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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 Conflict (5)

Thursday
Dec122013

7 Pre-Conflict Self Examination Questions we really don’t want to ask or ‘How to be a Hero when conflicts come.’ 

Been on an airplane lately? Are you the guy I sit next to that’s on the edge of his seat in rapt attention while the flight attendants rehearse the pre-flight instructions? If you are that guy, then you know what they say about the oxygen mask; if not, you may be the guy who I’ll have to help when the cabin pressure starts dropping. For those who have never been on an airplane the instructions are universal for anyone travelling with children or others who need assistance. If cabin pressure drops PUT YOUR MASK ON FIRST before helping the other person! (I owe this illustration to my lovely wife)

At first glance the instruction seems a little unkind, even selfish. The logic behind it is flawless though – we can’t help anyone else if we are helpless. Putting the oxygen mask on first is essential to being useful to those who may be experiencing a challenge to do the same. Our health is critical for theirs. This illustration is perfect for our conflict preparation questions. If we are not healthy and secure we will probably not be helping anyone else with his or her health. We are probably going to make things worse if we enter into conflict as an unhealthy, unprepared participant.

In our last post we identified the real problem with many conflicts – It’s us. Our blindness to our own faults is often the heart of the problem. We may see the oxygen mask but think we can handle the pressure drop without it. I said in the last post that we needed to ‘recognize and remove the log or beam that is obliterating our vision.’ Further, I indicated that recognizing our own issues is probably the single most difficult part of conflict. I’ve found the best way to do this is to pay attention to the pre-flight instructions. In our case, what the Bible says about conflict.

I’m fairly certain that if you ask a flight attendant the kind of passenger they appreciate most they would probably say ‘the attentive, courteous one.’ I think the passenger who looks around and thinks through all the scenarios and prepares himself or herself mentally to respond is the person I want to sit next to. I admit, I’m not always that guy but after writing this I think I will endeavor to be that guy next time I fly.  I do want to be that guy when it comes to handling conflict the way God wishes. I want to be prepared!

How do I know if I’m prepared? I, or we, test our knowledge by asking questions.  Some of these questions have to do with our own safety, some about helping others, but all are asked in order to prepare for survival. The same preparation is helpful if we want to survive the conflicts that come up between brothers.

This is where my subtitle comes in, ‘How to be a Hero when conflicts come.’ We can be heroes in conflict. I’ve noticed that one of the most consistent qualities of heroes, both real and fictitious, is that they must inevitably struggle against their own desires and do what is best for those that need them. Let that sink in, they do have to struggle, often violently against themselves and the desire to preserve their own comfort. That’s part of what draws us to like them – they struggle – like us!  The seven questions put this quality to the test. They ask us to be a hero, to put our own desires aside, and to do what is best for the others in order to resolve the conflict. Heroes are heroes because they win this battle over themselves. They put their own desires aside for the good of others. Let these questions test your hero aptitude.

Questions are meant to uncover strengths and weaknesses. We want to use our strengths and shore up our weaknesses to insure success. If we will graciously use our strengths under the control of the Spirit, and if we will ruthlessly uncover our own weaknesses (sinfulness) and deal with them; we will be better prepared when conflict comes. We might even be heroic!  So let’s ask ourselves the 7 questions. For effect, let’s ask them in two different ways. These are meant to reveal our weakness so we can prepare to know the Lord’s strength. 

 

  1. Do I tend to readily notice the faults or mistakes of others?
  2. Do I tend to correct the faults I notice?
  3. Do I tend to take a firm stand for the truth?
  4. Do I tend to believe I see the truth clearly in most situations?
  5. Do I tend to make quick assessments of people’s motives?
  6. Do I tend to tell people how I assess their motives?
  7. Do I tend to instruct people what is right and wrong?

 

There are most likely a hundred other questions that will grow from these. Feel free to ask yourself those the Holy Spirit brings to mind. These questions are the ones I believe will reveal the source of many conflicts – PRIDE! Many of us read these questions, answer yes to many of them, and see ourselves in a pretty good light. Our thoughts may sound like this, ‘I am pretty good at noticing mistakes. I am good at constructive criticism. I know the truth and am not afraid to speak it. People are usually an open book to me.’ While these can be incredibly strong gifts when gently used by a person filled with Christ’s love – they can be tremendously damaging to others when exercised by our flesh.

If you didn’t notice, the phrasing of the questions above turns our thoughts to the other party. We may think of situations where we have come to a judgment about a situation or person. Let’s rephrase them and see what then comes to mind.  Even better, ask other people to assess you in light of these questions. Make sure you ask people who are willing to tell you the truth – we all have our “yes men”.

 

  1. Am I a judgmental person?
  2. Am I a negative, critical person?
  3. Am I close-minded to other’s view of the truth?
  4. Am I overconfident (or arrogant) in my knowledge of the truth?
  5. Am I prone to jump to conclusions?
  6. Am I proud of my ability to “shoot straight” with people?
  7. Am I perceived as arrogant or “lecturing”?

 

Asked this way, these questions probe our own weakness and expose our tendencies toward pride. They reveal the things the hero needs to conquer within himself before he can conquer the outside conflict. By the way, lest we think this is merely an exercise in exposing our weakness, remember that heroes are strong precisely because they conquer themselves. They probe themselves with hard questions, uncover their inner weakness, and then apply their formidable will to conquer them. Once their inner man is under control they tackle the external battle. With that in mind let’s meditate a bit more on the questions.

Question 1: I think there is more than one way to be judgmental. We can be judgmental and come across as superior. We can be judgmental and come across as the victim. There are probably endless nuances between these two extremes but make no mistake – a victim mentality can be manipulated to make us feel superior. Making someone else the victim by being critical can also make us feel superior. Both are at heart self-protectionist pride. They are un-heroic. If you answered the question in the positive as it was originally phrased – beware – you may tend to be a Sawdust Tyrant. You tend to focus on specks in the eyes of others while missing the Sequoia planted firmly in yours. (I speak from experience)

So be honest – if you answered, “Yes” to question one then you may need to repent of a judgmental spirit and learn to look through loving eyes.

Question 2: Be brutal on yourself here and ask, “When it comes to people and situations involving people, is my first thought typically negative?” If you answer yes your mind may immediately start justifying why. Stop right there. Does that negative thought or assessment usually take into account all the details of the person, his life, his situation, his baggage, his understanding, the Lord’s understanding, and other’s involvement? Can we work at quelling our initial assessment by waiting to consider all the extenuating circumstances? Can we replace the mental correcting of other’s faults with a benefit-of-the-doubt patience toward them?

Question 3: Have you ever changed your opinion? Ever changed a major theological view on an important topic? Have you ever had an incorrect first impression of someone only to have it change later? If so, how did these changes come about? What am I getting at? Is it possible that the truth you have come to is subject to change? I’m not talking about essential Christian doctrine here. I’m talking about the things that are most likely to cause the conflicts we are preparing for – peripheral issues that are subject to differing views or personality types that grate against us.

We may be convinced of a truth that another is yet to be faced with. He may have been faced with it and arrived at a different view. What we have to prepare for is this – are we going to reject the PERSON for his views or are we going to accept the PERSON in spite of his views? Is truth more important to us than people? If we are close-minded to the opinions of others we are begging for conflict. On the contrary, if we can heartily debate views without offense or feeling personal injury then we stand a very good chance of maintaining healthy, loving relationships.

Notice that I have not suggested that we abandon the truth we know. Hold to the truth you know while considering another point of view. Walk away in love even when the other person holds belligerently to his view – he might be proved right some day.

Question 4: What makes you so sure you are right? Test everything before you flame out on a half-baked idea. It is the height of embarrassment (to yourself and your Lord) to stubbornly hold to an idea that requires altering when in full light. Remember how tight the Pharisees believed their arguments were just to have Jesus blow gaping holes in them at every turn. Their understanding, in fact, the entire underpinning of their interpretations was flawed and Jesus truly embarrassed them with the compassionate truth!

Question 5: Have you ever heard anyone say, ‘I’m a prophet, I can’t help but use my gift’ after they have said the most tactless, rude, and cutting thing to you (Especially when they have jumped to the wrong conclusions about you or the circumstances they reference)? Have you ever said anything like that? I beg you, don’t use your spiritual gift as an excuse to beat someone up.

Let’s assume you do have an uncanny knack of discerning the details that lie under the surface of any issue or situation. What’s the harm in waiting before wading in? What if, rather than make a statement about what you’ve discerned, you rather ask a question to draw out the truth from the other party? Maybe they don’t see what you see. Maybe a little patience and probing will help them without you ever having to make a proclamation. This approach is worth practicing in advance. (Feel free to ask if you need some examples of how this approach looks)

Question 6: There are times when “shooting straight” is an amazing blessing and times when it is a complete disaster. Can you tell the difference? Those who are proud of the ability to shoot straight may struggle to discern between a good shot and a bad one. What am I saying here? I’m saying that some of us are so proud of our razor sharp wit or our ability to clearly and quickly see solutions that we brazenly run over folks that are trying desperately to catch up. They aren’t challenging us or dismissing our solutions – they simply haven’t got there yet. We may be making enemies of folks that, given the time, would have been our greatest supporters. Our language is to be gracious and seasoned with salt – which means it should be palatable to those who are not accustomed to the taste of how we communicate.

Question 7: Don’t ask yourself this one. Ask your children. Ask your husband or wife. Ask your best friends and their friends. In fact, if you suspect you may fit the description under any of these questions – ask those who spend the most time with you and assure them you will not react to their answers (and then make sure you don’t!). Listen to their answers and the WAY they answer. Were they timid or halting? Did they tell you what you wanted to hear or did they reveal some things you didn’t want to know about yourself?

If we are serious about maintaining love and unity with our brothers and sisters we have to examine ourselves in this way. Are we drawing folks to us and to our Lord or are we driving them away? Are we being heroic or self-serving? I admit that it’s hard to get all the way through a post like this without some strong reactions. But I encourage you, be a Hero! Ask the hard questions. Do the hard things. Sacrifice. Then give God praise that He has empowered you to overrule your un-heroic self for the good of others.   

 

Next Post, My Story.

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
May182012

Welcoming Royalty.

Do you remember the incessant media frenzy over the fairytale wedding of Prince Charles to the relatively unknown Diana Spencer? The event brought into sharp contrast the gulf between “commoners” and “royalty”. Constant pictures of everyday people clamoring for the slightest glimpse of royal pomp flash into my mind. It was a magnificent affair for the ages that kept populations from Britain, to Australia, to the U.S. entranced. It’s estimated that 750 million people tuned in to view the ceremony! That kind of riveted attention, the honor given to the couple, the amazement at the trappings, the appreciation of the imperial graces on display, all melded together into a sort of public joy. It’s the sort of joy James encourages when trials come into our lives. His language is truly remarkable. Listen to what he is communicating.

James is encouraging us to treat as the prince of graces, every trial of every kind that surrounds us. Usher in every trial as if it were a king, esteem its presence as you would a great royal (not a royal pain): whether it be from God (Luke 22:28, Acts 20:19, 1 Peter 1:6), from internal battle with sin (Luke 8:13, 1 Cor. 10:13, 1 Tim. 6:9, Luke 4:13), or from external pressure to sin or despair (1 Peter 4:12 Matt. 26:41).  These variegated trials are to be cherished as means to holiness and grace. Conflict is a minister of grace. James is all-inclusive of the types of trials – the word “various” meaning many-colored, multi-striped, or dappled with different hues.

This is an incredible picture to describe what our attitude toward conflict should be! James is asking us to welcome trials/temptations as we would welcome a regal king or queen. Imagine the fuss and toil to prepare for such a visit!  This idea of conflict as royalty comes from the word James uses. The word esteem (consider or count) is a word rooted in the idea of giving honor to imperial figures. James uses this word to describe the joy, anxious anticipation, delight, and diligence we should exercise when engaging with trials that enter into our lives. Not that we are signing gold leaf invitations for more of them – but that when they come we see them as gifts of God sent to perfect us. Even more powerful is the nuance Thayer’s Greek Lexicon adds to the use of the word. He says esteem “denotes a belief not resting on one’s inner feeling or sentiment, but on the due consideration of external grounds, the weighing and comparing of facts.” In other words when we consider the usefulness of conflict to create character it is not a subjective (touchy, feely) whim, it is a truth proposition based on the integrity of God. God says to “consider” conflict a joy! Weigh the evidence – God is working in your crucible of grace!

That’s driving in the rearview mirror to me. Joy is the last emotion I conjure up when facing trials. It’s a contentious correction of my normal response. I’m provoked by this approach and also humiliated that I so seldom get there. But it’s such a radical challenge that it summons me. I want an about-face in my attitude toward suffering. I want to bow to it in honor, expectation, and triumph. I want to be in the holy place of welcome for those friends who would make me more like Jesus. I want joy in the midst of trial so I want James to continue drawing me toward this extreme contradiction to my standard response.

Is God’s instruction a shock to you? Does it surprise you that the Lord directs us into an entirely supernatural attitude toward suffering? Does it irritate you that He does not allow us one moment to gripe about our circumstances or wallow in our “woe is me” self pity? Isn’t it a little perturbing that we can’t invite the attention of others to our trials for a little sympathy? Can’t we indulge ourselves in a rousing chorus of the old Hee Haw number, “Gloom, Despair, and Agony on me, Deep Dark Depression, Excessive Misery. If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me!”

The short answer - No! Why? Because to do so denies the very reason God allows trials to come. These royal guests come with Gifts! They come bearing “an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones” like the queen of Sheba brought to Solomon. (1 Kings 10:10) God sees the gifts brought by His noble ambassadors as worth more treasure than all the empty dainties brought by our self-appointed kings and queens. The store of wealth they bring is of eternal value – unfading, stainless, lasting, fulfilling, and precious. Once their incomparable value captures us, penetrates us, we will find ourselves welcoming these imperial visitors in ways we never imagined. James is going to give us unrestricted access into the regal planning room to reveal to us just what God has in mind for us. He is the giver of “every good and perfect gift” – Want to see what He’s got working for you?

Thursday
May102012

Conflict Sucks! But it just might be my best friend.

Conflict Sucks! But it just might be my best friend. That’s a bit crass, I know, but it comes closest to hitting the mark of how I typically react to conflict. My very conservative background tells me not to use this common colloquialism. My sensitivities to my social circle are clanging in loud alarm. But the word “sucks” works! I hate conflict! The knots I get in my stomach and that tightness on the right side of my back – the one that always gives me a headache if it doesn’t get relieved – testify to my displeasure at any sign of conflict. I could be polite and say, “Conflict is an irritant” but that just doesn’t say it. I suppose if I had the vocabulary of a Harvard professor I could come up with a word that says the same thing, in the same shocking tone, but with less offense. My education was great but I missed that class.

Saying that conflict sucks is shouting the human perspective out loud. It’s the earth’s-eye view. Seeing conflict as a good thing is almost never in my range of thought. I see trials, temptations, testings, and the like as gross inconveniences to my comfortable daily doings. I can say very glibly (especially with no conflict on the horizon) that we all grow when tested. I can repeat the worn illustrations of the tree that is strong because it endured the fiercest winds. I can trip merrily along on these quaint idioms until real, raw, conflict stalks into my world. Then I hate it. I want it out faster than it came in. I want relief and I want my comfort back. I don’t want the pressure and I don’t believe that it can really do me any good. There it is – that’s where I live. How about you?

So where did I get this idea about conflict maybe being my best friend? From James, the guy that many would characterize as being the sternest apostle of them all. We are going to learn that the various trials that come into our lives, regardless of their origin in evil or good, are to be esteemed like royal monarchs. They are to be honored and given heed as if they were kings and queens in full ceremonial regalia. They are to be treated as some of our dearest friends – not because of the pain and displeasure they bring – but because of the refining and fruit bearing they produce in us. James will show us that great gain often hides in the folds of displeasure and great loss is sewn tightly into the broad fabric of self-interested pleasure.

And what about the things that make me happy or bring pleasure? Where do you get off telling me they may be my worst enemies? We love pleasure don’t we! We are all closet hedonists. We want what we want. We know that pleasure as a gift of God is not evil so we excuse many of our wanton pursuits. I’m not speaking of God given pleasures and neither is James. James will be pointing out to us those pleasures that have slithered into the camp of the righteous masquerading as virtues. Those masked manifestations of our dark but lively old man. The ones we excuse and nurture and brandish at the time most appropriate to our advantage. The ones that are truly our darkest enemies posing as our dearest friends. He is about to expose them to the white-hot light of holiness. He will show us our love for them and make us recoil from ourselves in the realization. James never shoots but that he unloads the whole clip. Gird up, my brother, to face the man in the mirror.