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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.

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Entries in Disconnected (2)

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. 

Wednesday
Mar192014

My Story: The Disconnected Man, Fighting for Intimacy in an Isolated World.

We all have our own reality. But what happens when one day you wake up and everything you thought about your reality doesn’t exist?

(Please forgive the length of time between my posts. I'm diving into some material now that may be the hardest I've ever attempted and It will take some time to develop. I may also insert some non-related posts between the ones under this subject.)  

In my last post I wrote, ‘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!’ I wrote that knowing that I should share my struggles. Not so you’ll think I’m a hero but as an illustration of how God can overcome our weaknesses and use us to resolve conflicts and restore relationships.   

 In the next few posts I will be sharing a lot about my personal journey. I am not prone to this sort of self-revelation but I believe the lessons I’ve learned will be helpful to others. Others I trust have also encouraged me to open this window in order to let some fresh air into some needy souls.  My hope is that my experience will serve as a tool to help men and women (especially men) to recognize some critical truths about connection and intimacy in relationships.

 That sounds a bit dry. Let me try again. I want everyone who reads about my experience to feel the biting pain of disconnection. I want people, especially those like me, to hurt deeply if disconnection or a lack of intimate relationships describes them. More personally if it applies: I want to be a scalpel or a hammer – whatever it takes to get your attention. I want to pry into your heart and rip out whatever lies between you and closeness with others. I want you to see yourself in me if necessary but most of all I just want you to see yourself. Then I want to offer the hope of heaven itself that you can be brought to a place of true, fulfilling, and joyful intimacy with God and others.

 Why? Because if you are a disconnected, hard to get close to, non-intimate person then you are walking in disobedience to nearly every command of Christ. To shorten the thought: Disconnectedness is Disobedience. And as a result, you are missing out on the most important elements of a truly joyful life! I beg you to listen; I speak from experience and a new realization of why the Bible spends so much time addressing our relationships. Relationships are the gateway to salvation and sanctification – neither happens if we are not in intimate relationships with Christ and His Church.

 

If you are a disconnected, hard to get close to, non-intimate person then you are walking in disobedience to nearly every command of Christ.

 

I’ve spent most of my life disconnected. Disconnected from close relationships with family, friends, peers, co-workers, and even my own emotions. What I didn’t know until recently was that intimacy was an enemy to me. Whenever I got close to it I felt (unconsciously) like it would hurt me so I avoided it. I steered around it, built walls of reasoned intelligence to block it, and shielded my heart from the pain of it.  In times when it caught me unaware I would completely fall apart in sobbing, heaving, unexplainable breakdowns (or worse, I would successfully stuff it under a weird emotional barricade that was set up somewhere deep in my soul). I was embarrassed by these times of uncontrollable emotion so I kept anything that would trigger them at arms length. Romantic movies, tender words, transparent self-expression, memories or lack of them, illness and death of people close to me, and more were all specters of emotional connection that I couldn’t handle.

 These years spent as the “artful dodger” of intimacy left me a broken, unconnected man who was destined for a crisis. Mind you, I didn’t look like a broken man to most. I was very successful at many things. I was intelligent, capable, and hard working, even admired for my gifts and how I used them. I probably looked ‘normal’ to most folks that knew me. I had myself and many others (but not everyone – a note for later) fooled. In reality I was a functioning, gifted, productive, and yet emotionally and relationally numb person.

 In these posts I hope to explore how I became that numb person. I’m not seeking any sort of catharsis with this exploration or any kind of regression psychotherapy that uncovers my Freudian defense mechanisms. I simply want to reveal some factors that I think cause us (Christian and non-Christian) to erect walls that keep intimacy out.

 I then want to explore what it’s like to be that person in everyday life. I want to offer a window into a wooden heart.  I want you to feel the numbness with me. I think this will help you understand why you or your loved one acts the way he or she does. I think it will bring some much-needed insight for those struggling with relationships at any level. For those who don’t struggle like this I hope that it will help you find mercy for those who do. For those who do struggle like this I hope that it will help you face your fears. I hope it will awaken you to your desperate disposition and the true danger that surrounds and saturates you.

 Finally, I want to explore the path to intimacy. I want to climb the walls we build to shield us from emotional touch. In fact, I’d like to eventually knock them down. I want to show you what a crisis looks like for someone who is barely capable of connecting with himself, let alone others. Then we can trace the steps out of crisis and into connection. Again, I’m not looking for a cleansing of my psyche here nor am I seeking sympathy.  My God has met me here and held me fast. He has been merciful, loving, and kind enough to first empty me and then fill me back up. I only want to help you understand that you (if you are like me) or those you love (if you know someone like me) can conquer and connect. There is a road to intimacy.

 This road is long and fraught with peril especially for those who are “intimacy challenged” and those who hope for an intimate relationship with them. It’s a road I’m on. I can’t tell you how far down it I’ve travelled. I’ve only recently navigated the ‘on ramp’ so to speak. I have discovered some great sights on the road so far and I’ve tasted a bit of the local fare available while travelling but my ultimate destination is still lost to the horizon. I can take you as far as I’ve gone though. I think you will find it helpful. I hope to be a trustworthy guide and I know the place we are going is worth it.  Will you come along?