Tag: 10:31 Life Ministries

Explanation for our (Near) Silence on Orlando Shootings.

By Jonathan David Faulkner

If you do not know about it by now, then you have not been watching the news or the internet. Last Sunday a gunman walked into a LGBT nightclub and killed 50 people while injuring 53 more. This sad and tragic act has been the topic of almost every news story and point of debate everywhere from the Campaign Trail to the creators of memes and those who I call “Internet experts” that always seem to have the right opinion on Social Media. Resulting in a flurry of accusations and comments on race and violence and gun-control and treatment of the LGBT community by Christians and Republicans, debates about what an “Assault Weapon” is and finger pointing that would make the greatest debater fear for his life building to an incoherent babble that would make a Greek blush.

Everyone making comment, everyone making debate, everyone having to have their voice heard…well…except us.

I know “Jonathan, a Muslim walked into a LGBT nightclub and killed 50 people, shouldn’t you be talking about how it was God’s judgement or demanding life be sacred or defending the second amendment or talking about Islam…You’re a Christian, should you not have something to say on this?”

It turns out that I did release one statement on the subject, it was as follows.

“The fact is those who died in Orlando were made in the image of God, as was the shooter. Yes, the image was distorted and skewed and lost in depravity. But we must still mourn and pray with and for those who passed away and those who they left whether they are children of the covenant struggling with sin or not. As for what God will do, I know that He will be Just. #PrayforOrlando.”

That was all I had to say, the post was released both on the Jonathan David Faulkner Facebook Page and on my own personal profile. After that statement we moved on, choosing to engage in a discussion on the difference between Call and Vocation. An article that garnered our lowest reader count of anything we have ever released and saw none of the usual reactions to that kind of article. Meanwhile sites covering Orlando exploded, their comment sections filling up with outrage, anger and prayers for the victims.

“You could have really blown up over this, I mean, people listen to your opinion.” We know, but we did not want to be a part of what we knew was coming, and for the sake my conscious, I am glad I was not. It was like the day we released an article about Westboro Baptist by 10:31 Writer Josh Williams and our site blew up because we mentioned Westboro. But my conscious was troubled because we had stooped to their level, we had attacked them and in turn became targets. We had treated them ungraciously and I did not want to manage a ministry that sunk to that level. So I told the guys and gals that Westboro was off limits unless we could talk about them in a gracious manner. That event was also why I maintained a desire to see Joshua Feuerstien restored and see him transformed by the true Gospel way back in January when we first started researching his theology. I did not want to participate in the hatred, choosing to have fun when we and many others were called “Sissies” in a video earlier this year instead of firing back with an angry tirade of our own. I do not want to be that person, I do not want to run that type of Ministry.

Consider also that any other response would merely have been us adding to the noise and deluge of opinions without a complete understanding of the situation. I know, a Muslim man walked into a Nightclub during Ramadan and killed or injured 103 people. I know it came shortly after a Cleric spoke at a Masque in Orlando with an open anti-gay message. I know that Christians and Republicans have been blamed for the attack because they have impeded “LGBT Legislation” and proposed “Anti-LGBT Legislation” creating an environment where this was possible. I have seen the gun control debates, though I know little about guns or the finer points of the legislative process. I know that all the arguments I have heard this week have baffled me, as has all the finger pointing, and while I have opinions on Gun-Control that I will tell you if you really want to know, I also know that legislation cannot stop something like this.

So, I refused to engage in the public discourse, refusing to add to the ruckus because I did not want to be party to more division, hate and fear. I choose to do something else instead, I chose to Pray for Orlando and to carefully consider what was going on so that if I was asked I could have a well thought out, articulate response to something horrendous. I chose to react through actively praying, actively seeking the Lord and being there for those who needed comforting. To not offer an opinion, but to offer hope and love and care when it was needed most. Choosing the Gospel over destructive words.

Because, while I will never accept the LGBT Lifestyle I refuse to be hateful towards anyone who disagrees with me, in fact, to quote Glenn Beck’s statement to the LGBT Leaders in New York a few weeks back: “If someone was trying to shoot you I would stand between them and you and if I had a gun of my own, I would even shoot the person trying to shoot you.”

I hope you have seen, through reading these posts that God’s Heart considers all human life sacred. Beginning from the Imago Dei, seeing all people as made in the image of GOD and wanting to see that image renewed in Christ through Faith in Christ. We want to see people free from the bonds of what we, as an organization consider sin, but we know that being hateful and cruel does not a free man make in the end. We do seek to stand united with those who are suffering and hurting while being messengers for the Gospel. All human life has value in God’s Heart.

So that is why I have been quiet on this issue, I cannot, and will not speak out of hatred or ignorance on the issue and instead of throwing my opinion and intellectual weight around I found it better to be a light and witness to the broken and hurting. So that all might know that God is as good as He is just

 

12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oJonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree inChristian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

 

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.

FIRED UP: Good Men Exist…Godly Men Exist

Good Men Exist…Godly Men Exist

(Fear of Godly Men)

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

            “I’m terrified of you.”

 

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

 

Should you be surprised?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 2: Shame & Guilt

Shame & Guilt

 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.  

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.

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

When Studying…

 

When Studying…

 

            A few weeks ago, after a particularly hard week to be a Ministry Major here at Sterling College one of our professors asked us “What do you do when studying scripture gets dry?” This is was a great question and one that since Denver I have put a lot of thought into. In fact right now as I’m sitting into my second late night in a row working on Homework I find myself starting to get a little burned out with studying Ministry. Especially when you start working on your thesis which you are behind on, then you really may start to feel burned out.

I’ve said before that Burn-Out tends to come when we are overly stressed but that’s not always the case. Sometimes being burned out is a product of just focusing on one thing way to long. In Urban Ministry we often talk about the need to “Get away” from the Urban scene every now and then because of the heavy nature of Urban Ministry. You recall from previous posts that my get away was a coffee shop about five blocks from my apartment. That burnout was a cause rooted in the heavy stories I was hearing and the felt need to sympathize with the people I was working with. This Burn-Out wasn’t a product of an overly busy lifestyle, but of too much focus on the grief of those I was working with.

Then move onto classes, halfway through the semester your break is still two weeks away and you’ve been covering, with great intensity, some of the peripheral issues we encounter in Scripture. Add to that being almost two weeks behind on your Senior Thesis and hoping ot get back to work on the School’s Theology and Ministry Website. Keeping up with 10:31 Life Ministries and God’s Heart for Those and all the scripture prep that goes into that it’s very easy to get tired of studying scripture.

I know this sounds like a crazy and maybe even a heretical idea, after all we should follow the example of the Psalmist and “Meditate on them day and night” (Psalms 1:2). How can we get burned out on studying scripture?

I have to make the distinction here that there is a difference between academic study of scripture (Hermeneutics) and private study of scripture. When it comes to doing good Hermeneutics we are taught to go through a process that requires us to break down the passage and then to Exegete (Pull out) the meaning from the original context. It requires us to not just look at one passage but multiple contexts and passages from both the old and New Testament. To take the whole of scripture and consider that verse within that whole, along with original audience, learning context and whole slew of other situations.

Needless to say that this process can become tiring as a pastor but can become more tiring as a ministry student who is constantly being asked to write “Exegetical papers.” But what do we do when this becomes overwhelming, when we have three 4 page critical analysis, a reflection paper and a 4,000 exegetical paper due in the same week?

The best thing to do is to get away, not necessarily from scripture (though you can) but from the process. Doing something like praying through a psalm, just praying, or even doing something else altogether, these are all solid ways of dealing with burnout. It’s always good to get away and focus on other things for awhile. After our Paul class today I’ve been sitting here writing this article and occasionally joking with DT, while reading another person’s exegetical paper (Exegesis is always nice when it’s done for you). This was my escape before I dive back into the deluge of theological topics and ideas that always seem to want an opinion formed on them.

It’s good though, it keeps me sharp, keeps me humble and keeps me focused on the grace that I have in the Lord Jesus Christ. I love spending time in the gospel, Christ is the center of my life and that won’t change. But sometimes I need to get away from the Exegetical responses and 4,000 word papers and just rest in the Lord and in my dearest friendships. What is community for anyway? To build each other up and to encourage one another, even in the study of scripture.

Now take a break and get back into the study of Scripture, you’re doing great, keep going strong in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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

The Ministry Eb & Flow

            It’s just common sense that when you do Ministry you are going to see some changes in the people and the faces around you. Throughout the journey of Ministry we will see lives transformed, and not just the lives of those we are ministering too but those who work with us. No matter what you do in Ministry there will be change.

I was reminded of this during the week when the assistant director of Social Media & Marketing told me he felt the need to step down. Now, believe it or not this wasn’t a surprise to me, I knew it was going to happen, I expected it to happen. I had already started making plans with the leadership team to add one other person, though I was expecting them to be in place long before David stepped down. As it stands though David has stepped down and we haven’t even received an answer from our fourth leadership team prospect.

But that is how ministry goes, I suppose. You may have people who are in it for the long run and you may have some people there for  a short amount of time. David was only in leadership for five months before stepping down to join the writing team. But in that five months he practically built the 10:31 Life website. He updated and set in motion a growth in our social media presence and helped to get the organization on its feet again.

It won’t soon be forgotten all that David has done to help this ministry get restarted after it was nearly dead at the beginning of the last ministry year. But that’s the way Ministry goes it seems, as I said, some people are there for the long run and some are just short term. While it’s true that David will still be involved at 10:31, he will not be a leader that is a change, now Angel and I have to adapt, find someone to take the place.

So what do we in times like this? I’m finding the best thing to do is to pray. God’s in control of your ministry, doesn’t he know what’s best for all involved. I know that I’ve felt led to step out of ministry positions because of the amount of strain it has put on me in the past. Someone is always there to fill the role, and if they aren’t then maybe there’s a reason. At 10:31 we found someone within the organization to temporarily fill the Social Media and Marketing position. The person actually said if they like it they would take on the full responsibilities of the position.

I think a lot of the time when we do ministry and something goes wrong we give up. At least the perception is that something’s going wrong. Some might gasp at the fact that DT stepped down (in fact some have) but I know there’s a bigger purpose there. This ministry, as much as it has my name on it, isn’t mine, it belongs to the Lord. If this type of surrender is what’s needed for it to be effective then so be it.

The goal is to learn how to do ministry anyway right? So why wouldn’t God teach us how to handle personnel decisions beyond hiring new writers? Which by the way we have added two new ones. God’s got a plan for every ministry, He has a purpose for every good work. As I learn this it becomes clearer that He is also going to see that plan through to the end.

Because I can’t tell you how true it is that God qualifies the called, this is just part of the qualification process.

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

10:31 Adds 2 New Writers!

David Tank to Step Down from Leadership Team

                From the Desk of the Director

After much prayer and consideration I am pleased to announced that starting this month, September, we will be adding Bay Baker and Evan Belk to the 10:31 Writing Team. Bay is a communications major and Evan is studying Christian Ministries here at Sterling College. Evan will be writing the second installment of the Confessions of a College Freshmen, the first of which is written by Hannah Kelling. Bay will be writing The Culture War which will focus on living out our faith in the culture that we live in. We are really excited to have her on board.

In other news David Tank has come to the decision through prayer and consideration to step down from the 10:31 Life Ministries leadership team. His position as Director of Social Media and Marketing will be temporarily filled by 10:31 Life Ministries Writer and now interim director of Social Media, Alexandria Broeker who writes the breakout article Dare to Believe. David is not departing from 10:31 but will stay on board as a contributor writing Worship Wars as part of the 10:31 Big Four.

10:31 will begin the search for a new assistant director of social media and marketing but has no plans to fill the position immediately.

Sleep: And Why it was so Hard

What you’re about to read isn’t an extension of “The Good Disciplines” series but a journal reflecting on the idea of Sleep in modern Christianity done for my spiritual formations class.

 

It was probably the strangest weekend of my entire collegiate career, coupled with the strangest homework assignment of my collegiate career. But yet as I returned to my room for a short practice session for my upcoming concert at Broadway Market I couldn’t help but think about that homework assignment. The assignment was to sleep, something I’m normally very good at, in fact I generally get around 8 hours a night, going to bed at 10 and waking up at 6, I’ve never really had a problem with getting sleep. That was until it became the first spiritual discipline we would be practicing for Spiritual Formations.

As I said, I returned that night intending to be in bed by ten, but ten came and passed and me and the young lady who was helping me with the music and I decided to head over to another friends room. There I wasn’t going to stay long but instead stayed for a movie and staying there until close to 1AM. I know that this was a choice, but it actually became a struggle between should I hang out and should I work hard to get this assignment done. Sleep became a battle, do I stay up and fellowship with the ones that I love or do I take the healthier route and go to sleep. In the end I decided to fellowship and actually had two of the more spiritually invigorating late nights I’ve had at Sterling. Obviously I’ve recounted the first night, watching a movie with 8 of my closest friends after worshiping and songwriting with a close friend and sister in Christ.

The second night continued that same pattern as an old friend of mine came down to visit for the long weekend, which led to another late night worship session including another new friend, two guitars and amazing conversation. That all ended by about 12:30 and I finally climbed into bed around 12:45, with church the next morning it would be impossible to wake up after laying in bed until I wasn’t tired anymore. Like the morning before I got up at 7 and started going about my day as I normally would. At this point I could tell the toll this schedule was taking on my body as I woke up Sunday with a nasty headache and a stuffy nose. Now this was part of dealing with allergies but by the time I left the cafeteria I could barely keep my eyes open, I needed a nap.

Now I know the assignment wasn’t meant to be done in a nap setting but I ended up taking a four hour nap, after which I felt slightly refreshed. My allergies were still a factor, I still felt like my head was going to explode, but I was able to hold a decent conversation with people again and that was what mattered to me since I had people coming over to work on Homework before Chapel. I took some Benadryl to help with the congestion and told myself I was going to bed at 10…

One would think at this point, even with the four hour nap I would have just passed out there on my couch with a bottle of water in one hand and a math book in the other. Instead when 10:00 came I was still wide awake and losing focus on my homework. This night though was different from the others, I had no commitments in the morning, it didn’t matter when I went to sleep. When 10:30 rolled around I got my chance to sleep, it wasn’t as late as the previous two nights but it felt just as late. I crawled into bed and resolved to not wake up until I absolutely had too or I couldn’t sleep anymore, whichever came first.  At 7:00 the next morning I found myself unable to get back to sleep, I had slipped back into my regular sleep schedule for the first time in a long time, it was the first night of that long weekend that I’d actually slept my usual amount of time and I felt strangely refreshed. I went to the café and did my devotions, said goodbye to my visiting friend and thought about how long it was going to take to recover from my crazy sleep schedule.

Before going to Denver two summers ago it was always a mystery to me why it was so hard to stick to developing good spiritual habits. Bible study and prayer were about the only two I practiced, that coupled with sleep but I was still extremely unhealthy in more ways than one. I think now more than ever I am convinced of the fact that the enemy doesn’t want us to be healthy, even to do some of the basic spiritual formations like sleep. Even though the activities that kept me from sleeping Friday and Saturday were actually healthy when I finally went to bed at a decent time it was difficult for me to fall asleep. Brad Stine once said “If the devil did anything for you he probably just woke you up in the morning[i]” I disagree, though Brad was talking about the things we blame the devil for, I defiantly think he has a hand in trying to throw off our spiritual lives. I know I can name countless times where because of depression or fatigue or some kind of personal, inward distraction I haven’t wanted to practice any of the spiritual disciplines that I have become acquainted with.

In C.S Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters the main character Screwtape tells his nephew, a tempting Demon “The best thing is to keep the patient from the serious intention of prayer altogether[ii]” (pg 15). Now here Screwtape is talking about prayer, but I think the same thing can be applied to sleep when sleep is viewed as something that will help us to be healthy, formed Christians. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13 when he says’ “When I was a child I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child, when I became a man I gave up childish ways” (v.11 ESV).  If we must start doing what is healthy for us then it stands to reason that the enemy would like to see us fail in every effort to keep us from giving up “Childish ways.”

Of course I cannot discount the human aspect of failing to really practice this discipline multiple nights in a row. I could have sent people away from my room at 10, told them I needed to sleep, but yet I chose to spend my time in fellowship with others, which as I said is healthy, but when you recount our busy lives it seems that choosing to sleep more than one night would have been a wiser choice. Especially As Smith pointed out in his section on sleep, Americans do get less and less sleep every night. We certainly haven’t thought about the consequences  of not sleeping enough, I certainly don’t think about them until I am suffering greatly from lack of sleep. I know I would rather be with people then sleeping, but I’ve also come to realize, and this weekend reaffirmed, that I need my sleep to function, I can’t become so busy or so wrapped up in church or in hanging out with friends that I don’t allow myself to get the right amount of sleep.

I also think that now that I’m conscience of this disparity in sleep it will be more difficult for awhile to actually get the right amount of sleep. For example last night I left my friends on the porch at 10 and went inside to get some sleep, that didn’t happen, I didn’t go to sleep till an hour later, this wasn’t intended but because I knew I needed sleep for some reason it was hard for me to go to sleep. If that makes any sense at all, that act of getting ready for bed and then climbing into bed became extremely difficult and now today, without an adequate amount of rest I’m feeling the effects of even missing that extra hour.

It seems difficult to think about how important sleep is, In fact we don’t put enough emphasis on the idea of sleeping. Instead we complain when we don’t get enough, pump ourselves full of coffee and slowly get more and more unhealthy until we become the poster child for burned out Christians and slip head first into apathy.

In conclusion once I get over the idea of sleep as a discipline and actually practice it from night to night it will be less of a struggle. This really is a sort of mind blowing idea for someone like me who is so focused on getting things done in a timely manner.

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


[i] Brad Stine, Put a Helmet On, 2002

[ii] C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, 1942, Harper, San Francisco, San Francisco