Tag: religion

Leaving the Dessert Part I: A journey into the Heart of God.

By Jonathan David Faulkner

God hears the prayers and teenagers; I know this because when I was sixteen I asked God to show me His heart for people. I had not been a Christian all that long, and I really had no idea what I was praying, but there I sat, on a plane ride from Dallas to Columbus asking God to reveal to me His heart.

Fast forward to 2011, to the weeks leading up to the Labyrinth, where my cracked and dried faith was barely holding a form, I had been in the dessert, and I was dying. The events of the previous four years had left me so desperate for water, desperately roaming the wilderness, looking for any answer. I had to know, that was the only way I could be sure of it all. I was clinging to what I thought was Christianity and I was slowly becoming disillusioned with it.

God was breaking my heart, God was breaking me.

As I sat with the men and women at Christ’s Body, hearing their stories of life on the streets, on nights I would go down and sit with them while they flew their signs. Little did I know, but my prayer was going to be answered, God was going to show me His heart, and it was not what I expected. Like Brian Zahnd says in his book “Water To Wine:”

“I was wrestling with the uneasy feeling that the faith I had built my life around was somehow deficient. Not wrong, but lacking. It seemed watery, weak…Jesus wasn’t in question, but Christianity American Style was.”

I felt the same way, I felt that I was missing something, it did not make sense to me, I felt dry, cracked. A survey of the landscape of my faith revealed a property not worth selling. I knew a lot about God and about Jesus, but did I really know them? Had my quest for all the answers been of any benefit to me? The answers to those two questions were “sort of” and “very little.”

I knew about Jesus, I knew about what He had done, I knew that His death brought propitiation for sins, that I was now reconciled to God. But in my broken mind, I could not comprehend what it meant, I was starting to move past the anger of my former days, but I still wasn’t free. I did not know what it meant to be a Saint of the Living God. I knew a lot about God, but I did not know God. My prayer to see the Heart of God seemed like a distant dream, I was empty. Like St. Francis after returning from the Crusades, or Luther before he wrote the 95 Thesis I knew there had to be something more to Christian Faith. What was I missing?

So as I sat in Coffee on the Point, just over five blocks from Issachar, I read my bible and I read Donald Millers books and I prayed for living water. As my struggle with the community at Issachar neared a head I thought I would lose faith altogether. But God had another plan, and on Monday July 4th, 2011, in the middle of week of intentional silence, meditation and prayer, God met me in the Labyrinth.

I wish I had known at the time how that journey would play out, had I known the deep joys and the cutting pains of the next four years I would have walked out of that Labyrinth, but I did not, and I am glad I didn’t.

I left the Labyrinth that day with not just a deeper sense of who I was in Christ and of His deep love for me, but also a new understanding of the Incarnation of the Holy Spirit. I finally understood what my professors meant when they were telling me “God is always with you.” So my journey from the wild desserts of faith, where thoughts roll around like dried up tumbleweeds and water is scarce, if it can be found at all. My first steps were made with a new understanding of the role of Holy Spirit in the life of the Believer. Practicing God’s presence became a daily activity, I had become so dependent upon Him for everything, I did not know it at the time, but I was seeing His heart for me, what I had always desired to see, I was at the beginning of seeing.

As you know, three weeks later God called me to Pastoral Ministry and began to teach me about a deeper and richer faith.

He did that through the Monastics, I began reading Francis, Bernard and the reformers, Calvin and Luther, seeking to stand on the shoulders of those giants and learn for them. I stopped talking about the world and began to live in it as a believer with a redeemed perspective. I delved into the depths of theology and devotional practice. I visited my first Monastery, studied Romans with a good brother, and discovered what would lay the ground work for the Lectio Divina I would later apply to my study of Scripture. I was leaving behind the fundamentalism and legalism, the dryness of the dessert of American Christianity and discovering a place in the universal church. I saw myself not as one who had to have the answer, but a student of those who had gone before me, my perspective was shifting, my mind and my heart were being transformed.

It was not always easy, slowly tensions began to rise between my friends who held the traditional views of American Christendom. We would argue, get mad at each other, but we always forgave each other. We would debate baptism, art in the church, the sacred, hymns, contemporary worship music, emotionalism. I had found how life-giving this new perspective, this new lens, had radically changed my life. Even the those liturgies and services seemed to have lost their dryness. I could worship with any style of music, I could be with any Body of believers and see them as Children of God. I wanted other people to see what I seeing.

But I met resistance, people have to be ready to go there, they have to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. It takes time, one must realize what is at stake. And those who can grow maturely in the style of Christianity I was leaving behind I encouraged to stay there. I did not want there to be divisions and fights and quarrels, but I did want people to know of this new found freedom. I stopped harping about sin and condemning those who didn’t agree with me. I studied Timothy and saw Paul’s heart to have the church restored and the more I studied I found that was becoming my desire.

I had left the waterless dessert I had been trudging through and had discovered the life-giving springs of living water that came from actually knowing and being in relationship with the Trinity. I finally understood what the reformers discovered long ago, what Francis and Bernard and others discovered. Instead of opinions governed by my own mind my thoughts were replaced with scripture, letting God from my thoughts on a matter through prayer and contemplation.

I did not become perfect, in a lot of ways this life is much harder than the one I used to live. But the result and reward has been so much greater, especially as I have entered 2016 with the expectation of seeing God work and being a part of His work in whatever way He calls me too.

It has been a crazy ride, everything is different, from my relationship with God to my friendships with others. I am okay with not having an answer, I can trust God, and I have the chance to commune with Him daily through prayer and scripture reading. American Christianity did lay a ground work, but it could only take me so far. Eventually I had to leave it behind, from desserts to green pastures. God is doing a work in me, and I want to share it with you, and invite you to join me.

So saddle up, let’s go, to a place of deeper faith.

 

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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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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.

 

 

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

UNITE!

Fired Up Logo

Unite!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Programmed

If you’re not familiar with me or my ministry then you don’t know that I once worked at a church with an abusive pastor. In fact I spent my last two years of high school slowly becoming more and more legalistic, more and more hateful and more and more like the man who was spiritually abusing me. With that abuse it also became ingrained in my head that no one cared about me, that no one wanted to spend any time with me and that I was exactly what I’d been told my entire life that I was a loser.

Growing up with a disability I was also fairly empathetic. I saw people who were down and wanted to help them, to bear all their burdens with them and to love them. The whole while hoping that I could feel love back, to believe for only a little while that I’m worth something to someone. Back then I didn’t believe that God loved me or that anyone else did for that matter.

This is a sort of classical conditioning, when we are taught to believe something. It happens all the time, we’re conditioned to believe the government’s going to run day to day even if it doesn’t. We’re conditioned to wear a shirt and shoes at McDonalds. These are okay conditionings, I personally am thankful that people wear shirts at McDonalds or in public in general.

Before the church I worked at turned abusive I had sat through several months’ worth of bible studies based on Cult Education. It was extremely informative and it defiantly has become an interest in my studies. To see how groups condition people fascinates me, the type of things they believe do too. Yes I know you’re thinking “oh no he’s going to try to control us.” Don’t worry, it also terrifies me, beyond all measure. After being in a controlling group you very rarely want to control others, unless you take over that group or find the control you gain to be exhilarating. Then destroying others might become a hobby for you and destructive to your friends.

The worst part about being conditioned to believe something is the difficulty in trying to forget what you’ve believed and believe what is true. The idea that I’m worthless and no one cares is so engrained in my memory that it becomes an extremely stressful activity trying to reach out to other people for help. So much so that most of the time I just shut down and don’t come out of my room for several days (except to go to class) this is destructive and it’s also hurtful to your friends.

But how do we get over this type of conditioning? How do we believe the opposite of what we’ve been taught?

One of my professors, a former cult deprogrammer gave this advice. Find a scripture to meditate on and remember Philippians 4:8 which says; “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (ESV).

This is where community comes in handy because as you come out of the programming you won’t be able to do things on your own. You’ll need God and you’ll need the people that God has put in your life. Find someone who cares, they are out there, even if you’re conditioned to believe that no one does.

So go this week and focus on what is good and right and seek God to see if you’ve been programmed to believe this. Then go and be with your community of friends.

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries
Director/Founder

A Bigger Purpose

As my summer series continues I thought I might take a short break, release the next blog in the series tomorrow and take some time to reflect on something I didn’t talk about in the series.

Whether you believe it or not, God certainly frustrates the proud, in fact Proverbs says “God Opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” In my life pride has certainly been a struggle and my pride has certainly brought me too many places of frustration. I was in one of those places last summer in Denver as I sought to continue learning about Youth Ministry, making that the soul focus of my life. Even though at the time I was working at a Homeless shelter, acting as an intern, teaching occasionally and preaching on one Sunday night.

During this time I was also working at another location as one of the assistant Youth Leaders. I didn’t do much in the way of ministry, I mostly acted as crowd control and hung out, but for someone who wanted so badly to be a youth pastor I couldn’t seem to connect with the kids. It was odd for me because I was so used to connecting to the young people I worked with. I thought maybe it was Urban kids, but then as I reflected back on my two years teaching high school youth group I realized I really didn’t connect with rural kids either, nor had I actually connected in Dallas all those years ago.

Now I know that the sole purpose of a Youth Pastor isn’t to connect with the kids he or she is working with, but connecting is important. If we don’t connect with those we are serving on some level it will be very hard to serve them effectively. That doesn’t mean we will find ways to connect to everyone either, let’s face it, there are some people that we may have nothing in common with or connect on in any way except for the fact that we are Christians.

But for me I didn’t connect because I wasn’t doing what God wanted me to do. Youth Ministry was something that I wanted, it wasn’t actually what God was calling me to do. I limited myself because I didn’t want the responsibility of full time pastoral ministry. I didn’t want to stand up on Sunday morning and preach, I didn’t want to build 10:31 beyond Youth Ministry, all of these were what I didn’t want.

But we know that God works in mysterious ways, and we know that when we don’t think we can do something God can use us to do great things. We also know that God works with broken and messed up people who are focused only on themselves. He can change them, but he can also use them and through their brokenness do great things through them.

But when we are prideful it seems that we have a harder time being used by God, going where He wants us to go, when God’s plans don’t seem to agree with our plans we get angry and aggressive towards Him. We go about our own way and then God has no choice but to frustrate our own plans so that we will start acknowledging Him. That is one of the lessons I had to learn as I grew in ministry, if I wanted to do ministry it couldn’t be about me or what I wanted, it had to be about God.

When I began to live out this new mentality the doors of ministry opened with a vengeance. In fact it seems that everywhere I go I have a chance to reach out to talk to someone and we connect, at least most of the time. This isn’t a product of anything I’m doing, but of a choice to conform to the will of God.

Now Youth Ministry is only part of what I do, this week I’ve been blessed by the chance to hang out with the youth group my younger sister works with here in Boston. Each interaction, whether it was riding roller coasters or having a conversation has been a chance for ministry, a chance to bring glory to God.

I still struggle with pride, but the Lord is keeping me humble, reminding me constantly that He is in control and that His plan is perfect. If we rely on pride and in our own achievements then we will be opposed, but if we approach him with humility God will bless us. If we acknowledge that we can’t do ministry on our own, and surrender what we want to do to God, then God is going to take us to places we never would have expected.

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner
Director/Founder
10:31 Life Ministries

Summer Reflections: Book & Books

Reflection #8: Book & Books

  

                Like most of my spring semester it wasn’t planned. I was in the cafeteria with my laptop in front of me, a blank word document begging me to write something. It was mid-term week and I was more than ready for spring break. A lot of my friends were completely burned out and several of them had already left. As I said last week I was planning on staying on campus, but by that time I had already agreed to go to Texas the next Thursday.

I started to type, before I knew it I couldn’t stop. Words flowed from my fingers, the keyboard “tap, tap, tapping” out to the rhythm of whatever song might be playing through my headphones at the time. They words kept coming, all the frustration I felt towards the fact that everyone around me was burned out started to form into a book. Everything from Denver started coming back to me as I sat in the cafeteria and later in my room.

50 pages, then 100 pages, then 150, then 200 pages, I worked on this book all day Friday, Saturday and part of Sunday. Into Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and even a little bit before we left on Thursday, I continued to write on the trip, then off into the next week after we returned. All the way up till the Thursday after. I sat back in my chair at about 3:30 in the afternoon, clasped my hands behind my head and sighed, 224 pages on the problem of burnout. Now I was burned out.

Those two weeks were probably the most interesting two weeks I’ve had since July 4th of last year. I could only write at certain times, when I had homework to do I couldn’t work on the book, a block went up that stayed there until I finished assignments. Then I could go back to counting pages and reading sections of books pertaining to the problem.

When I think back on those two weeks I can tell you that the only way I could have written a whole book and done all the research on it was through the power of the Holy Spirit. God showed up and wrote through me, not that this book is anything special, but as I prayed they be His words and not mine that is the only explanation I can give.

Bring back to the front life in the spirit. Since surrendering everything to God’s will, these types of things have been happening. Could it be that God is giving me a unique view of life in the spirit? My goal here is to give you my experiences; I know that God works with all differently, so your experiences will be different from mine. But to really get to know God, to see what He does when we lay down our desires and surrender them to Him.

The book is in the first editing phase, but I hope and pray that God will allow this to become a published work in the next year or so. When my friend Emily heard about this she told me “Jon, please tell me you’re going to grad school, because I feel as though someone who can write a book in two weeks is a genius.” She’s right, I do plan on going to grad school, but I’ll leave it up to the spirit to be the genius and rely on what God has taught me.

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries
Director/Founder

Summer Reflections Series
Reflection #1: Re-Entry
Reflection #2: Pulled Out
Reflection #3: Set Apart
Reflection #4: Focus Change
Reflection #5: Spirit Thing
Reflection #6: Science and Christianity
Reflection #7: Texas Sweet Tea
Reflection #8: Books & Books
Reflection #9: Bearing Burdens
Reflection #10: Heading Home

Summer Reflections: Texas Sweet Tea

Summer Reflection #7: Texas Sweet Tea

I couldn’t believe I was doing this, I had committed to spending an entire week in solitude but here I was the Thursday morning of spring break running around campus trying to get everything ready to head to Texas for a leadership conference. I loaded my stuff in my brother in Christ’s car and we set off for McCreery where we’d be meeting up with Angel and heading for Texas and Teen Mania’s Honor Academy for the True North Seminar.

Now this wasn’t a trip that I was planning on going on, as I’ve already stated, I was staying on campus, enjoying a week of solitude, prayer and writing, a retreat of its own. But a week earlier (we’ll call him) Matthew had approached me about joining the two of them on the trip as a third party if their first choice couldn’t come. I hesitated, told Matthew “No” twice but he was persistent and on the third time gave me an ultimatum and I had no choice but to accept his offer.  The reason I’d been chosen was because of my association with Global Expeditions and I suppose it didn’t hurt that Matthew is my brother in Christ and Angel had just entering her fourth month at 10:31.

It turns out that going was one of the best things that God allowed me to be a part of. The conference was amazing; even though the Truth North Seminars are designed to train Global Expeditions Leaders they I would also recommend them for any church or Christian Ministry Organization because the principles they are applying to leading young missionaries can be applied to any leadership position. If you don’t believe me go and see for yourself.

On that trip I learned a lot about communication, something I’ve never been good at outside of paper. I also learned about confrontation. Something about learning as you go, about trusting God with everything in your life is that you never know where God is going to take you. The previous week I had started praying hard about a member of our leadership team. I knew I needed to confront the person on something but I had been avoiding it. As God took me through that weekend I was inspired and given the wisdom to make the confrontation effective.

Also I have to admit that I tend to be a very scheduled person, meaning; I like to know what I’m doing long before I actually go and do it. So a random, unplanned trip to Texas was the last thing in my comfort zone. Throw in the fact that I was slightly nervous (okay that’s an understatement) to be taking a weekend trip with someone I worked with. Last time I’d done something like this it hadn’t ended well for the friendship or the working relationship.

Wouldn’t you know it, after a few revelations and several cups of Texas Raspberry Sweet Tea we were on our way home and God was still revealing things to me. It was an amazing trip, even more amazing to think back on it. It was from that trip that God affirmed one of the most amazing friendships I’ve ever had. Through that trip that God taught me how to better lead and through that trip that I got to teach Tea Quon Dou again.

God’s grace is surprising, this trip was an example of that, and the Texas Sweet Tea, well that was a bonus…a huge bonus!

Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries
Director/Founder

 

Summer Reflections Series
Reflection #1: Re-Entry
Reflection #2: Pulled Out
Reflection #3: Set Apart
Reflection #4: Focus Change
Reflection #5: Spirit Thing
Reflection #6: Science and Christianity
Reflection #7: Texas Sweet Tea
Reflection #8: Books & Books
Reflection #9: Bearing Burdens
Reflection #10: Heading Home

Summer Reflections – Science and Christianity

Reflection #6: Science and Christianity

 

I have a really bad habit of wanting to take really easy classes that I don’t need to fill out my schedule, this bad habit often rears its ugly head in the cold days of January as we go through the three weeks of Heaven or Hell called interterm. My first interterm I had really taken the easy way out because I had skipped it, my second interterm I took a class called B-Movies because I was interested in the subject. We sat and watched movies and talked about good and bad movies, as much as I enjoyed the class it didn’t get much easier than that. It didn’t hurt that a few of my closest friends were in the class.

Last January I did the same thing, took a course because I was interested in the class but this one ended up being one of the hardest classes of interterm. The subject was Christianity and Science and we were tasked with figuring out whether these two worldviews were compatible or incompatible. My “Foster Dad” was teaching the class so that did help ease the pain but for someone who failed (or nearly failed) ever science class he’d ever taken looking at these two viewpoints was going to be difficult.

I’m sure it also didn’t help that I was a little biased to one side of the argument As a Christian I had always butted heads with those who believe in science. I had refused to do a project in High School concerning Evolution because I don’t believe in it. As we discussed the different viewpoints on creation, which turned into a 30 minute final presentation, I found myself tempered more and more against the idea.

The other problem is that I tend to give myself to deep thought, perhaps not philosophical thought, but I like to think through big topics of discussion. So I wanted to over think or over argue my viewpoints, but living quietly was important so I also had to be patient, even though I ended up being one of the only people in the class who spoke.

Then end result was that we decided the two worldviews were compatible. That science was created by God so that we could marvel at His mysteries even down at the atomic level. I also grew in my faith in that class because it helped me to look and see the depth and care which God had taken to create everything under the sun.

Sometimes we are put into situations that make us uncomfortable, sometimes we put ourselves in positions that are uncomfortable. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I stepped up to take that course but I figured it was going to be fun and tough, I wasn’t counting on it being uncomfortable.

The thing about uncomfortable situations is that when we are in those situations God often does His best work. In those situations where we are being challenged God shows us His love and gives us another glimpse into His awesome mystery. Then we can experience and know Him on a deeper level then we previously have.

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries Director/Founder

Summer Reflections Series
Reflection #1: Re-Entry
Reflection #2: Pulled Out
Reflection #3: Set Apart
Reflection #4: Focus Change
Reflection #5: Spirit Thing
Reflection #6: Science and Christianity
Reflection #7: Texas Sweet Tea
Reflection #8: Books & Books
Reflection #9: Bearing Burdens
Reflection #10: Heading Home

Summer Reflections – Spirit Thing

Reflection #5: Spirit Thing

 

            When we totally commit ourselves to the Lord, really truly learn what it means to be set apart for the gospel of Jesus Christ there’s going to be a change. We might be tempted to think that this won’t happen but it will, when we surrender our wants and desires for God’s there has to be a change and that change comes through patience and listening. As I learned to manage my time, disciplined myself and went through a time when it was mostly just me and God this is what happened, my desires and heart changed.

But as with all things these times must end, there’s only a certain amount of time that we can grow by ourselves. Eventually we will have to leave that comfortable place where we are mostly hanging out with our brothers, where God is the only source of strength we have and find the meaning of being in relationship with others. Then the temptation becomes sitting back and staying in that place, that was what I did.

I was sitting in the library, working on an assignment for a class with a friend of mine (the girl I used to have a crush on). This was about December so I had already set in motion a pretty effective time-management system that allowed me to be available at night to help with projects like this. Now I was just finishing up one of my The Truth articles for 10:31 Life Ministries when a young woman walked by from the Honor Academy.

Now you should know something about this particular woman, one of my brothers had been telling me all about this girl. “You should talk to her” he would say “I think you’d really like her.” But since I wasn’t seeking new friendships I told God if it was His will for me to talk to this girl that He would have to do it (which was fine with Him). I had talked to her, once at the beginning of the school year and once at lunch when she had sat down next to me halfway through the semester. That particular night I was purposely trying to ignore her.

“Hey” I said as she passed the third time “I hear you Honor Academy people are smart, would you be willing to take a look at my article that I just finished writing for my ministry.” It just came out, I had no control over it…what just happened?

“Sure” she said,

I emailed it to her along with a link to 10:31 Life Ministries (I’d just changed the name). She read the article and sent me some amazing feedback and after looking at 10:31 she told me it was cool and something she’d like to do herself someday. I invited her to lunch to discuss the possibility of getting involved here…after some prayer she was more than eager to jump on board.

Thinking about that night it marked the beginning of a time of transition. I had become comfortable and a little complacent in my time of work, growth and preparation and that wasn’t a good thing. With that invitation to join 10:31 God was saying; “time to move on, time to take your ministry to another level and time for you to apply what you’ve learned about being set apart to another area of your life.” This would become the struggle of the next few months as excuses would be sought, God would be argued with and I would be challenged in ways I never thought I would.

What area of your life are you in right now? Are you in a period of waiting? Are you seeking God about a Job? Are you comfortable in the job or place that you are in? Where might be God calling you? Is He calling you out of one season to another?

I pray that you would devote these questions to prayer, that you might discover the surprising grace of God through that time.

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries

Summer Reflections Series
Reflection #1: Re-Entry
Reflection #2: Pulled Out
Reflection #3: Set Apart
Reflection #4: Focus Change
Reflection #5: Spirit Thing
Reflection #6: Science and Christianity
Reflection #7: Texas Sweet Tea
Reflection #8: Books & Books
Reflection #9: Bearing Burdens
Reflection #10: Heading Home