Tag: God’s Heart

Asking the Right Question: The Deficiency in Current Theological Education

 

Jonathan Faulkner

 

I have spent, almost, the last ten years of my life participating in theological education in some matter or another. Most of that time has been as a student, however, some of that has been teaching deep dive Sunday School classes on 1st Timothy and Isaiah or laboring as a pastor or working to boil down high theological ideas for little children. I have learned a lot in the classroom, whether it be studying Systematic Theology or the Biblical Languages or Historical Theology, but I have learned infinitely more by taking the time to boil down the full extent my education into answers for the questions people are asking me. For example, if I am pastoring a church in a small farming community, what does scripture have to say to farmer who is afraid of losing his farm or who is struggling with suicide. Or to a teen who has lost one or both parents to the opiate crisis. How do I minister to the everyday people in my everyday context? If I can answer the question of Authorship in Genesis am I aiding the people in my pews? Likely not.

A brother of mine here at the seminary laments the fact that he is being taught to answer American questions when American questions are not the same questions being asked in his native Uganda. It would be easy to point out that the questions we are being taught to answer here are 20-40 years old and not the ones being asked by the people in the pew.

The Librarian here at GCTS had an interesting observation, that when the seminary was founded it was designed to train pastors to compete with the secular ideologies invading the mainline churches. Now that most of us are headed into conferences or fringe denominations (which as a whole are larger than the mainline denominations) perhaps it is time to rethink the questions we are asking, even update them.

The current deficiency of theological education is this…that we are leaving these walls with no knowledge of the actual state of the church or the state of the people in the pews. That we are being trained to answer questions that are irrelevant to the generation we are going to be ministering too and have no bearing on the faith of those in the pews. As biblical literacy rises and the people in the pews continue to conform themselves to the Gospel in this time of reformation we are currently experiencing it is a detriment to our seminaries not to ask the proper questions, not to engage, not to change. Especially given the negative view of the current state of the church by professors who rarely engage outside their academic circles and most of whom have never served as pastors or even lay leaders, or at least have not done so since receiving academic postings.

To do this, we have to be trained to ask the questions that the people we will be ministering too will be asking. We also have to learn the questions that the generations in our pews will be asking. For Millennials, we are told, that question is “What is real” or “What is Authentic?” For the coming generation they are speculating the question will be “What is beauty?” IF we as a church cannot answer these questions both in word and form then we will continue to lose generation after generation and the church will start to do what many here think it is already doing….shrink. (By the way, Tim Keller says it is not).

I remember sitting in a meeting when our Church began looking for a new pastor. They Elders got together with their care groups and a member of the Search Committee to get input from the congregation on what to look for in a new pastor. At one point an older member of the congregation suggested that young people wanted a church with lots of lights and fog machines and a big worship band like the one his son attended. This horrified the Millennials in the room because we came to the church because the worship was genuine and authentic and a part of the everyday life of the Church. The relationships we had all formed were the same, authentic and lifegiving. At this church, as it is quickly becoming the norm in most churches, the Gospel was lived and Christian Faith was a daily, authentic thing. We were accepted and felt warmly loved and encouraged there and also felt challenged to be real concerning our faith and relationships.

Yet, when I sit in the classroom, what I hear from my professors is most often the opposite of the questions I am receiving from my peers and from church members. The view of my generation is negative, the questions being asked is: “how do we deal with these millennials who are leaving the church.” Coincidently, most of my peers have a very negative view of the church and are not prepared to enter into a much more positive system then what we are taught we are going into. Interesting how secular sociologists have noticed the changes and those training the pastors day in and day out have not.

Do not get me wrong, learning about the authorship of Genesis is important, but only so. Learning Hebrew and Greek are important but we cannot make proficiency therein the bench mark of a theological education. In fact, the tools are so good now we should likely teach pastors how to use the tools instead of training them to have a super in-depth knowledge of the biblical language. That way we can focus on the questions facing us today, rather than spending two and a half hours parsing and only 20 minutes on the practical implications of the text.

As it stands, pastors leaving our major seminaries, especially those which emphasize the languages, are better equipped to do academic scholarship than serve as Pastors. We are better trained to write systematic theologies than we are to write and preach sermons that will aid in the work of the spirit towards the total transformation and putting on of Christ then our congregations. We are trained to be scholars, not vessels.

The church needs scholars, it even needs pastor scholars, but if those pastor scholars have not learned to actually do pastoral ministry but can form a polemic against JDEP (theory of authorship of Genesis) but cannot care for the spiritual needs of the farmer or the small town or the inner-city, then they are ineffective and should be removed from office.

The fact is, right now we have some very pressing pastoral matters on our hands. From the dehumanization of people to the need for biblical righteousness, reconciliation and Justice. We also have to discuss technology and its effect on the family, the Opiate Crisis, the farmer suicide rate and much, much more. That does not include, nor is it limited to the questions that are being asked in global Christianity, as in, an African Student needs to learn to answer the questions being asked in his or her home country whether it be Uganda or Ethiopia. The same is true about the student from Portugal, from China, from South Korea and so on and so forth. This requires a much broader theological education than the one we currently have. We should not need a Institute for the Black Christian Experience because, as part of the general experience, we learn the history of Christianity in Africa and how it was affected by the Slave Trade, Colonialism and is still be affected by the modern missions movement. We should be reading authors and theologians from all corners of the world, learning to ask the questions that the global church is asking so we can help each other answer the individual questions we will be facing. Providing shared experience and resources and wisdom, as well as Exegesis so that we can come to a fuller understanding of this faith and not one that is stunted, as western Christianity is.

For that to happen though we have to learn from people who are actively seeking to be up to date on the questions being asked. That means they have to completely engaged in the non-academic world, engaging not only authors and theologians from different backgrounds, but also actively engaging the people in the pews. Because at the end of the day we are less likely to debate the meaning of a Hebrew Word in the Hithpael than we are to engage a family that is afraid they are going to lose their house or a teen who has been the victim of Sexual Assault. If our theological seminaries are going to be partners with the global church, they have to be engaging with the global church. For this to happen, they need to change drastically and quickly because slow change only prolongs the errors being perpetuated. It requires us to give up the idol we have made of the biblical languages and learn them not as the end all of exegesis, but as a part of the sum of the whole. We need to do serious research into the state of the church and change our attitude towards those who are learning in our classrooms.

If we do not, we lose an important and even essential aid and resource to the Church. That is unacceptable, change cannot be slow and it needs to be a change that consults the students, not treats us as if we are kids incapable of making decisions. We can start by asking the questions that our students are asking and go from there, if we do not, our decline will continue and we will cease to exist.

 

Jonathan D12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oavid Faulkner is a Graduate student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary working on Masters in Divinity and Church History, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry. He lives with his wife Rachel in the North Shore of Boston and seeks to be a part of the project of reconciliation in the local and international church. 

Faulkner on the Fifth: The Babylon Bee and finishing up the first year of Seminary.

By Bradly Tucker:

 

Every other Friday Jonathan takes time to answer questions from me and from you, our readers. This week Jonathan talks about popular satire site The Babylon Bee and his summer plans along with some questions from readers.

 

Q.) So, currently there is a brand new phenomenon sweeping the web in the form of a website called The Babylon Bee. I know that you are aware of them, what are your thoughts on them and their contact?

  • Yes, it is definitely a phenomenon, and one I am greatly enjoying. I like the fact that they approach these issues in a way that is humorous, but also exposes the lunacy that often exists within the confines of American Christianity. I also think it makes us laugh at ourselves, and Christians truly need to learn how to take certain aspects about our faith, like Peripheral issues. I think that the best way to do that is through satire. Plus, it is nice to see Christians unifying around something, even if it is just Satire. I will say though, my favorite thing on the internet is not the Babylon Bee but the commenters who do not know they are reading Satire and decide they need to fact check the article.

Q.) With your first year at GCTS behind you, what is one thing that you can take away from your first year of graduate school that you would like to pass along to our readers?

  • Graduate School is hard work, but it can also be a lot of fun. Do not take it too seriously, but do not approach it flippantly either. If you come into it with good time management skills and an eagerness to learn new things, it will be a lot of fun.

Q.) What are your plans for the summer?

  • Write, work, I am taking another trip in June, we will be closed that weekend, by the way, I also have a lot of reading to do and want to finish the second Mozzaratt book and work on securing publishing for the first.

Q.) Speaking of Mozzaratt, What is the latest on the Mozzaratt Books?

  • Well, I am two chapters into the second book, I will hopefully start chapter 3 today. I have already incorporated some surprises into the second book, it has been fun. Book three is also in the planning stages, detailed mapping, all the stuff that goes into writing a novel.

Q.) How has science affected the culture of Christianity?

  • Anthony, Attumwa IA.
  • To answer this question we must ask another: Are Christianity and Science Compatible? Some would say that the two are not compatible, while others, on the opposite end of such a spectrum would argue that they are compatible and even should work alongside each other. I hold to the second view, that they should run concurrently, history even shows us that the greatest advances in Science have occurred in Christian Circles or in more Christ focused points in History. Unfortunately the church has either gone so far as to reject science al-together, or take it too far and allowing it to usurp Biblical Authority. So, it has had two primary influences on Christian culture, either non-influence, because it is rejected, or too much influence as is the case with Philosophic Science’s Intelligent Design Argument. I do believe that we, as believers can pay attention to what is happening in science. For science gives us a glimpse into the glory of the Living God. There are even points where Science and Theology intertwine such as Creation and the Metaphysics of the Trinity (see Yurgan Moltmann). Science is a creation of our loving father, so why not at least pay attention to it. However, we cannot allow it to dictate to us Christian Truth, only to confirm what God has revealed to us to be true.

Good Friday Reflection:

empty_tomb_view-1024x768

Reading: Luke 22, Philippians 2:1-11

It sounds strange to celebrate a death, but today we do, the death of our Messiah, the death that ended the war and gave us victory over sin and Death. Equally important because of this death, because we are now covered in blood the wrath of God is satisfied and the veil that kept us from Him is torn and we have access to the Father through the Son. All those who believe now have the Spirit of God dwelling within them who testifies to our redeemed reality of righteous standing before God. The same spirit promised by the Son who was sent by the Father to die on the cross for our sons, he was crucified, dead and buried and on the third day he rose again from the dead and now he sits at the right hand of God the Father. Praise the Lord that he, being by his very nature God, considered equality with God something to be grasped, but instead humbled Himself to death so that we might have life.

If there was ever a greater reason for the believer to celebrate then know not what it is. This life we have been given so freely, how can it not so stir up in us such love and affection for God. That our debt would be satisfied by a most perfect lamb without blemish, the perfect son of God. Such a great thing it is that it should move us to praise when we think on such, as Luther put it: “A Happy Exchange.” Christ has received our the punishment of death our rebellion has earned for, we have the glory that Christ deserved by his Obedience. Oh what amazing grace, oh what a great joy and comfort to the believers.

Let us lift our voices in praise, all Heaven and Earth rejoice, in the midst of sorrow comes Joy, in the midst of death comes Christ. The Salvation of all who believe is assured by the indwelling Spirit

We are free, sins bond is broken, we have a new name, let us praise Him for it.

EASTER

Faulkner on the Fifth: Andy Stanley, John Kasich, update on writing and music.

14140_10151927346899245_829737775_a

By Bradly Tucker

In this series Jonathan answers five questions from myself to either update you on current happenings at God’s Heart as well as any other issues we have chosen not to address in article.

 

Q: Alright, we’re going to jump right into it, readers have noticed that after your original reaction you have been silent on Andy Stanly’s comments on “Small Churches” while other popular websites have addressed it. Why is that?

A: Let me start by reminding my readers that I pastored one of those small churches that Stanley was talking about. That being said when I first read the article I was extremely put off by it. However, at the end of the article, which I read on Church Leaders Website, acknowledged that he apologized for his comments. Thus I can forgive him and move on. We have also seen numerous other groups come out and Demonize Stanley for his comments, disregarding the apology completely, making him out to be some kind of monster. I believe that it would be contrary to, and undermine the purpose and goal of God’s Heart For Those to attack Stanley, especially after he apologized. I also do not see this as an issue, the size of your church is not important to me, small church or large church, God uses them, they serve a purpose in the Kingdom. Others are allowed to think differently than me on that. It is not an issue of salvation, it is not a matter or persuasion, it is an opinion and he’s allowed to give it. I refuse to play the game of snubbing someone for what they have apologized for. As far as I know this is the first time Andy Stanley has said anything outrageous, his record would seem to speak for itself. Leave the man alone.

 

Q: What is the purpose and intention of God’s Heart For Those?

Our purpose is two-fold, one to provide practical advice and wisdom for those who desire to do ministry, building up the flock through encouragement and exhortation. A Spiritual cheering on and teaching, if you will, as I go through the start of what I hope to be a career in Ministry. The second purpose is to warn the flock against potentially abusive groups or teachings or teachers that are teaching contrary to scripture but to address them in such a way that we do not demonize them or rebuke them in such a way that others demonize them. The goal for such writings is restoration, that is our desire.

 

Q: During Super Tuesday you encouraged readers to vote for John Kasich. What makes Kasich a good candidate in your mind?

I first heard Kasich speak on Meet the Press last August, at the time I only knew he was the popular governor or Ohio. Unlike all the other candidates I heard that morning he was ready and willing and able to comment on the actual issues facing the American people. I said then that he would make a great candidate. As time went on and the fiasco we are calling politics became increasingly like a circus I watched Kasich continue to do just that, talk about the issues. It meant less airtime and less media attention, but people kept dropping out and he kept gaining popularity. He has consistently addressed actual issues and has a record of success as a politician, something no one else in this presidential race has with the exception of (maybe) Ben Carson. Now, I know he is in third place, but we may be heading for a Brokered Convention and that could be good for Mr. Kasich. His striving for peaceful solutions to current racial tensions and hate-mongering perpetuated by the Trump Campaign is quite attractive as well.

 

Q: How are the current writing projects coming?

Mozzaratt’s Palace, the first of four planned books is done. It will go to the editing phase over the summer and potentially be out by December if we can get everything worked out with Kindle Publishing. I have started working on a deeper outline for the second book as I need a break from the first book before I begin editing it. I continue, in my free time to research for two books, one on reconciliation and another on a popular Science Fiction series, so that keeps me busy outside of Seminary Life.

 

Q: Any new developments with the music projects you’ve been working on?

Only in that I have been extremely busy playing in various functions here at Gordon-Conwell, worship and chapel bands. The three brothers we did the Reggae video with and I are planning to get together to have another Jam session. The Type A EP has been put on hold for the time being because I need to fix the software. I did just replace my electric guitar and picked up a Banjo while I was at it, I am going to learn how to play it, this will be fun.

 

Bradly Tucker is the Content Editor for God’s Heart For Those.

 

cropped-header-ghft.png

Advice from a Pastor who Pastored before Seminary.

Advice from a Pastor who Pastored before Seminary.download (9)

By Jonathan David Faulkner

 

Let me be clear: I am not writing this article because I think I have any answers to questions. I am writing this with one year of experience before heading here to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where I am today. My reasoning for writing this to pass along some things that you might find helpful; some things I learned in my first year of Pastoral Ministry that you should start doing in Seminary that will help make you effective ministers of the Gospel upon Graduation. These are things that I, myself, wish I had known going into my first Pastorate.

 

  1. Learn Time Management Now.
  2. Develop a Strong Devotional Life
  3. Learn to Get Out of the Way.

 

I know, I know, if you are at GCTS orientation and reading this you are thinking; “They have been telling us those first two on repeat since we arrived.” And they have, for good reason, they are pastors and professionals in ministry. But why are they so important? Why not let them roll your eyes at this advice? You should not, and here is why. They are extremely important to learn for you and your congregation.

 

So let’s continue.

1: Learn Time Management Now.

            One of the best questions posed to me so far about what my time as a Pastor is; “How did you manage working a full time job and pastoring a church at the same time?” I gave the person the only answer I could… “I did not.” I turned into the most stressed out and unpleasant person I could have been. The stress played a big role in splitting up my relationship at the time and causing the lack of sleep that lead to the fall that put me off work of two months in February.

Believe it or not, that fall probably saved my pastoral ministry. During that time the only two things that were able to give me relief from the pain were preaching and playing music. The time also served to remind me why I had been so strict on time management my last two years of college. I treated college like an 8-5 job, I did not do that with the pastoral job. In the period of a month I went from working 40 hours a week to close to 100. No one should ever have to do that, adding sixty hours even though I was hired to do about twenty.

It is important to develop a good pattern of time management now because outside of school life gets about one hundred times crazier. Add a wife and kids and bills to pay (As some of my seminarian friends have) and suddenly you cannot spend 100 hours a week doing ministry or work of any kind. It would destroy your marriage. I like the example of my pastor in Lyons, who refuses to answer cell phone calls once he is home with the family. This is certainly a model I will be adopting when I have a family.

It also might help you to sit down and write out a list of what is “Urgent” and what is “Important” and then do your best to work through those “Important” tasks before you even address the “Urgent” ones. Remember, there is absolutely no shame in saying no, something I had to learn in my second six months of pastoring. Remember also that family and your spiritual life are one that list of “Important” things and sometimes, though this is the exception, not the rule, that paper that is due in two weeks is “Urgent.” Which brings me to Number Two.

2: Develop a Strong Devotional Life.

I cannot stress the importance of this particular point. Though I kept my devotional practices during my first three months, I lost a lot of the depth that had been there before. There is a difference between devotional practice and a devotional life. Devotional practice is simply the daily task of reading the bible and praying. The Devotional Life seeks to expand upon the tasks of a devotional practice into a deep and transforming relationship with God.

Cultivating this kind of devotional life takes time, it takes work, it takes dedication. But you are not alone in this journey. Starting by learning to allow the Holy Spirit to direct you into that deeper walk, guiding you into whatever disciplines you find the Holy Spirit uses to draw you in. Past the life of religious ceremony to the depths of the transformative relationship we have in Jesus Christ.

Yesterday, as I was frustrated by a number of things throughout the day I decided to have what in Denver we called an “Artist Date.” I went back to my room and played my guitar and watched a comedy. This is part of my devotional life because it gives my soul a break from the demands of everyday life. This was part of my day, along with silent prayer and listening to God and study of scripture in the morning.

One of the benefits of my time after the fall in February and the closing of 10:31 Life Ministries in April was that I was able to refocus myself on God and rebuilding my devotional life. I even took a week off social media, something I had not done since the inception of 10:31 in 2009.

3: Learn to Get Out of the Way.

I was reading in the Gospel of John this morning about what I have dubbed the “Passing of the Torch” between the way maker (John) and the one for whom he prepared it (Jesus). I was struck by John’s willingness to step out of the way and allow the Son of God to do the work He had come to do. He finishes the passage with “He must increase and I must decrease” (John 3:30).

As a believer whose greatest struggle is pride John’s humility struck me. John did not say; “Come, let us go baptize elsewhere, since Jesus has taken our crowds, let us go collect more.” Instead he acknowledges that his work is coming to a close. John has done what he was called to do, he had prepared the way. His ministry culminated in his baptism of his cousin Jesus. Now he was to point people to Jesus and indeed he has already encouraged his own disciples to follow Jesus (See John 1:35-40). Now he would go and preach to Herod until his death in the next few years.

So often, as Pastors, we can be so easily deceived (by pride of the father of lies) to think that we are something special. We tout  our righteousness and deny any thought of weakness because we are called to preach the Gospel. We can think “the Gospel needs me; God needs me.” While it is true that God has given you a calling and a mission, you are disposable. God can raise up another to take your place if your focus is far from him- on yourself and your accomplishments. Like the Casting Crowns song says “sometimes the best thing for us to do, is just get out of the way.” Just as John understood his role must decrease now that Christ had come, so must our flesh. We must seek to be totally kingdom minded and allow the Gospel to advance by the power of the Holy Spirit alone working through us as Vessels. As they have told us here in Orientation; “Do not take yourself so seriously, it will not get you anywhere.”

 

So what did all of this do for me? I quickly found that my relationships with my congregation improved, my sermon writing improved, the gospel advanced. I was able to laugh it off when things went horribly wrong and admit when I had made a mistake. And you will make them and things will go wrong. The Important thing to remember is why you are doing this job. “Not for our own glory but for the glory of the One who calls” (John 8:50)

 

UNITE!

Fired Up Logo

Unite!

            It was a tense night for the Jackson County School board in Jackson Country Ohio. They were meeting to discuss one issue that had been in the news. A picture of Jesus that has hung in the middle school for 66 years had come under attack by the activist group Freedom from Religion. They picture was reported to them anonymously and so they took up the fight to have the “offensive” picture that was a gift of the graduating class of 1947 removed. The superintendent of the school had no intent of removing the picture, and neither did the school board who voted unanimously to side with the superintendent. What’s more amazing is the student’s reaction. Walking through the school one was created by hundreds of pictures of Jesus hanging on lockers, the students united and most likely influenced their parents vote.

On a national level the news reported that the courts threw out Hobby Lobby’s case appealing a government order that will fine them 1.3 million dollars a day until they accept the birth control provision of the Obamacare bill passed last year. The Christian owners of the store refusal to take on the provision stems from their belief that this particular provision is morally wrong the company would rather support Christian Morality and abstinence than provide birth control. They have a constructional right to not accept this on the grounds of The 1st Amendment after all the owners reasons for rejecting the provision are religious, not political. Colorado Christian University was recently compelled by the courts to accept this provision the government would have pulled what limited funding they provided to the privately held, Christian School.

Dear friends, in pointing these things out I hope you understand what I’m trying to show you. With groups trying to remove century old Nativities from community gardens, to attacks on the CEO’s of large, Christ Centered organizations like Chick Fil-A for his view on marriage and now to Hobby Lobby and CCU our freedoms are slowly being stripped away from us. In the name of “Tolerance” teachers are taking students to Mosque’s and encouraging them to pray, suggest taking them to a church and the school would be sued. We are losing our freedoms, they preach tolerance, but yet we are not tolerated.

Yet, from the pulpit I hear pastors preach from Roman’s 13, telling us to submit to the government. And while it is true we should follow the leadership of a good and moral government what we have is a government so intent on making sure everything and everyone is regulated that the basic freedom to disagree with the government on religious grounds, with our private companies, is not just impeded but trampled on. This is the same government that has nearly ruined the Catholic church, who still refuses to hand out contraceptives on moral ground and has had to close many of its outreach programs to the poor and homeless because of what can only be described as attacks by the Federal Government.

So here’s my question; where are all the Hobby Lobby Supporters? When the CEO of Chick-Fil-A came under fire Christians lined up out the door. Now the government is unjustly fining one of the nations most successful craft stores and we are nowhere to be found. Hiding in the woodwork, afraid of what big-brother would do to us if we stand up to him. We’ve backed down from a fight, or should I say we’ve lost it, our fight that is. Does anyone remember when Christians would fight back, not with weapons but with words. We have an example in Scripture, after Paul and John were arrested and taken before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4. The Christians gathered together and prayed for boldness from the Holy Spirit and the Disciples went out and preached and the Church grew and Christians became an unstoppable force that spread throughout the world (Acts 4:1-21, 2:42-47). They were empowered by the Holy Spirit and they did something about what was happening by that power, that’s what we need, that’s what we should be praying for.

So I say, UNITE. Let this be your battle cry, we cannot let the government or activist groups take away our freedoms in the name of religious freedom or religious tolerance. If a Muslin wants to run a business let him, if a Jew wants to put up a star of David in a community Garden let him. But as Christians I don’t see how we can sit back and let ourselves be door mats. And before you think this doesn’t affect everyone, remember that what happens to one part of the body of Christ affects the whole Body (1 Cor. 12:26). As we did during the Chick Fil-A incident we need to unite again, but this time instead of standing up to Liberal Media we are standing up for our freedoms, standing up to what is becoming tyrannical, standing up for Christian Morals. Folks, it’s time to take the Church back, it’s time to Unite!

jesus_photoimages (5)

The Opinions expressed are solely those of the Author and do not reflect the views of 10:31 Life Ministries staff and writers. 

Foggy Mornings

Growing up in the foothills of the Appalachians I can recount many a mounting in the spring and the fall where we would wake up to a wall of fog. So think in fact there were mornings you could barely see the neighbor’s house across the street and up the road. There were some mornings when you could only see the school bus by the bright flashing fog lights as it moved down Ramar drive across the housing development.

It was mornings like those when creation stood out to me the most. As I stood looking out at the soupy fog I couldn’t help but imagine what might be behind it. Would the hills reappear when the sun came out? Or would they be replaced by something else, maybe mountains would fill the landscape, or maybe a dragon would be seen flying over head. Fog always brought out the adventurer nature in me, always asking “What’s back there?”

This morning was the first time in a while I’ve seen fog as thick as pea soup. But as I walked to breakfast reveling in the beauty around me I started to think of God and His creation that was inevitably hiding behind that fog. In Kansas, unlike Ohio you can see for miles without anything to block your view. This morning the fog took that away and it made me wonder if I’d ever see the plains again.

I’ve come to learn that often times this is how we view God. Sort of like the Wizard of Oz, hiding behind some mysterious thick cloud or smoke, or concealed by fog. We go through our lives trying to get all our ducks in a row, thinking that the will of God is hidden, and often times it is. Or we think, God will reveal himself when we get ourselves straightened out. When we get through everything God will come out from behind the curtain or the fog and be revealed.

The truth is both of these are lies. Now, I’m not saying that God isn’t a mystery, He most certainly is mysterious and wonderful and terrible and all the things words we use to inadequately describe Him. For us to try to understand God will take a lifetime, that’s why we constantly need to pursue Him. But the notion that we have to have it together or figured out to learn who He is, is ridiculous.

God has said to us through the psalmist “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10). We are told by Paul that “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20 ESV). And Jesus promises at the end of the great commission;  “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 ESV).

With those promises why do we think that we cannot know God, true we can’t fully know Him in this life, but to say that He is hidden from us is like saying that we couldn’t tell the NFL replacement refs blew the call on Monday night. We can know God, we can come to Him and say “God I need you, God I want to know you” and He says “I will be with you always” or “I have been with you” and even still “You are my son or my daughter.”

If we want to become like Christ or in Christ (Phl 2, Gal. 2:20) then there has to be a way to know God. That is through the revealed or special revelation of God, aka the Bible. The “God Breathed” 2  Tim 3:16) inspired word of God. Meaning that word that God gave to men to write down so that we, 2000 years later could know who God is and how He works.

As for the idea that we need to get things together before we can go to Him, remember that we are His children. That God is about building people, Check out Romans 8:30 “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified”( ESV). Meaning God prepares us for what He has called us to do, He does a work in us. Titus 3:5 says “Not by works of righteousness that we have done, but by the washing and regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit” (ESV).

This is amazing, that we can go to God as we are and He will begin to do the work as we get to know Him. As God draws us closer we will find healing, we will find restoration, we will find that God is not hidden behind a wall of Fog. That He is living and present and active in our lives and it doesn’t matter if we have it together, He has said “Come as you are.”

I find that when the fog lifts, things look a lot more beautiful. Back home the fog would lift and the sun would hit the wheat fields behind the development and nothing in nature has since captured my eyes as part of God’s revelation of Himself. When the fog lifts, and we start to seek after and pursue God, man how our perspective changes

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner