Tag: spirituality

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

Summer Reflections: Bearing Burdens

Reflection #9: Bearing Burdens

 

It’s hard to think with all the positive reflection that I’ve been doing there could have been a negative effect from Denver. Now, I know this wasn’t the intent of living the quiet life, nor the intended message, but it somehow came across that if people didn’t want to see me then they didn’t want to see my problems. This caused me to internalize everything, to bear them on my own, taking them only to God and God alone.

Now this is a good thing to do, God wants us to take our burdens to Him, the problem was I forgot one of the many important features of a Christian Community, the fact that we can share our burdens. This wasn’t a problem as I went through the first months back from Denver. But as the second semester rolled around and God brought more and more people back into or into my life I started to feel guilty if I talked about what I was going through.

This wasn’t good because it meant I was second guessing myself and my friendships. It also caused me to be more reclusive with my problems. It became an issue one night when I got upset about something that was happening in the room I was in. Instead of confronting the person directly I walked out of the room (it was my own room) and into the sleeping area. When the person I was upset with realized what was going on they came in and confronted me.

I realized that night, and through another night of fierce spiritual attack after which I was sick for a few weeks that I needed to share my burdens. I sat in David’s room and started explaining the situation, I talked with my mentor about it. I let other help me bear my burdens.

Sometimes in this life we feel as though we don’t have anyone, but that’s a lie we tell ourselves if we are Christians. I can tell you that if you are part of the body of Christ you should have someone you can go too. If you don’t then I’d encourage you to encourage your fellow Christians to read through the book of Acts.

See to the early church it didn’t matter what you looked like or acted like, or ever the size of your checkbook. If you were a Christian they would do their best to help you out. They lifted one another up in prayer and they sought the will of God together. Bearing Burdens was something the body of Christ did together.

I finally understand why we need each other so much, because without one another we’d all go crazy. I can’t think of any biblical examples other than the book of Acts but we really do need one another to help. So the next time you are struggling with something, or you are wondering if someone cares go to your Christian Friends and let them know what’s going on. You won’t find this kind of community most of the time unless you create it.

You’re not alone

God Bless you
Jonathan David Faulkner
Director/Founder 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

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: Set Apart

Reflection #3: Set Apart 

1 Peter 2:9 says; “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a chosen nation, a people for His own possessions; that you may proclaim His excellences of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

The first time I heard this verse was actually when we were trying to figure out the title for Angel Edwards 10:31 Life Ministries blog. It’s hard to think I went over 20 years without hearing it, I’m actually pretty sure I’ve read it but like most of the bible I’d read before this transformation I didn’t remember it. The funny thing is though that I could take this verse and apply it to everything that was happening in my life.

Let me explain like this:

Before my time in Denver I lived for myself, everything, even my spirituality was meant to advance my position. All my actions and my attitudes were meant to make me look good in the eyes of everyone else. Those who knew me knew how miserable I was failing, but those who didn’t were very much deceived. I wanted validation, I wanted people to love me and so I present I nice little front. I’ve spoken on it before so those who have been reading for awhile know exactly what I’m talking about.

But after that day in the Labyrinth everything was different, I didn’t want their validation anymore, I actually didn’t want anything to do with them. I know that sounds horrible but it is the truth, I didn’t necessarily want my old friendships or even new ones, I wanted God.  I wanted to be drawn in and make my life not just talk but actual, real walk. To go out into the garden and meet with God in solitude, to pray and seek His will and His face, to really be different, I didn’t want to go back…I couldn’t.

As I prayed I noticed that God was transforming things around me, I’ve shared with you that my friendship with my roommate changed, as did several other friendships. I’ve shared with you that I started to find joy in my brothers in Christ and built good and strong friendships with them.

But that desire for validation was gone, as was the desire to be in a relationship…for the most part. God was weeding things out of me, things that for so long had held me back were being burned in the process of sanctification. The refiner’s fire was burning away all the things that were keeping me from truly experiencing the fullness of God.

And that’s the best part, I was actually getting to know the glory and fullness of such a great and holy God. It was amazing and incredible, still is amazing and incredible. It wasn’t so much through relationships at this point, but through my quiet time. As I sought to discipline myself things began to change radically.

I didn’t expect it, I was surprised by it, surprised by grace. Looking back on the blog entries from those months they point to that surprise. It’s unbelievable to me that God would speak to me the way that He did during that time and still speaks to me today. It was also amazing how much contrast there was between my old lifestyle and the new one, God was moving in my heart, I was becoming Set Apart.

This was new and exciting for me but also hard. It meant that I had to give up on some things, like hope of a romantic relationship with a specific girl. (We’re now very close friends) and my desire to so dutifully plan out my life.  I also had to give up my own image of myself, that is, I had to learn to not worry so much about what people were seeing and what they were saying about me. Sadly these things had defined me (well the crush didn’t) but now they had to be dealt with.

When I got over the initial struggle of letting God reshape everything (especially my priorities) I found it peace about what was happening, for the first time in my life I could really say I was happy, even content with every area of my life.

If I have any regret through that time it’s that it didn’t last very long….but you’ll read about that next week.

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: Focus Change
Reflection #4: Set Apart
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 – Vow Making

Vow Making – More Than a Promise

I love hearing my friends reaction when I tell them what time I generally wake up in the morning. Not that I am boasting in my 5:30am average wake up time, one just has to give an answer when they are asked what time they get up in the morning. The truth is that I never wanted to wake up that early, the combination of hyperactivity and an inability to sleep if the sun was up caused me to get up long before it ever thought about coming up that day. To say that I want to get up that early would be crazy, what I did with that time was even crazier.

Usually I would sneak around the house, at least when I was really young, then later I would wake up and get on the computer and play some sort of video game until I heard mom or dad walking around upstairs. In college I would put my headphones in and try hard to not disturb my roommate. When I returned from Denver though I felt a need to do something very different with that time. so I made a promise to God to spend it with Him in prayer and in study of scripture.

Breaking Vows We’ve Made

Whenever the Israelite’s broke their vows  with God something bad generally happened (read 1 Cor. 10 for a summary). Another example of what happens when we break out vows can be found in the story of Samson (Judge 113-16). God  told Samson’s mother that no razor should come upon Samson’s head and he would deliever Israel from the hands of the Philistines. This is where we get the idea of a Nazarene Vow, because Samson was a Nazarene and so he couldn’t cut his hair.

Now in Samson’s case cutting his hair meant that he would lose all of his strength which he did when Delilah (his wife)  tricked him into giving her the secret to his strength. Samson is a great example of what happens when our vows are broken, whether by us or by those we love. Now we all know that Samson’s hair grows back and he does eventually do what God said he would do and free Israel from the Philistines.

If I don’t get that time that I’ve vowed to set apart for God in the mornings then my day really doesn’t go very well. Unless of course the spirit allows me to sleep in that particular morning because I am in need of rest. Yesterday morning was one such morning where I didn’t get the full hour and fifteen minutes that I vowed to spend in prayer an din the word but I also had a final and a late night the night before so I continued reading in the book of John, wrote in my journal and got my day underway.

Vow Making & Honoring those Vows

On this discipline George writes; “Vow Making is a discipline in response to a holy God. Making a vow and taking an oath are both modern disciplines practiced by Christians of all ages and stages of life. Our promises should be specific and personal.”

The vow I made was specific and personal, and God has honored that vow, making sure that I myself honor my vow. I have several friends who have committed themselves to sexual purity, who have made a specific vow that they are going to save themselves for their husbands and wives. When they are in situations where those vows might be in jeopardy it seems that God steps in and holds them to that vow they made and I believe can even remove us from positions where we may be forced to compromise.

When we honor our vows God honors us, God continues to honor his covenant with us despite our tendacny to disobey, shouldn’t we honor our vows and oath with God.

Making Vows to one Another

I wonder what would happen if we were to make and keep vows to one another. Meaning that Christians in the body of Christ were to go to one another and instead of making vague promises to one another actually vowed to love and support each other. Then we work together to keep those vows and to help keep our weaker brothers and sisters from stumbling as well as working together to help others keep their vows to God.

An example of this would be a dear friend of mine who doesn’t text or like to talk to guys 1 on 1 after a certain time of night. As a man of God I have to honor her decision and help her to uphold that promise she’s made to herself and to God so I have to be conscious of the time if I am talking to her or texting her so that I can honor that.

If we did things like this it would probably make us more conscience to the needs and hurts of the poeple around us because if we vow friendship we are vowing to listen, support, love and serve, all the things that come with a healthy relationship with someone. If I make a vow to serve the 10:31 Life Ministry team I had better serve them to the best of my ability. Figuring out how to do this is tricking and I have to admit I haven’t fully figured it out yet.

–   –   –

So let’s make vows and keep them, practice making them this week, make a vow to spend more time with God through intentional study of scripture. Make a vow to maintain or re initiate a friendship and allow God to work in that situation. Then be faithful to your vows and know that God will be faithful and honor your vows as well.

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

“For the Lord is Good
His Steadfast Love Endures Forever
and His faithfulness to all Generations”
Psalms 100:5 

 

 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