Tag: Summer Reflections

Summer Reflections: Going Home

Reflection #10 – Going Home

 

                As Angel wrote in her first Summer Journal back in June I too hadn’t been home for several years, nearly four, for more than a 2 or 2 ½ week visit since I graduated from High School. I spent my first summer out in Michigan working and State Choir, my second summer I devoted completely to working and my third summer was spent in Denver where this blog originated. So I had no idea what to expect when I got here on May 12th. I knew I was going to miss terribly the friends that God had brought me so close too over the last nine months. I thought I was going to get a job and I had planned on taking a class. All of that got shot down and I ended up working specifically on our new 10:31 website and securing writers for next fall.

With coming home though came something else, a reminder of everything that I was before I my intervention by God on the side of that mountain last summer. The pain of the spiritual abuse that I had suffered at the hands of a pastor that had been released from that particular church and a sister who spent most of her time putting me down.

I was fine at the beginning of the summer, a great deal of prayer and time in scripture helped me to cope with everything that was going on around me. The constant insults from my sister continued but for the most part I was able to bite my tongue. That is until halfway through the summer when I started to slowly fall apart. I lapsed back into the depression and anger that had plagued me for so long before Denver. Instead of biting my tongue I would find back, thankfully I would catch myself before I did or said anything I regretted.

God used this to show me the strength of the friendships He had put into my life. Used it to constantly remind me through prayer and through loved ones that He was with me and I wasn’t the things that she was telling me I was.

As far as the church was considered, I met with the Youth Pastor twice and have visited on three different occasions. Through that God has allowed healing, reconciliation and restoration to come between me and the church leadership team and staff. As well as with several members of the congregation who had stopped talking to me probably at the request of the former senior pastor.

God also allowed a lot of good things to come from this, like getting to reconnect with an old High School friend, get my learners permit (Which is a long awaited answer to prayer), got to go on the radio to talk about the state choir and am now packing up for a trip to Boston. Through all of this though the setbacks continued God showed to me His faithfulness, promising that He would bring me through.

I think, dear friends that so often we forget, that when we are going through trials that God is right there with us. Read any of Angel’s articles for the summer and you’ll hear an amazing story of God’s ability to bring healing and restoration into our lives. When we are confronted by our past we want to run from it, but if God has brought us to it, then why would He not bring us through it.

In final reflection I think this summer God has reaffirmed and tested me in this fire to see if I believe what He told me in the Labyrinth. “I am here, I will be there.” The words repeating in my heart and in my head as I continue to walk this journey and reflect on the amazing God that I have the honor of serving, the same God who loves us enough to send His only son to die for us. The Same God who brought us to the trial, is the same God who walks with us on the journey, is the same God who abides in us and the same God who transforms our hearts along the way.

I pray you will continue in this journey with me as I continue to learn and grow and discover God’s Heart for Those.

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

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

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

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

Summer Reflections – Re-Entry

This series is meant to be a reflection on my school year and life after the Denver Urban Semester. A chance to look at where God has been leading me through all of these amazing experiences that I’ve been so blessed to have as I’ve continued studying Urban Ministry at Sterling College.

REFLECTION #1 – Re-Entering Life

I craned my neck as I tried to look out the window as the wheels of the 32 person airplane set down on the black tarmac. After spending the morning on a plane I was more than happy to be back on the ground and moving through the terminal at Mid-Continental felt oddly like a homecoming. I couldn’t believe three months earlier I’d left Hutchinson KS by train, spent seven hours dehydrated in Ratone NM waiting for a bus. Spent two months in Denver CO and two weeks at home and was now returning to the very place God had called me two years earlier.

I greeted my brother in Christ who’d come to pick me up and as we walked out to his truck I knew it would be a good ride back. We cranked the music and I watched as the Kansas countryside I’d grown so accustomed greeted me once again with the end of summer colors.

It was safe to say I was seeing these plains differently, something radical had occurred inside me over the summer and I returned with a new perspective. I knew I wasn’t the same man I’d been when I arrived at Sterling, or even when I’d left three months ago. Something was different, something had changed, and something had been radically and defiantly transformed.

God had taken over…

It had been about two weeks since that last night in Denver, the night God told me to drop the Youth Ministry major and pursue Urban Ministry. I knew as soon as I stepped onto campus that would be something I would have to do, but there was another thing on my mind. “I want you to practice being quiet” Greg had challenged me as we parted company “I want you to live quietly.”

How could I do this? I was coming back to be a peer mentor to fifteen students. I thought I was going to be involved in the kids club program, and what about 10:31 Life Ministries and what about…

But the longer I sat, the more I thought about the quiet life the more I realized this semester was going to be extremely different. My re-entry was going to consist of a pulling out and for the first time in my life that was okay with me. Instead of getting involved in everything I got out of everything. By that I mean God transformed my priorities, I didn’t do kids club, I only had mentoring, 10:31 and school that was it.

Yet this was fine with me, I had no problem with this, for once I didn’t mind not being busy.

To say Re-entry was easy would be a false statement. Because when you’re not busy you have a lot of time to think and I tend to think a lot and in the past that kind of thinking has gotten me into trouble. But now God was teaching me really apply spiritual disciplines and build my faith around that. These disciplines I just finished writing about in my “Good Disciplines” series came to life and I found the more I applied them, the more I wanted them. The more of God I discovered in my quiet time, the more of Him I truly wanted, it was amazing.

I could no longer live the way I did, I wanted God and I wanted the things of God and that was all I wanted. No more validation from my peers for the things I’d done, no more wanting to be desired or desiring anyone else. For the first time in my life I can honestly tell you all I wanted was to be in the presence of my God and worship Him with my life.

I’m sure the people around me thought that I’d gone crazy, but it was and still is all I want. I really wanted to live like I claimed to believe, to be set apart for the gospel of Christ (1 Peter 2:9).

God had changed my priorities, just like He’d radically transformed me in Denver I knew my re-entry would be painful but it would also be a continuing of the good work that had started with a week of silence and gone on the rest of the summer.

Join me again in this journey of reflection, as the summer goes forward I pray that we can once again learn together by the grace of God. Walking hand in hand as brothers and sisters in Christ, as I shift from teaching back to the original intent of this blog, I pray you will laugh and cry with me and learn from what God has been teaching me.

God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries

Who is the Man who Fears the Lord

Him will He instruct in the way he should go.”

Ps 25:12