Tag: Good Discipline

Untwisting, Twisted Scripture: 1 Corinthians 2:15

 

By Jonathan David Faulkner

Untwisting Twisted Scripture looks at popular teachings and their use of Scripture.

I have heard a lot of popular Fundamentalist Evangelists respond to critics by using 1 Corinthians 2:15 to justify maliciously condemning others. The verse says: “The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.” (ESV). Pulling this verse out of context it is easy to say, as they do, that no one can judge them and that they are the final authority on all things. This verse has been twisted by Authoritarians, it has nothing to do with malicious condemning someone and then justifying yourself.

Let’s look at the immediate context of the passage:

            The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

(1 Corinthians 2:14-16 ESV)\

It is interesting here, as you can see, that this is a comparison between the man who does not know Christ and the one who does. The Greater context talks about the Spirit’s working in our lives, giving us the ability to understand the teachings of Scripture, specifically giving the Corinthians the ability to understand Paul’s words, this of course comes through the incarnation of the Holy Spirit, the dwelling of God inside of us. If we did not have the spirit we would not have the ability to determine or discern the things of God. But because we have the Spirit of God, because we can learn to grow in and learn to listen to and be led by that Spirit, we can have the ability to judge those things that we come across.

Paul is also commenting, starting back in verse 4 about how the Corinthians received the Gospel in general, by the wisdom of the Spirit, and not by the wisdom of man. Noting a desired progression in the Corinthians own life from the world’s wisdom to the Spirit’s wisdom, because it was by the Spirit’s wisdom that the Gospel was seen and understood. Again noting a progression or growth from the World’s Wisdom towards the Wisdom of God because through the Spirit we have “The Mind of Christ.”

John Calvin, writing on verse 13 says this in his Commentary on 1 Corinthians:

Because they are spiritually discerned. That is, the Spirir of God from whom the doctrine of the Gospel Comes, is the only true interpreter, to open it up to us. Hence in judging of it, men’s minds must of necessity be in blindness until they are enlightened by the Spirit of God.

But what of the verse in question? How then does the Spiritual Man “Judge all things?” What does it mean for him to do so? Well, if you asked Feuerstien, he might tell you it means he can be prosecutor judge and jury and no one, not even other Christians, can question him. But if you look at the Greek word used here, you find a different story unfolding. The word is “Anakrino” which means to judge, discern, question, investigate, sift through or to scrutinize. Yes, it has a legal ramification, but only in the investigative sense. It is the same word used by Pilot when turns Jesus back over to the Jews in Luke 23:14 saying “I have examined him and found no guilt in him.” Yes, it does involve a verdict, but a verdict in the Christian sense requires a graceful dealing on any subject and with anyone.

Christians who practice an authoritarian interpretation end up looking more like the Prosecutor in God’s Not Dead 2 rather than images of the Living God. Such an interpretation invites and “Us against them” mentality that is driven by fear of opposition. Instead of a fair judgement or the proper discernment of a situation, instead of judging the idea, or the fruit of a ministry we become judge, jury and executioner of anyone who disagrees with us. This is Pharisaic at best, demanding that everyone stand in line and be judged by us. If we continue in this we should tremble on the day we stand before God (we will anyway) knowing that the measure we judged others with was so very hard that we ourselves could not stand up against it.

True and genuine Christian Maturity is being able to look at a thing and examine it with the help of the Holy Spirit. To be able to say about an idea, a thought or the fruit of a person’s life and say “This is good” or “This is bad.” And then be able to either encourage or exhort that person in a right manner that will either spur them on to more love and good works or lead them to restoration through repentance.

True and genuine Christian Maturity does grant us the ability to judge all things, but that is not a judgement that ends in condemnation of the individual person, but if there must be condemnation than it must be of an ideology or group mindset because it bears bad fruit. As I have said before, every single thing we come across, every teaching, every politician’s platform, every doctrine must be thoroughly examined and held up against the standard of Scripture. The only way we have the ability to do such a thing is by the power of the Holy Spirit that gives us the ability to understand as we study Scripture. There can be no proper exegesis or interpretation without the Spirit’s guidance, it is not a work of man, but of God himself, incarnate in us through the Holy Spirit. Like the Eunuch in the book of Acts, reading the scrolls of Isaiah, it took Phillip, a man filled with the Spirit of God, to help him understand what he was reading.

The word of God is life-giving, even David’s lament in Psalms 51 can be used to bring life to the lost soul. When someone uses this Word to bring about more bondage or put down other believers who disagree with them that is not a Holy Spirit led reading of the Text. We must learn to discern a teaching, like the Berean Christians, always studying, always searching the scriptures. So that the living and active Word of God can be used by the Spirit to do that transformative and life giving work. We were not called to go from one cruel master to another, but to become Children of God, with all the rights and promises thereof.

 

 

14140_10151927346899245_829737775_a
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

Good Discipline – Practicing God’s Presence

PRACTICING GOD’S PRESENCE: Above All

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

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

Everything for the Glory

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

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

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

Putting it all Together

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

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

 

When everything’s New

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

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

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

 –         –          –

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

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

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries

Good Discipline – Solitude

SOLITUDE: A Quiet Place 

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

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

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

 

Why Solitude?

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

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

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

 

Jesus & Solitude

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

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

 

Solitude & Us

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

–         –    –

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

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

God Bless You
Jonathan Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries

Check out the Good Discipline Series

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

Good Discipline – Meditation

MEDITATION: Time to think

 

I love to sit in coffee shops, they are probably the most relaxing places on Earth and I’m not the only one who thinks so. I’ve shared before that after work at Christ’s Body I would often go directly to a coffee shop to sit and pray about what I was experiencing. Coffee on the Point specifically was a good place to just go and sit for awhile without interruption. It was a chance to focus my thoughts on God and allow Him to heal the torrent of emotions that had me under siege all day because of the hardships of the homeless I was working with.

It was in this coffee shop in Denver that I learned to meditate, learned to think about the things above instead of the things below. If I hadn’t had those times I’m sure now that the heartache would have driven me crazy and caused a huge amount of burnout. So this is a discipline I would say is necessary, not that they all aren’t, but this one in particular allows us to get our minds off of things, if only for a moment, and into the mind of Christ.

Different Meditation

Now I know when someone mentions the discipline of meditation everyone’s minds instantly envision a man in a funny looking hat sitting cross-legged on the ground say “ommm” and for the most part this is what popular culture depicts it as. There’s a scene in Annie where the girls come across Pune Jab meditating and they get very afraid.

This isn’t the type of meditation I’m talking about, this is a type of Eastern Meditation meant for those who want to look deep inside themselves. Christian Meditation is different, Christian Meditation can take place everywhere you go, no one has to know that you are doing it, and is highly beneficial to our Christian walks.

Christian George writes; “Meditation moves us to a deep and penetrating presence of God. It charts the inner landscapes of the soul and teaches us to adopt the mind of Christ…Meditation syncs us with the savior in a way the other disciplines do not” (109).

What Do We Meditate on?

But what is it that we meditate on? Paul tells the Philippians at the end of his letter to them “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Phil 4:8 NIV).

Look at the list, whatever is; true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, anything excellent or praiseworthy. These are the things that we need to meditate on; it is these things, in relationship to God that should fill our minds every day. We should desire and want these things because we are different from the world and what the world often meditates on (sex, drugs, alcohol) are in no way honorable in the context they we tend to think about them.

If we do meditate on these things we’ll find a whole new world opened up to us, suddenly our vision won’t be the same. Our minds also won’t be the same, we’ll find that we can’t get our minds off them. That the things of God really are real, alive, active and penetrating in ways we never could have imagined.

 

Meditating on Scripture

My favorite thing to do is meditate on scripture, especially the psalms. Recently I’ve spent a lot of time thinking on Psalm 25:12 which says “Who is the man who fears the Lord, Him will He instruct in the way he should choose.” The reason I’ve spent so much time meditating on this verse is because of situations in my life where I need more than anything for God to instruct my paths.

This scripture also has a lot to unpack and think about, like what does it mean to fear the Lord? And. How does God instruct us in the way we should go? Through meditating on these two questions God has led me to other passages, such as Isaiah 6:1-7 and Israel’s encounters with God in Exodus 18. So through meditating on this one verse suddenly a whole new idea is opened up to me.

Scripture meditation is extremely beneficial, especially if we want to be like the Psalmist in 119 who says “I have hidden your words in my heart that I might not sin against you” (v. 11). Or follow the example of the writer of Hebrews when he considers the word of God and the name of God to be a place of rest, so that we might not disobey.

To Be Set Apart

I’m coming to find that it is times of mediation that I am finding out what it truly means to be truly set apart for the gospel. That as I’ve thought over scriptures like Ephesians 5:3-6 that I’ve learned to cut out things like course Joking and work towards a humor that is holy. It is through thinking on what is right that I have been really challenged by conversations with a close friend of mine. It is through meditating on what it means to be a man of God that I’ve actually found myself becoming a man of God.

–          –     –

So today I want to challenge you to go off someplace, a park or a coffee shop, and think about the things of God. Take your bible and try to memorize a psalm, then meditate on that psalm one day at a time. Really think about what it means to be a man or woman of God allow Him to speak to you about the things you are thinking on. Enter into His presence and allow Him to make the toughest subjects fun again.

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving

His courts with praise

Give thanks to the Lord

Bless His Name”

Ps 100:4

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

Good Discipline – Labyrinth Walking

Before you read this please read: The Mountain Stream from the first two months of this blog.

The Labyrinth I walked in Evergreen CO.

Labyrinth Walking: Going in Circles

I remember driving up to Evergreen Colorado that day with a sense of anticipation. The depression I’d woken up with on the third day of my week of Silence had slowly faded and now as we sat on the mountainside, shoes off, walking barefoot through the cool grass I couldn’t believe I was about to walk a Labyrinth. I’d wanted to do this for since I’d finished Christian George’s book but didn’t know where to go to find one. So when Millie announced that we’d be spending part of the 4th of July walking one I was thrilled.

The only problem was I couldn’t talk…

The Purpose of Labyrinth Walking

If you read The Mountain Stream then you read all about Labyrinth walking as a prayer ritual. As you are entering the Labyrinth you are entering into God, leaving all the things of the world behind you and just allowing your mind to focus on the God of the universe. When you reach the center you have reached the heart of God, the very center of the almighty creator, what I’m finding to be a very vast yet comforting place. Then as you are leaving you are re-entering the world, this is a perfect time for Vow Making or even reflective prayer, looking back on what you’ve experienced while in the Labyrinth.

It’s important to note that Labyrinth Walking is extremely experienced based. George writes specifically of Protestants; “we practice this discipline not as a means of earning salvation but as a way to experience the God of salvation through new and earthly means” (138). But in that experience we get catch a glimpse of God’s mystery, or hear Him speak to us in a way we’ve never experienced Him before.

George also informs us that walking a Labyrinth is the perfect time to purge everything from your system, as I did on that mountainside last summer. Getting all the things we keep bottled up inside and never confess will help us clear our heads for later times in the day, and process things we might have been feeling earlier in the day, like the depression that marked my morning.

Walking with Others

Labyrinth Walking is a good Discipline to practice alone, but it is also a good one to practice in a group setting as well. One of the conditions we had on that mountainside was that we couldn’t talk for two hours, but we needed to pay attention to what God was doing when we were in the Labyrinth, that our hearts needed to be prepared and our spirits quieted like the Psalmist in 131 before we could go in.

It was interesting walking that Labyrinth with other people, because occasionally God would stop me and tell me to look up and show me where I was in relationship to others. Then He’d say “There are times when you feel close to people and times you feel far away from people, but I am always here with you, I have and I will be.” In the center there were about three of us and God used that to show me that I was part of a body, and through the hug of one of my brothers in the center God showed me I was loved by the body.

If you’ve ever wanted to see God use people to make a point in your life, walk a Labyrinth with a group and a spirit that’s ready and eager to listen, you may be surprised.

My Experience 

It’s important to note that our experiences may be extremely different. As we sat around listening to one another that afternoon there was a common thread to the conversation, and that was that God spoke, but it wasn’t the same for everyone.

I needed to go back through my past (as I outlined in the article I posted at the top of this article). So God could show me that He was there through every painful moment and that He was there in that moment and every present moment coming. It was extremely important for me to know that He would continue to be there long after I left Denver. That He already had my future planned out for me and was going to be there in every future situation.

–     –     –

Labyrinth Walking is a strange discipline that’s for sure, it’s not something we are used to. Like prayer, fasting, obedience and so on. It’s a physical activity that allows us to experience God on a level that we’ve never really experienced Him before. It can also combines prayer, silence and even fasting together and then allows us to move into a place of meditation, it can be done in solitude and through it we can practice God’s presence.

All the Discipline’s working together to benefit us as a body of Believers, transforming us into a healthy and strong body. So go and find a Labyrinth and take about two hours to be silence and then catch a glimpse of the Mystery of God as He speaks to you as you move through the circles of the path. Remember as you walk that there are times when you will feel far from God and times when you will feel near to Him. Then once you are done, reflect on that time, what the Lord said to you and where you need to go from there.

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries

“Oh Israel Hope in the Lord
For with the Lord there is Steadfast Love
And with the Lord there is Plentiful Redemption
And He will redeem Israel
From all his Iniquities”
Psalm 130:7-8 

– Authors Note – If you have ever read George’s book or are reading it you’ll notice that Meditation and Solitude come before Labyrinth Walking. I’ve re-ordered these three because Solitude, Meditation and Practicing God’s Presence fit together so well, and can all be done in a Labyrinth so I felt the need for a different order, hope you don’t mind.

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