Tag: Jonathan David Faulkner

10 Words of Wisdom for New College Students/Graduate Students.

By Jonathan David Faulkner.

 

I do not usually do lists, especially since The Gospel Coalition released a great list for graduate students along the same lines. But I want to take time to share my own wisdom at my own school year (year two of graduate school) begins in just a week. This list does not include the ever popular “Grades are not everything” not because they are the most important thing, but because it has been on every list that has ever come out. These are ones that you may not think about. So here we go.

  1. Do not become Apathetic: Grades really are not everything, but we cannot become apathetic towards school either. Greek is hard, so is beginner Calculus, while grades are not everything we do need to be vigilant in our studies. Seeking to strike a balance between academic pursuit and rest is essential, but do not become Apathetic towards school work. (I have to thank my friend Brian for this one.)
  1. Don’t Jump Into a Relationship: I know, I know, this one’s cliché, and sometimes, those first week relationships do work out, but making too big a life change too quickly can lead to unneeded anxiety. I know, she’s cute, big brown eyes, but you have three or four years to pursue and win her, get into the rhythm of college life before you start dating, that is okay to do, even at small Christian Colleges.
  1. Find a Church and Stay there: For the sake of your spiritual life I would advise you to find a church immediately. Most Christian Schools have a church fair where you can go and talk with the different pastors and church officials who would love to meet you, shake your hand and get you involved in their congregations.
  1. Set Time for Personal Devotions: This is not a must, but it is important, you need to feed your soul and you need to feed it with good food. Set apart time in the morning for some time to study and contemplate the word. I personally spend about 30 minutes in prayer and 20 minutes reading and praying over scripture. It has helped me keep my head about me in Graduate School and I wish I had done it as a freshmen in college.
  1. Don’t be So Hard on Yourself: That mid-term C is not your final grade, that paper you did really poorly on is not your last paper, that exam you bombed is not the end of the world. College is tough, a whole lot tougher than high school and graduate school is even harder still. Show yourself a lot of grace and do not panic when your grade is a little bit lower. Most professors are not out to fail you. Perhaps that lower grade is them pushing you to do better.
  1. If you Can, Go home on Breaks…: Your friend and family miss you, don’t forget about them, they are important to.
  1. …but don’t go home every weekend: Statistics show that students that go home every weekend are at greater risk of dropping out. Don’t be a statistic, spend time on campus with friends, make new friends, spend weekends trying the local establishments with friends, find a coffee shop and spend a Saturday curled up in a corner. These are great parts of the college experience.
  1. Encourage Others: If you encourage others, you may find that you yourself are encouraged. It’s a vicious cycle, I know.
  1. Don’t stress about Finances: This is a big one for college and graduate level students, if you have to find a job, go find a job, if you are going into debt, then trust that God will help you find a job after you graduate.
  1. Beware of Abusive Groups: I would be remiss if I didn’t leave this one here. There are many groups on college campuses across the country, and churches that would love to take you in and abuse you. Beware of these churches and if you want to know more just go back through the God’s Heart Archives to find out more about these kinds of groups and churches.

 

So there you go, I hope this helps, these things that I have learned the last decade of my life. =]

 

 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

A Cardassian and a Bajoran walk into a Bar: Star Trek and Reconciliation.

By Jonathan David Faulkner;

“You can’t judge a whole race of people…based on just one” – Miles O’Brian.

The Earth of the 24th century is a perfect Utopia, sort of like the one desired by the Democrats only this one actually works, there is no pain, no suffering, no poverty and no racism. Yes, in the twenty-fourth century Earth has eliminated race wars and riots, reconciling all people groups and now, species from other planets.

That is, of course, unless you live out on the Frontier where Star Trek’s 2nd spinoff Deep Space Nine takes place. Set right after the Border Wars of 2347-2363 (on the Star Trek Timeline), and the Cardassian pull out of the planet Bajor. Where they had enslaved an entire people group and stripped their planet of all its resources to support the war-effort. The first two seasons depict the struggle to rebuild the Bajoran society and the continued Cardassian attempts to send the Federation packing and reclaim Bajor and the Wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant that DS9 stands at the entrance of.

As you can imagine, the prolonged enslavement of the Bajorans by the Cardassians and the fact that they Cardassians left the Bajoran people in ruin to fend for themselves. There were no good feelings to be had between the Bajor and Cardassia. In fact, in an episode in season two called “Cardassians” we find that Bajorans have been raising Cardassian Orphans that were left behind to hate their own kind. Calling them “Butchers” and even assaulting them.

Of course, Bajoran’s are not the only ones who carry this hate, Chief Miles O’Brian, a foot soldier during the Border Wars, is openly hostile towards Cardassians. Calling them names and saying things like “Those Bloody Cardies” (O’Brian is a good Irishmen), and making other openly racist remarks. There is an open Hostility towards the Cardassians by most everyone who fought with them. They are not the nicest aliens in the Galaxy, their society is run by the Military and they are known for their narcissism and arrogance, they truly are unreasonable and nasty people. That’s how the writers of the show portray them, it’s fiction.

DS9 also deals with how Earth reached the point of Utopian Society, how they eliminated racism and created the perfect world. There is even an episode where Commander Sisko (Station commander) and the crew found themselves back in time and living in a ghetto designed to keep the poor (of all races) from the public eye. The actions of the character played by Sisko would lead to the reforms that would bring about that perfect world (after the Eugenics wars of course).

Star Trek is fiction, but the writers of DS9 remained true to the original intention of the show’s creator Gene Rodenberry almost 20 years before. To address social situations and make commentary on Society. The Original Series dealt with race in episodes like the “The Balance of Terror” (Season 1) and “Let that Be Your Last Battlefield” (Season 3). Neither series is far off in addressing racial tensions both in the 2960’s when Star Trek first aired or in the 90’s when Deep Space 9 was on the air. I wonder what the new Star Trek series, Discovery, will have to say about this issue.

Chief O'Brian fights off the 'cloud monster' on Bajor.
Chief O’Brian fights off the ‘cloud monster’ on Bajor.

The solutions offered for race and ending racism in Star Trek and interesting, and even worth considering, there is even a Next Generation episode where all the major races discover a common ancestry planted in the DNA codes of all the warring parties at the beginning of the time. Scientifically this is a form of Evolution, DNA dropped into the Primordial gene pools of various planets so that all sentient species (yes, including Klingons) could trace their genetic material all the way back to one race, a proto-humanoid race that had long ago died out.

Of course, we do not live in the Star Trek Universe, and we do not live in a Utopia and we still have conflict between human beings and between races. It is increasingly hard to turn on the news or see the faces of the hurting protestors and the families of those who were lost in shootings whether they be Police Officers or African American or whoever has been the victim of the latest series of violent acts committed by those who have little regard for life. You cannot ignore it, you should not turn it off, you should let yourself feel the pain and reach out to those who are hurting so that healing can begin.

Because there is a common thread that runs through all humanity, we all hold a common image. We al have a common origin, we all came from the same stuff. Dust of the Earth and Adams rib. We are all made in the image of God. As was the goal of the Aliens in The Next Generation, wanting each race to look at each other and see their commonality, God created us in His own image. In the words of Scripture: “So God make mankind in His own image, In the image of God He created them, Male and Female he created them” (Gen 1:27). This is our common heritage, created in the image of God. For the Christian, this is the starting point to define how we should treat one another, care for one another, mourn with one another and even live with one another.

The Imago Dei is an essential Doctrine within Reformed Theology, if we are created in the image of God then we are all united through the bond of the Spirit that is refining that image, reworking us into the image that has been distorted by sin. We all share in the bearing of the image of God, we are all sons and daughters of God, as I’ve said before, we as believers are being refined into this image, we are realizing, and one day will fully realize this reality. The Non-Believer, though he/she has not accepted the free gift of Salvation by faith through grace by the Work of God (Eph 2:8-9). They have not realized the work of the Holy Spirit that is refining them into the image of the living God, in contrast to the believer. Like a parent sees the reflection of themselves in the face of their child God sees His image in us and out of love for us He works to refine that image through the Holy Spirit.

But what does that mean in response to the recent violence and cries for reconciliation? In Star Trek the realization of common ancestry did nothing for the Cardassians, Romulans, Klingons and Humans. But what about reconciliation between White, Black, Middle Eastern, Asian and so on. What about reconciliation between man, at least among Christians:

This is where I believe the hard work of Reconciliation begins in the church, recognizing that element of our make-up that exists within every man. We all share in the blessings as sons and daughters of GOD. We all stand on the same common ground and hold the same identity in Christ. This is the truth, it was put within at the very dawn of creation. It is our common heritage, we are all descendants of Adam, we are all made in the image of GOD. To begin the process of healing it is essential to focus on what unites us. Meeting on common ground will make it easier to talk about that which divides us and to begin to start the healing process.

This will not be easy, as I have said before, reconciliation takes work, hard work. There is a lot of things that need to be let go of for reconciliation to take place. Letting go begins with accepting the commonality between us, when we accept what we have in common it makes it easier to talk about what divides us…and we need to actually talk about those things.

Yes, it takes work, no, it won’t be easy, yes, it can be done, no, it is not going to happen instantly. All we can do is pray that God will give us the grace and do the work within the individual that needs to. That we can be open to His guidance and transformation. Because ultimately, just as we are made in His image and He is doing the work to refine that image, It is He who does the work of reconciliation between man and between races.

And that’s something that the writers of Star Trek, could never really understand.

A Cardassian and a Bajoran walk into a bar and have a drink, they sit across the table from one another and talk about culture and architecture, religion and philosophy. The Bajoran cracks a joke as the Feregni waiter refills their glasses and the Cardassian laughs. It is 100 years after the Border Wars and Bajor and Cardassia have learned to live in mutual admiration and respect. They both remember a time when their species hated each other, but today, they are friends, and that is just how it should be.

 

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

Explanation for our (Near) Silence on Orlando Shootings.

By Jonathan David Faulkner

If you do not know about it by now, then you have not been watching the news or the internet. Last Sunday a gunman walked into a LGBT nightclub and killed 50 people while injuring 53 more. This sad and tragic act has been the topic of almost every news story and point of debate everywhere from the Campaign Trail to the creators of memes and those who I call “Internet experts” that always seem to have the right opinion on Social Media. Resulting in a flurry of accusations and comments on race and violence and gun-control and treatment of the LGBT community by Christians and Republicans, debates about what an “Assault Weapon” is and finger pointing that would make the greatest debater fear for his life building to an incoherent babble that would make a Greek blush.

Everyone making comment, everyone making debate, everyone having to have their voice heard…well…except us.

I know “Jonathan, a Muslim walked into a LGBT nightclub and killed 50 people, shouldn’t you be talking about how it was God’s judgement or demanding life be sacred or defending the second amendment or talking about Islam…You’re a Christian, should you not have something to say on this?”

It turns out that I did release one statement on the subject, it was as follows.

“The fact is those who died in Orlando were made in the image of God, as was the shooter. Yes, the image was distorted and skewed and lost in depravity. But we must still mourn and pray with and for those who passed away and those who they left whether they are children of the covenant struggling with sin or not. As for what God will do, I know that He will be Just. #PrayforOrlando.”

That was all I had to say, the post was released both on the Jonathan David Faulkner Facebook Page and on my own personal profile. After that statement we moved on, choosing to engage in a discussion on the difference between Call and Vocation. An article that garnered our lowest reader count of anything we have ever released and saw none of the usual reactions to that kind of article. Meanwhile sites covering Orlando exploded, their comment sections filling up with outrage, anger and prayers for the victims.

“You could have really blown up over this, I mean, people listen to your opinion.” We know, but we did not want to be a part of what we knew was coming, and for the sake my conscious, I am glad I was not. It was like the day we released an article about Westboro Baptist by 10:31 Writer Josh Williams and our site blew up because we mentioned Westboro. But my conscious was troubled because we had stooped to their level, we had attacked them and in turn became targets. We had treated them ungraciously and I did not want to manage a ministry that sunk to that level. So I told the guys and gals that Westboro was off limits unless we could talk about them in a gracious manner. That event was also why I maintained a desire to see Joshua Feuerstien restored and see him transformed by the true Gospel way back in January when we first started researching his theology. I did not want to participate in the hatred, choosing to have fun when we and many others were called “Sissies” in a video earlier this year instead of firing back with an angry tirade of our own. I do not want to be that person, I do not want to run that type of Ministry.

Consider also that any other response would merely have been us adding to the noise and deluge of opinions without a complete understanding of the situation. I know, a Muslim man walked into a Nightclub during Ramadan and killed or injured 103 people. I know it came shortly after a Cleric spoke at a Masque in Orlando with an open anti-gay message. I know that Christians and Republicans have been blamed for the attack because they have impeded “LGBT Legislation” and proposed “Anti-LGBT Legislation” creating an environment where this was possible. I have seen the gun control debates, though I know little about guns or the finer points of the legislative process. I know that all the arguments I have heard this week have baffled me, as has all the finger pointing, and while I have opinions on Gun-Control that I will tell you if you really want to know, I also know that legislation cannot stop something like this.

So, I refused to engage in the public discourse, refusing to add to the ruckus because I did not want to be party to more division, hate and fear. I choose to do something else instead, I chose to Pray for Orlando and to carefully consider what was going on so that if I was asked I could have a well thought out, articulate response to something horrendous. I chose to react through actively praying, actively seeking the Lord and being there for those who needed comforting. To not offer an opinion, but to offer hope and love and care when it was needed most. Choosing the Gospel over destructive words.

Because, while I will never accept the LGBT Lifestyle I refuse to be hateful towards anyone who disagrees with me, in fact, to quote Glenn Beck’s statement to the LGBT Leaders in New York a few weeks back: “If someone was trying to shoot you I would stand between them and you and if I had a gun of my own, I would even shoot the person trying to shoot you.”

I hope you have seen, through reading these posts that God’s Heart considers all human life sacred. Beginning from the Imago Dei, seeing all people as made in the image of GOD and wanting to see that image renewed in Christ through Faith in Christ. We want to see people free from the bonds of what we, as an organization consider sin, but we know that being hateful and cruel does not a free man make in the end. We do seek to stand united with those who are suffering and hurting while being messengers for the Gospel. All human life has value in God’s Heart.

So that is why I have been quiet on this issue, I cannot, and will not speak out of hatred or ignorance on the issue and instead of throwing my opinion and intellectual weight around I found it better to be a light and witness to the broken and hurting. So that all might know that God is as good as He is just

 

12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oJonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree inChristian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

 

#GospelDrivenSissyPreacher: Let’s Stop Blaming Each Other & Fix It.

By Jonathan David Faulkner

It is hard to be a Christian in North America right now, I will not deny that fact, though we have it pretty good compared to Christians elsewhere it is getting increasingly difficult for us to minister openly. It does not help that the church in America in a lot of places borders on Apostasy if it is not there already and more and more people like myself are becoming disillusioned with both American Christianity and the American Church in general. To make it worse when something else goes wrong everyone is quick to jump on the hate-train and attack whoever made the mistake. Sometimes people do that when the issue that comes up is not a mistake or error or actually a good thing. Then fingers get pointed and voices get raised and everyone’s favorite “Facebook Evangelist” releases a hate-filled tirade that is directed at his brothers and sisters in Christ.  Pretty soon MaCarthur is blaming Driscoll for Trump (which happened) and God’s Heart is being blamed for encouraging a “Sissy Faith” and there is not a peacemaker to be found.

Then of course you have the other end of the spectrum, like the pastor who sat with us at lunch yesterday who basically told us that by preaching law in any way shape or form was harmful to the flock. Who over-emphasized one side of the tension by dispensing of the other (more to come on this next week). Who would probably find our teachings legalistic because we hold that while the Moral and Civil laws are fulfilled in Christ (like the ceremonial law), they are still a part of the covenant relationship with have with God. (We now keep them out of gratitude and because we can by the power of the Holy Spirit). Who disagreed sharply when it was suggested that we still sin and that the experience of the Christian Life is not normative.

We know, it sounds crazy right? And if you want, you can blame us for being softies…I mean, it’s been done. How do you think we got the Hashtag #GospelDrivenSissyPreacher?

But when did blaming anyone for the problems in the church get us anywhere? When I was still a legalist it got me yelled at by my friend Jackie (She was right of course) and put me at odds with good friends. Later, in my post-legalist fog it would put me at odds with one the men who had helped lift me out of the mindset I was left in after the abuse. It was not nice and as I have said a lot lately I wish I could go back and mend those relationships and reconcile with those people whom I harmed with my fire-wielding, forest burning tongue.

Hey, guess what, the American Church has issues, American Christianity has a lot of issues. We can be real about that, acknowledge it. But why does the realization of these issues seem to give us the right to openly attack other believers both pastor and lay-persons alike because we think they done it? Here is a newsflash brothers and sisters…it does not.

Yes, I am disturbed that many evangelicals have given Trump their support, but does that mean I should blame Driscoll or anyone else for that? No, it is not the fault of one person. None one of the issues that American Evangelicalism is facing is the fault of one individual but the collective body. We have all played a part in creating issues we have in American Evangelicalism. By either not standing up for truth in a manner that reflected Christ and the teachings of Scripture or by perpetuating Folk Theology and Heterodoxy that have led people away from the truth Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We all share in tearing down the Church…so let’s work together to build it back up.

Granted, this will not be easy, it will require us to give up long held convictions that should be relegated to the realm of opinions. It will require us to lay down out weapons aimed at those who disagree with us and start to celebrate our common nature in Christ. 1 Timothy 2:1-9 might be a good place to start if we are to be united in love and if we are to return to a place where no outsiders can hold anything aginast us. Since, that is how it is meant to be anyway. Maybe we should give up our so perceived individuality and started being the corporate body of Christ. Worshiping in Spirit and Truth with whatever style you like and not looking down on another for his chosen style. If we started to see ourselves as part of the Covenant People of God, under the new covenant that was initiated through Christ.

If we decided to strive to be actual peacemakers…

Hey, I know, we paint a bleak picture of the church in America, but we also have the desire to see it renewed and restored. We want to take those things which are good about it (and there are some very good things going on in the American Church right now too) and see those things that have made us an abomination to those outside the church (In some cases) be put aside. To actually live differently and honestly and with integrity, to put on Godliness and remember that our righteousness comes from God and so we are now saved for good works.

We can fix this, by the leading of the Spirit and by the grace of God above we can fix this. We can follow again the example of Jesus Christ and return to the mission which we are called to. It does not mean we have to go back to doing things the way the early church did them, though we should definitely learn from them as much as possible, but it does mean we surrender our own understanding and choose to lean on and rely on God. Trusting in Him as a collective body and acknowledging Him with our ways as a body instead of acknowledging ourselves. It means setting aside our differences and returning to an Orthodox understanding and unity. Allowing for subtle differences and showing grace when needed.

It is possible to live life as believers in unison, it is something we need to relearn how to do and to do that we need to acknowledge that the Spirit is constantly dwelling in us and working in us and working for our sanctification. Seeing each other as brothers and sisters instead of enemies and living together in the tension of the Saint and the Sinner.

This view might make us #GospelDrivenSissyPreachers but that’s okay, we are fine with that.

 

12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oJonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree inChristian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

 

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.

The False Promise of “Earthly Power”

By Jonathan David Faulkner

 

The Teacher is about to leave; he stands on a hill with those who have followed him, watched him die and be brought back to life. He had performed miracles among them, taught them, walked with them, for three years, they had gone to Jerusalem with him. They had seen the resurrected body and the power that he had. So they stood on the mountain that he would soon ascend from and ask him one more question. “Teacher, at this time will you restore the Kingdom of Israel?”

Between 166-122 B.C. another group had tried, and for a time, succeeded to free the Kingdom of Israel, this revolt, known as the Maccabean Revolt had been asking the same question, and for a time, they succeeded. Freeing themselves from the Seleucids before Rome controlled the known world.

In the 4th and 5th century A.D Rome was losing power, co-rulers were fighting each other and there were constant invasions from the Gauls, the Huns and the Vandals. A series of Rulers and Co-Rulers tried with every means at their disposal to keep Rome in tact, striving to return to the greatness of Rome under their predecessors. “Making Rome great again” was the focus of such leaders as Valentinian and Constantinius. Their great empire was crumbling, and the people were panicking. Systematic Persecution of all who were not members of the church became the norm. The Sarasin, the Gaul, the Norman, the Saxxon, they would become the targets of the “Christian Empire.”

It does not matter how phrase it, whether you think this was good, or know that it actually turned out to go very badly for Christendom up through the time of the Reformation. History cannot be ignored, the Church abused its power, there was a negative reaction to that abuse, the church became fought to retain that power and so instead of greatness, the church suffered greatly.

In the 1920’s and 30’s a charismatic despot arose in Germany. His goal was to restore the glory of Germany. To, make it great again, and he enacted the most oppressive and deadliest government policies in history. His name was Adolf Hitler, and he had the backing (based on an agreement he reached with them) of much of the German Church. Something that grieved the Swiss Theologian Karl Barth and the great German Preacher Dietrich Bonhoeffer who became a leader in the Confessing Church and eventually would be killed by the German Government for participating in a plot against Hitler.

In the 1950’s and 60’s the American Church was at its peak, 1-5 people were Christians and a majority of the population attended Church in one of the mainline denominations. The New-Wave Pentecostal Movement was beginning to sweep across the nation and American Fundamentalism was rich with answers that were helpful to the people. The Billy Graham Crusades and Navigators were working together to do Discipleship and the Church enjoyed political power.

Today, American Christianity is in decline. Fundamentalists have largely turned to fear-mongering and legalism and the church is scrambling for a man who can restore us to power. Meanwhile, those of us who are seeking to build up the church in the way of the Gospel are told not to speak, that we should fall in line and openly support the man that they have touted as the answer. Even if doing so violates both our conscious and scripture. As I have said before, we are being force-fed a culture of fear, and many in the church have been eating it up.

We have so easily abandoned hope, we have so easily abandoned grace, we have so easily abandoned Christ.

Honestly Church, if Christ were here would we ask him what those Disciples did? “Teacher, will you now restore the Church to power in America?” How would we react if Jesus told us? “The Days and hours are not for you to know.” Would we, like the Macabees seek to retake a nation by force, or like the Crusaders, murdering innocent women and children. Or like Hitler, carrying out a plan to systematically destroy entire people groups. Have we so forgotten where our power lies? Are we willing to follow a man before we follow Christ? Is this not contrary to everything the church is supposed to stand for?

I weep for our current condition, and as long as those who are encouraging this type of thought have 1.5 million followers on Facebook it will be perpetuated through Social Media and everywhere else. Christian, we need to stop this, we are above this, not because we hold office or because we once had political influence or even because we have something man made to be proud of, but because of who and what the Bible professes to be True.

And we can be proud of that, and we should revel in that, it should be so engrained in us that we cannot forget it. Regardless of who the president is or what war is being fought. Jesus, who serves as our mediator between us and God, whose death made it possible for us to gain entry into the most Holy Place and the Presence of GOD is still our hope. Get this, He does not serve as president, He reigns as King, His power is not based on Earthly Authority, but on an authority that is divine. He is the Son of God, the First Born of all Creation, before America existed, He was. Before the Church was established, before the first dawn of the world, He was present.

Christian, if there was ever a reason for Hope, it is that the God of the universe is still in control and present in the lives of the Saints. It is that He never breaks His promises to keep His people, to do Justice for them. That He sent His son to totally appease the wrath our sins earned us and defeat Sin and Death, to set u free from the penalty of our sins and to proclaim us Righteous in spite of our deplorable state.

We cannot fall into the plight of the Jews of Jesus day, searching for a military leader to free them from the oppression of Rome. We do not need someone to make our nation great again, especially when the idea of greatness is rooted in systematic racism and comes out of fear. We belong to the greatest nation in the Cosmos. Our citizenship and identity are so much greater than merely being American. We are sons and daughters of the Living God, citizens of the coming Kingdom.

Your hope is not in a man, not in a Macabean or Roman Ruler or Hitler type. Their attempts to cease power will only lead to destruction, and they will take you with them.

Believer, again I say, be bold, the hope that you have is greater than anything on this planet. The Joy that you know is not bound up in the events of Earth, but comes directly from the Father. Your power is not determined by the people in the media or our position in politics, but in the Spirit of God that is received at Salvation.

We must learn to use it, to speak the truth in love and to trust in the Lord with all of our hearts, souls and minds again, not in some political leader. It is time to abandon this perceived power and start to really do what we, as a body, are called to do. A task that can be accomplished without political power, because it is done by God, working in and through us, to advance His Coming Kingdom.

 

Sources:

Encyclopedia Britannica
The ESV translation of the Bible (Acts 1:6)

 

12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oJonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree inChristian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

#GospelDrivenSissyPreacher: “You Don’t Talk About Sin Enough”

By Jonathan David Faulkner

I always check my email about four times a day, since God’s Heart uses my personal email for site communications BT has access to it as well. So if I don’t see it, BT probably will and it will come up in our bi-weekly meetings. But I saw this one, an email from a concerned reader right after our Celebration article that came out right after Easter.

“I do not like God’s Heart for those, and I am not sure I want to read anymore.” The writer told us, “you never talk about sin, and I think you should.” After praying about it I responded in brief, inviting the emailer to converse with me on the subject. We had a good email conversation over the next couple days and I was able to explain to him why we do not always talk about or harp on sin.

The truth is, we do talk about sin, but we have made a conscious decision to be a positive reinforcement to the church, giving wisdom and guidance in our crazy world. We recognize that sin exists, that people sin, that we sin, we believe what the bible says. I do not pretend to be a perfect man; the reality is that I am a sinner. My job then, is to repent of that sin when it happens and then rest in the reality that I am forgiven and reconciled to God and walk in the spirit and work to reconcile any damaged relationships. I have to do that; it is required of me by scripture, and that requirement is life-giving when it is lived out. Sin separates us from God and repentance and God’s forgiveness reconciles us to Him through the blood of Christ. We are all under grace, and we need it daily.

That’s how we view sin, we want to be real and honest about it, and now we want to tell you something.

You do not need us to remind you of your sins.

What do I mean by that?

I mean that most of us who are believers are well aware of our sins. Those who are not aware of their identity in Christ often say they are haunted by it. Like the Psalmist says; ”My sin is ever before me.” We are aware of when we sin, we are aware of the sins of the past, we are aware of the sins we commit when we commit them. If our conscious is not seared, we are aware of our sin.

So, unlike Joshua Feuerstein and many other groups on all ends of the theological spectrum we do not think it is any benefit to you to throw sin in your face and condemn you for it. In fact, my father has three things that remind us of our sin.

They are:

  1. The World and its depravity
  2. The Holy Spirit who Convicts
  3. The Accuser who condemns us.

Instead, my father believes then that we should be building each other, that we should speak the life-giving words of Christ and: “Be reminded of who we are.”

That is what the late Morris Tee and I set out to do after the closing of 10:31, during a time in my life, just over a year ago now, when I myself was rediscovering who I was in Christ and working to reconcile all that had been broken over the winter. When we were dissolving the corporation and all its various entities (A process that is still going on a year later) we wanted to keep God’s Heart because, although it did not have the readers it once did, it had served a purpose over the years and we wanted to renew that purpose, to build up and encourage the body of Christ.

But you cannot do that when you are constantly putting down and condemning everyone, harping on sins (some of which are not sins) and putting down those who disagree with you. This of course is in stark contrast to the man whose teachings we have spent the last few months addressing. Trying, and sometimes failing, to be gracious towards this man, despite our strong disagreement. We have maintained that we want to see restoration and redemption in this situation and not for this man to be torn down.

We want a healthy and robust church, full of people who are assured of their identity in Christ. It is not that we have some unhealthy view of sin, disregarding it and brushing it off, but you do not create a group of believers who know the joy of freedom by chaining them to sins that they are forgiven for and set free from.

Another reason that comes to mind is that this is a reaction to my own time as an extremely legalistic fundamentalist. I have destroyed so many people, some of which I may never be reconciled to. Before I go I hope I can restore a few, show love to those who I formerly would not have.

So if that makes me a Sissy Preacher, then so be it, if that makes me a coward and a liar in the eyes of those who disagree with me, then let it be. I can be gracious with them, I can love and honor them too and pray for restoration in their lives, that they might know the Joy of true and genuine freedom in Christ.

We will affirm always that Christ died to be the propitiation for our sins, that God’s wrath is totally appeased and we can have forgiveness and can be reconciled to Him. We affirm then that the position of the believer has been changed and the condition before God changed from Sinner to Saint, Sons and Co-Heirs because of the blood of Christ and that we are justified and made righteous by the sacrifice of Christ. We also affirm that the Holy Spirit is at work within the believer, transforming the mind and heart of the believer into Christ’s Likeness and that this is an ongoing process that will come to completion in heaven. That God has completely freed us from sin and when we repent of sins committed He is faithful to forgive and to cleanse us, His covenant People, restoring us to a deeper relationship with Him.

At God’s Heart for those we are #GospelDrivenSissyPreachers, and we thank God for the chance to do that every single day.

 

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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 inChristian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

Faulkner on the Fifth: The Spoof Edition

By Bradly Taylor.

Every week I get to ask Jonathan David Faulkner 5 questions, some of them come from you, others come from me. This week, we decided to spoof this series. Unlike most weeks, Jonathan has not seen these questions, they are a bit off-the-wall (my doing) and I have challenged him to answer with a serious response. The result, could be hilarious.

 

Q. So Jonathan, Photo evidence recently surfaced (See below) on Facebook of you dressed as a clown. Now that your sorted past as a clown has been revealed, how do you think it will affect your positon here at God’s Heart?

00 clow

 

A. Yes Bradly, I served as a Clown for Christ at Albany Baptist Church for three years. I played a clown named Denim Jeams and started with what is known as The Hobo. After a clown who never smiled, which I could not do, because I smiled a lot. Then I switched to a White Face, which is the picture I believe you are referring to. I painted faces, participated in parades, attempted to juggle scarves and even went on a Clown Show called The Buffo Show where I participated in a fire juggling act. I think all the video footage of that was destroyed. I think.

Q. We recently learned you will be taking some trips this summer to see friends new and old and…um…someone else. Is this not in fact a cover for the fact that you have joined a small circus and will be traveling to meet up with them?

A. No, I only feel I have joined a circus, with all the crazy stuff that is going on in this world right now on both sides of the political spectrum, all we need is a big top. I am taking some trips this summer though, and I look forward to them and to the people I am going to get to see, some of them for the first time.

Q. Back to Facebook photos: One appeared recently of you with no beard. Are you now concerned that people will take your theology less seriously now that you have lost your beard?

A. I think people will take me less seriously after this article comes out.

Q. Do you think God’s Heart for Those needs a private Jet?

A. I think that I would not know what to do with a Private Jet, nor am I interested in trying to biblically justify owning one. The amount of Eisegesis that must take would be incredible.

Q. With the end of the semester looming, how much are you looking forward to your first summer with sharks nearby?

A. I have never been to the ocean in the summer, I have lived in Kansas for six years and despite what Chris Meyers (Fox Sports Analyst) tries to tell us there is no ocean property there. I…hadn’t thought about the sharks though.

 

Have a Question for Jonathan?

Ask it here!

 

Bradly Taylor is the Content Editor for God’s Heart. 

How I the Bullied, became the Bully:

By Jonathan David Faulkner

 

I can remember it like it was yesterday, sitting in the Principles office, where I had been so many times before (it had been a like a second classroom to me in 4th and 5th grade) for disciplinary problems. Here I was, in sixth grade, across from the middle school principle that had showed me so much grace and patience that it was almost unbelievable was once again going to teach me a life lesson I would never forget.

“You know, you of all people should understand what it is like to be bullied.” She said (I think) “So why would you do it to this person?”

What had happened was this, there was a new girl at school, she came from a broken family and had spent the last few years going from foster home to foster home. I cannot remember her name, but I remember some of the nasty things I said to her. Still on a quest to fit in and having just been told I would need another eye-surgery I had joined in with the other boys making fun of her. She was a sweet kid, probably just needed a friend and instead of being that, I was a jerk.

You would think that sitting in the office, again, would have woken me up, but I remained a bully for better part of the next decade. I just figured out how to do it and not get caught. The fact that I was taking Tae Quan Dou gave me an outlet for physical violence. After coming out of ABC as a full-blown fundamentalist, hateful and spiteful of everyone, I had gone from the bullied, to the bully.

After Denver I was radically different, those who knew me before made sure I knew that, of course, it was also after Denver that the close relationships that have defined the last five years started to form. Looking back on it, it is hard for me to believe that was, now I get called “A teddy bear” then I was more like a Monster.

Do not hear me wrong, I can still be a bear if you mess with the people I love, I will still protect those that I love against those who would seem to harm them. I still pack a mean roundhouse kick, but I promise, I only use my powers for good these days.

I remember one night, my sophomore year of college, I was angry about something, I do not even remember what it was. One of my friends tried to comfort me and I punched him in the face. Had another friend not been there, the other guy would have killed me, and believe me, he could have. Later I apologized to him and to this day we are still great friends.

I destroyed a lot of lives back them, people who I will probably never get to apologize to. All I can do is repent before God and know that I have been extended grace for those years.

It was so easy though, to tear down, rather than build up. I was as much a grace killer as those who emotionally abused me. It became okay for me to do the same. I thought I had no value, so I treated others like they had no value.

Sadly, this is the reality for many kids who are victims of bullying. They begin to see themselves as the bullies tell them they are, with no value, no reason for living. Sharp words like the ones I heard many times, words like: “You will never amount to anything, you should just kill yourself.” Tend to stick with a person, for a very long time. When you have no sense of value, when that has been stripped away from you by others then it is easy to strip that away from someone else. You have learned how to do it, it becomes second nature, and you justify it as payback, as normative behavior. Though the person who chose to bully has done nothing to you, you want to pay those that did back, but you can’t, so you take it out on the next person.

You know; an eye for an eye, except the person whose eye you are taking isn’t the one who took yours.

I suppose one of the reasons that God’s Heart has chosen to be an organization that builds up and encourages the flock is because of this past of mine. I have done a lot of work in the last few years to educate others on the effects of bullying, including a section on it when I would give presentations to Special Education Teachers, or classrooms of future Special Education Teachers at colleges and local high schools. It is a sad reality that kids who are bullied will either become bullies themselves or attempt to commit suicide, most of them before the age of sixteen.

As a believer, I do believe that man is depraved, and that this issue stems from an issue of the heart, and it is hard to change a heart with mere words. But I have also seen the power of prayer and of positive action and encouragement in the life of a child. Showing someone the love of God through living a Gospel Centric Life is transformational because it allows the Spirit to speak through you as a vessel of encouragement.

When I got to Junior High I had someone like that, his name was Mr. Kostival, we called him K-Dog. I met him in seventh grade and he followed me up to eighth. His constant encouragement and exhortation gave me the strength to survive those years when I lived between those who bullied me and those who I bullied. Looking back on it, it may have saved the life of that once angry kid who sat in the Principles office.

 

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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 inChristian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

Faulkner on the Fifth: “Maybe a little Positivity is what we need.”

By Bradley Tucker:

 

Every Other Week Jonathan answers questions from you and Bradley on Ministry, Theology and Popular Evens and gives us an update on his life.

Q: So we know you are fresh off your mini-monastic retreat, what was one of the biggest takeaways other than what you talked about in Monday’s article: A Protestant Goes to a Monastery?

A. Boy, what a trip, the brothers were extremely hospitable to us, it was not my first time at a Monastery and it certainly will not be my last. I think my other big takeaway though was rest. We are nearing the end of a long semester, coming off of a long year in 2015 and I had not had the chance to attend one of the school’s Soul Care retreats that take place over reading weeks. I have been so busy of late that rest has not been a high priority, though it should be in the throws of a busy season of Ministry, so it was good to get away from everything.

Q. How is the end of the semester looking for you

A. So far so good, I turned in two of my three major papers today and am nearly done with the third. I do have this math course to finish out and it looks like I am going to pass that thing. It will be nice to only be enrolled in one school again.

Q. I wanted to point out that there has been a shift in some of our conversations, we have focused lately on less of the heavy topics God’s Heart deals with, to more of a focus on Joy. Can you elaborate on why that has happened?

A. Well, God’s Heart has always been positive, part of our aim is to edify and build up the flock of Jesus Christ. It’s true that we have been focusing more on the Joy aspect of late and I think the reason for that is because I get on the internet and I see so much negativity and anger and fear-mongering, even amongst my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and I think: “This isn’t what Christianity is about, it’s not about negativity, if anyone should have a positive outlook on life, it’s the Christian.” Even in the face of increased persecution, we have the joy of redemption and the hope of eternal life. Maybe that kind of positive reinforcement is what we need in a world that continues to feed us with supposed reasons to fear. I even stopped following Joshua for the time being.
I think it also has to do with the season I am in. This is a season of celebration and great joy in my life, the hardships of the last years are coming to a close and I can see how God has brought me through each one. Two major hospitalizations, the loss of some very dear people, financial struggles> He has preserved me and sustained me and brought me out on the other side not as a stronger person, but as one more reliant on Him for all things, I want to testify to that, so that the person who is going through that right now can know that there is rest from the struggle and to rejoice in the Lord.

Q. Jonathan, it’s been a year since 10:31 Life Ministries shut down, I know you are quite sentimental, what do you miss most about working with those men and women?

A. The men and woman themselves, of course I talk to Jared and David almost everyday, the three of us being in seminary (different places) or about to be in Seminary, that is a good connection to maintain. The disadvantage to no longer living in Kansas is not seeing the majority of the brothers and sisters who wrote for 10:31 for all those years. I will get to see Hannah in May as she gets ready to graduate from Kent. Alexandria, Isaac, Rosemary and Evan I hear from on occasion. I miss them all, and look forward to a time when we can all reconnect. Maybe I’ll take a trip to Kansas next fall, I miss that extension of my spiritual family.

Q. People may have noticed that we set the Domain name, we are now officially godsheartforthose.com. Can you dish on what may be coming with the upgrade?

A. I don’t want to reveal too much, but I will tell you that with the new upgrade we now have audio and video capabilities, so we plan on doing more with the music on the God’s Heart website. It is nice to have a domain name that does not have .wordpress.com in it and it should make us easier to find. We are also hoping to do more interviews when it comes to current issues. But I can’t tell you too much, you have to be surprised, that’s the fun part of running a website, you can hold the reader in suspense.

 

Have a question for Jonathan? Submit it below and you could see it in the next edition:

 

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

 

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