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Lifeway Christian Stores carrying 'So Called Christian' 

Lifeway Christian Stores carrying So-Called Christian: Healing Spiritual Wounds Left by the Church This is an amazing blessing since we did not even market the book to them. It was presented in the proverbial 'stack of books' that many distributors place in front of book buyers hoping that one or two of them will be chosen. We are thrilled and honored that ours was selected! Praise to God!

To obtain your copy of "So-Called" Christian: Healing Spiritual Wounds Left by the Church CLICK HERE.

Check our Publisher out: http://ambassador-international.com 

 

 


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Entries in Christian Relationship (9)

Saturday
Jul192014

Cut the Bible Anywhere, It will Bleed…

‘We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.’ 1 John 4:19-21

There is a binding force that holds together the universe of sentient beings. Sentient beings are those that are conscious, they have a soul, a spirit, a thinking mind, and an emotional heart. Every person and every spirit is a part of that universe but some of us are clinging only very precariously to it. The universe of beings I’m referring to is held together by Relationship. It’s held together by intimate, personal, emotional, and communicative relationship. Inability to do intimate relationships perches us at the craggy edge of this universe. I’ll go so far as to say,

If you are non-relational or disconnected you are walking in constant disobedience to nearly every command of Scripture.

This statement is the core idea that has gripped me for the last two years or so. This truth has caused me to shed more tears over my past and make more changes for the future than any truth I’ve encountered since I first heard the Gospel. It seems that everything I had done until then had been skating across the surface of a vast and deep reservoir. I didn’t know it but it’s a reservoir that can’t be experienced until one decides to (or in my case, is compelled to by overwhelming outside forces) dive in and plummet headlong into its depths.  I had been unwittingly playing at the intellectual shoreline of an abyss that required a full emotional and spiritual encounter to grasp its importance. About two years ago I was suddenly and unwillingly caught in an undertow that quickly corrected my perception of all that is relationship.

I say I was playing at the intellectual shoreline because nearly everything I wrote or thought before being dragged to the depths was a sparkling idyllic glimpse of the surface – not an impassioned exploration of the heart rending, often suffocating, but wondrously beautiful deeps. I read the Bible and believed that people are supposed to get along. I knew the Church was supposed to be one. I knew husbands were to love their wives, and fathers were to love their children, and good men were to befriend good men, etc., and I tried to practice it… without getting too attached.

Those of you who are relational may immediately react and say none of those things can be done if one is detached. Those of you who struggle with close relationships may not even flinch at the idea. Two years ago I didn’t know there was a difference.

What I’ve learned in the last two years cannot be unlearned. It was burned into me by a thousand needles stabbing constantly at every raw nerve of my soul. It was fused into my heart by the nuclear activity of the Spirit of God. It was as if an atomic chain reaction exploded in every vulnerable soul-cell to create some invincible recognition that God is all about relationship.

This realization changes everything for me. It changes the way I talk, the way I smile, the way I think, the way I pray, the way I see, the way I dream, the way I parent, the way I treat friends, the way I see the world, the way I walk with my Heavenly Father, and everything else. It also changes this blog. I realize now that the message and goal of the Church being ‘one’ can only happen as the Church becomes intimate with God and one another. Intimate relationships only happen as we stubbornly pursue one another. 

The passage from 1 John above is proof positive of God’s mind about relationships. He says in effect, ‘Don’t tell me you love me if you are not loving your brothers.’ Note something here – love is not passive avoidance with a Sunday smile of greeting but active gritty involvement in making our brother’s life better. It’s, status quo be damned as a tool of the Devil, followed by a leap off the high dive into the deep end of someone’s heart. It’s blasting through the smog of Christian-ease to ask penetrating questions and reveal life-giving truth in love. Have you ever done that?

I was a Sunday ‘smiler’ for a long time. Not going deep. Not reaching out. Not feeling hurts not mine. Not weeping with those who weep or rejoicing with those who rejoice. Just smiling and keeping to myself. No longer. I’m involved now. I’m vulnerable and clear. I’m inquisitive and caring about my brother’s battles and benefits. I’m swimming in the deep waters of relationship and loving it.

I haven’t seen God but I’ve seen God in my brothers and sisters and I love them. God tells me that, as a result, I must love Him too. That thought makes my soul grin. Since I’m involved in the real reality of relationship now I think I have to change the direction of my writing a bit. I’m still passionate about he unity of the Church and the healing of her harms but I now know that healing and unity only come through the blood that courses through the veins of the Bible. Cut the Bible anywhere and it bleeds relationship. Test any passage. It’s about relationship, with God or with our fellow men, but either way it’s inescapable. Since God is all about relationship then I must be and I intend to be.

 

All this to say that from here I hope to expand my writing in this blog and other upcoming projects to be all about relationships, specifically intimate spiritual brother/sister relationships that reflect and amplify the heart of God. I hope to challenge every sincere Christian to leave the safety of his/her seaside cottage and dive into an ocean of connection that is sometimes tormented by angry waves of every kind and sometimes calm and placid like peace itself. Let’s prove we love God by swimming in the fragile ecosystems of our brother and sister’s hearts.

In light of all this I have to confess that I started something in this blog that I will finish elsewhere. I started a series about myself a little while ago and told you it would take some time to develop and there would be other posts interjected in between. I actually finished the series and it turned into a book length project that I believe will be very helpful to many. That means I’m not going to finish it here so I’m sorry if you were intrigued and now disappointed. If you will be patient I’ll keep you updated on how the project progresses and let you be first to know when it’s available.

Before I close I want to ask you, ‘Will you obey God by demanding intimacy with Him and your brothers and sisters?’ ‘Will you marshal your emotions, will, spirit, and mind and press them into relational service?’ ‘Will you obey the Spirit’s call to connect?’ Let me know if you need help – I’d love to chat. 

Tuesday
May212013

Jesus Hates Your Doctrine. 

(Title and emphasis borrowed from my good friend Matt Jacobsen)

“Loving the truth” is often the thin veil that shadows the grey countenance of a Pharisee. Jesus hates that. He hates the dreary parsing of tiny details that substitute for a vibrant, loving relationship with Him and His children. Your doctrine is not important in comparison to love. Review our Lord’s attitude toward the religious glitterati of His day – He leaves no room for “truth”-obscured agape. Who cares if you are right if you do not love?

Being “right” in your doctrine is often the hammer that rings the bell of rivalry. Being “right, free from error, doctrinally pure, etc, ad infinitum” drives the wedge of “me vs. you” into relationships. It assumes levels, factions, classes, and sub-classes of Christians. It subjugates all else to your understanding of God’s mind. Your doctrine is not that important! Your doctrine does not sit as potentate of all that should be. How many Christians are at this moment faced off in bitter rivalry – in direct opposition to the Lord’s command? (Ephesians 4:3)

Test yourself. If you are offended by the two paragraphs above you just might be the subject of them. You may be thinking that I (the author) am one of those “love at all costs” liberals (notice how defaulting to labels brings an familiar clarity to your mind?) that wouldn’t know truth if it hit him in the face. Quite the contrary – I’ve slaved in the mines of loveless truth and found them intellectually, arrogantly, stimulating. I loved the truth. I loved my doctrine. I had very little real love.

If you do find yourself offended by the first two paragraphs you may be completely blind to the whole point here. The point is that Jesus hates your doctrine. What are you going to do about that? Will you hold onto your doctrine as a replacement and rationalization for your lack of love? Will you continue to separate from Christian brothers who don’t hold your view but have done nothing to offend their Lord or you? Will your doctrine remain the monarch on the stone throne of your heart? 

Notice very carefully that my point has been that Jesus hates your doctrine. He doesn’t hate His own. He doesn’t hate doctrine. Where His doctrine is concerned, He is delighted. One thing about Jesus’ doctrine is that it is always lived out. It is never an intellectual, prideful pursuit. It is always a pulsing, overflowing, fully transparent conduit for Love.

We can’t love what is “right” and not rightly love. Truth is walked out. It is vulnerably displayed in completely broken people. Truth is lived more than it is spoken. Arguments, debate, reasoned proofs, and the like are at best imperfect attempts to explain a perfect life of Love – the perfect life of Jesus. When truth leaves us broken and pleading for some resolution to our miserable condition we have gotten close to the heart of it. When truth leaves us abased and hopeless at the foot of the cross, groveling for an ounce of grace, we are very near the center. Absent this, we are probably back to paragraphs one and two. 

I’m resolved to pursue the truth lived out. Ready to remove the veil and join me?

Saturday
Feb092013

THE LATEST: TENTATIVE RELEASE DATE MAY 15. eBOOKS SOONER. LOOK FOR THEM HERE AND THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING THIS IMPORTANT BOOK!!!

THE LATEST: TENTATIVE RELEASE DATE MAY 15!!!  "So-Called" Christian: Healing Spiritual Wounds Left by the Church is nearly finished and going to print soon. eBooks will be available before the printed version so look for them here soon.  Thank you all for your support!!!

So here’s what I’ve learned about writing a book and getting it published. 

  1. Writing is relatively easy compared to…
  2. Getting Published. 

Writing is not necessarily easy but getting published in today’s marketplace is a feat of extraordinary proportions. Here’s the very short version of what it takes. 

One must have a Platform. A Platform is very simply a large network of people, organizations, contacts, etc. that can easily be turned into buyers.  In other words, one has to have a huge network of friends that see his name and say, “I’ll buy that” because “he” wrote it. Absent that, publishers are typically not interested.  It costs too much to edit, print, promote, etc. a book if a high probability of success can’t be proven before the project begins. 

So what if you have the passion for a subject, ability to write compelling material, and professionals in the industry confirming that your work should be published - But NO Platform? Don’t get me wrong – I have a very small (and dear) platform of friends and acquaintances who are interested in me and the subject matter of my work - I’m not having a pity party. What I don’t have is the ability to be a shameless self-promoter or reach thousands of people interested in buying a book simply because it has my name on it. Nor would I want that. I wish my name to never be the draw for the sale of a book. I want to write clearly Biblical challenges that help the Body of Christ to live victoriously in a fallen world – it’s that simple.

The encouragement I've received from many Christian leaders is that this book NEEDS TO BE PUBLISHED - it will truly help thousands of Christians that have been hurt by fellow believers. With that compelling encouragement I have decided to take another swing at getting the book to print.  I have landed on a way forward that I would like you to consider helping me with. I have a Publisher willing to meet me two thirds of the way (*see his comments below, reprinted with his permission). He will invest $10,000.00 if I will invest $5000.00. I don’t have $5000.00, nor do I have 5000 friends with $1 each. But I do have you and potentially your friends. And I also have the finished manuscript, which I will GIVE YOU in PDF form for any donation amount. My hope is that you will read it, consider it worthy of publishing in book form, and tell your friends about it.

UPDATE (November 28, 2013):   We have contracted with Ambassador Publishing of Greenville, SC and Belfast, Northern Ireland to publish the work. The title will probably change but the work is essentially the same. We will keep you updated on the new title and the progress of the publishing. We anticipate a Spring 2014 arrival!

WE can still use your help. If you choose to donate we will provide a digital or hard copy of the finished work upon completion.  Thank you in advance for your support!

 

*Publishers Comments

Dear Mr Turner,

I have personally read your MS with much interest. Apart from a couple of minor details, more matters of presentation, I must say that you have done an excellent job with a difficult subject. Obviously it will have critics, we must disarm as far as possible. We will not win everybody. We must, and I believe you do, make the case solidly from God's Word.

This is a work our publishing house would be delighted to engage with. If published, we would trust that under God, it would have opportunity to help take the heat out of many an argument and have us focus on other equally valid and important truths.

Should you feel comfortable to move forward, I will have any questions addressed, either by myself or directly by the person responsible.

Sam Lowry PUBLISHER

Ambassador International (800) 209-8570

www.ambassador-international.com

 

WHAT YOU WILL FIND IN "So-Called" Christian: Healing Spiritual Wounds Left by the Church - COMPELLING AND CRITICAL INFORMATION FOR EVERY CHRISTIAN AND EVERY CHURCH!

Overcoming and preventing the most common source of pain in many Christian lives. Healing torn relationships and restoring relational connection between brothers. The key to advancing the Gospel in a love starved world. Drawing close to Christ by caring about what He cares about.

  • The two life altering things on Jesus’ mind the night before He died on the cross. 
  • The most powerful rebuke to the early Church and how to avoid it for yourself, your church, or your Christian ministry.
  • THE EVIDENCE the Church presents to the world to prove that God loves them and sent Jesus to die for them.
  • The wisdom of God about differences in the Body of Christ and how to deal with them.
  • The healing power of rightly relating to believers with whom we disagree. 
  • The Bible passages that confront personal “truth” attacks and give instruction on how to stop them.
  • The rare occasions when Christians are commanded to avoid or separate from other Christians.
  • The importance of recognizing “Those who Can and Those who Can’t”.
  • The Apostolic challenge to the modern Church to address what may be the greatest hindrance to our Gospel witness in the world. 
  • The dividing line between Christian and Non-Christian – what Christians must agree on. Or, What makes us Christian. 
Friday
Jan202012

The Wrangle-Tangle of Titillating Topics.

Oh No! It’s five o’clock! I just spent three hours chasing down tweets and blogs and comments and rants about the latest theological nuance. Man, I didn’t have the time for that!

Catch yourself in this situation lately? We are such word warriors, truth tracers, and rigorous caretakers of what’s right that we often get dragged into controversies completely irrelevant to our ministry or sphere of influence. I’ve done it – spent hours reading, commenting, and chewing on issues that really mean squat to my walk with Christ and those He’s called me to influence. It’s easy to do these days. Everyone has a voice via easily accessed mass social media and we love to tune in. 

“Connecting” via mass social media has two sides. It is good to have quick, easy access to godly men and women who are truly wrestling with great questions. It is bad to get entangled in issues that waste time, create unnecessary stress, tempt us to unrighteous anger, and have the potential to cause gratuitous division in the Body of Christ. Our Lord, through the voice of the Apostle Paul, throws down a warning for all of us tempted to bandy over words.

When we trace through both letters to Timothy we find Paul’s insistence on maintaining truth juxtaposed with his insistence on avoiding frivolous arguments about truth. Check this out:

Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” 2 Tim. 1:13-14

Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. 2 Tim. 2:14

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.  2 Tim. 2:15

But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. 2 Tim. 2:16-17a

But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 2 Tim. 2:23

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. 2 Tim. 2:24-26

You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them.  2 Tim. 3:14ff

Navigating this posture is like crossing a rope bridge on a windy day with one leg.  It can become a game of spiritual mumblety-peg or worse, religious Russian roulette. The balanced instruction of Paul is to carefully pick our battles - Some are worth the war, some are not. Our difficulty (at least mine) is to discern what hills to die on and which ones to surrender. Fortunately there are some easy to grasp instructions in Paul’s fatherly letters to Timothy. These are meant to guide us through some of these battlefields. Take a look:

  1. Retain the Standard (vss. 1:13-14).  In essence, Paul is encouraging Tim to maintain the truth he passed on to him. He qualifies that he should do it with an eye to faith and love. In other words, “live out what you were taught.” Live it with all faith in its veracity. Live it out with agape love toward God and others. Paul said it like this in 1 Timothy 1:5, “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”  To summarize, Exemplify the truth entrusted to you through a life of love filled faith. Guard truth through the power of the Spirit.
  2. Remind them of Truth (vs. 2:14). Keep repeating the truths that Paul taught. Never grow tired of refreshing the mind to truth.
  3. Demand a Cease-Fire (vs. 2:14). “Solemnly charge them before God…” is serious business. Paul is telling Timothy to take charge. Don’t be afraid to say, “In the name of God, with the authority of God – Stop It!” when it comes to the issues of wrangling over words to the hurt of all. It’s useless and leads to the destruction of people. Be brave, put a stop to it where you find it.
  4. Diligently Study Truth (vs. 2:15). Accurately handling the truth means diligently studying truth. This cannot be separated from #1 though – study is not enough. Paul means for Timothy to know truth, love truth, and live truth. His progress is to be recognized by his word-infused, Spirit-led life.
  5. Refrain from Empty Babble (vs. 2:16). Stay out of controversies about non-essentials. Stop wasting time on worldly, empty chatter. It’s a corruption that leads to ungodliness. These arguments are vacant and do not lead to a closer walk with Christ. They only spawn more argument. On the other hand, it may be a good argument. It may be something that needs to be debated. But, is it my debate? Is it essential to my walk? Or, is it a distraction from what I should be doing? Is it edifying to those I’m called to influence? Is it a necessary addition to my knowledge of God? Test your involvement in these issues with these types of questions.
  6. Refuse Stupid Questions (vs. 2:23). Yep, that’s what it says. The actual word is “moron”. Paul is referring to moronic, undisciplined questions that lead to more moronic undisciplined questions. How many blog-flames would be prevented if we all exercised disciplined refusal to respond to moronic questions? We can pour ice-cold water on red hot but foolish controversy by simply refusing to participate. I invite you to walk the other way.
  7. Don’t Be Combative (vs. 2:24-26). Do you grit your teeth and furrow your brow as your issue-oriented blood pressure rises? Do you get angry with the opposition? Do you blast and minimize your brother? Do you attack and assassinate? I don’t mean only that you actually write your attacks or say them out loud – I mean to ask, “Are they in your mind?” Are these your instant reactions?  These are signs that you’ve taken on the mantle of a crusader. You’ve become a warrior – not a servant. Combative Christians are not winsome. They don’t attract others to the beauty of Christ. Paul commands a different attitude.
  8. Do Be Kind, Able to Teach, Patient, Gentle (vs. 2:24-26). This is the winsomeness of Christ. This is true godliness. We win wars with kind, gentle sacrifice. We teach with grace and patience. We hurt for those in the wrong. We plead with those taken up in error. We weep for truth. Perhaps God will grant them repentance. We may win an argument but lead to further ungodliness. We may prove our point and lose a soul. What a tragedy to win an acre of ground and lose a battalion of saints. We speak the truth and let God win the hearts. God releases captives. God detains the devil. God bestows knowledge. Let God fight, perhaps we will have the joy of seeing them “sitting down, clothed, and in their right minds.” Mark 5
  9. Abide in the Truth (vs. 3:14). Make truth and the exercise of it your intimate companion. Draw truth up into your heart like umbilical blood. Let it energize your actions. Love in truth. Laugh in truth. Weep in truth. Pray in truth. Speak in truth. Live in truth.
Tuesday
Jan032012

What's the Big Deal? 3

What does Jesus want most in addition to His glory?  Of all the things He could have requested from the Father on the night before His death I would not have expected this one. I would have expected Him to spend much more time on a couple of things He only briefly mentioned – that God keep and sanctify the disciples. Those requests track more closely with my desires – I want God’s protection and the personal holiness He can give me. These seem to me to be more pressing than what He spends the most time on. What is it He really wants - His Brides’ Unity! He wants the Church to be one.

So why unity? Why does Jesus spend verses 20-23 with three or four references to His desire for the unity of the Church? “…that they all may be one, even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us…”  I don’t pretend to know anything beyond a distant and vague sense of what might be involved in being one with God. Phrases like this temp me to mysticism. They befuddle me. They twist my mind in the same way the Trinity does. I probe the barriers of eternity only to find myself tired and vacant. I can and will make an attempt at what it means for the Church to be one, unified for Christ and with one another.  

The request for us all to be one is mystical and intriguing on its own but Jesus doesn’t leave us with that thought. He goes on to mention the “why” behind His prayer for unity. It’s the great “why” that captivates me. What’s at risk? Is it really that big a deal?

It could have been a nice platitude wrapped in the mystery of Deity for us all to wonder at but never really grasp. It could have been easily read and forgotten due to the impenetrable nature of the subject. It could have been dismissed as God speaking in language too high for us but Christ did not leave us any of these options. He clearly states the reason He desires unity in the Church. Read slowly with me, verse 21, “that they may all be one…SO THAT the world may believe that You sent Me” and verse 22-23, “that they may be one…that they may be perfected in unity, SO THAT the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them…”

The unity of the Church is THE PROOF to the world that God the Father sent God the Son and that God the Father loves the world. Incredible that the witness of God to the world hangs on the frayed thread of the unity of the Church!

Think of the ramifications! A unified Church shouts sacrificial love to the world. We are truly an aroma of life unto life when perfected in unity. Expressing accord one with another expresses God to lost and dying souls. Unison and harmony sing mighty hymns of compassion and grace, mercy and righteousness, humility and acceptance, to a world blinded by sin and lost in darkness. Let those who have ears to hear – hear! Unity is powerful!

On the other hand, a divided Church is proof to the world that the Father did not send the Son and does not love them. Ouch! Strife among brothers is tantamount to denying the Gospel. It’s the devil’s holiday to see brothers at odds. It’s the world’s justification for ignoring and distrusting the Church, the Bible, and God Himself. Brothers, we are to blame in part for the continued rejection of Christ. We are culpable in the matter of the message going unheard and unheeded. When the lost see factions and fractures in the Church they “know” there’s no real Jesus and no real love. We need not be surprised at their reaction when we try to tell them differently – our actions are shouting denial while our words are faltering feints at the truth.

Miserable thoughts aren’t they! What should we do with them? My will to write about these things is often wrapped tightly in my own guilt for participating in and perpetuating division in the Body. I recoil at the thought of my own failures in this area. I have most likely been one who has placed a stumbling block in the path to peace. Rather than wallow in those thoughts we need to press on. Let’s resist the temptation to lie where we’ve fallen. I’d like to persevere. I want to see God win this one.

And God fully intends to win. We see this in the return of Christ to His first request and the main theme of the prayer. He wants us to be with Him and to see His Glory. It’s all about His glory. Look at how He even ties unity to glory in verse 22. Jesus has given us His glory so that we may be one. A unified Church is a glorified Christ! The glory, the “otherness” of God, given to men, so that we might live in such a way that all men might know that God loves them and sent His Son to die for them. We share the glory of God in order to reflect His character to desperate individuals “without hope and without God in the world.” We share the unity of God to show the world that there is “One God and Father of All Who is over all and through all and in all.” The way we live preaches one thing or another to the lost – will we “be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace?”