Tag: God

#GospelDrivenSissyPreacher: I am Not Afraid of Donald J. Trump; I am Resolved.

I AM RESOLVED TO LIVE OUT THE GOSPEL!

By Jonathan David Faulkner

Let me set this out right now so there can be no confusion; I was not nor will I ever be a Trump supporter. I did not vote for him and this website was very open in its opposition to him and support of another candidate who did not make it out of the Republican Primary. I cannot justify voting for someone who would degrade women or speak so condescendingly to those who disagree with him. I am not qualified to judge his heart, but the fruit of division, anger and fear that he has gardened is enough to turn me and those around me off to him.

That being said, I have seen more than one person make the joke that Friday, January 20th 2017 is a day to be dreaded because, that morning, Donald J. Trump will take office. I have listened and read various articles in both the Washington Post and other news outlines that are little more than fear-mongering and seen those around me spout off angry tweets and facebook posts, some of which would make The Donald blush. I have seen posts by the most Liberal of the my friends predicting all sorts of disasters and evil deeds. Everyone is telling me that I should be terrified of this man.

But, I am not, in fact as the Inauguration of our 45th president approaches I have a great and lasting peace. A greater peace than that which I had after the election of a man who’s every policy I have mostly disagreed with. I have a peace about Friday, I am not afraid, I am at rest.

Do I sense the uneasiness of my friends? Yes, I feel all of it.  Am I living in some privileged position because I have this peace and to some that might seem like I am “Shutting it off?” I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. Do I want to invalidate concerns about our incoming president? No, at least not the reasonable ones, but those which are unreasonable and the result of fear-mongering and hate speech from those who so strongly appose him that they would say anything to cause others to cast doubt on him, I would if it meant my brothers and sisters getting to rest their weary, worried souls.

No, I am not afraid of Donald J. Trump, I am resolved. I have a task, and I am going to carry it out.

My task is this; to live a life that first and foremost reflects Christ and, while holding to the Orthodox doctrines of my faith practice living a life that cares for and builds up all around me whether they be LGBTQ+, Black, Muslin, Disabled, Trump Supporter, Trump Hater. Those I agree with and most-definitely those, I disagree with. To find the healthy tension between what I believe and how I practice it and to practice it well. To live out my calling as an image-bearer and Disciple of the Triune God for the benefit and blessing of all I come in contact with, whoever they may be. It is my job now to do the work that Scripture has laid out for me to do and to do that work well.

I do believe, that the words spoken through the prophet Jeremiah can apply to us today, that now that we are in an unfavorable position and with an unfavorable ruler we should: “Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. 6‘Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. 7‘Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’ 8“For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream. 9‘For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,’ declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 29:6-9).

The time has come for us to be the blessing we were called to be, to be salt and light to an increasingly darkening world. Right now, as a direct result of displacement, fear, persecution and the pain of death. Thousands of Arabs are turning to Christ because a light has met them in the darkness. We can have the same result here if we just stop fighting and go about doing the work we are called, by God, in Christ to do. The fields are ready for planting of the true seed. People are questioning, afraid, alone, starring into the immense darkness and beginning to lose their minds. Brother and Sisters, now is the time for us to stand up and work for the betterment of our nation. Not merely because we live here and are planted here, but because others are with us.

Now we must be the people of God. Now we must lay aside our differences and come together as a living, Worshiping, Serving, Missional Body with the Cross and the Word of Truth going before us. A Word that we have learned to rightly divide by the Power of the Holy Spirit so that we may teach and preach it with our words but also with our lives; we must now carry out the greatest two commandments. To Love God and Love our Neighbor. Let us set aside our opinions and cast off that which divides us and be united as one body of Christ, One Church.

No, I am not afraid of Donald J. Trump, I am resolved and at peace for I know that my God is the God who parted the Red Sea, who brought down the walls of Jericho, who made the sun stand still in the sky, who defended Jerusalem. My God is the God who created the world, who sent His only son to die on the cross for the worlds sins. My God is the God of Peace, The God of Mercy, the God of Love, The God of grace, The God of Justice, The God of Righteousness. He is; to use the words of Pastor Matt Chandler: “Immensely Powerful and Intensely Personal.”

This is my God and there’s so much more to Him than this.

This is why I do not have to fear a man and have no fear of who is in the White House. Because my hope is built in nothing less than God himself and my faith will not be shaken by fear mongering or hate-speech from either side.

I am not afraid of Donald J. Trump; I am Resolved to live the Gospel.

And if that makes me a Sissy Preacher, then so be it.

#Gospeldrivensissypreacher

 

 Jonathan D12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oavid Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

The Dry Places or Dehydrated in New Mexico

Wild one

By Jonathan David Faulkner

 

I got stuck in New Mexico once, in a town high in the mountains, somewhere between Albuquerque and Denver. Waiting for a bus that would take me north towards the city that would, in a lot of ways, define my spiritual life henceforth. A place where the abused kid would be transformed into the beginnings of the God-directed man. It was dry, the coolness of late May was already giving way to the heat of June. I had not slept in over 24 hours and my fluid intake had consisted mostly of coffee and one bottle of water. I could tell I was dehydrated when I stepped off the train that had picked me up twelve hours earlier in Hutchinson Kansas. A train ride that seemed more ridiculous in its scheduling than having a layover in Chicago when you are flying from Dallas to Detroit. It would be another 10 hours from that moment to the time I would get in the car with Riccardo and go the wrong way down a one way street and nearly get hit by a car, my first experience in Denver.

There I was, down to my last dollar, not sure what God was going to do, not prepared for the Amazing work of grace that would be the next three months. I was essentially alone, waiting at the old train station, watching for a bus that would eventually be four hours late. No gas stations, no water fountains, no place for me to quench my thirst, just me and the dry air and a town that was oblivious to my existence.

There was an advantage to that time, I had all my books with me, my Bible held its usual place in my travel bag. I took it out and began to read it. Something I had often done in the three weeks of near complete isolation in the time since Sterling’s graduation and the time I left for the trip. I had found myself continually drinking of its wine, tasting of its life giving words. I was two years out of Albany Baptist, two weeks out of counseling and two years into a degree in Christian Education with an Urban Concentration. I had not opened my Bible much in the previous years without it being an obligation. Part of some morning religious practice, void of true communion with the spirit or understanding of its words. Along with the church, scripture was in need of redemption for me. But in that time before this trip I had spend a lot of tiem reading it, pouring over it and even, I found, praying it. In the dry and empty state of my soul, believing in God and knowing much theology but not truly knowing Him.

I prayed the prayer of my youth, the prayer of a kid who had met God on a concrete floor, served in Dallas and been called to Urban Ministry. “Lord, show me your heart.” In that dry place, in the middle of that dry little town. I was not sure of what I was actually asking, I was not sure what I was expecting to find in such an inquiry, nor was I prepared to receive an answer. I wanted to fall in Love with God again, I wanted to know who I was in Him. The war between desiring to know Him and be accepted and liked by my peers was about to be put to rest. Had I known that I would have ran, gone to Tarshish as it were, had I known what God was going to do I would have fought it. I am glad for the sake of His glory that I did not. Three months later I left Denver on the beginnings of a journey that has, to this day, been the greatest adventure a young man could ask for.

But it started in a dry place. It started in a time when I felt so far from God that I could not say I truly knew Him. When my study of scripture had been purely academic, meant to meet some requirement I had placed on myself. I would stay in that place of spiritual dryness for the next month in a half, a time when God was completing the work that the deprogrammers had begun. Breaking my heart for His people, tearing me down to the point in which I would say, a month later: “God take it all, let there be nothing left.”

For some of us, sitting in the dry places seems like a contradiction in the Christian Life. We seem to believe that any state of dryness is a sign of spiritual incompetence. We think that going out in the wilderness means we are away from God and that we need to get back to where we are constantly drinking from the mountain stream. We think the dry and the desolate are negative to our spiritual development.

Dr. Briones once asked our Pauline Literature class: “What do you do when you need a break from studying scripture?” Meaning, those of us who have dedicated our lives to study of scripture and the application therein, who can get burned out on it, how do we deal with such a dilemma. My answer was “to read scripture.” In that, my strategy was to step back from the academic study and pray the psalms or practice one of the many meditative disciplines’ I had learned. To just sit with God and His word and let the Holy Spirit refresh me and refresh Scripture in my mind. I had to sit in the dryness of the early minutes of those moments, embrace them, acknowledge the condition.

Desolation was an important part of Jesus Ministry, 11 times in Luke we are told that “Jesus went away to a quiet or desolate place. The temptation of Jesus happened in a dry place and after it was over Jesus was ministered to by His heavenly father, in the dryness. Not after He had returned to the city, but while He was still in the wilderness.

I think those dry places are meant to be places where we wrestle with God. Like Jacob wrestling with God by the river, they become times for us to receive from God directly, void of the distractions and pressures that come with ministry. I would even say that they are necessary to our growth and development as believers. That there are times we must leave the responsibility of life behind us for a season and take a sabbatical. Taking the time, not to minister to one another, but to be ministered to by God. Then, when God has replenished us, we may return to the busyness of life.

There is a statistic, in my field, about pastors who work in the inner city. That is that 40% of them will go into another field after 10 years of Ministry. Another 35% will leave the inner city for smaller churches, burned out and in desperate need of a change. Two of my closest friends in the Pastorate have passed away at young ages (35 and 40) because of the lack of a break in the rigors of pastoral ministry in an Urban environment. Both of their surviving spouses shared with me laments of not taking enough time off, the second lamented their first vacation in 7 years being canceled due to her husband’s death. We need times in the wilderness, we need the dry places, we need to feel dry. If only to be reminded of our need for God to fill us, or to wrestle with those things that may be hindering our relationship with Him.

Yes, God is always with us, He is continuously present, and He will speak life to us if we ask Him. But if we never simply sit and let Him fill us we are going to become quite ineffective in being used to fill others. It is good to have nothing left, it means we are in a great place to be filled and satisfied in the spiritual meat of scripture and drink deep of the presence of Christ.

It may benefit us to seek the wilderness, to wake up in the morning and go out into the spiritual dessert to be filled and satisfied in Christ. Then, throughout the day we can walk with Christ and speak life to others, being aware of His constant life-giving indwelling. Pouring out the love we are shown to others, drawing them deeper into community with Him and with one another.

Do not fear the wilderness, or despise the dry place, turn your face to Heaven in those times and be drink and eat and be filled on the heavenly bread and wine.

 

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

 

 

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Giving up the “MY” when choosing a Denomination.

Author: Jonathan David Faulknerdownload 01

            It is 7:30 A.M. on a Monday; I am sitting in the cafeteria up on the Hill contemplating the vast changes in my life that have taken place over the last six months. I live in a new city and go to a new school with new people. I even have purchased a new wardrobe. Every article I have written for God’s Heart for Those, whether we published it or not, has had a theme of change. Consequently, it is not a surprise to me that, once again, God has sought to change my attitude. I have never felt more malleable as though I am the clay in the potter’s hands. At first being molded was hard for me to handle, but now I am taking joy in the growth.

Redeeming the Church

One of the other themes of the last few years has been God’s redemption of the Church in my eyes. Since most of my readers know the struggle I have had with the Church, I will not retell the story. Even so, God has been using the events of the last three years to redeem for me His Church and give me a renewed love and passion for it unlike I have experienced before. Qualifying me repeatedly to fulfill His great and glorious mission for His bride, He has been restoring my desire to sit at the wedding supper and eat with Christ.

This redemption has been a major part of my journey. God called me from the PCUSA to First Baptist in Lyons, KS. Next He installed me as the pastor at First Baptist in Stafford, KS. Then He brought to bringing me to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary where He has continued to challenge my long held assumptions and viewpoints. He has caused my love for the church to grow so that it is nearly overflowing. I am excited to see what happens when it does overflow.

Giving Up the “My”

Upon arriving here in August I had one goal in mind, apart from passing my classes: to form relationships with pastors in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church with the intent of getting onto their ordination “runway”. Having been raised Presbyterian with the beauty of the liturgy, I thought that returning to that denominational structure was the logical choice. And so, that was the choice I made.

Or so I thought.

God has a funny way of directing you sometimes. He will open multiple doors, or rather, you will perceive multiple closed doors to be opened and, as you try to force them open, you will be met with continued frustration. This is God letting you learn. Learn that it hurts to beat your head against a wall, or a closed door. He is teaching you to trust His guidance. I was beating my head against that door. Not only could I not get to an EPC church, I have yet to meet anyone from that particular denomination on campus. I did, however, meet and exchange information with the representative from what I thought to be my “former” denomination. A week ago now I realized that this decision, as to the place I can do the most good as a pastor, is not mine at all. It is God’s.

Whose Choice is it?

It should be that way, should it not? When you are talking about calling and denominational affiliations? Do you really know or can you really determine ourselves where you would do the most good? Should you not rely on the one who has known you since before the dawn of time? The One who “created my inmost being, knitted me together in my mother’s womb” (Ps. 136:13), has the hairs on my head counted, feeds me, and clothes me. Is He not the One who knows where you will be most effective?

I think that a God who can create and determine the course of the wind can determine the course of this feeble, depraved man better than any other. He is, after all, the Maker of all and is the One who knows me better than I know myself. I would rather have the One who created me guiding my steps rather than trying to decide for myself and wander aimlessly through life with no purpose.

The Internal Debate

But once I make the decision to follow God into the American Baptist Church my insecurities started burning in my mind. “But Jonathan, they are not reformed, and you are. They do not say creeds and you believe the creeds should be said. Jonathan, there is no beautiful liturgy, no form or structure for praising God. They have nothing you want!”

This is all true, but I am called to pastor. Maybe God is calling me to pastor in such a way that is contrary to all those things that I think necessary. Maybe I have to give up that construct of worship again in order to rediscover it, or help others rediscover it. If there is one thing the Anglicans have taught me, it is that worship is meant to be more than just an hour of our time given to God, but a life of worship given to our God. Although most mainline denominations, even Presbyterians, do not follow this model anymore. It is one I love, living with the idea that God is always with us. Maybe God is sending me to the ABC to be a voice for these things.

Who knows? That is the fun part! We will have to see.

Be in God’s Will

In conclusion, there is nothing better than being in God’s will. Walk through the door that He has opened for you. If we are outside of that will, we will continually be frustrated by the things we try to force to happen or the things others force to happen for us. That requires us to give up the idea of “my” in every situation we encounter. We must learn to discern what is God talking and what is the human heart. Being aware that our own preconceived plans may be in the way of God taking us farther than we could ever dream is just part of learning to discern .

In all things strive for excellence, knowledge, will, and self-control to the glory of our marvelous God and King.

Brutal Honesty about being a Single Christian

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Brutal Honesty about Being a Single Christian

 

            Loneliness can be like a flood.

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

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

My Answer

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

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

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

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

 

THIS IS A TIME OF PREPARATION.

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

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

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

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

 

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

Growing in Friendship

A Group of good friends as we prepared to head to Sterling College’s Spring Formal in April of 2012.

Growing in Friendship

 

It’s how are society trains us, Disney preaches it, VH1 promotes it, MTVII glorifies it. Everyday young people are bombarded with the message that you can’t just be friends with someone that you’re attracted to. We’re told “if you like her, pursue her.” Rarely anymore do you hear the wise words of my mother “You should marry your best friend.” No, more often than not we marry someone we don’t really know or can’t communicate with or both and issues arise and problems don’t get fixed and a rift is created and what we thought was love turns into extreme dislike.

In Christian circles these days the single Christian is often looked down upon. For whatever reason, once you get to my age you are expected to be with someone, be ready for marriage, ready to fulfill God’s command to the married couple. Or we are told to be “Content in our singleness, God will bring about the right one after all.”

And He will bring about the right one in His timing. But as Mark Driscoll pointed out in a sermon, if we are content with being single then we are probably content to let God’s chosen man or woman pass right through our lives. If we are content nowadays it seems to mean that we stop waiting and watching.

When we finally do meet the person that we believe God has for us another problem arises. So many times we want to dive right into a relationship, we may get to know the person for a couple of weeks and go “hey I like her, I want to court her.” Then a week later we’ll ask her out and face the possibility of a rocky beginning because we didn’t take the time to get to know her a little better when we had the opportunity.

Now I’m not saying God won’t support a quickly formed relationship, I know many people who knew each other for a short time before they decided to begin a courtship. But if you have the opportunity to, learn to grow and guard in friendship before you dive into a relationship you should be patient and take that time. If you have the time to build a great friendship with someone, for them to become your best friend before you begin courting it may be wise to take it.

Why? Because you learn that persons boundaries, you learn their likes and dislikes, you learn the best way to serve them. Most importantly you both learn how to communicate and you both learn how to trust one another. Working to build a strong friendship will also strengthen your relationship when you get to the point where you decide if it’s God’s will to move forward. Also a God centered friendship can very easily become a God centered Courtship, you already have built a foundation in friendship, that foundation can keep you grounded in courtship.

Now, men this comes with a very responsibility for us. One initiation, initiating friendship first, and two learning to lead her within the context of friendship, this will help you initiate and lead in a relationship. Yes friends walk together, but so do married couples, the purpose of learning to lead in friendship is so you can lead her in spiritually if you decide to step into a relationship. Men also seek out the wisdom of older males, men who are either single or who have gone through the process with their wives or significant others.

Women, encourage men to initiate friendship, then encourage him to lead you and learn to lead you. To seek out older men who are still single to spend time with or married men to gain wisdom from, men who have been through the experience. You yourself should seek out the wisdom of older women, both single and married. Encourage him to spend time with his male friends and you spend time with your female friends.

Growing in Friendship is very rewarding despite what Hollywood tells us. It helps us build a foundation for the possibility of a future relationship. It allows to learn how to communicate and trust and when done with patience gives us the chance to really marry our best friend. Be patient and wait on the Lord, for He knows what’s best for us.