Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wisdom For Personal Application

Sadly, because many are not knowledgeable of their divine potential, they limit their growth and development and forfeit their covenant rights that have been granted to them by their faith in Christ. They deprive their families and communities of the wonderful benefits they could provide for them…..Just as God spoke to a nonexistent universe and it came into being, God has spoken words over you that have given you immense power – power to alter and control your environment, power to excel and not fail and power to do great exploits in the earth. We have a choice to either accept or deny what God has spoken over us……There are no worthless people in God’s creation. He has given everyone a divine potential to do supernatural exploits that bring glory to his name. When you fall short of this potential, you deprive yourself and your family of the optimum life-style that was planned for you and them. You also deprive your generation and the world of your unique gifts that were given by God to bless mankind. God has chose you and made you extraordinary and special. Therefore, you have tremendous value.

Jim Lowe

(from Achieving Your Divine Potential)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Foundations of Christian Optimism

L. Dwight Turner

I am often asked why I believe so strongly that Christians should be among the world’s most ardent optimists. I normally respond by saying that it is, more than anything else, due to the nature and the character of the God I worship. Most folks leave it at that. On occasion, however, an inquirer might want a bit more detail.

The reasons that I have adopted Christian optimism as my foundational philosophy of life are too many to mention in any short conversation and certainly within the framework of this article. Suffice it to say that once I began to take my walk with Christ seriously and put in to practice as best I could a sincere desire to live according to his teachings, the Holy Spirit gradually revealed to me why optimism was the Christian’s inherent approach to life.

As I began to explore scripture through this frame of reference, it is as if the Bible became a living organism, consistently revealing its truths in relation to the nature and character of God. These revelations of God’s love, his faithfulness, and his integrity brought about a positive response in my being and this response flowered into an optimistic approach to life. Over time I came to understand that the optimal way to live is as a Christian optimist. Even our language reflects this reality as optimal and optimism have the same prefix and the same root.

As I said earlier, the confines of this article does not allow for a detailed list of the reasons why I am a Christian optimist. I do, however, want to list a few of the reasons below. Should you desire a more in depth study of the subject, I suggest that you study the Bible, focusing of the nature and character of the Father as revealed in scripture in general and in the persons of Christ and the Holy Spirit in particular.

I am a Christian optimist because:

The Biblical God is a God of love. Further, he loves me.

The God of Scripture loves me with a proactive love, not a passive, indifferent, and conditional type of love. The Bible reveals that God loves me enough to send his only Son to die for me so that I might have life to the fullest and, on top of that, have life eternally.

The God of the Bible further exhibits his proactive love by pursuing me. He chased me down when I ran from him. Consistently acting as the “Hound of Heaven,” the God I worship continues to come and find me when I have strayed from the sheepfold and, wonder of wonders, loves me still.

If ever there was a prodigal on this earth, it is I. Still, my God not only accepts me back after I wander here and there, he comes out on the path to meet me and, in spite of my faithlessness, he celebrates my return. Even though I am undeserving of his love and his grace, he gives it freely.

My God is a God of mercy, not justice. I shudder to think what life would be if I got what I actually deserve.

The Biblical God gave up a part of himself so that I might be forgiven; and he sent another part of himself so that I might live the kind of life he wants me to live. I am optimistic because I am forgiven and I am empowered.

God allows me to partake of his divine nature.

The Christian God has already blessed me with all that I need to live a holy life and has further blessed me by indwelling me with the power to make that life manifest on a daily basis.

The Biblical God has placed within me the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.

The God I worship has made me a New Creation and has promised that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

My God has said that he has prepared even greater things for me in the next world.

The God revealed in Scripture has told me that Christ will, indeed, come again.

Obviously, I could go on and on here but by now I hope you get the picture. As a Christian I have every right to be an optimist. In fact, I could be nothing other than an optimist. Sure, life has problems and will always have problems. The Christian life is not a pleasure cruise. Far from it. Yet in spite of this, I am an optimist because I know that I have the power within me to handle any situation that may arise. God has promised me that he will never make me face more than I can handle.

I am a Christian optimist because he that is within me is greater than he who is in the world.

© L.D. Turner 2008/All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Eight Mirrors of Optimal Living

L. Dwight Turner

After many years conducting workshops, seminars, and teaching classes on spiritual formation and spiritual disciplines, I have witnessed one central fact emerge with a consistent regularity: those seeking to make progress on the continuum of spiritual formation need at least a rudimentary map to help facilitate the journey.

Although no single method of explaining the process of our growth into Christ-like character is flawless and complete, having a basic framework with which a spiritual aspirant might deepen his or her understanding of the journey of spiritual development is essential. Such maps of the journey provide a matrix through which a seeker might filter various experiences as well as discern what practices and disciplines might be best suited for each step along the way. Many such maps and methodologies exist, both ancient and modern, and anyone who is committed to deepening his or her walk of faith can readily find something with which they might commence the journey.

At LifeBrook we have developed a basic map of the journey of spiritual formation which is the result of our experience working with individuals and groups of sincere Christians, augmented by in depth study and research in the field of spiritual formation. We call this innovative approach The Eight Mirrors of Optimal Living and we have seen that this approach provides a way to make the journey of spiritual formation a positive and understandable process. The development and fine-tuning of the Eight Mirrors has been a beneficial learning experience for us at LifeBrook and is in keeping with our mission: to provide materials and programs to assist individuals and organizations to become the optimal version of themselves for the glory of God and the benefit of others.

Before giving a brief introduction to the Eight Mirrors of Optimal Living, a few comments about the terminology we employ is important. First, we call each component of the process a “mirror” rather than a step, or stage, or some other similar term. The reason for doing this is two-fold: the Eight Mirrors are not stages, or steps. Instead, each of the eight components balances the others. They are all part of an integrated, interconnected system that is more like a spiral than a ladder. Secondly, we use the term mirrors because each component of the system reflects all other components. The basic premise here is that no part of the program stands alone. In each component, the spiritual traveler can see the reflections of the other seven. This will be more apparent as the individual mirrors are discussed.

With that said, let me introduce you to the Eight Mirrors of Optimal Living. Keep in mind: no mirror stands alone and each mirror contains the reflection of the other seven. The Eight Mirrors are:

Mirror of Consecration

We begin by making a firm, serious commitment to allow the Holy Spirit to guide and empower us to move forward in a program of disciplined spiritual development.

Mirror of Connection

We engage in consistent practice of specific spiritual disciplines, especially prayer, meditation, and contemplation in order to connect with and deepen our daily contact with God.

Mirror of Comprehension

We undertake a systematic process of study of both Scripture and relevant materials that will facilitate a deepening of our understanding of God’s redemptive plan of restoration on earth and the establishment of his kingdom. Further, we engage in study and practice that will allow us to come to a full comprehension of our reborn identity “in Christ,” how we go about appropriating our identity as “new creations,” and what laws God has provided for the renewing our minds.

Mirror of Conscious Cognition

Based on knowledge and awareness of the necessity of renewing our minds, we apply specific principles and biblical laws designed to facilitate a change in our thinking (cognition) and thus a change in our behavior. Through a process we call “conscious cognition” we learn to think more positively, tear down strongholds, and take every thought captive for Christ.

Mirror of Character

We continue the process of disciplined growth into “Christ-character,” which is the only legitimate goal of spiritual formation. Based on an understanding that, through Christ, God has already provided all that we need to live godly lives and, further, that we have already been blessed in the heavenly realms, we continue to allow the Holy Spirit to show us how we may facilitate the process of bringing those blessings of a godly life (Christ-character) down from the spiritual realm and into concrete manifestation in our daily lives.

Mirror of Community

We deepen our awareness of the importance of Christian community and our understanding of the reality that the path of faith was never intended to be traversed in isolation. We study the role of spiritual gifting by the Holy Spirit, discern and clarify our gifts, and develop a specific strategy for utilizing our gifts for the edification of the Body of Christ. We also come to realize that, as humans, we are part of a global family and also part of an interconnected whole. Through ongoing study and spiritual practice, our goal in this mirror is to deepen our experiential awareness of the fact that when one part of this interconnected whole suffers, all suffer at some level. Further, we also understand that when one part is blessed, all are blessed. One of the primary goals in the Mirror of Community is to develop a vital, personal sense of compassion for our hurting world and become profoundly motivated to incarnate the heart of Christ in areas of need, locally, nationally, and globally.

Mirror of Contribution

As Christians, believers in and followers of Christ, our mandate is to continue his incarnation on earth in general and to work toward establishing his kingdom in particular. The example given to us by Jesus, by washing his disciples’ feet and in many other ways, makes it abundantly clear that the Christians’ call is foremost a call to service. By becoming sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit, we discover an area of need, pick up our towel and get to work. We acknowledge that in today’s world, perhaps the most effective form of outreach and evangelism is through genuine acts of Christian kindness, borne from a love of God and a heart of compassion.

Mirror of Celebration

Growing in Christ-character, we come to a living, joyful awareness that the Christian life is, indeed, the best of all possible worlds. We comprehend on every level that Jesus spoke a core truth when he told us that it is by losing our lives that we gain them. We celebrate our blessings as Christ-followers in worship, enjoyment of the created order, our own creativity, and especially in a personal sense of fulfillment. Our worldview is characterized by a realistic optimism, based on God’s incredible promises, his integrity, and his faithfulness. We seek at every opportunity to share that joy with others

As mentioned earlier, our mission at LifeBrook International is to provide programs and materials that enable individuals and organizations to manifest the optimal version of who and what they are. For the Christian, this means understanding, accepting and appropriating a new identity in Christ.

In its most fundamental sense, the process of fully appropriating your new identity in Christ is the greatest gift you can give to the world. Operating under you old identity, you were spiritually dead, cut off from the source of your true life. You were under the control of your lower nature, what Paul referred to as “the flesh.” Furthermore, you were held under the sway of both the world and the enemy. Living under these burdensome limitations, there was no way you could possibly approach the dynamic creativity and productivity of your God-given potential. Now, however, by taking possession of who and what you are “in Christ,” you can discover your divine potential, find your spiritual calling, develop you personal vision, and grow into the best version of yourself.

In Christ, you are reborn – you are spiritually alive and capable of making your own unique contribution to the world. Here at LifeBrook, our experience has convinced us that the Eight Mirrors of Optimal Living provide a positive and affirmative map of the journey toward completion “in Christ.” Empowered, directed, and assisted in every way by the Holy Spirit, the Eight Mirrors provide a valuable and effective matrix through which you can understand the dynamics of your faith formation and move forward with optimism, hope, and confidence toward becoming the optimal version of yourself. When you become the best version of yourself, when you walk in your glory, you are in reality a gift from God to a hurting world.

© L.D. Turner 2008/All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Personal Change Begins With Willingness

Mick Turner

The desire for personal change is epidemic in America these days. If you don’t believe me, next time you are in a bookstore go through the section containing Christian books, and then also peruse the Self Help section, along with Psychology and even Alternative Health. Examine the book covers, front and back, and count how many times you read the phrase, “…will change your life.” Look for similar phrases as well. I think you get the idea.

Marketers of publishing houses great and small have discovered that people like you and me want to change the quality of life for the better. This is understandable. I suspect just about everyone wants to improve, but I believe there is something deeper here than meets the eye. Experiences with family, friends, and clients in workshops, training programs, and faith coaching sessions have led me to believe that everywhere you look these days, there is a common malady riding on the backs of people: a basic dissatisfaction with life.

Volumes could be written on the causes for such a phenomenon. However, that is not the point of this article. What I want to focus on here is not the cause for this sense of quiet desperation that seems to be hanging off people like some dark, dank, energy-sucking moss. A discussion of the possible solutions to this problem is not the focus, either. What I would like to discuss is the first step in any program of personal transformation. Without this essential ingredient, you won’t even make it out of the starting gate.

What is that essential component? It is simple, really. In order to actually change your life you have to genuinely want to. You see my friend, many people say they want to change, but they actually don’t mean it. They may even think they mean it, but they are only fooling themselves. The minute the going gets rough, these folks bail out faster than you can say, “Maybe things weren’t that bad after all.” Once these folks get a good whiff of the personal sacrifices often required in any program of transformation they hit their haunches faster than a Mississippi donkey.

Many years ago I worked as a counselor in an inpatient psychiatric facility. I recall one patient in particular who was a good example of what I am getting at here. We’ll call her Bessie, although that was not her real name. Bessie had been admitted to the facility at least eight times that I knew of. No matter what therapeutic interventions her doctors tried, she always reverted back to her problematic way of dealing with the world, which involved a combination of prescription medication, alcohol, and frequent violent explosions.

Bessie had been a patient of just about every psychiatrist in town at one time or the other, but the results were always the same. Bessie reverted back to being, well, Bessie.

At one point a new, young doctor came on staff and took over Bessie’s case. He tried a number of new things with Bessie and she at least seemed to be making some changes. Unfortunately, one day while in the hospital she manifested her old behavior. She reached over the nurses’ station and grabbed two medical charts and smashed them against the wall. She then began jumping up and down on them while ripping her clothes off and screaming at the top of her lungs. All of this happened just after she noticed her young doctor get off the elevator. While only clad in her underpants (Bessie was in her 70’s mind you, and more than a few pounds overweight), she started running in circles around her physician while telling him the following:

“Don’t think I don’t know what you’re up to, Buddy,” yelled Bessie in a loud, cackling voice. “I figured it all out last night. You’re trying to change me, aren’t you? Well, I’m here to tell you it ain’t gonna work.”

Granted, many of those who resist change are not as dramatic as Bessie in their behavior or their lack of desire for personal transformation. Still, the results are always about the same. Like Bessie, there is little lasting change. Bessie’s story and the stories of many like her share one thing in common: the stated desire for change was illusory.

The simple fact is if change is to happen in your life, you have to truly desire it. Like anything of value in life, change begins with desire. I repeat:

Every positive accomplishment begins as a desire in the mind of the individual. Desire is the initial force that gives birth to our dreams and it is desire that motivates us to achieve those dreams. All great things begin with positive desire.

I encourage you to begin with an honest, gut-level assessment of your desire to change. You have to ask yourself, “Is my desire for change genuine? Am I willing to, if necessary, make personal sacrifices in order to reach my desired goal of personal transformation?” If you answer these questions in the negative, that’s ok. It just means you are not yet ready to change yourself and your life. If this is the case, my suggestion is for you to pray to God, asking him to impart to you a willingness to change. Be sensitive to anything the Lord may be trying to communicate to you regarding change and/or willingness to change. Keep a journal and write down any insights or messages that may come to you. Go back later and reflect on what you have written, pray about it, and see what happens next. Even the unwillingness to change can be an avenue through which the Holy Spirit can help you to grow spiritually.

If you conduct an honest, thorough assessment of your desire to change and you discern that it is genuine, it is time to take the next step. You need to begin, through prayer and planning, to set goals for personal change and make specific plans for how this transformation might be facilitated. Enjoy where you are at that moment, because you are on your way to becoming a better version of yourself. Keep in mind that as you grow, you are increasingly able to realize the divine potential that God has placed inside you. You are more and more able to discern your strengths of character and put those very strengths into practice where it really counts, your everyday life. And one more thing, do it all for the glory of God. Like Jesus, your ultimate goal in personal change is to increasingly put yourself in a condition where you can glorify God.

Doing so was a big part of Christ’s mission on earth; and it is equally a big part of yours.

© L. Dwight Turner 2008/All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New Thought: It's Here - It's There - It's Everywhere

L. Dwight Turner

Each age in which humankind has lived and evolved has had specific tasks or assignments that had to be learned. Early on, it is obvious some of these were very basic types of lessons, but as humanity progressed, these lessons and issues become more complex. It seems to me that Sacred Spirit has a plan and the continual outworking of that plan has been the driving force of all creation.

I think that there are two primary lessons for this exciting yet challenging period in our spiritual and social evolution. First, I believe strongly that one of our primary life lessons of this age concerns the deepening of our understanding of the power of our minds. Up until the last 150-200 years, except for a small number of esoteric spiritual groups, our awareness of just how powerful the mind is was minimal. However, beginning in the mid-19th Century all of that was about to change.

The 19th Century was a time of increasing spiritual awareness around the world, but especially in the West. In Britain, for example, the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution gave rise of a powerful reactionary force, seen primarily in literature and the arts. This movement became known as Romanticism. In Germany, the “Idealist” philosophers grew in both clarity and influence and began to have a particularly strong impact on theology. As the century progressed, America witnessed the emergence of the Transcendentalist Movement, again primarily in literature. Rejecting the rationalism of the Enlightenment and the logic of science, the Transcendentalist spoke of a higher plane of reality and a divine energy that permeated and gave life to all that existed. Writers like Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman challenged the accepted, traditional worldview and, in so doing, infused their ideas into the very core of American culture. The impact of these writers is still felt today in just about every field of study and endeavor.

The divine plan of Sacred Spirit began to take flesh, however, in another American philosophical/theological school that eventually became known as New Thought. A widely diverse movement, New Thought had its origins in the field of healing and quickly spread to other areas of study and practice, including theology.

Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802-1866) is traditionally called the “Father of New Thought.” Quimby, like many others of his time, was dying of tuberculosis. After a mysterious sort of carriage ride in which he battled with a particularly head-strong horse, Quimby felt mentally invigorated and noticed that his condition improved somewhat. After attending a lecture on “Mesmerism,” a technique of hypnosis fashionable in the late 1830’s, Quimby began to experiment with hypnotic techniques and eventually became a healer of great renown.

Quimby’s techniques and ideas spread quickly through his students and eventually New Thought was born. Christian Science, although not technically New Thought, was certainly born out of New Thought teachings. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, eventually acknowledged her philosophical debt to Quimby and his followers. Other early New Thought pioneers included teachers like Emma Curtis Hopkins, Malinda Cramer, and Nona Brooks. This trio especially was involved in the founding of Divine Science, one of the more influential New Thought schools.

Charles Fillmore and his wife Mary were also major New Thought figures, eventually founding the Unity School of Christianity. A little later on, influenced by New Thought writers Ralph Waldo Trine and Christian Larson, Ernest Holmes founded the Religious Science Movement. Holmes is considered one of the most influential teachers of New Thought and his teachings, called “The Science of Mind,” have influenced such modern day figures as Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller, Og Mandino, Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins and, in an indirect and notably bizarre way, the entire Word of Faith Movement, the fastest growing segment of Christianity world wide.

I could go on and on describing the impact of New Thought, which noted psychologist William James called the “school of healthy mindedness,” but space does not permit it. Suffice to say the New Thought has been of tremendous impact on our culture, our religions, and especially on psychology. Chances are, if you have been influenced by any type of positive thinking teaching, you have been influenced by New Thought in general and Ernest Holmes in particular.

Turning from a historical perspective, let’s take a brief look at some basic New Thought teachings. Keep in mind, we don’t have time to go into great detail here. It is my hope that in presenting some of the fundamental teachings of New Thought, you may be motivated to study these ideas further and, if you feel so led, apply them to your life. Below I list the Principles of Divine Unity, one of the newer New Thought Schools.

Principle One – There is One Power

Principle Two – The Kingdom is Within

Principle Three – I am an Individualized Expression of the Divine

Principle Four – My Thoughts and Beliefs Give Specific Form to Spirit

Principle Five – The Principle at the Basis of our Lives is the Law of Cause and Effect

Principle Six – We are Endowed With Free Will and Thus Can Embody Divine Unity by Choosing Compassion

Principle Seven – Evil is not a Separate Force but a Misuse of the Law

Principle Eight – Changing My Thinking Changes My Life

Principle Nine – There are Seven Tools Which Enable Us to Transform Our Consciousness by Enabling Us to Transform Our Thinking and Thereby Our Lives and the World We Live In*

Principle Ten – All These Principles Assist Us in Realizing Our Divine Unity Which Although Always Present May Not Be Realized Because of “Obscurations and Delusions.

The Seven Tools of Transformation are:

The Word


Goal Setting/Planning


Affirmative Prayer



Keep in mind that this list is only an outline and time or space does not allow for a very deep analysis here. Suffice to say that New Thought, in its various forms, is of the belief that a divine energy permeates the entire universe and that this energy is not only the source of all life, but also its animating and sustaining principle. This “Divine Mind” or “Sacred Intelligence” operates according to set universal “laws,” most notably the Law of Cause and Effect. New Thought also places great emphasis on the Law of Attraction, a principle that gained much popularity recently with the publication of Byrne’s book “The Secret.” There really wasn’t much secret about The Secret. The principles discussed in the pages of Byrne’s book are straight out of New Thought.

Although its leading proponents consistently deny it, the Word of Faith Movement within Christianity has also been strongly influenced by New Thought. E.W. Kenyon, considered by many to be the earliest advocate of many of the principles that show up in Word of Faith teachings, was reported to have been strongly influenced by Ralph Waldo Trine, a leading New Thought teacher of the late 19th Century. As stated earlier, Word of Faith advocates go to great lengths to minimize the influence of Trine on Kenyon. No matter, whether from Trine or some other source, the presence of New Thought principles in the works of Kenyon is both unmistakable and undeniable.

What I find most interesting in the Christian traditions that have imbibed New Thought teachings is how they deal with this integral aspect of their theology. Let’s take a brief look at two examples, Peale/Schuller and Word of Faith.

As just mentioned, Word of Faith teachers, when confronted about New Thought influence, go to great lengths to deny it. Most Word of Faith teachers, as well as most charismatic teachers, define the New Thought Movement to be “occult” and the various schools associated with the movement as being “cults.” This is especially true when they speak of Unity, Religious Science, and Christian Science. (It should also be noted that Christian Science is not technically a New Thought entity). If the Word of Faith advocates readily admitted to the influence of any of these sources, it would open the Word of Faith movement to charges of heresy, charges that are levied anyway.

As for Peale, Schuller, and the “Positive Thinking/Possibility Thinking” crowd, they neither admit to nor deny New Thought influence. Schuller is especially interesting in this regard. While never acknowledging New Thought per se, he frequently mentions fairly contemporary teachers of New Thought principles such as Clement Stone, Manly Hall, Napoleon Hill, and Emmett Fox, just to name a few.

Personally, I believe a third option is the most sane and workable approach. If you, your teachings, your writings, and your world view have been impacted by New Thought, just say so. It is as simple as that. This is certainly the approach we take at NTCA. There is absolutely no need to dance around the subject with a Texas Two Step like the Word of Faith folks do. Just be up front and admit your influences. After all, no teacher has ever formulated their teachings in a theological/philosophical vacuum.

In the secular “pop psychology” world the influence of New Thought is everywhere you look. Tony Robbins, Wayne Dyer, Gary Zukav – all have been impacted by the school of thought. Some acknowledge the influence, some do not. However, the level and intensity of the denial of New Thought influence is nowhere near that found in Christian circles.

If you are anywhere near a regular reader of the LifeBrook International blog over on WordPress, you are surely aware that my world view has been impacted by various New Thought writers. I make no secret of this because I see absolutely no reason to do so. One of my most firmly held beliefs is the conviction that Christ may indeed be able to work and teach through any venue he chooses. He does not need my approval nor is he required to be shoehorned into any narrow theological worldview that is human in origin.

In addition, I make every effort to avoid rigidity in my thinking and myopia in my theological beliefs. I do this for more than one reason. First, I have found both truth and inspiration from a wide range of sources, including New Thought. Second, I am also aware that someone I have major disagreements with still has the capacity to teach me something if I am open-minded enough to hear it.

For example, I spent the summer of 1972 working in Washington, D.C. at the National Campaign Headquarters for Senator George McGovern. Although I am much more in the center politically now, back in those days I was so far left I made Chairman Mao look like William F. Buckley. At about the same time, life slowly began to unravel for Chuck Colson, Nixon’s famous “hatchet man.”

As most of you know, during his legal problems associated with Watergate, Colson had a conversion experience while sitting in his car and he became a Christian. It should also be said that I arrived in Washington on June 10, 1972. The Watergate burglary took place on June 17. Colson, after his release from prison, founded Prison Fellowship, a ministry geared toward the spiritual redemption of those serving prison sentences. He has also become a major author in Christian circles and his books are widely read by an eager audience.

What I am getting at here is this. I am about as close to Colson politically and religiously as Kansas is to Katmandu. Colon was and is an arch-conservative Republican. I am an Independent politically, but it is safe to say that I have never voted for a Republican for any office at any level. I have major differences with the ideological stance of the Republican Party and have shed more than one tear over the fact that the Religious Right has abducted my faith tradition and enlisted it in the service of the Republicans.

Not only am I far away from Colson’s political tastes, but religiously there is a great gulf between us as well. Colson is a Fundamentalist with a capital “F.” I think fundamentalism in any religion is a dangerous commodity and I disagree with much of this school’s teachings.

My point is this: Chuck Colson is one of my favorite Christian authors. I can say without reservation that I have learned much from his books and not long ago had the opportunity to finally hear him speak. Do I agree with most of what Colson says? Not on your life? Would I vote for him if he ran for office? You’re joking, right? But do I benefit from my exposure to his teaching? You betcha. But it does take an open mind and a willingness to explore the thought of those much different than my own.

As for New Thought, I would encourage readers to explore these teachings for themselves rather than letting someone else do their thinking for them. You may, indeed, be surprised at what you discover.

© L.D. Turner 2008/All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Renewing the Mind: The Importance of Scripture

Mick Turner

In today’s world we have what can best be described as a “spiritual marketplace.” In addition to the Christian faith as well as the other major religions of the world, we have numerous splinter groups, misguided cults, and New Age groups of every color and stripe. In such an environment where so many spiritual options are available to genuine seekers of the light, it is important that we, as Christians, keep ourselves saturated with scripture. Doing so will not only protect us from the works and schemes of the enemy, but will also help us to grow more deeply in our walk with God. Charles Stanley speaks to this issue clearly:

Those who don’t read their Bible are subject to what Paul described as “every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Eph. 4:14).

I can personally attest to the value of immersing oneself in scripture when confronted with the realities of the postmodern world in which we now live. Over the course of many years, I have not only studied, but delved deeply into numerous religions and spiritual paths. I can honestly say that I profited from this effort. It allowed me to see at some depth what other people believed and devoted their lives to. Further, every religion contains some degree of truth and has valuable teachings. To deny this is to be spiritually near-sighted. Some of these truths have helped me in many ways, including deepening my daily walk with Christ.

With that said, however, there is always a danger lurking in the shadows when we explore new and exotic teachings. As Paul says, we may get sidetracked by “every wind of doctrine.” I know from personal exploration that many ideas sound great but, when followed to their logical conclusion, are nothing but empty rabbit holes.
I find the following words by Charles Stanley to be, as usual, right on target:

As many times as I have read my entire Bible, I still have new insights into God’s Word every time I sit down to read it. The Bible is always fresh; it never grows stale. Often I find that God leads me to read a particular passage just when I need it the most. He reminds me of what I already know so that I will be able to use His truth in a very specific way in the hours or days ahead…….The wonder of God’s Word is that you can never understand it fully. God’s Word holds countless layers of insight and meaning and it is applicable in unique ways to an infinite number of situations. The more you grow in your relationship with God, the more insights you have into His character and into the way in which God operates. You have a growing understanding of who you are created to be and called to be.

One of the greatest benefits of immersing ourselves in scripture comes from the discovery that the Bible is not so much about us as it is about God. The Bible, from cover to cover, is an unfolding of God’s Great Story. It is a story of redemption, recovery, restoration, renewal, revival – whatever “R” word you might want to choose. In addition, it is a story of the bringing of God’s kingdom down from the spiritual realm and assisting with its manifestation here in the physical realm.
What is more amazing is the fact that each of us, no matter who we are, where we come from, or where we have been is an integral part of that great story. Each of us has a role to play in God’s great plan of redemption and revival. Our job is to discover that role and then play it to its fullest. That’s why we here at LifeBrook put so much stress on the notion of becoming the optimal version of yourself for the glory of God and the benefit of others. By becoming the absolute best that we can be, we are better equipped to do what God planned for us to do. He has called us to a great work and has equipped us to accomplish that work.

Recognizing that we have a purpose to fulfill in God’s larger, more magnificent story results in several important insights. First of all, it should give us a sense of humility in that we see that it is indeed “God’s Story,” not ours. He is the director, the producer, even the scriptwriter. Our part is to find out what role we are to play and to play it well. Second, realizing we are a part of God’s Great Story gives life a new perspective and deepens our sense of meaning and purpose. This awareness has a healing quality to it in that we feel connected to a purpose much larger than our own desires.

Many of us make the mistake of underestimating the significance and the power of the Bible when it comes to personal transformation in general and renewing the mind in particular. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are filled with scriptures that, when planted into the fertile soil of our subconscious mind, can eventually take root and grow. As this process takes place, we find that our perspective on certain things begins to change, always for the better. It is this reason, as well as many others described above that I encourage you to never dismiss scripture as a major tool in your spiritual arsenal. It is truly the breath of the Holy Spirit and can be of great benefit when used properly.

© L.D. Turner 2008/All Rights Reserved