Tag: 10:31 Writing Team

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 

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

On Athletes and Olympians & Faith

“All the glory for this goes to God” Gabriel “Gabby” Douglas, or The FlIying Squirrel said as she awaited to head over to claim her gold medal in the All Around. Then as her countries national anthem was played a huge grin spread across her face, at 17 years old she had won Gold, something her friend and training partner Shaun Johnson had done four years earlier. The following morning on Facebook the attacks started, The Liberal media went after Douglas for sharing her faith on an international stage.

It got so bad at one point that I turned off my computer and put it away, forgetting that twitter even existed almost deleting my facebook account. While that’s an exaggeration it’s not an exaggeration to say in big bold letters “LEAVE THE ATHLETES AND OLYMPIANS ALONE.” There I said, just let them be, and while you’re at it leave the Christian CEO’s and the bible based corporations, leave them all alone. Conservatives, Liberals and Liberation Theologians alike, leave them alone.

Why do I say this? I heard an analyst once say that Tim Tebow was only drawing negative attention to himself because of his outspokenness. Ask anyone in the Denver Locker room and they’ll tell you otherwise, Tebow was loved by his teammates in Devner, and will hopefully have an impact on a failing Jets team. You ask the hundreds or thousands of young Christian men who weren’t sure they could couple their faith with their favorite sport how negative Tebow’s been on them, they may laugh at you, and they should.

What about Trevor Bayne (At right)? Jamie MacMurry? Dale Jarret? Nascar drivers who have all proclaimed their faith on national television.  In fact I seem to recall Jamie Mac saying this after winning at Charolette two years ago; “People ask me why I cried at Daytona, when you’re struggling it really makes you think and pray and you learn a lot about faith and I couldn’t have done this without God.” How about Trevor Bayne after his surprise win at Daytona, the first words out of his mouth were “I want to thank God, I couldn’t do this without him.” Never heard anyone in the Liberal Media complain about that, or Darrell and Michael Waltrip’s multiple biblical references during the Daytona 500 rainout in February, no one ever complains about NASCAR. Is it because they think we’re crazy, or is it because Christianity is so rooted in the fan base we have the audacity to pray before ever race, for the race.

These Christians are showing their faith, they haven’t told you what to think or how to act, they have said publically that they are Christians. They never asked you to join them, they are clever though, now those who thinking are probably thinking “Maybe there’s something to this Christian thing?” It’s a gentle and quiet form of Evangelism that we seem to have forgotten.

In 1 Thes. 4:11-12 Paul encourages the church at Thesolonica to; “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” (ESV). These Olympians and Athletes are doing what they are good at, working with their hands and they just so happen to do it for the glory of God. Who’s business is it of yours who they do it for the glory of, should we work for the glory of ourselves? No We should do it all for the glory of God (see 1 Cor. 10:31).

Truth is I love watching these Athletes perform, you can see it in their eyes that they are there for something more, they are there for a bigger purpose just to win Gold. They have acknowledged what Jonathan Edwards calls “The Chief End of Man” that being “To being glory to God and find our happiness in Him.” They enjoy what they are doing, even when they are not doing well.

So if you’re a Christian and you join my the quarterback of my favorite NFL team and say “You should tone down your faith” then in the immortal words of Brad Stine “Put a Helmet on” because it is the outspoken ones who are not afraid to share their faith that will stand out, not the camouflaged Christians being blown with the preverbal societal tides

So leave the Athletes and CEO’s alone, go out and live your faith out, don’t worry about what your brothers or sisters in Christ are doing with their faith. Unless they are falling into Heresy and causing division you have no right to criticize them. Remember it’s not about what we do with our money, our time or the faith we are given, it’s about how we represent Christ. So to the Liberal media I say “Leave us alone” to those that might agree with them I say the same thing, to the Christians who agree and refuse to talk about your faith I refer you to the Ministry Blimey Cow and Jordan Taylor who would undoubtedly tell you “You’re doing it wrong.”

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

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: 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 – 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 – 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: 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

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