it was a victory for traditional believers. But when someone lashes out at you and you lash back with some opinion that you perceive to be more correct than the person who attacked you are you any better than the world? I am guilty of it too, I know, I removed a post because of the fighting and argumentation and vain discussion going on. I do not want to be a party to division and I was.  No one should desire that the flock be divided and no one should divide.

Are we Cretan’s? Whose own poets called them Liars a fools. Does your opinion, if it is going to cause division, seem that important to you? Yes, maybe the Christians won, but Christ did not. I doubt even the owners of Hobby Lobby wanted the fighting that went on. They stood up for the rights of small businesses, that is true, they made their voice heard. But did they intend for Christians to start calling everyone names? I think not.

The truth is that we have a great and glorious calling, we are to be a blessing, and if a blessing then a change in a world so desperate for one. Do the lessons of our forefathers mean anything to us? Israel and Judah were punished for their disobedience to the God who created them. Tyre was destroyed, as were Sodom and Gomorrah. We have become slaves to the god of opinions, one whose gospel is as divisive as the words themselves from the mouth of the saints.

I do not care if you are Presbyterian, a Baptist, a Methodist, a Catholic or whatever you may be, I do not care. If the church is causing division and chaos then we are not fulfilling our glorious mission. We are far from making disciples, Christ is not winning, oh the Christians may be, and we may think that’s great, but Christ is not. If anything Christ has lost in this past week. Instead of a deep and abiding love we have shared hate, even with other Christians.

You see we are to be LOVE to the world, we are to be PEACE to the world, we are to be HOPE to the world, we are to share FAITH with the world. Why? Because these are the things Christ shared with us, go read Romans, the entire book. Get out of the gospel of public opinion, withdraw your voice, surrender your right to speak. Lest we become the laughing stock of the world.

You want to take back this nation for Christ? Bind yourselves once again to Christ our savior. Return to daily study of the word of God. Renew your commitment to this great calling that has been thrust upon us when we accepted grace and received Jesus as savior. Return to living a peaceful and quiet life, dignified in all ways, praying for all people, kings and rulers and those in authority. Remember the Piety of Hezekiah, the devotion of Josiah, the commitment of Daniel, the Faith of Christ, the life and testimony of Paul, the love shown by believers for centuries and the passion of the early church.

Come back oh Church to the gospel of grace. To the eternal weight of glory given us by our salvation in Jesus Christ, recommit yourself to the gospel that brings life. We need to love again. We need to show grace again. We need to be a light again. Oh tasteless generation, come together and let us rediscover as one what we have lost.

For we are the saints of a Holy God, we are the ones who believed, we are the saints and the chosen ones, the ones God has called free.

It is time for reformation oh Church, it is truly time for awakening.

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.

With Great Expectation: Christmas Hope for Singles

With Great Expectancy, Some Christmas Hope for Singles

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I LOVE CHRISTMASTIME! It is by far my favorite time of year. I love snow, I love watching children play in it. I love to hear people yell out “Merry Christmas” to one another. I love all the seasonal drinks at our local coffee shop. Seeing friends and loved ones, hearing carols, singing carols, singing carols with friends. In fact the whole season of what the church calls “Advent” is and always will be my favorite time of year.

However, with all the Christmas cheer in the air this year I face a challenge I have never faced before. What is that? This will be the first year that I am not home in Ohio, nestled up in the room I grew up in waiting to go and unwrap our living room in the morning. This will be the first Christmas I am not with my family and it has reminded me of terribly lonely things can seem during the Holiday season. It has been hard for me not being in a the house with my sisters and brother, mom and dad. Watching Christmas movies and attending Holiday Gatherings. Yes, I have attended my share of Christmas gatherings, two in the last week, both of them were at work, both of them were fun and I was blessed by so many. No, I will not be alone at Christmas, one of my longest and dearest friends has invited me to spend Christmas with her and her family.

But even so I still find myself at times, struggling with being single at Christmastime, or single in general. I said in a post earlier this year entitled “Brutal Honesty about being a Single Christian” that: “I have this desire, I have this want, I’ll even call it a need to have someone close to me, to have a young woman in my life who loves the Lord and who loves me.” This desire has not lessoned any since I wrote that particular article, it is just as strong today as it was then. But as I was walking home from a website consultation today I began to think about Advent and the expectancy we have for Christmas and for Christ and I thought: “Well, God sent his son to save the world, why should I not wait with expectancy for him to fill this desire as well.”

Expectancy and Preparation:

 

I also talked in my previous article that part of the purpose of being single is to prepare ourselves for our future spouses. To prepare ourselves to be men and women who serve and love God first and one another as an outpouring of that love, by grace we are able to do this. But this is not easy, we want the end goal, we want the prize now, the Wedding, the last first kiss, the Honeymoon, the kids playing in the yard or the living room on a snowy day. We do not want to be patient, so we try to rush the process while God is saying “my son, take it slow, she is precious to me as are you, I want you to be at your best for one another.”

 

It is easy to forget that God is also preparing our future spouse. We can sometimes get the rose-colored illusion that our spouses will be perfect and that our marriage will be perfect. But God is working on them as well, do you really want God to rush that? Two people who place God at the center of their lives will find each other. That person is not a savior, they are not perfect, they will not cure all our problems, only Christ can do that, but they will be the person God needs them to be for us.

 

And there is the hope my friends. As we wait in Abstinence, deepening our relationship with God and learning how to be in relationship with others, for the coming of our future spouses we should do so with expectancy. The person you are going to marry one day is a gift from God, not a treasure you have won, a precious creation of the most high for you to cherish, to build one another up and to walk together through this life with.

 

And so it should be with all those lessons and trials and joy that help us to grow to maturity as Christians. Those things that draw us closer in our relationship with God (like Marriage should), and our relationships with others, we must wait with great expectancy for the promises of God to be fulfilled. After all, Simeon (Luke 2:25-35) was promised he would not taste death until he Saw the Christ and he got to hold the Savior.

 

Psalm 37:4 tells us: “Take Delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” The reason Simeon got to see the Christ who would redeem Israel and be the Savior for all mankind is because he was “Righteous and Devout” (Luke 2:26). We are not told that Simeon desired to see Christ, but being a Jew we can be fairly accurate in saying he was waiting for the Messiah. So he waited, and God fulfilled that desire, to see the Messiah as a baby and prophesy over him.

 

So should we not wait for the fulfillment of God’s promise to fulfil our desires if we delight in him with expectancy? We should! Why? Because when we find joy in knowing God, we find Joy in the things of God and that includes his promises. Promises that can be approached with great expectation as we prepare to enter the covenant relationship that Christ as set aside. Are you preparing to be the husband or wife God needs you to be for your spouse? If so do it with expectancy, are you struggling with being single? Take it to God with great expectancy, Delight in God, in prayer bring your needs before him. For He hears the prayers of the Saints, all the Saints, and He loves fearsomely all His creation and is looking out for the needs of His people.

 

So let us hold tightly to the promises and trust that God will fulfill them in His time. Preparing ourselves by the work of the Holy Spirit inside of us to first be men and women of God, standing firm in the word of Truth, for we are His and He is Love. And always in the coming year may we walk together with great expectancy and faith in God.

Avoiding Schizophrenia Or Finding the Middle Ground

Avoiding Schizophrenia Or Finding the Middle Ground

 The Things We Do Not Need Banner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brutal Honesty about being a Single Christian

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Brutal Honesty about Being a Single Christian

 

            Loneliness can be like a flood.

Here I am, just out of college, I’m living with a professor from the college I graduated from. I’m working for the college I graduated from. Trying to find a job in ministry, trying to keep 10:31 running, trying to find my own place and learn how to pay bills. And as exciting as all of this can be at times there are times when I am just lonely.

Some might say that this is wrong of me, some might say that I have no reason to be. I do have incredible friends who I get to see on almost a daily basis, but most of them are in relationships or getting married and those that are not, are not looking. But I have this desire, I have this want, I’ll even call it a need to have someone close to me, to have a young woman in my life who loves the Lord and who loves me. Again, some might say “you’re young” or “why do you want this?”

My Answer

Because God made me this way dang it, and until the day He fills the void that He left for my other half I will have this desire and am meant to have this desire. To be a husband and a father who leads his family to love and glorify God.

Now this sounds like complaining I know, and I’ve heard it all. “You should be content,” or “It’s when you stop looking that God brings the one.” I’ll be honest, there are times when I just want to give up, to resign myself to loneliness, but God did not intend it to be that way. He did not intend me to be that way. I wish I could have the peace and serenity that one of my brothers in Christ has, (he is called to be single), but I don’t anymore. I am no longer content like I once was, now it feels as though something’s missing and I believe God is allowing me it to be missing.

And to my dear friends who don’t believe God would allow that consider how long He allowed Jacob to remain single and then the years of work he had to do to finally get Leah, not Rachel who he’d originally bargained for. God Himself said “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Yes, this is in reference to Adam at creation, but it seems to be true to this day.

Yes, being single and out of college can be a struggle but there is a flip side to this that must be discovered too.

 

THIS IS A TIME OF PREPARATION.

I cannot mention my discontent without mentioning what I have learned from this time. I have learned to love God with all my heart, soul and mind. I have learned what it is like to have no significant other. I have learned how to heal, how to love others deeply. How to build up my friends and love them as part of the body of Christ. I have learned how to do minor household repairs, I have been reminded of the centrality of the word in the lives of believers, how to persevere, how to come out on the other side of heartache and how to resolve conflicts.

So for all the struggle there is a very positive side. I am in much better shape, have a better work ethic and am much closer to God then I was even a month ago. Most importantly though I have learned to walk by faith and lead others in walking by faith.

See, in becoming a man of God there is an honest truth, one must take time to evaluate himself before the light of the throne. Then, upon that evaluation we must change what scripture tells us to change By grace we do this, because of Christ’s death on the cross we get to do these things. But preparation is hard, it is difficult and it can be offensive. There were attitudes and still are attitudes that I needed or need to get rid of before I can lead a family. I have to work a minimum wage job that isn’t very glorifying to learn to glorify God with everything.

So let God deal with me as I will. Yes I struggle with loneliness but who hasn’t at some point. Yes, I struggle with my single state, but I have a body to raise me up and encourage and pray for me. I know she’s out there, I know God’s working on her and making her awesome (if I don’t know her already and don’t already think she’s awesome) I just have to get there. I have to seek and let God prepare me. Not be girl crazy, but be crazy in love with God. Then in the middle of my lonely state I can look ahead to the things that have been promised. God’s grace, love and mercy and the fulfillment of our desires for His glory.

 

Jonathan David Faulkner is the director and founder of 10:31 Life Ministries 

Street Psalms

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Street Psalms

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Denver

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