Tag: Spiritual Discipline

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

Good Discipline – Practicing God’s Presence

PRACTICING GOD’S PRESENCE: Above All

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

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

Everything for the Glory

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

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

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

Putting it all Together

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

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

 

When everything’s New

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

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

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

 –         –          –

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

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

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries

Good Discipline – Solitude

SOLITUDE: A Quiet Place 

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

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

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

 

Why Solitude?

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

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

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

 

Jesus & Solitude

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

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

 

Solitude & Us

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

–         –    –

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

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

God Bless You
Jonathan Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries

Check out the Good Discipline Series

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

Good Discipline – Meditation

MEDITATION: Time to think

 

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

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

Different Meditation

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

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

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

What Do We Meditate on?

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

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

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

 

Meditating on Scripture

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

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

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

To Be Set Apart

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

–          –     –

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

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving

His courts with praise

Give thanks to the Lord

Bless His Name”

Ps 100:4

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