Tag: 10:31 LMWT

Programmed

If you’re not familiar with me or my ministry then you don’t know that I once worked at a church with an abusive pastor. In fact I spent my last two years of high school slowly becoming more and more legalistic, more and more hateful and more and more like the man who was spiritually abusing me. With that abuse it also became ingrained in my head that no one cared about me, that no one wanted to spend any time with me and that I was exactly what I’d been told my entire life that I was a loser.

Growing up with a disability I was also fairly empathetic. I saw people who were down and wanted to help them, to bear all their burdens with them and to love them. The whole while hoping that I could feel love back, to believe for only a little while that I’m worth something to someone. Back then I didn’t believe that God loved me or that anyone else did for that matter.

This is a sort of classical conditioning, when we are taught to believe something. It happens all the time, we’re conditioned to believe the government’s going to run day to day even if it doesn’t. We’re conditioned to wear a shirt and shoes at McDonalds. These are okay conditionings, I personally am thankful that people wear shirts at McDonalds or in public in general.

Before the church I worked at turned abusive I had sat through several months’ worth of bible studies based on Cult Education. It was extremely informative and it defiantly has become an interest in my studies. To see how groups condition people fascinates me, the type of things they believe do too. Yes I know you’re thinking “oh no he’s going to try to control us.” Don’t worry, it also terrifies me, beyond all measure. After being in a controlling group you very rarely want to control others, unless you take over that group or find the control you gain to be exhilarating. Then destroying others might become a hobby for you and destructive to your friends.

The worst part about being conditioned to believe something is the difficulty in trying to forget what you’ve believed and believe what is true. The idea that I’m worthless and no one cares is so engrained in my memory that it becomes an extremely stressful activity trying to reach out to other people for help. So much so that most of the time I just shut down and don’t come out of my room for several days (except to go to class) this is destructive and it’s also hurtful to your friends.

But how do we get over this type of conditioning? How do we believe the opposite of what we’ve been taught?

One of my professors, a former cult deprogrammer gave this advice. Find a scripture to meditate on and remember Philippians 4:8 which says; “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (ESV).

This is where community comes in handy because as you come out of the programming you won’t be able to do things on your own. You’ll need God and you’ll need the people that God has put in your life. Find someone who cares, they are out there, even if you’re conditioned to believe that no one does.

So go this week and focus on what is good and right and seek God to see if you’ve been programmed to believe this. Then go and be with your community of friends.

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

Summer Reflections: Bearing Burdens

Reflection #9: Bearing Burdens

 

It’s hard to think with all the positive reflection that I’ve been doing there could have been a negative effect from Denver. Now, I know this wasn’t the intent of living the quiet life, nor the intended message, but it somehow came across that if people didn’t want to see me then they didn’t want to see my problems. This caused me to internalize everything, to bear them on my own, taking them only to God and God alone.

Now this is a good thing to do, God wants us to take our burdens to Him, the problem was I forgot one of the many important features of a Christian Community, the fact that we can share our burdens. This wasn’t a problem as I went through the first months back from Denver. But as the second semester rolled around and God brought more and more people back into or into my life I started to feel guilty if I talked about what I was going through.

This wasn’t good because it meant I was second guessing myself and my friendships. It also caused me to be more reclusive with my problems. It became an issue one night when I got upset about something that was happening in the room I was in. Instead of confronting the person directly I walked out of the room (it was my own room) and into the sleeping area. When the person I was upset with realized what was going on they came in and confronted me.

I realized that night, and through another night of fierce spiritual attack after which I was sick for a few weeks that I needed to share my burdens. I sat in David’s room and started explaining the situation, I talked with my mentor about it. I let other help me bear my burdens.

Sometimes in this life we feel as though we don’t have anyone, but that’s a lie we tell ourselves if we are Christians. I can tell you that if you are part of the body of Christ you should have someone you can go too. If you don’t then I’d encourage you to encourage your fellow Christians to read through the book of Acts.

See to the early church it didn’t matter what you looked like or acted like, or ever the size of your checkbook. If you were a Christian they would do their best to help you out. They lifted one another up in prayer and they sought the will of God together. Bearing Burdens was something the body of Christ did together.

I finally understand why we need each other so much, because without one another we’d all go crazy. I can’t think of any biblical examples other than the book of Acts but we really do need one another to help. So the next time you are struggling with something, or you are wondering if someone cares go to your Christian Friends and let them know what’s going on. You won’t find this kind of community most of the time unless you create it.

You’re not alone

God Bless you
Jonathan David Faulkner
Director/Founder 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

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: Texas Sweet Tea

Summer Reflection #7: Texas Sweet Tea

I couldn’t believe I was doing this, I had committed to spending an entire week in solitude but here I was the Thursday morning of spring break running around campus trying to get everything ready to head to Texas for a leadership conference. I loaded my stuff in my brother in Christ’s car and we set off for McCreery where we’d be meeting up with Angel and heading for Texas and Teen Mania’s Honor Academy for the True North Seminar.

Now this wasn’t a trip that I was planning on going on, as I’ve already stated, I was staying on campus, enjoying a week of solitude, prayer and writing, a retreat of its own. But a week earlier (we’ll call him) Matthew had approached me about joining the two of them on the trip as a third party if their first choice couldn’t come. I hesitated, told Matthew “No” twice but he was persistent and on the third time gave me an ultimatum and I had no choice but to accept his offer.  The reason I’d been chosen was because of my association with Global Expeditions and I suppose it didn’t hurt that Matthew is my brother in Christ and Angel had just entering her fourth month at 10:31.

It turns out that going was one of the best things that God allowed me to be a part of. The conference was amazing; even though the Truth North Seminars are designed to train Global Expeditions Leaders they I would also recommend them for any church or Christian Ministry Organization because the principles they are applying to leading young missionaries can be applied to any leadership position. If you don’t believe me go and see for yourself.

On that trip I learned a lot about communication, something I’ve never been good at outside of paper. I also learned about confrontation. Something about learning as you go, about trusting God with everything in your life is that you never know where God is going to take you. The previous week I had started praying hard about a member of our leadership team. I knew I needed to confront the person on something but I had been avoiding it. As God took me through that weekend I was inspired and given the wisdom to make the confrontation effective.

Also I have to admit that I tend to be a very scheduled person, meaning; I like to know what I’m doing long before I actually go and do it. So a random, unplanned trip to Texas was the last thing in my comfort zone. Throw in the fact that I was slightly nervous (okay that’s an understatement) to be taking a weekend trip with someone I worked with. Last time I’d done something like this it hadn’t ended well for the friendship or the working relationship.

Wouldn’t you know it, after a few revelations and several cups of Texas Raspberry Sweet Tea we were on our way home and God was still revealing things to me. It was an amazing trip, even more amazing to think back on it. It was from that trip that God affirmed one of the most amazing friendships I’ve ever had. Through that trip that God taught me how to better lead and through that trip that I got to teach Tea Quon Dou again.

God’s grace is surprising, this trip was an example of that, and the Texas Sweet Tea, well that was a bonus…a huge bonus!

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 – Spirit Thing

Reflection #5: Spirit Thing

 

            When we totally commit ourselves to the Lord, really truly learn what it means to be set apart for the gospel of Jesus Christ there’s going to be a change. We might be tempted to think that this won’t happen but it will, when we surrender our wants and desires for God’s there has to be a change and that change comes through patience and listening. As I learned to manage my time, disciplined myself and went through a time when it was mostly just me and God this is what happened, my desires and heart changed.

But as with all things these times must end, there’s only a certain amount of time that we can grow by ourselves. Eventually we will have to leave that comfortable place where we are mostly hanging out with our brothers, where God is the only source of strength we have and find the meaning of being in relationship with others. Then the temptation becomes sitting back and staying in that place, that was what I did.

I was sitting in the library, working on an assignment for a class with a friend of mine (the girl I used to have a crush on). This was about December so I had already set in motion a pretty effective time-management system that allowed me to be available at night to help with projects like this. Now I was just finishing up one of my The Truth articles for 10:31 Life Ministries when a young woman walked by from the Honor Academy.

Now you should know something about this particular woman, one of my brothers had been telling me all about this girl. “You should talk to her” he would say “I think you’d really like her.” But since I wasn’t seeking new friendships I told God if it was His will for me to talk to this girl that He would have to do it (which was fine with Him). I had talked to her, once at the beginning of the school year and once at lunch when she had sat down next to me halfway through the semester. That particular night I was purposely trying to ignore her.

“Hey” I said as she passed the third time “I hear you Honor Academy people are smart, would you be willing to take a look at my article that I just finished writing for my ministry.” It just came out, I had no control over it…what just happened?

“Sure” she said,

I emailed it to her along with a link to 10:31 Life Ministries (I’d just changed the name). She read the article and sent me some amazing feedback and after looking at 10:31 she told me it was cool and something she’d like to do herself someday. I invited her to lunch to discuss the possibility of getting involved here…after some prayer she was more than eager to jump on board.

Thinking about that night it marked the beginning of a time of transition. I had become comfortable and a little complacent in my time of work, growth and preparation and that wasn’t a good thing. With that invitation to join 10:31 God was saying; “time to move on, time to take your ministry to another level and time for you to apply what you’ve learned about being set apart to another area of your life.” This would become the struggle of the next few months as excuses would be sought, God would be argued with and I would be challenged in ways I never thought I would.

What area of your life are you in right now? Are you in a period of waiting? Are you seeking God about a Job? Are you comfortable in the job or place that you are in? Where might be God calling you? Is He calling you out of one season to another?

I pray that you would devote these questions to prayer, that you might discover the surprising grace of God through that time.

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

Summer Reflections: Set Apart

Reflection #3: Set Apart 

1 Peter 2:9 says; “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a chosen nation, a people for His own possessions; that you may proclaim His excellences of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

The first time I heard this verse was actually when we were trying to figure out the title for Angel Edwards 10:31 Life Ministries blog. It’s hard to think I went over 20 years without hearing it, I’m actually pretty sure I’ve read it but like most of the bible I’d read before this transformation I didn’t remember it. The funny thing is though that I could take this verse and apply it to everything that was happening in my life.

Let me explain like this:

Before my time in Denver I lived for myself, everything, even my spirituality was meant to advance my position. All my actions and my attitudes were meant to make me look good in the eyes of everyone else. Those who knew me knew how miserable I was failing, but those who didn’t were very much deceived. I wanted validation, I wanted people to love me and so I present I nice little front. I’ve spoken on it before so those who have been reading for awhile know exactly what I’m talking about.

But after that day in the Labyrinth everything was different, I didn’t want their validation anymore, I actually didn’t want anything to do with them. I know that sounds horrible but it is the truth, I didn’t necessarily want my old friendships or even new ones, I wanted God.  I wanted to be drawn in and make my life not just talk but actual, real walk. To go out into the garden and meet with God in solitude, to pray and seek His will and His face, to really be different, I didn’t want to go back…I couldn’t.

As I prayed I noticed that God was transforming things around me, I’ve shared with you that my friendship with my roommate changed, as did several other friendships. I’ve shared with you that I started to find joy in my brothers in Christ and built good and strong friendships with them.

But that desire for validation was gone, as was the desire to be in a relationship…for the most part. God was weeding things out of me, things that for so long had held me back were being burned in the process of sanctification. The refiner’s fire was burning away all the things that were keeping me from truly experiencing the fullness of God.

And that’s the best part, I was actually getting to know the glory and fullness of such a great and holy God. It was amazing and incredible, still is amazing and incredible. It wasn’t so much through relationships at this point, but through my quiet time. As I sought to discipline myself things began to change radically.

I didn’t expect it, I was surprised by it, surprised by grace. Looking back on the blog entries from those months they point to that surprise. It’s unbelievable to me that God would speak to me the way that He did during that time and still speaks to me today. It was also amazing how much contrast there was between my old lifestyle and the new one, God was moving in my heart, I was becoming Set Apart.

This was new and exciting for me but also hard. It meant that I had to give up on some things, like hope of a romantic relationship with a specific girl. (We’re now very close friends) and my desire to so dutifully plan out my life.  I also had to give up my own image of myself, that is, I had to learn to not worry so much about what people were seeing and what they were saying about me. Sadly these things had defined me (well the crush didn’t) but now they had to be dealt with.

When I got over the initial struggle of letting God reshape everything (especially my priorities) I found it peace about what was happening, for the first time in my life I could really say I was happy, even content with every area of my life.

If I have any regret through that time it’s that it didn’t last very long….but you’ll read about that next week.

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: Focus Change
Reflection #4: Set Apart
Reflection #5: Spirit Thing
Reflection #6: Science and Christianity
Reflection #7: Texas Sweet Tea
Reflection #8: Books & Books
Reflection #9: Bearing Burdens
Reflection #10: Heading Home

Good Discipline – Practicing God’s Presence

PRACTICING GOD’S PRESENCE: Above All

I open this article with a confession; I love to mow the grass. It’s an odd love I know but the feeling of the mower engine shaking the handle in my hand, the contrast of where I’ve mowed and where I’m going to mow, I love to see it. The feel of finding new bumps in the yard that weren’t there last time I mowed, the smell of the freshly cut grass. To me mowing the lawn is one of the more relaxing things I have the chore of doing when I’m home.

I also find that above the noise of the mower this is the perfect time to apply the final and most important of the 11 disciplines outlined in Godology; Practicing God’s Presence. Why does mowing the grass allow me to practice God’s presence? Because when I go out and mow the lawn I get to do it with God, meaning I get to spend that time with Him.

Everything for the Glory

In 1 Corinthians 10:31 Paul exhorts the Corinthians to “Do all things for the glory of God.” When you look at this discipline and then consider all the others they are all designed to help us discover the mystery of God. So when I say that I can practice this discipline while mowing I’m saying that while I’m doing that I’m doing it for the glory of God. But more importantly I’m thinking or meditating on the things of God.

I get to walk in silence (although lawn mowers are not quiet) and apply Philippians 4:8 and think on what is good, right and pure. I get to be by myself and retreat into God to experience Him and through experiencing Him, know Him.

Christian George writes to us on this discipline; “The Discipline of God’s Presence trumps all other disciplines. It is the ultimate aim of Solitude, Silence, Hospitality, Meditation and all the other disciplines. To incorporae God’s presence in life’s routine’s is the highest goal of the Christian” (153).

Putting it all Together

Based on what George said above we can say with a great deal of certainty that all the disciplines have been building to this one. That is, everything we’ve discussed for the past 7 weeks culminates in this one discipline. Prayer allows us to talk to God, Obedience is our acting on what God tells us, Labyrinth Walking gives us a new outlet to experience the presence of God, meditation helps us focus on the things of God. Solitude removes us from the world and helps us retreat into to God, silence allows us to listen so we know how to obey, Fasting, allows us to give up the things that all too often distract us from God. But all of these come together when we  enter into the presence of a Holy God and really get to know Him.

The tagline for this blog is “Because knowing God’s Heart changes everything” it’s a variation on the tagline from George’s book which is “Because knowing God changes everything.” When we retreat into God, when we practice His presence in everything we do it really does change everything. Mowing the lawn goes from being a task to an expression of love for our savior (and our families) Cleaning the house becomes a chance to dive into the character of God. Once we get to know the greatness of God and discover the mystery of God nothing will ever be the same.

 

When everything’s New

When everything new we find ourselves set apart. By that I mean that applying these disciplines will change us, transform us, help us to mature beyond our wildest dreams. We’ll find that our desires change, our hopes change, our dreams change, our personalities change or become more pronounced.

To share my personal story, as I’ve been writing this series I’ve been checking to make sure that I’m applying these disciplines. As I’ve worked to make sure that I myself am beyond reproach I’m finding that I’m getting to know God better. I’m finding that the old man doesn’t have authority in my life. That as I apply these disciplines my heart has been transformed. God’s presence has really permeated my soul and I now know what it means to have him dwell inside of me.

Everything is new, my relationships, my work experiences, my attitudes, my school, everything around me was a new chance. A Chance to serve, a chance to love, a chance to live, a chance to change, a chance to learn. I found that through Christ I was a much better man than I was before. Paul’s words in Galatians 2:20 suddenly came to life “I no longer live but Christ lives within me.”

 –         –          –

This change I’m describing is really cool, I now have a new direction for my life, things are completely different. Now I will say that not everyone will have the same experience, but when you dive into God you will have a similar one. God is great and I pray you get to know that greatness and discover that when you think you’ve gone as deep as you can go you can still go much deeper.

This has been my prayer for you as you’ve read through this series. That you would get to know God more, that you would discover His mystery and then allow Him to change and transform you. God’s presence is huge, He really is greater than the greatest conceivable being. So as you go I pray you meditate and think about these disciplines that you’d also apply them. That you too would experience the change that comes from knowing God, and that His word and His presence would permeate your life and your actions.

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries

Good Discipline – Solitude

SOLITUDE: A Quiet Place 

Let’s face it, this world is a very noisy place. We have cell phones and computers and all kind of distractions that. Work and more work, time for friends, time for family, time for God, time for what is important and what is urgent. We have to have time for everything and everyone, to be everywhere at all times, to constantly be busy. Very rarely though, do we ever make time for the discipline of solitude.

Solitude is probably one of the harder disciplines in today’s world, why do I say this? Because of all the things I listed above and the time constraints they place on us. We barely have time to get a coffee at Starbucks on the way to work let alone get away for a weekend. And if we do go on a retreat or get away we feel like we are busy lazy.

I have a friend who has this mentality. Yes she gets solitude time but normally it is after she has been pushed to the limit is angry and needs to vent. Trying to be all things to all people at all times, she never has time to recharge. My dad on the other hand loves his solitude time, he will sit in his office for hours reading a book or working on a sermon.

 

Why Solitude?

Solitude is a great opportunity for us to recharge our batteries. It gets us out of the crowd and out of the mentality that we have to be doing something at all times and allows us to come into the presence of God. It is in the presence of our savior that we recharge, are rejuvenated and heal.

Christian George says; “Solitude increases our patience and prepares us to engage the world” (pg124). This means that solitude can bring us to a place where we have no choice but to wait on God. This allows God to work and through working in us our patience increases and we are more ready to take on what the world will throw at us.

Solitude is also the perfect time to practice: silence, prayer and meditation.

 

Jesus & Solitude

Jesus practiced solitude all throughout his Ministry. In Mark 1:35-39 we find Jesus leaving the house they were staying at and going off to “a desolate place” to pray (v 35 ESV). The gospel of Luke records eleven different instances where Jesus goes off by himself to pray for something. In Mark 6:31 Jesus tells his disciples to “come away by yourself to a desolate place and rest.” This was right after he sent out the twelve into the cities and surrounding countryside.

In these times of solitude Jesus was recharged and re-energized and I’m sure the Disciples were too after going away by themselves. But Jesus also got something else from His time of solitude. Specifically in Mark 1:35-39 it would seem that in Jesus time of solitude Jesus gets instructions from His father in heaven. When Peter finds Him He says “Let us go to the next town so I may preach there also, for that is why I came out” (v. 37 ESV).

 

Solitude & Us

The truth is we need to practice this discipline. It helps us recharge, engage the world, get away from the demands of our busy lives and gives us a chance to spend time with God. Getting away to a quiet or “desolate” place is also extremely healthy for us. It gives us time to think clear of our cell phones and MP3 players. Allows us to take our electronic full cells and hook them up to the ultimate fuel source, the God of the universe.

–         –    –

My favorite time to practice solitude is right in the morning after I wake up. It’s quiet and no one is around to disturb me, I can be still and enter into the presence of God. It allows me to wake up and charge my spiritual batteries after charging my physical ones.

I pray this week that you will go out to a park or a quiet place of your own. Find a space where you can encounter God and enjoy His presence without the distractions of this world. Don’t take your cell phone or your MP3 Player, forget about your planner or the things you have to do. Just slip into a quiet place where it’s just you and God and wait to be amazed.

God Bless You
Jonathan Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries

Check out the Good Discipline Series

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

Good Discipline – Vow Making

Vow Making – More Than a Promise

I love hearing my friends reaction when I tell them what time I generally wake up in the morning. Not that I am boasting in my 5:30am average wake up time, one just has to give an answer when they are asked what time they get up in the morning. The truth is that I never wanted to wake up that early, the combination of hyperactivity and an inability to sleep if the sun was up caused me to get up long before it ever thought about coming up that day. To say that I want to get up that early would be crazy, what I did with that time was even crazier.

Usually I would sneak around the house, at least when I was really young, then later I would wake up and get on the computer and play some sort of video game until I heard mom or dad walking around upstairs. In college I would put my headphones in and try hard to not disturb my roommate. When I returned from Denver though I felt a need to do something very different with that time. so I made a promise to God to spend it with Him in prayer and in study of scripture.

Breaking Vows We’ve Made

Whenever the Israelite’s broke their vows  with God something bad generally happened (read 1 Cor. 10 for a summary). Another example of what happens when we break out vows can be found in the story of Samson (Judge 113-16). God  told Samson’s mother that no razor should come upon Samson’s head and he would deliever Israel from the hands of the Philistines. This is where we get the idea of a Nazarene Vow, because Samson was a Nazarene and so he couldn’t cut his hair.

Now in Samson’s case cutting his hair meant that he would lose all of his strength which he did when Delilah (his wife)  tricked him into giving her the secret to his strength. Samson is a great example of what happens when our vows are broken, whether by us or by those we love. Now we all know that Samson’s hair grows back and he does eventually do what God said he would do and free Israel from the Philistines.

If I don’t get that time that I’ve vowed to set apart for God in the mornings then my day really doesn’t go very well. Unless of course the spirit allows me to sleep in that particular morning because I am in need of rest. Yesterday morning was one such morning where I didn’t get the full hour and fifteen minutes that I vowed to spend in prayer an din the word but I also had a final and a late night the night before so I continued reading in the book of John, wrote in my journal and got my day underway.

Vow Making & Honoring those Vows

On this discipline George writes; “Vow Making is a discipline in response to a holy God. Making a vow and taking an oath are both modern disciplines practiced by Christians of all ages and stages of life. Our promises should be specific and personal.”

The vow I made was specific and personal, and God has honored that vow, making sure that I myself honor my vow. I have several friends who have committed themselves to sexual purity, who have made a specific vow that they are going to save themselves for their husbands and wives. When they are in situations where those vows might be in jeopardy it seems that God steps in and holds them to that vow they made and I believe can even remove us from positions where we may be forced to compromise.

When we honor our vows God honors us, God continues to honor his covenant with us despite our tendacny to disobey, shouldn’t we honor our vows and oath with God.

Making Vows to one Another

I wonder what would happen if we were to make and keep vows to one another. Meaning that Christians in the body of Christ were to go to one another and instead of making vague promises to one another actually vowed to love and support each other. Then we work together to keep those vows and to help keep our weaker brothers and sisters from stumbling as well as working together to help others keep their vows to God.

An example of this would be a dear friend of mine who doesn’t text or like to talk to guys 1 on 1 after a certain time of night. As a man of God I have to honor her decision and help her to uphold that promise she’s made to herself and to God so I have to be conscious of the time if I am talking to her or texting her so that I can honor that.

If we did things like this it would probably make us more conscience to the needs and hurts of the poeple around us because if we vow friendship we are vowing to listen, support, love and serve, all the things that come with a healthy relationship with someone. If I make a vow to serve the 10:31 Life Ministry team I had better serve them to the best of my ability. Figuring out how to do this is tricking and I have to admit I haven’t fully figured it out yet.

–   –   –

So let’s make vows and keep them, practice making them this week, make a vow to spend more time with God through intentional study of scripture. Make a vow to maintain or re initiate a friendship and allow God to work in that situation. Then be faithful to your vows and know that God will be faithful and honor your vows as well.

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

“For the Lord is Good
His Steadfast Love Endures Forever
and His faithfulness to all Generations”
Psalms 100:5 

 

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