Archive for the 'Faith 2.0' Category

Hacked

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

So, apparently, I got hacked.

A few weeks ago, one of my faithful readers found something suspicious in my “page source” and alerted me. I chatted briefly with my webmaster, and we deleted it as quickly as we could.

But that’s when the problems really began. Something in the code of that malicious material told my website that if anyone ever deleted it, all hell should break loose.

Which it did.

We tried deleting the files and reinstalling them. But that didn’t work. Eventually, Jeremy had to rebuild the whole thing from scratch. We’ve moved to a newer version of WordPress and switched to a better/faster server. All of that should take care of the problem. Thanks for your patience.

Also, if the above paragraph doesn’t make any sense to you, don’t feel bad. It doesn’t really make that much sense to me, either. Jeremy told me that he actually learned a lot in this process.

I thought that was good. This is the teaching ministry of John Alan Turner, after all! :)

Anger and Frustration

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

I know many of you have tried to leave comments and been thwarted by my website’s server. I assure you that my ace webmaster is in the process of taking care of the situation, and we should be back up and running at full speed soon.

New Blog

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

I think we’ve been experiencing some technical difficulties here at the Faith 2.0 website. My highly capable webmaster is investigating it, and we may end up moving to a new server or something. I apologize if you’ve had trouble. We’ll get it fixed as quickly as we can.

In the meantime, I invite you to check out River Park Community Church’s website. There you’ll be able to get up to speed on what’s going on with the next chapter of my life. Oh, and we just got a blog up and running over there. Join in the conversation when you have a chance.

Slacker — Trying to Follow Jesus

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

That’s me. I’m a blog slacker — at least this week I am!

Since last we spoke I’ve been to Maryland, Pennsylvania and California. It’s been quite a whirlwind tour, and I’m just now recuperating after having flown home last night. I will get back to my regular posting, but I’ve got lots of thoughts swirling around my brain right now.

I did a parenting seminar last weekend. I hadn’t done one in several months, so I was a little nervous about presenting the material. I even changed one of the sessions around completely. But it all came back to me. I was exhausted afterwards and realized just how out of shape I’ve let myself become. I’ll be hitting the gym more regularly from now on.

I spent a lot of time out in Gettysburg, PA. I walked around the battlefield, the cemetery on the hill, some museums and a church. Remind me to tell you about the church; it sparked a lot of emotion and thought.

I flew out to California to meet the launch team for River Park Community Church. I also got to see some old friends, tour some potential schools for the girls and see the house we’ll be renting for the foreseeable future. I’m so excited about this new chapter of our lives. But there are times when I am scared out of my wits! I wonder, “What in the world am I doing? What gave me the impression that this would be a good idea?”

I’m sure this will be a near-constant back-and-forth in my head for a while. But I am convinced that God is in the middle of all this. Here’s some of what I told the launch team Sunday night:

I used to have this idea that following God would get easier as I got older. I thought that one day I would finally surrender to such an extent that it would be like Jesus was driving my car. I would sit in the passenger seat and wave at all my friends as we drove past. I could enjoy the scenery while Jesus made all the decisions for me and my car.

But I’ve learned as I get older that Jesus — who, as I have said before, is the most frustrating person I’ve ever met — asks me to do something much more difficult. He doesn’t say, “Let me drive.” He comes and says, “Follow me.”

He doesn’t even really give me good directions. He’s less interested in giving me guidance than he is in being my Guide.

So, we’re trying to follow Jesus. We don’t have much of a map. We have a general idea of where we’re going, but we’re mostly just trying to stay as close to his back bumper as we can right now. And when we finally get where we’re going, we’ll know we couldn’t have done this on our own. The only way we’ll get where we need to go is by paying attention to the guy in front of us.

That’s where we are right now. We’re on high alert. He could make a hard right at any moment. He doesn’t always feel the need to use his turn signals. We may have to run a few yellow lights to keep up. We may have to make a U-Turn and find him again. But that’s what we’re doing.

Pray for us. Support us financially if you can. And let us know how we can help you follow Jesus more closely in the next chapter of your life.

River Park Community Church

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

According to Vision 360‘s California office, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties (which are just to the northwest of Los Angeles) are home to approximately 1.2 million people. Roughly 14% of those people attend a Christian church of any kind on any given weekend (7% Catholic, 6% Evangelical, 1% Mainline Protestant). In the past decade, that number has decreased by 2.5%.

Think of it: More than a million unchurched people in those two counties alone.

Nearly 500,000 of those people live in the Ventura/Oxnard Metropolitan area. This area currently has 130 Evangelical churches.

By way of comparison, Davidson County (Nashville, TN) has a population of just over 600,000. There are more than 750 churches there. Forsyth County (where I currently live) has a population of right around 150,000. There are 37 Baptist churches here.

Statistically speaking, the best way to reach unchurched people is through new church plants. On average, a church that is older than 10 years can expect one new convert per year for every 89 members. A church that is between 3 and 7 years old averages one new convert for every 7 members. A church that is under 3 years old averages one new convert for every 3 members.

It is for these reasons (and several others) that I will be flying to California this weekend where I will announce the plan for my family to move to Ventura County this summer and join the launch team of River Park Community Church.

We are excited. We are nervous. We are terrified. We have no idea how we will survive financially. This makes very little sense…unless there really is a God who is bigger than all of our obstacles and fears.

Now, more than ever, my family needs your prayers, your friendship and your financial support. Please, prayerfully consider giving money to support this new work in such a vitally important region of our world.

I will keep you informed.

Give Me Your Money…Please

Monday, March 24th, 2008

I received an email a few days ago from my friend David Padgett that I’d like to share with you. He’s been working with Christians in the former Soviet Union for several years. He writes:

As you probably know, in the former Soviet Republics, orphans are kept in the orphanage until they are 16 and then sent on their own to Technical School, where they might learn something, but most likely it will be how to sell their body or sell drugs to others etc.

Here are some statistics gathered by “Orphans Hope” on kids who are sent to face the world without the life skills to do so:

  • About 10% of these children commit suicide before their eighteenth birthday
  • 60% of the girls end up in prostitution
  • 70% of the boys in crime

In Kazakstan, we have had some success with a transition home called the Light House, and we want to imitate that work with the small church in Simferopol, in the Crimean region of Ukraine, but that church (about 50 members) does not have the funding to rent or buy a house big enough for the kids. The preacher and his wife, after long consideration have agreed to take in the children they have worked with every week for 6 years, but they cannot do so in their current two bedroom apartment.

We are out of luck, we don’t have nearly the knowledge or resources to help them, but we really just have to help.

We have long wanted to build a transition home for 16 year old orphans who are turned out on their own because it is the only known method for getting jobs and long term Christian lives for orphan kids who are not adopted, but now we have to do something smaller more quickly.

Five of the children from the village orphanage who are especially close to Eugene and Helen Strakhov (the preacher and his wife in Simferopol), will be shipped to different cities at the government’s discretion in May, 2008, because the village orphanage near Simferopol is being shut down (due to the expense of repairing some dilapidated buildings (the roof collapsed in one bldg)!

Eugene and Helen have volunteered to house the five orphans (Sasha, Marina, Peter, another Peter, and Oksana), but their apartment is way too small. We have thought about buying a 5-6 bedroom house for their daughter, the male and female orphans and a church office etc., but it would cost $70-100k and time is very short. So the best plan we’ve heard is to rent a place with a lease for one year for a cost of about $12k. We could then use that year to evaluate the work and look at longer term options.

Eugene and Helen have worked with them and brought them to church for more than five years. Two of them, Sasha and Marina, have become Christians, the others are especially close to Eugene and Helen and seem likely to do well. We are trying to fit in one more named Julia by the way and have started showing 6 kids on our slide shows.

So, we cannot find it in our hearts to send the kids that we know, and have invested so much in away to so many dangers, especially the two Christians.

We don’t know what to do, but must do something, so here we are on your doorstep as it were. We have already talked to as many people as we could find from church organizations closer to us and their money is locked into other programs so we have only raised $2,500.00/$12,000.00 so far. (UPDATE: They’ve got verbal commitments for $3,950 now)
Here are some important details:

Three of the kids are 16 and would be sent out on their own in June anyway, but that is good in a way because they are easier for us to move in with Eugene and Helen. The other three are under 16 and so Eugene and Helen would have to be granted Foster Parent status by the government to keep them. We know that some families in Donetsk have gotten foster parent status while renting their homes, but it might be a sticking point if someone in the government is looking to cause us trouble.

Even once we gain the rental property and get Eugene and Helen moved in, they cannot be sure that they’ll get permission to keep the two younger children. The church there is well respected on many occasions, but the government is very fluid and unpredictable. So while it is very likely that we can get the older kids we cannot guarantee getting the three younger kids until it happens.

Once we get all those obstacles out of the way, even then there is no guarantee that we’d be able to watch those kids be converted or remain faithful all through there tough teenage years, but as you know from the success of the Lighthouse in Kazakhstan and others in Ukraine it is the only way we know of for non-adopted kids to possibly have a shot at a stable life, getting a job and maybe even one day a successful family.

If we see even one kid make it, the good done in reversing the shortfalls, and the cycles of unstable families that produce more unstable families does not sound like something that could ever be unnoticed. Would it not justify all the work done everywhere just within itself? If on the other hand the church in Simferopol, which was founded to reach out to orphans, is not able to find a way to reach out to these kids when they really need it, it will be a discouragement that is hard to overcome.

The church there has about 50 people, but only one family has a car, the preacher and his wife, which they use to take many other families to the market to sell vegetables they have grown. Some of the families have homes and have adopted children and taken in others as foster children, which is the best solution, and we search to find more qualified families all the time, but they are all booked up. The church will spend its time and available funds to support this, but it won’t be enough financially. However, we have a loving family who has worked with these kids almost every day for more than 5 years volunteering to care for them.

Just a few minutes ago I received this update:

Good news. Our prayers have gone up before God as a fragrant offering. Today, God gave Helen favor with the Ukrainian authority who handles foster children placement. According to her, the prospects are good for Eugene and Helen to take in the children to their home. They will need to find a place to rent and we will need to pay a year lease for the facility first. They are looking for this place. Pray that God will help them locate something. I believe God will hear our prayers – and especially the orphans over there who are praying!

Okay, here’s where you can come in. David says the two biggest needs they have are prayer (obviously) and money. If you’ll go here and send Faith 2.0 your money (and I know you have some extra — the IRS is sending you a big check in a few weeks), we could literally change the world for these six orphans.

There’s something in the Bible about helping orphans, isn’t there?

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

There are potentially big changes afoot for the Turner household and Faith 2.0. I covet your prayers and — because I believe the collective wisdom of the people who read this blog exceeds my individual wisdom — value your input.

Jason Garcia is the Lead Pastor at The Bridge — a community church I have recently served as Teaching Pastor. Jason has accomplished the tremendously difficult task of getting a relatively new church into a fantastic new building practically debt-free. Doing so took so much of his time and energy that he relied heavily on me and Phil Tuttle to do the majority of the work when it came to preaching. However, now that this season of The Bridge’s life has drawn to a close, Jason feels that, in order to lead most effectively, he must preach more often.

In order for Jason to preach more often, I must preach less often.

So, I will be leaving the staff of The Bridge at the end of this month. I will, however, return periodically as a guest speaker (can’t get rid of me that easily!). In fact, I’m scheduled to preach again on April 6, and we’re working on other dates for the remainder of the Spring.

Now, this development has created something of a dilemma for me. One of the reasons I took the job at The Bridge was because I wanted to travel less. The salary from The Bridge replaced a big chunk of the money I normally made speaking and consulting in other places. With that salary gone now I’m faced with the prospect of making a living elsewhere. And that leads me to what I consider to be our three best options:

  1. I could hit the road again and travel 30-35 weekends per year.
  2. I could find a church and join their staff in some capacity.
  3. I could join a team of people and plant a new church somewhere.

Because of the craziness that has been our life for the past couple of weeks, neither Jill nor I feel comfortable making a quick decision. So, we’ve given ourselves 40 days to think, pray and consult people whom we consider wise. We’re weighing our options, and, as I said earlier, covet your prayers and advice.

Preaching

Friday, February 8th, 2008

N.T. Wright says, “Preaching is something dangerously public that emerges from something intensely private.”

I just posted 16 new sermons in the “Listen” section of the website. There will be a few more coming in the next week or so.

We’re also working on getting these available as podcasts.

Faith 2.0 is a 501(c)3 non-profit ministry, so anything you’d like to prayerfully give would be greatly appreciated. Website updates, podcasts, putting food on the table to feed my family — these kinds of things aren’t always cheap!

Also, I still have several weekends in the spring (summer’s almost all the way booked) when I would be available to come speak at your church, school or corporate event. If you’re interested, fill out the speaking request form, and I’ll get back to you.

Dealing With Doubt

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

I’ve had a lot of really kind feedback from people who saw me on the Coral Ridge Hour last weekend. If you didn’t get to see the broadcast, you can watch my segment online here. I’ve gotten email from people all across the country, and I had a few folks show up at church Sunday because they saw the show and realized they live close to The Bridge — one was even an old friend from high school.

All of this has me thinking about the topic we dealt with on the show — “The New Atheism”. In the past, there have been people who did not believe in God, but things have recently changed in the way the conversation is discussed. There is a new group of atheists who behave more like fundamentalists than scientists. Their goal seems to be more than just proving or disproving a particular point of view. Their objective seems more bent on ridiculing those who disagree with them. They attack Christians with a level of vitriol that’s startling.

What’s even more startling is how few Christians feel equipped to handle this level of criticism — or even have a conversation on why we believe what we believe. I got an email this week from someone whose adult children (who were raised in a Christian, church-going home) have asked her to explain why she trusts the Bible. She asked me if I could recommend some good reading for her to forward on to her children.

I’m glad to do this, but I wonder why churches and parents have failed to equip our children with a basic understanding of apologetics. Further, I’m wondering what we could do about it.

Obviously, I feel strongly about this. Dr. Ken Boa and I wrote a book about how parents can help their children gain a Christian view of the world. We’ve just finished a study guide for small groups to use (if you’re interested, leave me a comment or shoot me an email). I’ve conducted seminars based on the material in the book all across the country (ditto). I’m doing a three-part sermon series at The Bridge starting on Oct. 28.

But I’m thinking about doing something a little different. I’m thinking about putting together a seminar that tackles the hard questions being asked by guys like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens head-on. If I were to put together such a thing, I have a few thoughts that you may be able to help me with.

First, do you think such a thing is necessary? Should a church invest in this kind of thing?

Second, would your church or group be interested in hosting such an event? It might be good for a retreat setting or a Saturday/Sunday weekend.

Third, what are the questions you’d like to see addressed?

John Alan Turner: Television Star?

Friday, October 12th, 2007

Okay, I’m far from being a star, but I am going to be on television this weekend. You might remember that I was asked to participate in a taping for Coral Ridge Ministries‘ weekly television broadcast. They interviewed me along with Paul Voss and Ravi Zacharias about the challenges presented to Christianity by what is often referred to as “The New Atheism”.

The show is broadcast all over the world on TBN (the Trinity Broadcast Network) — usually on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings. There are other channels as well, and you can find them on Coral Ridge’s website.

I’m sure that by this time next week I will be much more famous than I currently am. I’ll probably have lots more money, too. This will change everything.

Of course, you know…I’m joking.