Our Sermon for Sunday, November 15th 2020 focused on Malachi 3:1-15 where we learned that God is a God of Justice, and when we do not give back of the material resources God has given us, or do not use those resources for His purposes we are in both active and passive disobedience. Find out what those purposes are and the differences between the Old and New Testament teachings on Giving by listening or watching.
When I first met God’s Heart Content Editor Bradly Tucker he was an unbeliever. He was such when I invited him to become the content editor at God’s Heart. I had met him through the late Morris Tee and after 10:31 shut its doors last April and God’s Heart set out on its own he stepped up to hold me accountable. Almost a year later Bradley has accepted Christ and has submitted to being discipled and brought up in the faith. Running God’s Heart with a brand new Christian has been very interesting and very eye-opening. I have been a Christian for twelve years and so it can be easy for me to take for granted the basic doctrines of the faith that he is now learning. I have found though that he is already becoming very discerning
This has been a very valuable asset to me as we have attempted to address the Ministry of Facebook Evangelist Joshua Feuerstein, a man with whom we find many troubling doctrines and who’s radical form of Fundamentalism we find extremely dangerous and a huge hindrance to the spread of the Gospel in the present culture. The Americanized Christianity that he and his followers cling too has those living in Post-Christian parts of the country baffled as we watch. As has been said in many times in God’s Heart meetings: “This is why we cannot have nice things.”
Addressing this has been difficult for us, because as we have looked deeper into the issues and the fruit of these things that are being perpetuated we want to maintain a tone and rhetoric that edifies the Church and even Joshua. We do not want to demonize him, only point out and try to discern what is being taught so you can make a decision and so, perhaps, even see Joshua come to a fuller understanding of the Gospel that is beyond the limits imposed upon it by Modern Fundamentalism. We have maintained that Joshua is our brother in Christ and should not be met with hate and disparaging remarks. Joshua and his supporters have laughed at us, mocked us and told us we can move on from their posts.
Sadly, this is the fruit of Joshua’s ministry, hate and fearmongering, authoritarianism no different than Donald Trumps; the kind that says “Disagree with me, and you’re wrong,” A group that is not dividing in any way, shape or form, arguing over link bait. That is only designed to draw people to Feuerstein’s Radicals website so they can read his opinion that often come across as haughty.
This is the fruit of Joshua’s ministry, division, chaos and hurtful comments towards those who disagree. To such a degree that Bradly told me one evening; “Jon, if I were still an unbeliever I would not want to become a Christian based on this alone.” Praise God that Bradly came to our ministry. Was nurtured not only in Biblical Truth, but also the intense and beautiful love of Jesus Christ, something Joshua professes but does not practice when you actually evaluate the fruit of his ministry.
But Joshua does not care about this. Recently in the comments of an anti-abortion video depicting President Obama as Satan Joshua said: “Frankly I don’t care what anybody thinks .. I never did this to be famous … I do this to Speak Truth! I care much more about the millions of babies dying .. than I do your opinion!” This was followed by the hashtags #unfollowme #byefelicia. Yet millions of people eat this up, though many are beginning to realize there is a problem with this. There were two hundred and sixty-five comments below that one, most of which were admonishing Josh in the same way we have been and still many others expressing disillusionment with the Evangelist.
God’s Heart cares about the babies dying too, we also care about the ones who are already alive, the adults, all of God’s creation. We try to speak the Truth, but more so we try to practice the truth in all facets of life, whether it be our Facebook Posts or our daily interactions. We also make it a point to do so in such a way that those we encounter know of the Love and grace of God and free gift of salvation. Or their identity in Him and His image that is so engrained in all of mankind. That includes President Obama, regardless of our politics here at God’s Heart. We believe that trying to destroy a person does nothing to reach them for the Gospel. We took that stance with the Chicago protests back in November and we will take that stance regardless of the situation.
According to Joshua that makes us; “Sissy preachers who won’t speak the truth.” It is his God given right to think that about us. We will continue to minister to all people and endeavor to live life based concretely in scripture. We believe it shows greater courage to go forth in true and genuine love than to rant and rave about something. Following in the humble traditions of St. Francis, Aelred any many, many others, knowing that the work of an evangelist is not only to speak the word but to live the word out of deep love and regard for God the father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit. Trinity, Three-in-one.
The fruit of Joshua’s ministry is strife and division, fearmongering and hatred, is that the mark of a true Christian Ministry? Is that the mark of a mature Christian? We’re not perfect at God’s Heart, we fail daily, we have to repent, we miss opportunities, but we hope we can reach others for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Spur those who already believe on to love and good works and a much deeper walk with Christ. If this makes us “Sissy preachers” let it be, but if the Gospel is spread and those who see us see Christ and a spurred to love him, then let that be as well.
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
The first song ends, the upbeat and fun rendition of David Crowder’s “My Beloved” gives way to the slow and passionate “Restoration” by David Brymer, I have been practicing these songs for weeks, preparing for this chapel service, The band had practiced Monday night, we were excited, the guitars were turned, the Lord had called us to lead his people in Worship, but I had started having some trouble, I almost didn’t start the song, the feelings that had been rolling over me all day wanted now to crush me, on stage, during worship, in front of everyone.
I started the song, the opening words making it a little easier to gain some momentum. We were going to be alright, I was going to get through this. But God was overwhelming me and I could not run from it, I had no choice but to embrace it. My mind cherished every word, my heart languishing the thought of God as restorer. Gratitude and praise for God’s own restoration caused my throat to crack and my heart to soar. I was not in sorrow, just overwhelmed by God’s goodness.
Flashback to a year ago, it’s about 10:45 in the morning, February 11th, 2015, it was a Wednesday. I am going about my normal routine that was my nearly 120 hour work week (Between the Church and the College), unloading leaves from the leaf vacumn by the Administration building at Sterling College. I had maybe an hour of sleep the day before, and was not feeling all that well. I step out of the back of the truck and start down the ladder, my next memory is feeling the pain in my neck and head and then a friend asking me if I was okay. Then the hustle and bustle of students coming back from Chapel and someone praying over me, the Concussion test given by the Police Officer and then an ambulance ride to the Hospital in Lyons.
“You have a minor neck sprain and a Traumatic Brain Injury” the doctor told me after I had been scanned and put through the battery of tests. You will not be able to go to work for the next few days, and only then you will be able to go back when your doctor clears it and only for a short time.” My doctor did clear it, and a week later I was going back to work on a limited basis. But the story was not over, I found quickly that I was unable to do most things without a throbbing headache. This was complicated by the fact that my emotions were extremely sporadic. I was living on an emotional Pndelum, a time bomb waiting to explode. Things went from bad to worse when late one Sunday I started having suicidal thoughts, my friends and spiritual family and my girlfriend at the time gathered in my living room and stayed with me until the feelings subsided. Thought the next morning they came back with a vengeance. I called my boss, called the school counselor and a professor, knowing that this was not my usual state, and we prayed and the plan was made to send me to my grandparents farm for a week. I went and had a wonderful time, both with the Lord and with my family.
When I returned though, the healing was not finished, I still had a long way to go. I saw a Neurologist who diagnosed me with “Post-Concussion Syndrome” and I was told to stay home from work until I was completely healed. That meant 2 months of spending time at the house, times when the only relief I could get was playing music or preparing for my sermons. During that time a lot of things happened, my relationship crumbled as we decided it was better to save our friendship than try to save the relationship, my relationship with God was more a wrestling match for the first month and in a time of growth the second. I was in a place where I had to rely on God for everything from day-to-day emotional stability to the ability to pay rent. TO relief from the headaches that plagued me all the way up to June (after I had gone back to work). I cut my hours back at work to 30 (when I would be able to go back) and it was during this time that God called me to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. I also renewed my Lectio Divino during that time, knowing that days of deep scripture meditation were required.
We closed 10:31, I started packing and on August 15th my mother and I headed for Ohio where I would be spending three weeks before coming to Boston in mid-September to begin this new chapter of life.
Upon reflecting back on this year there are a number of things that I can say with great confidence again God, He provides, He is good, He is faithful, He is Sovereign but most importantly He restores. He restores us to Himself when we have run away, He restores us to health if it is needed, He restores our friendships, He restores us to community, He is a God who restores us. At the end of the year I have dubbed my personal “Theodicy.” Where all I had left was God, where I faced down the storm and in the midst of suffering I got God as my only answer, He restored me.
Yes, it is true that most of that restoration had nothing to do with Sterling, though He did restore those friendships that were so hindered by what happened that some even fell apart. It is true that I had to move to a different part of the country, make new friends and live in a new place, get involved in a new community. At first that was difficult, at first I hid my gifts and abilities, not wanting to use them for their intended purpose of building up he flock. But after a time, God drew me out and then thrust me into the community.
“I feel good” I had told one of my brothers on Monday while we practiced for Worship today. “For the first time in a long time I feel alive.” His response: “That sounds like freedom.” I had been to the depths of the valley, spent time in the wilderness and God had brought me back to the mountaintop to praise His name and to lead others to praise His name. Just as He has done my entire life, from the night I was saved, to that night with the grace killers where my faith was destroyed, to those in Sterling who helped me pick up the pieces, on that Mountainside where God met me in the Labyrinth, to those men and women at Christ’s Body and on the streets in Denver. To the call to be a pastor and the call to my first Church in Stafford. God had been walking with me, through all the abuse at the hands of the church, to the bullying growing up to my own shortsightedness and lack of self-care that led to the fall last year. God was working to restore me to Himself. He has taken all those years of pain and shame and replaced it with Joy. Brought into His constant presence and renewed my mind and my heart. He has grown in my a deep, and ever deepening, love for the Church and His people. One day we will experience the ultimate restoration when we spend eternity with Him in heaven.
I share this with you for the sake of Christian Love, that you might know what God has done and rejoice with me in His great work. But also to encourage you that when your life seems permanently fixed in the valley, when God seems far off or when you are wondering why you are suffering, to remind you that God is there, an ever present force and gentle whisper. He has not forsaken you, He has not left you for dead. He is working on you, preparing you for a new season on life and great joy. He will restore you in His good timing for His steadfast love for you endures forever, and cannot be taken away.
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
I love interacting with people. In one of the many forums that my last GHFT Entry (Good Men Exist…Godly Men Exist) I was asked what a Godly Woman should do if she sees a “Godly Man” trying to gratify his sinful desires. It is an excellent question, so let me lay out a situation.
An attractive young woman is starting her first week at a small Christian College in Central Kansas. She is from another state and knows very little about this particular Christian School. When she was on campus for her visitation she was told there were a lot of Godly men on campus, men who loved the Lord and who respected women. So at the end of her first week she is in a carpool group to visit one of the local churches, specifically a large Baptist church in the next town over. When the service starts she notices two things, 1. The church is alive & 2. The drummer for the praise band is really good looking. He goes to the same college and is a few years ahead of her, she had seen him on the first day and heard him talk about going to church. Maybe this was one of those godly men she had heard about.
After the service she finds herself in a group of people who are standing around listening to this young man tell stories. He is a junior, studying ministry and he has a great sense of humor. During the conversation the young woman also catches his eye. They start to talk and soon start to hang out, he seems like a great guy, he opens doors for her, tells her she is beautiful, all of her girlfriends tell her that he is a great guy, nice and sweet. He is even involved in several ministries on campus and at the church. She likes him, but she is not ready for a relationship, but that seems to be where he is directing things. For example he has started hugging her a little bit longer than normal, he tries to always sit next to her and though he’s nice to have around and she would like a relationship she is trying to be wise and avoid one in her freshmen year.
Then comes “that talk” or what we called the “Define the Relationship” conversation. He confesses he likes her and thinks they should have a relationship. She turns him down and suddenly their friendship seems to end. As she seeks the wisdom of her older friends she finds out some disturbing things. 1. This guy has been addicted to porn and in the previous year had many girlfriends. 2. That he had been talking to many other girls at the same time & 3. That he was also known for his various attempts to “hook up” with girls on campus during his first 2 years. Could he have had a genuine interest in her or her body? “Yes, it could have been in her, but if he left when she turned him down that should be a sign that he is not as mature as he seems. Combined this with what the young lady discovers from talking to older woman who know his reputation you can say at the least his relationship with God was far from where it should have been or should to enter into a relationship. Here are three ways to recognize the intentions of a man if they have not been spoken.
Friends before Anything Else.
I have always been known for saying “We need to be friends before I can consider courting her.” When my friend David recommended a young lady to me in college I told him I needed to get to know her. I did and we became good friends, we talked about courtship, but ultimately it was not what God wanted for us. In our scenario above, they were friends, but in his mind they were something else already.
This is why I tell the guys I mentor to be very conscious and aware of your intentions and to set boundaries from the get go. I did not do this with my first close female friend in college. We ended up holding hands most of the time, even though we were not dating. The result was a very unhealthy friendship, focused on my own self-gratification over enjoying the friendship. In another friendship I became too forward thinking, wondering where this will go, once again I forgot the enjoy the friendship. It made it very difficult for me when everything fell apart. It was not until recently that I was able to enjoy the friendship and not rush the talking phase when both parties are interested. I was much happier and it was a little easier to handle when everything started pointing to an end to talking and just being friends.
Ladies, a man of God is in a relationship with God first and foremost. In the first two examples from my life I glorified the possible relationship with the woman over God resulting in the loss of one friend and getting hurt by another. In the last example I can say with a clean conscious that I led with the intent to glorify God, I got hurt, but handled it in a way that was gracious and loving towards her. I put what I wanted ahead of what God wanted the first two times and God’s glory ahead of what I wanted the last time. A man who is not sincere in his godliness will abandon you when everything gets rough or when you say “No.” A man of God will be your friend first and seek to always build your friendship, even that means you are forever just friends. He will stick by your friendship even after the possibility of a relationship Is thrown out.
Do not be afraid to ask the woman whom he is friends with questions about their friendship with him. Do not be taken in by his charm or wit without asking questions of others. If he has abandoned several woman after they told him no there is a good chance he will abandon you as well if you do not give in to the demand for a relationship. Seek wisdom, with hold judgment until all the facts are in, do this from the beginning, before you get hurt.
His Life Will Speak the Truth About Him.
Here is what Paul tells Titus to look for in men who will be Deacons in the church:
if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.(Titus 1:6-9 ESV)
I believe this what a woman should look for when she is looking for a man. Only instead of being a “Husband of one wife” he should be seeking to be a husband of one wife. This will require a lot of evaluation on behalf of the woman. Ladies, do not be afraid to ask the tough questions of the men you are interested in. Does he drink? If he drinks does he drink in excess or is does he show self-restraint and discipline. Does he love what is good? Is helping you grow in your faith? And does he make your spiritual grow a priority even in friendship? Is the Word of God & His relationship with God central in His life and does he defend them?
Again I say, ask questions of those around him. A man who is of “Good Repute” or “Above Reproach” will be that way with everyone who knows him well. If you discover what the girl in the example did there is a chance he was not genuine. But if terms like “Mature,” ”wise,” “Caring,” “Kind” and “Self-controlled” keep coming up he is probably a genuine man of God. Ask his male friends about him, ask his female friends about him. A man of God, a man of Godly character will be known as that to those closest to him. Chances are he has at some point or is currently helping them grow in their faith. His life will be a testament to what he values, not a monument to what could have been. He will place God above else and help to bring you closer to Him, even after you say “no.”
His Life Will Glorify God Outwardly & Inwardly.
The church drummer in our scenario may have looked great on the outside, but what is his thought life like? “It’s like his mind is always somewhere else” a friend of mine confessed to me. “Like he is always imagining what it would be like if we had sex or looking at other women like he wants to have sex with them.” In a church that either teaches that physical contact with the opposite is bad or does nothing to teach practical ways to remain sexually pure this is sadly common. This particular man talked such a good talk, yet his relationship ended with him cheating on her because she would not give him what he wanted.
Inwardly this man was not honoring God with his thought life which led to the outward action of cheating sexually on his girlfriend. Yes, he talked abstinence but did not practice it. Job says in 31:1 “I made a covenant with my eyes, to never look lustfully upon a woman.” Sexual purity is a covenant between you, God, your body and your brothers and sisters in Christ. Our relationship with God is as much Internal as it is External (See Matthew 15:1-20). A man who cannot control his passions, be self-controlled internally, but knows all the answers and talks a good talk is just as dangerous as a man who has no relationship with God at all. He will lead you astray, where as a man of God will do his best to lead you in the way that you should go.
How? By seeking with every action and with every thought to glorify the God of the universe whom he has an invested relationship, the God who made that man to glorify Him (1 Corinthians 10:21-31). Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8-9 to dwell on what is good and right and holy and lovely and commendable and praiseworthy. I like the word dwell because when we dwell on something it stays in our minds. If we dwell on the things of God we are going to internally glorify God instead of live in what we believe to be “hidden sin.” If a man dwells on what is good, on glorifying God, he will, ladies, help you do the same.
This morning in Sunday School we were discussing what Christ did on the cross. I spend a lot of time dwelling on this, especially during Lent and no matter how long I dwell on it my response is always to be extremely joyful. Someone noticed this reaction of Joy to Christ’s saving work and said “Jon, that’s the happiest I’ve ever seen you.”
If he is glorifying God internally and externally that will manifest itself as Love, as Joy, as peace, as patience, as self-control, as loving kindness, as thankfulness, he will show the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5) and show those both externally and internally as he glorifies God with his thought life as well as his physical action towards you and others.
Again, ask questions ladies, both of him and other others who know him.
It is true that actions speak louder than words. If he leaves your friendship after you say “no” to a courtship with him you can gain a perspective into his thought life. But my hope for you in writing this is that you are able to avoid the kind of heart break that leads you to put up the walls that make you wary of truly Godly men. To find healing in Christ first as none of this is possible without you having a strong relationship with Christ and without you experiencing and knowing the word of God, hiding it deep within your own precious heart.
Let God guard your heart ladies, you are precious to Him and to your brothers in Christ who are genuinely seeking to glorify God through the way they treat you both in your friendship and in their minds. That you may know that you have value and know the love of God.
Jonathan Faulkner is 22 Years old and lives in Kansas, he is a musician and a graduate of Sterling College where he still mentors students.
Picture if you will a back alley way. Somewhere in between a large bookstore and a Starbucks Coffee, do you see the sidewalks leading in? They are well kept, red brick, full of people and bicycles going where they will. Occasionally a bus flies past on its way to the next intersection. There are no cars because this part of the city is meant only for pedestrians and busses. Traveling at light speed, not stopping to notice them as they stand over a trash can fire or sit on the curb or attempt to stay warm as the cold mile high night air sinks into their bones. One of them has a bottle of Jack, another has a cigarette and still another man is huddled under blankets. This is how they will sleep tonight, this is how they will awake the next morning, without anyone noticing.
That assumes of course that none of the local patrols come through and run them out, telling them to find somewhere else to sleep. Tonight that will happen and one of them will be arrested for trying to fight with the police officers. Which is what he wanted, after all even one night in prison is better than trying to find another place to sleep.
Welcome to Denver Colorado, welcome to the bleeding places. Where people who are forgotten get together to remember what community feels like. The knowledge is evident, the wisdom is coherent, you won’t survive another night without your brothers. Because there is something strangely comforting in knowing you were not the only one to hear “Get a job” or who someone looked down on during the night.
Three years removed from Denver I discovered how easy it is to forget these things. Forget nights spent with the guys flying signs or trying to sell newspapers. The same guys I would serve a meal to at Christ’s Body, the same guys who’s stories broke my heart day in and day out. I want to go back to that place, to see the faces, old and new. You promise to visit but rarely do you get the chance too. Then you hear the stories from your contacts, men such as my supervisor John, knowing that some of the guys have met untimely ends at the hands of drug addictions, police violence, the person in Aurora who is beating up God’s homeless men and women.
Where is the light in the bleeding places, where is the light that the darkness has not understood. Like a tiny watch light in the darkest place gives off so much light could be the gospel in the hands of the believers. End homelessness? Didn’t Jesus promise we’d always have the poor among us? But where is the lament? Who cares for the beggar Lazarus at the rich man’s door? Are we so caught up in going overseas that our own backyard has grown over and become unattended. Why will we pay so much to go overseas to serve meals but refuse to serve meals to the homeless men down the street. America needs missionaries too, not Christians who are fighting over who is right and wrong or who look down on the charismatics for their charisma or the reformers for their stringent adherence to the word of God. We need to be the church again, we cannot be so camouflaged by the world that we blend in.
Yes, the gospel is essential; we need the gospel if we are function healthily. But we need crazy men and women of God to be out serving and loving and building up the church, and we need pastors who are deeply in love with God to bring the church to a place where the body deeply loves God. No intense spiritual highs that don’t last, just the pure and unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of grace and peace and does last, and goes well beyond understanding.
What if we stopped thinking it an inconvenience to serve one another? What if the church built one another up instead of tearing down? How would the world be changed, if men stood up to lead their wives and sisters. If Children grew up saturated by the gospel message, would we not see a change? If we stopped trying to have it out way, our will done, and sought God’s will. How would we make a difference? If we turned from the watered down gospel of the seeker-friendlies and turned to the gospel with its full might and transformative power, allowing and participating in the work of the Holy Spirit. How would the world be transformed?
So tonight they will sleep in a warm bed. Because two Christian families had extra rooms and didn’t find it an inconvenience to serve another brother in Christ, and tomorrow they will go to church, clean shaven and hear the height and depths of the Word of God. And though they may return one day to the streets for whatever reason but for a time, even if brief, they will know the true sacrificing love of Jesus Christ. And that, that love will make all the difference.