Thursday, December 17, 2009

Today's Encouraging Word

Often we allow ourselves to accept limitations in our lives that have no business being considered, much less accepted. At the risk of sounding like a cliché, let me just say that as Christians we need to “dream big.” The God we worship is a big God and he places dreams in our lives that reflect the mission he has given us to accomplish. And it stands to reason that a big God is going to plant big dreams. Scripture tells us that with God, all things are possible. With the preceding thoughts in mind, never discount a dream just because it seems too big. At least take the time to evaluate that big dream, talk to trusted friends about it, and above all, take it to the throne in prayer.

And please, keep two more thoughts in mind when evaluating your dreams. First, God will never give you a dream and not equip you to realize it. He is not in the business of planting empty fantasies in our minds. If you are dealing with a dream, vision, or mission from the Holy One, he will give you the talents and spiritual gifts to bring that vision into manifest reality. And secondly, also consider this. If a dream seems too big to be possible, there is a good chance that God is giving you that dream. Why do I say such a thing? It’s simple, really. God only plants dreams that are impossible to accomplish under our own power. Scripture teaches over and over again that we are to depend on God for all things, so it stands to reason that he will only give us dreams that require his partnership in order to realize.

Erwin Raphael McManus

(from Wide Awake)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's Time to Become Who You Really Are

L. Dwight Turner

In the Christian’s journey of faith it is foundational to understand the following biblical principles before we travel very far down the road of spiritual formation:

God has provided everything we need in order to develop and evolve spiritually. It seems he has done this in ways that are highly mysterious but also highly effective. One way of looking at it is that he has provided all that we will ever need on the spiritual level and also he has provided, through the person of the Holy Spirit, the power we need in order to contact these spiritual blessings and bring them down from the spiritual world and into manifestation in our daily lives.

Once we understand this fundamental reality, the logical questions now center on what our responsibilities are in this process. Some advocates of the “everything is by grace” school would insist there is nothing we can do to grow in the spiritual life, but even a minimal check of the reality of the situation would prove that position untenable. There is plenty for us to do as the process of our spiritual development, what is called our “sanctification,” is a joint venture.

Our part in this is first, to place ourselves into a position of receptivity and obedience. We can increase receptivity by practicing the classical spiritual disciplines, especially meditation, prayer, lectio divina, and contemplation. In terms of obedience, we do not need to make this process overly complicated. Most of God’s will for our lives in revealed in Sacred Scripture, but many of us ignore this aspect of obedience by looking for God’s “specific will,” which is fine, but can also be an exercise in self-absorption.

The other aspect of practical Christianity involves advancing God’s kingdom through service to others. That service, motivated by compassion and fueled by kindness is our main task. If we are to be truly obedient, we start right here.

So you see, here we have three aspects of practical faith before us:


The fourth element I might add to this is Sacred Character. The formation of sacred character is the goal of any path of spiritual formation. Sacred Scripture informs us that we have the mind of Christ and few of us it seems realizes just what a blessing this is. In addition to our own mind, we have operating in us the same mind that operated in Jesus when he walked the earth. We find that mind through quieting our own internal chatter enough to encounter Sacred Silence. The disciplines of meditation and especially contemplation are highly important here. It is through the transformative encounters we have with Sacred Silence and our Inner Light that the foundation stones for our journey of spiritual formation are laid. Encouraged by our increasing contact with the Divine Source, we are better equipped to walk boldly in the world and deal with the vicissitudes of life.

Sacred Character is synonymous with moral integrity. We know who we are, how we are supposed to live, and with the power of the Holy Spirit, we live consistently with those values. Sacred Character means that we have a highly developed, internalized worldview and concomitant value system and that we live accordingly. In this way, Sacred Character becomes a bridge that connects our receptivity and our obedience with our service to the world. Here, then, we have the dynamic of our four responses to God’s grace and equipping:


If we seek a workable model of a person who integrated these four aspects of a dynamic relationship with the Father, we need look no further than Jesus. If ever a person was receptive and obedient to God, it was the Master. A deep, abiding sacred character was also evident in all Jesus said and did. And as far as service is concerned, Jesus gave us a great example in the 13th chapter of John when he introduced the disciples (and us) to the ministry of the towel.

I am certain you are aware of Paul's idea, repeated in one way or another throughout his correspondence with the fledgling churches, of the relationship between Jesus and God. Paul tells us that all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell in Christ, which meant that God and Jesus were in some mysterious way the same being. In the Jewish culture of his day, Paul was making an incredible claim here. Jews were not supposed to make any image of God and even to speak his name was considered a capital offense. Now, here was Paul echoing Jesus by implying that the great and mighty Jehovah was in essence a loving, creator who was not only the Father of Jesus, but was also Jesus himself. And the reverse was true. Jesus was not only a great teacher and a skilled Rabbi; He was not only a great healer and the leader of a band of shady-looking disciples; Jesus, according to Paul, was Jehovah Himself.
Standing alone, that sort of statement was enough to give the High Priest a major migraine.

Paul, however, wasn't finished. In fact, he was just getting started. If you take a look at Ephesians 3:19, the Apostle tells the early church members that he prays "that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." (NSRV) Here Paul was pulling no punches; instead, he went straight for the knockout. Paul basically was saying that he prayed for and believed that, as Christians, the new believers were expected to become like Jesus.

No wonder the religious establishment saw Paul as a dangerous, if not demented, man. Equating Jesus with God was a reach. Saying that a human being could become like Jesus was beyond the pale of comprehension and acceptability.

Yet is precisely the character of Christ that we are charged to develop within ourselves. In order to accomplish this great mission we have a divine partner in the Holy Spirit and our Christian brothers and sisters for power, guidance, and support. An open, honest relationship with the Holy Spirit is where we must place our energies at this time, even though much confusion and lack of knowledge about the Holy Spirit exists. We are told by Jesus that the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, is where we are to focus our efforts for learning and guidance. Unfortunately, many of us refuse to get too close to the Spirit, as we operate primarily out of fear and ignorance.

Part of our process of appropriating the divine gifts already provided by God in the spiritual realm involves claiming them. This process is not so much “name it and claim it” as often espoused in the so-called “Prosperity Gospel,” but does involve a similar principle. We are not claiming something that is not rightfully ours, but instead, we are claiming the free gifts of grace provided to us and for us as joint heirs with Christ. In this sense, we do “name and claim,” – we name and claim what scripture tells us we should name and claim. In fact, if we fail to claim these free gifts of God’s grace we are, in essence, rejecting much of what Christ achieved on our behalf.

One other aspect of this also needs to be mentioned. By naming and claiming the gifts of character that are rightfully ours by virtue of our new status of being “in Christ,” we are not pushing God to act in our behalf and do our bidding. Instead, we are recognizing, accepting, and appropriating what God has already done through Christ. This may seem to be a subtle distinction, but it makes all the difference in the world. By recognizing and claiming our scriptural status as new creations in Christ, we are exercising our faith in God and praising him for what he has already accomplished.

Unlike the prosperity preachers, we are not turning God into some sort of cosmic bellhop who fetches at our command. Instead, by claiming his free gift of a new heart, a renewed mind, and a transformed character, we are recognizing God for what he is, a loving Father who has provided everything we will ever need to live the kind of life he desires for us.

As new creations in Christ, we are blessed indeed.

© L.D. Turner 2009/All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Today's Encouraging Word

He who is within us urges, by secret persuasion, to such an amazing Inward Life with Him, so that, firmly cleaving to Him, we always look out upon all the world through the sheen of the Inward Light, and react toward men spontaneiously and joyously from this Inward Center. Yeild yourself to Him who is a far better teacher than these outward words, and you will have found the Instructor Himself, of whom these words are a faint and broken echo.

Thomas Kelly

(from A Testament of Devotion)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Jettison the Negative: It's Time to Shake and Shine

L.D. Turner

Starting with Freud and moving forward in its history, the practice of psychotherapy and counseling has had a morbid preoccupation with the past. Although there are doctrinal differences between many of the schools of psychology, a majority of these systems operate under the belief that by dredging up the issues in one’s past, a person can gain valuable insight into how and why they behave the way they do in the present.

The industry of “insight psychotherapy” continues to be highly popular, not to mention profitable to those who practice it. For what its worth, however, I personally believe that lasting change and personal transformation is a rarity in insight psychotherapy. I should also say that as a counselor, I practiced this form of treatment for more than a few years. I came to the conclusion that clients were far better served with an approach to personal change that was grounded in biblical principles and Cognitive Psychology. I would add to that mix what is now known as Positive Psychology.

These fields of cognitive and positive psychology are more oriented toward the present and the future and one can certainly say that the Bible, although grounded in history, is geared toward spiritual transformation in the here and now.

Other than gaining a degree of minimal insight, nothing positive can be gained from dwelling on our past. I love the analogy that compares our need to look forward rather than backward to an automobile. Cars have a large windshield and a small rear view mirror. It is the same with life. Whereas we need to glance toward the past from time to time, we only need to look briefly, not become riveted. When you are driving, it is much better, not to mention safer, to keep your eyes on the road in front of you. When navigating through your life, the same principle applies, especially when you are dealing with your dreams and visions. The fact is, your dream will be realized in your future, not in your past.

When dealing with negativity, you also have to be proactive. This is especially true if you are dealing with depression, despondency, or discouragement. Get up, get moving, get busy doing something. Above all, don’t sit around moping and ruminating over negative and unproductive thoughts. By doing so, you will only dig yourself into a deeper rut and never forget my friend, a rut is nothing but a grave with the ends kicked out.

If you find yourself stuck in self-perpetuating cycles of negative thinking and chronic discouragement, take a proactive approach and do it right away. Begin by going to the Master in prayer and being open about what you are thinking and feeling. Ask for the Spirit’s help in overcoming chronic negativity and further, ask for an increased sense of boldness and confidence in dealing with your thought life and your emotions. Scripture tells us that we were not given a spirit of timidity, but instead, we have been empowered and equipped with personal boldness, which possesses a great amount of spiritual power.

After prayer, your next step should be one of commitment. Make a firm commitment to God and to yourself that today is, indeed, the first day of the rest of your life. Don’t do this in a slovenly manner, but with all the strength at your command, make a bold (there’s that word again!) commitment that today will be a day that you will someday look back on and see as a turning point in your life.

As an affirmative component of your commitment, begin to speak positive blessings over your life. I am not talking about some pie-in-the-sky “I am a great person” sort of affirmation. No, I am suggesting that you make positive, bold, biblical statements about yourself, based on what God says about you in scripture. If God says something positive about you, then you can bank on it being true. Speak blessings over your life such as:

I take possession of the reality that in Christ I am a new creation; and I can do all things because He strengthens me.

Speak this over your life several times each day and in a month you will see positive changes in how you think, feel, and act. There is great power in giving voice to positive, constructive, biblical statements. Speaking biblical principles is one of the most effective agents of personal change that God has placed at our disposal. Although a number of Christian writers and teachers have put forth theories as to why this sort of positive speaking helps bring about positive results in our lives, I tend to think it is a mystery that no one fully understands. Our lack of understanding, however, does not in any way negate its power. I don’t have a clue as to how electricity works, but I know that when I flip the wall switch, light comes on in my room. Think of speaking biblical principles in the same way. Just do it because it works.

Pastor and teacher Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Houston gives the following suggestion:

If you will set aside five minutes a day and simply declare good things over your life, you may be astounded at the results. Before you start your busy day, before you leave the house, drive to work, or take the kids to school, take a few minutes to speak blessings over your life…..Always make sure you can back it up with God’s Word. Then get alone with God and take a few minutes every day to declare good things over your life. Remember, it is not enough to read it or merely think about it. Something supernatural happens when we speak it out. That’s how we give life to our faith.

I suggest these steps not only from theory and study, but also from personal experience. Although the Holy Spirit has helped me make great strides in becoming a more optimistic, hopeful person, for many years I operated as if a dark cloud engulfed me everywhere I went. It was only through making a sincere commitment to live in a different way that change began to take place.

I recall finally reaching a point where I was, as they say, sick and tired of being sick and tired. Through exposure to the teachings of Positive Christianity and Cognitive Psychology I came to a workable understanding that my problems began in my thinking and if I wanted to change, that is where I had to start. Further, I came to understand that Satan knows these principles as well and is a master and applying them in an effort to destroy us. I knew I had to take action.

I rented a small cabin on top of one of my favorite mountains in North Alabama and isolated myself from Friday afternoon until Monday morning. I used this time to do several things. First, I consecrated myself to the task of cognitive change and followed this by an extended period of prayer, seeking God’s help and assurance as I began this journey. I spent a good bit of time that weekend reflecting on the patterns of my thinking and how I came to be the way I was. By the time I left the mountaintop on Monday, I was enthusiastic and spiritually ready to tackle my thinking head on.

I can’t tell you that it was an overnight success. The process of turning my thinking around took quite a bit of time and, in some ways, it continues right up until today. Still, through taking positive action, associating with others who were committed to a similar process, and much positive, affirmative prayer, the results in my own life have been highly beneficial.

When applying biblical principles for positive life change always keep in mind that this sort of transformation is a process not an event. By that I mean that change and growth normally takes place incrementally rather than suddenly. It took you many years to develop your negative ways of thinking, behaving and relating. By the same token, it will take time to change.

Have you ever been to a modern zoo, the type where the animals are not caged? Instead, they usually are separated from zoo patrons by either large ditches, small canals, or non-descript fencing. I lived in Miami for 15 years and often visited the zoo, at least in the winter when the weather was not too hot. Whenever I went to the zoo, I could easily spot the animals that had been kept in cages for most of their lives. Now, even with the freedom to roam over a much larger territory, most of them just walked back and forth in an area the size of their former prison. Nothing held them in that confined space except the force of habit.

Even if we are sincere about our spiritual growth, we may often behave in ways similar to these zoo animals. Like the zoo animals, we are now free to choose new ways of living – and a fresh approach to life. Tragically, many of us keep walking in our old familiar ways, even though a new, exciting world awaits us if we progressively allow ourselves to be controlled by our spirit rather than our ego. We know we are on the spiritual path, but we don’t act like it. Instead of exploring fresh and free ways to be salt and light in this world, we just pace back and forth within the confines of the ruts our negative, habitual behaviors have created for us. Positive change will eventually come, just as it does for many of those animals that were raised in cages. However, the process take time.

The key principles here are patience and persistence. Do not become overly agitated when change doesn’t come overnight but instead, let your personal growth into Christ-character proceed along God’s timetable, not yours. And above all, don’t give up. It is critical that you remain proactive in your spiritual practice, especially when it comes to prayer and positive thinking. The enemy will seek to derail you, especially during vulnerable times when progress is slow and unsteady. The key here is to trust God. Believe the Great Apostle when he says:

…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

This passage of scripture alone is assurance that God will not abandon you, nor will he forget the restoration project he began in you. It is the will of the Father of Lights that you become a shining likeness of his only begotten Son and Jesus himself said that you are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

If you are, indeed, sick and tired of being sick and tired; if you are, indeed, ready to commit yourself to the process of spiritual growth into a replica of Christ-like character, then take that vital step of consecration. You have lived far too long under the thumb of those old destructive patterns of negative thought and behavior. It is time to step our into the light of Christ and begin to live as the optimal version of yourself. It is time to see yourself as God sees you – a positive, spiritual being whom he has given a purpose and equipped with everything needed to realize that mission in life. It is time to realize that you are both salt and light.

My friend, it is time to step into your destiny – it is time to shake and shine.

© L.D. Turner 2009/All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Change Your Thoughts / Change Your Life

L.D. Turner

I am convinced that one of the primary lessons that God is bringing to the fore in these challenging days centers on the power of thought. Granted, this is not a new awareness on the part of humanity as teachings on divine thought power have been recorded even in ancient times. However, the widespread emphasis on understanding the role thought plays in helping create the quality of life we experience is relatively new. More and more people are becoming aware of and interested in these mental laws and how to use them.

Even the most cursory survey of recent publications will reveal America’s burgeoning fascination with the power of thought. Go into any major bookstore, search the shelves, and you will see a plethora of titles related to our thought life in general and the potential power of thought in particular. What’s more fascinating is that these books are found in diverse sections, from self-help, to psychology, to personal growth, and even Christianity. What’s going on here?

Many sources attribute this growing interest in our cognitive functioning to the runaway popularity of Rhonda Byrne’s book and DVD entitled, The Secret. Byrne’s book deals primarily with “The Law of Attraction,” which basically states that if you think about something long enough with the right frame of mind, you will see it manifest in your life. Byrne treats the subject from a secular perspective and in a somewhat sensational fashion, however, a review of her book is beyond the scope of this article. The pertinent issue here is: Is the Law of Attraction valid and, if so, does it have positive implications for spiritual development.

My personal answers to these two questions are: Yes and Yes.

First, there is nothing new or “secret” about the Law of Attraction. The notion that somehow there was a conspiracy to keep this and other mental laws suppressed is, to put it frankly, nonsense. The Law of Attraction or its equivalent under other names has been well-known for thousands of years. Buddha asserted, for example, that a man’s life is created by his thoughts. The Advaita School of Vedanta (Hindu) also contains many similar teachings. In the West, Egyptian metaphysical religion and the Greek Hermetic teachings detailed the Law of Attraction as well as other metaphysical principles that have been passed down through the centuries.

During the 19th Century, the New Thought Movement stressed the power of thinking as its major tenet and, within the many schools of that movement, continues to develop similar teachings right up through the present. Science of Mind, Divine Science, and the Unity School of Christianity are but a few contemporary examples of New Thought.

In Christian tradition, the Law of Attraction and associated principles have been seen in such well-known figures as Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller. Today, the most significant home of these principles, at least under the Christian umbrella, can be found in the Word of Faith Movement, the fastest growing segment of the church.

From a biblical perspective, Solomon tells us in Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” On one level, what Solomon was getting at was the reality that a person’s consistent thoughts, especially his deepest thoughts (in his heart) tend to define who that person is. On another level, this verse, as well as much psychological research, tends to point to the fact that our thoughts have a magnetic quality, drawing to us the things we think about most. In practical terms, the Law of Attraction boils down to a simple principle: thoughts become things.

Looking briefly at Genesis 1, we can see that God created the world through his thoughts. The biblical text states that the world came into being at God’s verbal command – his words. In a sense, he spoke them into existence. And what are our words? Words are expressions of our thoughts. The Law of Attraction, from a biblical perspective, is related to the fact that we were created in the image of God. In a sense, we possess similar characteristics as those possessed by God. By thinking repeated thoughts they grow stronger, and, according to proponents of the Faith Movement, when we speak them, they grow even stronger. Through repetition, taken with faith in a positive outcome, what we are speaking will eventually come into manifestation.

Whether you believe the teachings of the Faith Movement is not the issue here. The important thing is that we not throw the baby out with the bath water. The Law of Attraction, like the law of gravity, is a natural part of God’s creation. Our capacity to use the Law was placed in us by the Creator and we should use it in accordance with his laws and his purposes.

Unfortunately, many teachers, especially those associated with the Prosperity Gospel, have appropriated the Law of Attraction to be used for the accumulation of wealth. I don’t personally think this is a biblical position, but I am not the sole source of authority on this. You have to evaluate whether or not God wants you to be rich for yourself. The problem here is the fact that many people who are opposed to the message of these prosperity teachers throw out the method because they feel it is being used for material purposes. I believe this is a mistake.

Our thoughts contain creative power and can be of great assistance to us in pursuit of godly character and spiritual development. Further, we can use the Law of Attraction to help bring about the Kingdom on earth. If we have within us a creative power that can help with manifesting God’s desires on earth, then we should use it in his service. The key principle to follow is: make sure you are using it for the betterment of yourself and all creation.

Here at Sacred Mind Ministries, we stress the importance of what we have come to call “Conscious Cognition.” In essence, it is imperative that we become mindful of our thoughts and, as Paul says, take every thought captive for Christ. We stress the importance of positive thinking and positive planning, coupled with positive prayer, to create a meaningful and purposeful life.

There are several factors to consider once you commit yourself to the process of developing sacred character. First, you must realize that transforming character is just that: a process; it is not an event. Character development takes time. Next, you must come to the vital understanding that all personal change starts in your mind. Deepen your awareness of those areas of your thinking where you are controlled by ideas of limitation. God is unlimited in what He can accomplish and, although the human part of you has obvious limitations, the divine part of you is created in the image of God and is unlimited. If you can firmly believe this, you are well on your way to realizing your divine potential.

Let go of limited thinking and come to expect God’s best because that is what He wants for you. He wants you to become the absolute best version of yourself, growing increasingly in the image of Christ. Begin to see the future with faith, hope, and vision. With diligence, let the Holy Spirit help you to create new wineskins of thought. Keep in mind that God can’t pour new, creative thoughts into your old limited wineskins. It is primarily for this reason that Paul stresses the need for tearing down “strongholds” that we have erected in our minds. Viewed from a basic perspective, a stronghold is an almost automatic mental/emotional response that has become a deeply ingrained part of us.

When life presents you with problems, many times there is nothing you can do about it. However, you can have complete control over your response to any problem life sends your way. You can have greater peace of mind if you just choose to have the right kind of thoughts. Focus your entire being on finding solutions, rather than wallowing in the problems at hand.

Work diligently to find your Inner Light, that still, quiet part of your being that serves as the Holiest of Holies where you and God connect. Once you find this sacred sanctuary, continue to take proactive measures to deepen and maintain your contact with this sacred aspect of your being. The more time you spend in “sacred silence,” the better. In addition to reducing stress and helping you to relax, you will also become more centered and focused. Important spiritual traits will begin to flow out of the sacred silence and into your everyday life; traits such as improved concentration and mindfulness, attention to detail, and emotional balance.

(c) L.D. Turner 2008/All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 29, 2009

On Being a Christian: What Does It Mean?

L.D. Turner

Christians seem to have an uncanny knack for taking simple truths and complicating them through debate, dogma, and doctrine. I don't mean to imply that these issues are not important. Certainly doctrine and dogma have their place. But I often wonder if Christ smiles in approval when he hears us debating his simple truths to the point that we divide ourselves into countless denominations and sects and tear asunder the Body that he meant to live in love and unity. On the contrary, I suspect this endless hairsplitting and theological nitpicking brings tears to his eyes.

During the early 1980's I enrolled in several Religion courses at a small university near my home in north Alabama. I recall one course in particular that centered on the life of Jesus. My fellow classmates were an interesting group. Some were undergraduate students pursuing coursework in Religion and Philosophy in preparation for seminary. Others were ordained pastors of small local churches who, after preaching for a number of years, felt the need to further their education. Others, like myself, were there seeking a deeper understanding of the Christian faith as well as its history and traditions. Then there was Henry.

No one knew exactly why Henry was enrolled. He rarely spoke and when he did, it was with a soft, slow voice with a pronounced rural southern brogue. Considering the diverse make up of the class, it was natural that heated discussions would often break out. The professor often encouraged this in fact. The class argued about many issues. The nature of the Trinity, immersion versus sprinkling, the permanency of salvation, the list is endless. I admit I often enjoyed these ballyhoos as they lent a degree of excitement to the proceedings and made the class time pass more quickly. One night the class was engaged in a verbal free for all centering on the Virgin Birth. I remember clearly hearing a wide range of viewpoints on this, mostly in support of the indisputable validity of the doctrine of virgin birth. I for one remained on the periphery of this dispute mostly out of ignorance. The doctrine of Virgin Birth was not for me an issue of central importance to my daily experience of the Christian path. In fact, unless it was brought up for discussion, I rarely consider it. It was one of those issues that I had placed on the theological back burner.

After a lengthy discussion, the professor looked to the back of the room and said, "Well Henry, you've been mighty quiet in this discussion. Why don't you share your thoughts on the Virgin Birth with us?"

After a long pause Henry folded his hands on the desk, looked cautiously around the room and said:

"Well, I've been a settin' here for over an hour listenin' to you gents discussing this here thing about the Virgin Birth of Christ. I guess ya'll know a heck of a lot more about all this than I do. You must or else you couldn’t talk about it for so long. All I know is this. Jesus loves me and I love him and try to do what he says. I reckon it don't matter much to me what his momma done."

Point taken Henry, end of discussion.

One issue that I have often heard brothers and sisters discussing, often in heated tones, is the order of salvation. Some say that we repent and then we are saved. Others say that we repent because we are saved. I imagine one could make a case for either side of this issue by citing various passages of scripture but in terms of our response to God's grace I don't see that it matters much on a practical level. The fact is God makes His offer and we respond. The mere act of responding is in itself an act of repentance. We accept that we are accepted, complete with our cuts and bruises, our shortcomings and short-fallings. This is the meaning of grace, pure and simple.

Yet the response doesn't stop here. We are amazed at God's grace and this radical amazement leads to a more consecrated repentance. Brennan Manning describes this response:

The saved sinner is prostrate in adoration, lost in wonder and praise. He knows repentance is not what we do in order to earn forgiveness; it is what we do because we have been forgiven. It serves as an expression of gratitude rather than an effort to earn forgiveness.

God is a loving God, a God concerned with making our lives fuller, richer, and more rewarding. He calls to us from a heart of compassion, seeking our affirmative response to his offer to come and reside within us, his offer to make us holy and whole. He is a God who desires to give us peace amidst the storms and tribulations of life in this harried world. In the words of Hannah Whithall Smith, as we look at the life of Christ and listen to His words, we can hear God saying

I am rest for the weary; I am peace for the storm-tossed; I am strength for the strengthless; I am wisdom for the foolish; I am righteousness for the sinful; I am all that the neediest soul on earth can want.

God offers and asks that we accept. Acceptance is the beginning of the process of conversion, which means a turning around. In essence, we accept God's gift and then turn our faces in a different direction.

It is at this very point of turning that a very critical and very real event occurs. This event is not all that complicated in the sense that it doesn’t involve any kind of doctrinal debate or theological nit picking. It is highly personal, it involves and analysis and a decision, and ultimately, a commitment to action.

Once we accept the fact that we are accepted, and here I mean truly accepted by the magnificent and unimaginable being that created all that exists, we first come to a deeper understanding of just who we are, what Christ has accomplished for us, and finally, if we indeed take on his yoke, what that commitment means in our lives – not the life of anyone else – but instead, your life as an individual believer now committed to walking with Jesus on a daily basis. We have to answer the basic question: What does it mean for me to be a Christian? Peter Vardy, in his remarkable little book And If it is True?, cogently explains this decision making process:

Christianity calls each of us to believe and trust in God, a belief and trust based on love. This is not simply a matter of intellectual assent….It is a matter of the truth of Christianity becoming ‘true for you’, as an individual. Only when Christianity becomes true for you so that you are willing to stake your whole life on it, does it really become true in your own case.

Belief that God exists does not come near to what Christianity is about. It is only when the factual truth of Christianity becomes “true for us” so that it becomes the center of our lives around which our whole existence revolves that we, as individuals, can see what Christianity involves….it means each of us coming to understand what it is for Christianity to become ‘true for me’, what Christianity is going to involve when it is taken on board and lived. Once we see and understand this, we then each of us have to decide whether or not we wish to try to live it – but that is our free choice. Until we have understood what is involved, however, we cannot even make the decision.

Christianity requires passion and total commitment – a commitment to a lived love relationship with God. The relationship has practical consequences and these can, to an extent, be foreseen.

“What does it mean to be a Christian?” ….The important way of looking at this question, however, is to see it as asking each of us, “What does it mean for me to be a Christian?” This is much much more uncomfortable and challenging. There is no single right answer – each of us needs to think the answer through for ourselves.

Before going any deeper into this, I want to pause for a few days and make a suggested assignment to those of you who might be interested. Each day for the next seven days, set aside some time for prayer and reflection. Your reflection should be on this simple question, “What does it mean for me to be a Christian?” Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you, teach you, and pray for wisdom, insight, and discernment.

Write down you answers to the question each day. The only caveat is this: you cannot repeat any answer. In other words, if on the first day one of your answers is, “It means that I will pray daily,” you cannot use that answer again for the next six days. Each day will contain answers never used before. It may seem like a struggle, but believe me, it is worth it.

At the end of the seven days, write a short essay about your experience. You may be very surprised at your new ideas.

© L.D. Turner 2009/ All Rights Reserved

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Prayer for Deeper Faith and Removal of Doubt

The Holy Spirit nudged me to post this prayer, which I composed some years ago, on this site today. Whenever I receive such a leading by the Spirit, I am not one to resist. I have found that these messages from the Spirit are pregnant with great possibilities. Perhaps there is someone out there right now who needs to see this prayer and begin to repeat it in his or her life. It is my sincere prayer that this is so. The prayer, which you should speak over your life every morning for at least a month, is as follows:

Lord, I trust your word and your word tells me that if I have faith, even faith as small as a mustard seed, then what I speak in that faith will come to pass. I thank you Lord for giving me this power and this privilege and I pray that you increase my faith day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute.

I declare and proclaim in faith right now, at this very moment, that any vestiges of doubt, known and unknown, are removed from my heart and I go forth in confidence as a child of the Living God, declaring blessing over my life and that of my family. I trust in the power of faith that fills my spoken word and, just as the Father’s word does not return empty, neither does mine.

I firmly believe in these divine principles because they have been laid down by the Master, the very matrix through which the world and all that is in it was created.

In the name of Jesus I pray…


(c) L.D. Turner 2009/ All Rights Reserved

Is This Vision From God?

L.D. Turner

People are often confused about whether or not one’s vision is from God or whether it is just something generated from within themselves or some other source. This is an important question, but the answers to solve the issue are not all that complicated. Basically, with rigorous honesty examine the vision with the following criteria in mind.

First of all, a genuine God-given vision is something for which you are going to feel a great deal of passion. We all have things that we are interested in, things that capture our attention of a time, and even things that excite us. But a God-inspired vision is different. A God-given vision is something you are super-charged about pursuing and makes you want to get out of bed in the morning. A God-inspired vision may even keep you up at night.

In addition, a vision from God is energizing. It gives you the power and the persistence to God the extra mile, even when things are going the way you expected. In short, a vision from God does not crumble at the first sign of trouble. Instead, when our vision is from God, we continually look for solutions to whatever difficulties may arise. We are able to tap into our resources of creativity and “out-of-the-box” thinking. If our vision is from God, passion and energy are not hard to find.

This doesn’t mean we won’t get tired. On the contrary, we may find ourselves exhausted from time to time, but this tiredness is a positive sense of exhaustion that comes from consistently and persistently applying ourselves to the pursuit of godly goals. In fact, if our vision is truly from God we may have to learn ways to slow ourselves down, relax, and conserve our resources.

Another issue involved in evaluating the source of vision is the Kingdom of God. Is this vision in some direct way involved in helping establish God’s kingdom here on earth? If it is, then chances are it is a God-inspired vision. Inherent in this question is another question: Does this vision help others, inspire others, and in some way build others up? In essence, we also ask: Is this vision unselfish? If you can answer these questions in the affirmative, you can generally assume that your vision is from God.

These are just a few of the initial principles you can use in evaluating a particular vision. There are, of course, other principles that may or may not be involved. For example, we can normally expect to meet with at least a modicum of resistance to pursuing our vision and sometimes this resistance comes from unexpected quarters. For example, our family may find our call to vision not to their liking.

This is where things can get tricky.

I recall, for example, an old friend of mine who we will call Stan. The oldest of five children, Stan had four sisters and an ailing father. Stan’s family was, by local standards, fairly well off. Stan’s great-grandfather had bought several thousand acres of prime farm land way back in the 19th Century. As the city began to grow, especially in the 1970’s, this farm land was the envy of developers far and wide. Stan’s grandfather sold much of the land, made a fortune, and invested wisely. The result was that Stan’s father was a millionaire many times over and owned a highly successful commercial real estate business that was also doing quite well.

It was a given that Stan, the oldest and the only male child, would some day take over the business and look after the family fortune. Stan attended the finest private boys’ school in the state and was accepted into Colgate University, a fine Ivy League institution. Everything was running smoothly until Stan’s junior year.

An Episcopalian since birth, Stan’s religious upbringing was at best window dressing. The family attended church fairly regularly and gave plenty of money to their local parish. Stan’s father, in fact, served for years on the church vestry.
In college, Stan did not attend church and had pretty much relegated his relationship with God to the back burner. He believed in God and tried to live a decent life and, with the exception of an occasional bender after a football game, avoided the life of a typical drunken college student. He had a Bible in his off campus apartment, but had never unpacked it since moving out of the dorm in his sophomore year at Colgate.

Driving home at the conclusion of the fall semester, Stan car began making strange noises and eventually stalled right in the middle of small town in rural Virginia. It was around noon on Saturday and the only mechanic in town told Stan he might as well find a motel, because it would be Monday before he could get the needed parts to fix Stan’s car.

Stan settled in at one of two local motels, phone home to say he would be home on Tuesday, and flipped on the television. Nothing interested Stan so he decided to take a stroll. Just down the street from the motel was a church, which for some odd reason, was packed out on a Saturday night. The parking lot was full to overflowing and people were still arriving. A young couple, walking toward the building from their car, greeted Stan and he asked what was happening. The couple told Stan that this was the closing night of a week long revival and they invited Stan to join them. Figuring he had nothing better to do, Stan decided to take them up on their invitation.

Stan had never been to a revival before and nothing could have prepared him for what he had walked into. Not only was this a revival, it was a Pentecostal revival, complete with loud praise music, jumping, yelling, and most bizarre, tongue speaking.
Fast forward to the end of the school year when Stan returned home to inform his parents that he wouldn’t be returning to Colgate for his senior year and instead, would be transferring to some small Bible College in Missouri, where he would enter seminary and become a preacher in the Assemblies of God denomination.
Stan’s mother literally passed out and his father went absolutely berserk. After much prayer Stan was still convinced that the vision he had was indeed from God and, although he met much resistance from every member of his family, he followed through with his plans and his ministry has blessed many people over the years, including his mother and two sisters who became active members of the same denomination as Stan.

The opposite can also be true. There are times when someone feels a genuine call from God to pursue a particular course of action, when in fact, the call may not be genuine. Janice, an old and dear friend, felt that God was calling her to go the mission field in China. She asked that she be placed on one of the LifeBrook China teams and planned to initially go to western China for a two-year stint as a nurse.
I had a few reservations about the “call” that Janice felt and discussed those with her. She was open to what I had to say, but said she was convinced that this was what God wanted her to do. I told her we had a medical team leaving for a short trip, three months, and why not try that on for size first.

My concerns stemmed from the fact that Janice had a two-year-old Downs Syndrome son and if she left for the mission field, it would leave the full burden of caring for this child, not to mention their other two kids, on Hank, her husband. I just felt it odd that God would call her away when all of this was going on at home.
As it turned out, Janice went with the three-month mission, but returned at the end of the first month. She found life in China too rough and harsh, and was not able to make the necessary sacrifices that such a calling requires. It was a tough lesson, but she grew a great deal from it.

In most cases, a calling to a vision, if it comes from God, will always involve compassion. It will also most often involve some degree of sacrifice on your part and it will sometimes also necessitate sacrifice from those who are close to you. However, I don’t think a genuine vision from God is going to put your loved ones in harms way.

As I said earlier, in evaluating whether or not a particular vision is from God a key principle involves whether or not the vision creates a vital sense of passion in your life. If the dream you are entertaining brings you to life and gets your engine running at maximum efficiency, then there is a good chance that vision has a divine origin.

I clearly recall when I began to explore the possibility of going to the mission field in China I felt not only a great excitement, but the passion I felt for this calling gave me a renewed sense of purpose, direction, and usefulness. I had just come through a major health crisis, and the thought of going to China was not even on my radar screen. But it was on God’s screen and once I discovered it and got on board, my life once again moved forward with great passion.

Dr. Myles Munroe speaks clearly about the connection between passion, purpose, and vision:

Most people have an interest in their destinies, but they have no passion or drive to fulfill them. They don’t really believe the dreams God has put in their hearts. If they do believe them, they don’t do the things that will take them in the direction of fulfilling them. Yet that is what separates the people who make an impact in the world and those who just exist on the planet……Finding something you can put your whole self into will fill your life with new hope and purpose…..When you discover you vision, it will give you energy and passion. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” The vision in your heart is the spark that will enable you to pursue your dream because, unless you do so with all your enthusiasm and strength, it will not happen. I believe this Scripture expresses a truth that most people miss: You accomplish only what you fight for. Again, if you are merely interested in your dream, it will never come to pass. However, if you are willing to put all your energy into it, then nobody can stop it from succeeding.

In closing, let me also add that it is vital that when you are evaluating the source of a particular dream or vision, don’t press yourself too hard and try to proceed with unnecessary haste. If you want to truly succeed at your life’s calling, you have to consecrate your entire being to that calling. Half-measures will avail you nothing. When you commit yourself to the Master, you commit your total being. The same principle holds true when you commit yourself to his calling on your life. So, please, take your time and thoroughly evaluate your situation.

Trust that if this calling is from God, he will let you know it without equivocation.

© L. D. Turner 2009/ All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Today's Encouraging Word

When you set yourself in agreement with His command, God will work in you to assist you in accomplishing what He has commanded. Furthermore, He will command His angels to assist you in being successful. God, His universe, and everything He created in it work together to propel you toward a life of extreme fruitfulness and productivity. You have the seed of productivity in you. Allow it to take root and begin to produce fruit…..Decide today that you will make every effort to understand and speak the Word of God with regard to your life. Meditate and delight in it because His Word is your life. As He stated in Deuteronomy 32:47, His words are not idle. By them you will live long. So, stay close and serve God through obedience to what His Word says about you. You will be transformed into His image, and you will develop strength and courage to fulfill the mission He has set apart for you.

Bishop Jim Lowe

(from Achieving Your Divine Potential)

Happy Thanksgiving

All of us here at LifeBrook International and at Sacred Mind Ministries wishes each and every one of you a blessed and meaningful Thanksgiving. Let us always give thanks, rejoicing in our blessings, both seen and unseen.

L.D. "Mick" Turner

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Jettison That Miserable Worm Mentality

L. Dwight Turner

The most significant fact to get into your consciousness is that, in terms of Divine Law, the mind is everything. It is the prime mover that gives direction to the more subtle aspects of the process of creation and manifestation. With God’s help, when you master the mind you become a conscious being, capable of working miracles in your life, in the lives of others, and most importantly, for the glory of God.
In order to do this, you must obtain knowledge of how these spiritual principles and processes work. This begins with the understanding that you are capable of significantly more than you are presently producing in terms of spiritual excellence in your life.

Lying dormant inside of every man, woman, and child is a power that is more potent than you might imagine – a power that can literally change your life in many ways. In order to activate that dormant power, you first must come to believe, really believe, that it exists. To some extent, this divine power works whether you believe it or not and even if you are not conscious of its existence. But when you become aware of it and believe in it, it is like a turbo charger has been placed on your ability to effect positive change in your life, so long as this change is in keeping with God’s principles.

Please understand that God did not create you to grovel in the dirt like some miserable worm. In the past, some Christian sects have taught that you must always keep before you the fact that you are a lowly, miserable sinner and that nothing in you is worthy of even a second glance from our Holy God. Unfortunately, this kind of teaching has run rampant in the Body of Christ and, like a sick, festering tumor, it has reached rather deep into the collective Christian psyche. It is a shame and a tragedy beyond belief and I am sure that somewhere in the bowels of Hell, Satan is chuckling that he didn’t even have to lift a finger to cause this state of affairs. We gave up our power voluntarily, due to our own faulty theology.

Those who believe that humankind consists of a collection of miserable, sinner-worms do a great dishonor to Christ. Through this negative theology they discount the great work accomplished by Christ on the cross and only pay lip service to the sanctification granted by the Resurrection of the Master. Again, it is a shame and a slap in the fact of Christ who gave so very, very much for us.

The reality is that as Christians, we are part of a holy, powerful family of which Jesus was the “first of many.” No, we are not what Jesus was, an incarnation of God. But, through the gift of his life, mission, death, resurrection, and ascension, we have become powerful beings with the divine potential to be like he was. Jesus was our divine prototype and he gave us the authorization and the power source (the Holy Spirit) to do “even greater works.” No my friend, you are no sniveling little legless piece of flesh, living in the dirt. You are, instead, the righteousness of God.

If you don’t understand, accept, and apply this divine fact, your life will be much more difficult. The question before you involves a matter of choice. Will you be a sluggish believer, slogging your way through life satisfied with mediocrity and the status quo? Or, will you choose to reach out with an open hand and an open mind and accept the gifts the Master has already arranged for you? Will you settle for a life of “just enough” to get by? Or, will you seize your divine power and authority as a child of the Living God and realize the great potential placed in you before you were even conceived?
It’s your choice and no one, absolutely no one else’s.

© L.D. Turner/2009/All Rights Reserved

Monday, November 23, 2009

Today's Encouraging Word

Christianity is called “the Great Confession.” Confessing is affirming something that we believe. It is testifying of something that we know. It is witnessing for a truth that we have embraced. Confession holds a very large place in Christianity.
Our confession centers around several things; first, what God in Christ has wrought for us. Second, what God through the Word and the Spirit has wrought in us. Third, what we are to the Father in Christ. And last of all, what God can do through us, or what the Word will do on our lips.
How few of us dare to confess to the world what the Word declares that we are in Christ! Take this scripture:

Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. [2 Cor. 5:17]

What a revolutionary thing it would be for the Church to make a confession like that! They are not just forgiven sinners – not poor, weak, staggering, sinning church members. They are New Creations in Christ Jesus with the life of God, the nature of God, and the ability of God in them.

E.W. Kenyon

Friday, November 20, 2009

Spiritual Optimism and Personal Vision

L. Dwight Turner

A fundamental component of living a life of spiritual optimism is the birth, development, clarification, and realization of your personal vision. Solomon tells us in Proverbs that without vision, the people perish. The same principle is true for all of us. We may not physically die without having a personal vision to guide and direct our steps, but we will surely die spiritually. Without the motivating presence of our own vibrant, vitalizing, vision we surely cannot manifest the optimal version of ourselves.

A vision consists of our perception of our particular mission in life and more precisely, defines the specific framework within which we will carry out that mission. Vision gives us a sense of direction, acting like a compass when we lack certainty about our direction in life. In this sense, vision gives us a basis upon which we can make positive and effective choices among various options that might be available to us. A personal vision gives us hope and courage, especially when we are feeling overwhelmed or when we are confronted with difficulties or setbacks.

The concept of personal vision is intimately tied to at least four other significant factors in the life of a sincere spiritual aspirant: God, dreams, purpose, and optimism. Although space does not allow for a detailed discussion of these four critical connections, let’s take a brief look at how personal vision is tied to them.

It is imperative to understand that your personal vision is a Spirit-designed and Spirit-imparted phenomenon. Through my work with individuals and groups over the past 35 years I have come to the conclusion that the Holy Spirit imparts a specific, achievable, personal vision to each of us prior to our birth on this planet. Further, God not only gives us this vision, but also supplies us with all the talents and gifts we need in order to bring that vision to life and completion. We may have to work at honing and sharpening those Spirit-given talents but we should always keep in mind that those gifts come from a divine origin.

Our dreams are also connected to our vision. I am not talking about the kind of dreams we have when we sleep. Instead, I am talking about those dreams that we entertain as we imagine what we would like to do and what goals we would like to accomplish. The dreams I am speaking of here have to do with our imaginings of becoming the best that we can be and even more significant, making a positive contribution to the world. These dreams, like our personal vision, come from God. I am convinced that our dreams are one method the spiritual realm uses to communicate to us about our personal vision. We, therefore, should never discount our dreams, no matter how far-fetched they may initially seem.

In fact, there are many times that the most impossible dreams have their origins in the mind of God. Think about it. I believe Divine Intelligence desires that we always remain cognizant of the fact that we are ultimately dependent upon him for everything. With this truth in mind, it is very reasonable to assume that the Holy Spirit may indeed give us dreams that are impossible to fulfill without a vital connection to the Divine Source. Perhaps I evaluate a dream and feel inspired, but say to myself, “That’s something I could really get into and it meets a very real need. Still, there is no way I can ever do that by myself.” God, in response, may very well be saying, “No, you can’t. But we can.” The Bible clearly tells us that with God, all things are possible.

I suggest that over the next week or so you set aside some time to examine your dreams, both current and from the past that, for whatever reason, you did not allow to grow and develop. Study these dreams and ask for guidance in gaining insight into how these specific dreams may now be or may have been connected to your personal vision. Do you see any common themes in these dreams? If these dreams somehow were to become manifest in reality, what specific and beneficial purpose would they serve? This exercise may help you in your search to discover the exact nature of your personal vision.

How do I discover my vision? There is no one way to do this, but one thing is true: Start by discovering your personal purpose. Your vision should then flow out of that purpose. Discovery of our purpose (mission) is intimately tied up with our personal vision. One thing I have discovered over the years about uncovering purpose and vision is this: You have to be creative and think outside the box. At first, don’t discount any idea just because it seems impossible. Often, God gives us impossible things to do so that we can discover that we need him to do anything of last worth.

Art Sepulveda, Senior Pastor of the Word of Life Christian Center in Honolulu has written an excellent book entitled, Focus: What’s in Your Vision. In this book Pastor Sepulveda gives the following guidelines for envisioning your future:

Expand your horizons by stretching your imagination

Nurture new ideas

Vote for positive changes with a welcoming attitude

Imagine the impossible

Stay ahead of tomorrow
Invent the future

Operate expectantly

Notice unlimited opportunity

The pastor’s suggestions are first-rate and I would encourage anyone interested in kick-starting the process of discovering their person vision to implement his ideas. I think you will discover that developing vision is not nearly as difficult as you have imagined it to be. The reason for this is that you are not so much trying to invent something that doesn’t exist; instead, you are actually uncovering the outline of something placed in your heart by God before you took your first breath.

Finally, let’s see how your dreams, purpose, and vision connect with optimism. It is a connected as part of a process that begins with potential and ends with the glory of assisting in the realization of God’s kingdom on earth. Let’s take a look at a synopsis of this process – a process that can only lead to Christian optimism.

God has placed a unique potential within each and every one of us. The realization of that potential is part of our personal mission on this planet and exists within the context of God’s overall plan and purpose for humanity. When we marry our potential to our individual purpose, our potential is activated and we begin to move toward becoming all that we were designed to be. When our purpose is connected to a specific personal vision, our potential is further unfolded in the context of our purpose and vision. Further, this marriage of purpose and vision gives rise to passion. We become excited about bringing our vision into concrete manifestation. We arise each day with a feeling of optimistic energy and divine direction and we are enthusiastic about working toward realization of our personal vision.

As the process reaches fruition, we then realize our vision, our purpose, and our potential. In doing so, we manifest our glory. Our glory can be defined as becoming the best version of ourselves and claiming our already established identity “in Christ.” By manifesting our glory, we are able to fulfill our God-given role in the establishment of his Kingdom. The entire process is thus carried forward in the Kingdom Context. God planted his divine plan in us in the form of our unique potential. That potential, along with our subsequent purpose, personal vision, passion, and glory, had an overriding purpose and that purpose was the unfolding of God’s kingdom here on earth.

On a practical level, the kingdom context consists of the recognition that the primary reason Christ incarnated was to inaugurate the process of establishing his kingdom on earth. Our spiritual unfolding involves nothing less than having all of our actions flowing from the living awareness of our responsibility of carrying on the Lord’s kingdom mission.

The power that carries this entire process forward, from potential to glory, is faith. We accepted God’s blessing of cleansing and salvation, our justification, on faith. Now we are to go a step farther along the road of faith: we are to accept that God has given us even more grace in that he has provided, as Paul says, “every blessing in the spiritual realm.” Or, in the words of Peter:

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in world by lust (2 Peter 1:2-5).

In the words we often use here at LifeBrook: God has provided for us all that we need in order to become the optimal versions of ourselves for the glory of God and the benefit of others.

In essence, what we are talking about here is the blessed reality that God, through his grace, love, and infinite wisdom, has seen to it that we have all that we will ever need to be successful in life. He has planted a divine potential in each and every one of us and tied that potential with a personal purpose or mission that we are to carry out. The specifics of that purpose or mission are found in our dreams and our vision, which is also God-given and easily discoverable.
It is upon these very principles, based upon the spiritual reality of God’s love, his character, his provision, and his faithfulness, that we can readily lay claim to spiritual optimism. Indeed, If God be for us, who can be against us?

© L.D. Turner 2009/ All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Radical Acceptance and Holistic Optimism

L. Dwight Turner

One of the key principles that we emphasize at Sacred Mind Ministries is the importance of optimism. The reasons for stressing the development and maintenance of an optimistic outlook on life are many, but perhaps the most important benefit of optimism is obvious.

Optimism is the womb of hope.

More significantly, as Christians, we have every reason to be optimistic. God has given us, through his grace and love, everything we need to live a complete, fulfilling, and rewarding life. Further, the Bible tells us repeatedly that we are now wholly redeemed and acceptable to the Father and that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God. In and of itself, that should be enough to allow optimism to works its roots deep into the soil of our hearts. Moreover, in Romans Paul reassures us that all things work for our benefit, even if we are sometimes blind to the fact.

In brief, God accepts us and blesses us. So, why is it that many of us have trouble fully accepting this free gift of grace? Why is it that a significant number of God’s family displays such a negative mindset? Why is it that church pews are often filled with people wearing either plastic smiles or, even worse, displaying such a sour countenance that visitors might think these folks had been baptized in vinegar instead of water?

Perhaps the problem stems from the fact that many of us, deep down in our spiritual hearts, just don’t believe that we have really been accepted. If we are among that number, our situation is such that we are actually rejecting the very gospel we proclaim.

A renowned Christian theologian, I think it was Paul Tillich, once said that the key to the whole Christian gospel was the fact that we are accepted by God. In fact, he went on to say that the way to appropriate God's grace was to accept that we are accepted. I am no theologian and, at best, possess a second or third rate mind. But I am capable of comprehending the truth of this statement. We cannot begin the spiritual journey as outlined by Christ until we accept the gift of grace. And the most fundamental aspect of accepting God's offer is to accept that we are accepted. Yet many Christians don't seem to get this point. In fact, in their broken, weak state they can't fathom that they are in any way acceptable to God. Something is wrong here. Very wrong.

The crown jewel in the center of the Christian message is that the lowliest, neediest, and most broken people are accepted if they have faith in Christ. Just take a look at the kind of people he chose to hang out with when he was on earth. He associated with thieves, lepers, tax-collectors, prostitutes, cripples, paupers, and even a woman married five times. It now strikes me as absurd to think that I, even with my hang-ups, sins, shortcomings, and defects of character, am beyond the loving pale of God's grace. However, many people both within and outside the church feel they are unworthy of God's grace and thus reject the gift that was designed for them in the first place.

Consider the familiar story of the Prodigal Son as told by Christ in the fifteenth chapter of Luke. We are so familiar with this tale of a wasted life saved through love and redemption than we often loose the impact that it should have on our lives. Especially if we are wastrels and rogues like the wandering Prodigal. Perhaps more than any other passage in Scripture, the parable of the youngest son of a wealthy landowner illustrates the incomprehensible, counter-intuitive love of God. Brennan Manning speaks succinctly about the Prodigal in all of us and God's incredible acceptance:

“When the prodigal limped home from his lengthy binge of waste and wandering, boozing, and womanizing, his motives were mixed at best. He said to himself, "How many of my father's paid servants have more food than they want, and here am I dying of Hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father". (Luke: 15:17-18). The ragamuffin stomach was not churning with compunction because he had broken his father's heart. He stumbled home simply to survive. His sojourn in a far country had left him bankrupt. The days of wine and roses had left him dazed and disillusioned. The wine soured and the roses withered. His declaration of independence had reaped an unexpected harvest: not freedom, joy, new life but bondage, gloom, and a brush with death. His fair-weather friends had shifted their allegiance when his piggy bank emptied. Disenchanted with life, the wastrel weaved his way home, not from a burning desire to see his father, but just to stay alive.”

Yet even with these mixed motives, borne as much from desperation as from contrition, the wastrel was accepted by his father and a celebration ensued. Of course it is best if we respond to God's offer with a pure, contrite heart and full acknowledgement of our failure and powerlessness. Yet how many of us are actually capable of this? Not many I suspect. I know I am not. But God accepts our response to his offer in spite of our conflicted hearts and spirits. In fact, if one is to believe what Christ teaches in the parable of the Prodigal, then he in accepts our desperation just as much as he accepts our repentance. This is truly “radical grace.”

So what is our response to what God has done? What are we to do if we truly and sincerely want to partake of God’s marvelous offer to accept us, love us and empower us to be better people? What are we to do if we genuinely desire to become Children of the Light? First, we should deeply reflect on just what it is that God has done through Christ and what He is continuing to do through the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit. Brendan Manning again puts it in cogent and moving words:

“We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that he should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at his love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground.”

Just how do we go about accepting this radical offer made by God? We just accept it. It is really that simple. There is no great mystery here, no elaborate initiation rites, no secret oaths or pledges. We just accept it because God offers it. We accept it on faith and leave God to work out the details and understanding later. The comfort we find in accepting God's love comes after faith, never before it. Remember, it all begins with and hinges on faith.

Christians seem to have an uncanny knack for taking simple truths and complicating them through debate, dogma, and doctrine. The “Doctrine of Grace” is one thing; the reality of God’s grace is quite another. It is freely offered to all who would humble themselves enough to receive it. I suspect that each of us has his or her own way of resisting God’s grace. Some of us, as mentioned above, feel we don’t deserve it; some of us are too prideful, feeling that we can fix ourselves on our own; others think the concept of grace is just too simplistic. Whatever our reasons for struggling with this basic Christian principle, until we resolve our conflict, we will not advance very far on the spiritual journey.

I can attest to this fact from my own experience. Paul says that the idea of “Christ crucified” as the means of salvation would be foolishness to the Greeks. Well, for many years it was foolishness to me. I much preferred the complexity of Buddhism and Hinduism, or the sanity of New Thought. Still, somewhere down in the pit of my being, the Hound of Heaven was chewing on me. God was unrelenting in his pursuit of me and I, like Jonah, headed for the hills more than once. Still, God’s grace kept surrounding me and I could not escape. In fact, I came to treasure the comforting feeling of being surrounded by God. Finally, I accepted that I was accepted.

Once I stopped running; once my struggles with God came to a halt, it was like a whole panorama of spiritual reality opened before my eyes, including a deep sense of optimism and hope. As a result, I began to view the world, including its problems and pain, with a greater degree of compassion and a genuine desire for healing involvement.

With the help of the Holy Spirit, I came to understand at a deeper level that I was in fact accepted. Accepted in my weakness because this is where the strength of Christ is seen. Accepted in my brokenness because this is where the healing of Christ is seen. Accepted in my faithlessness because this is where the fidelity of Christ is seen. Accepted in my wandering in the wilderness because this is where Christ's true and stable mansions are eventually discovered.

(c) L.D. Turner 2009/All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Today's Encouraging Word

The greatest secret to living effectively on earth is understanding the principle and power of priorities. Life on earth holds no greater challenge than the complicating daily demand of choosing among competing alternatives for our limited time. Our life is the sum total of all the decisions we make every day, and those decisions are determined by our priorities. How we use our time every day eventually defines our lives. Life was designed to be simple, not complicated, and the key to simplifying life is prioritization.…The greatest tragedy in life is not death but life without a purpose – life with the wrong priorities. Life’s greatest challenge is knowing what to do. The greatest mistake in life is to be busy but not effective. Life’s greatest failure is to be successful in the wrong assignment. Success in life is measured by the effective use of one’s time.

Time is the true measure of life. In fact, time is the currency of life. How you spend your time determines the quality of you life and death. You become whatever you buy with your time. Always be aware that everything and everyone around you is vying for your time. Your time is important because your time is your life. And the key to effective use of your time is establishing correct priorities. First things first!

When your priorities are correct, you preserve and protect your life. Correct priority is the principle of progress because when you establish your priority according to your purpose and goals then your progress is guaranteed. Correct priority protects your time. When you set the right priorities, then you use your time for intentional purposes; your time is not abused or wasted. Correct priority protects your energy. Correct priority protects your talents and gifts. Correct priority protects your discipline. Correct priority simplifies your life.

Failure to establish correct priority causes you to waste your two most important commodities: your time and your energy. When your priorities are not correct, you will find yourself busy with the wrong things, majoring on the minor, doing the unnecessary, or becoming preoccupied with the unimportant. Incorrect priorities in your life will cause you to invest in the less valuable, engage in ineffective activity, and abuse your gifts and talents. Ultimately, it will cause you to forfeit purpose, which results in failure.

Dr. Myles Munroe

(from Kingdom Principles: Preparing for Kingdom Experience and Expansion

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Today's Encouraging Word

Today is indeed the first day of the rest of my life –
Today is a day of resurrection, renewal, and restoration and I greet this day with enthusiasm, confidence, and passion.

This confident passion arises from my acceptance that in Christ I am a new creation and that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Today I know that the old indeed is passing away and that the new has been born. I am a being of light and love, committed to my spiritual growth, service to others, and becoming the optimal version of myself.

Today I declare, along with the Great Apostle, that with the power of the Holy Spirit, I am forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press forward into the future toward the goal and the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

In Christ most blessed name,


(Prayer composed by L. Dwight Turner / All Rights Reserved)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Today's Encouraging Word

I hear non-Christians say, “I feel as though there is something more to life than I am currently experiencing.” What they are missing is God’s great salvation. But I also hear Christians say, “I feel as though there is something more to the Christian than I am currently experiencing.” They, too, are missing God’s great salvation. They have not understood what God accomplished on their behalf. Their hearts have never been opened to understand what motivated God when He chose to save them from their sins and cause them to be born again into the family of God…One of the first great truths concerning God’s salvation is found in John 6:44. Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” Jesus knew that God the Father must be active in drawing persons to Himself before they would ever know the joy of salvation. Have you understood how significant this statement is concerning your life? God has called you into a love relationship with Himself through Jesus Christ. In other words, you are special. You are the object of God’s calling. You did not choose Him; he chose you. You can count on it; your salvation began in the heart of God and the love relationship that He initiated is life-transforming and all-consuming.

Henry T. and Melvin D. Blackaby

(from A God Centered Church)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Finding God: Faithfulness in Small Things

L. Dwight Turner

So often many of us are guilty of becoming preoccupied with the notion that we have to do great things for God. I know I am guilty as charged. There is, of course, nothing inherently wrong with this sort of thing, unless it becomes an obsession. When we become obsessed with the notion of doing great things, it has at least one highly deleterious impact on our lives: we either ignore or completely miss the myriad small things God may be attempting to have us do.

In practical terms, by focusing so much of our attention and energy of those big, earth shattering projects we are convinced God has in store for us, we may completely overlook all those seemingly mundane tasks that we figure are not worth our time or, for those of us who have a paucity of humility, beneath our exalted station. I am exaggerating here, but I think my point is clear. It is often in those seemingly small events that the will of God may be lurking. Further, the fact of the matter is this: scripture tells us that unless we are faithful in the small things, God isn’t going to give us bigger things to accomplish.

For those who may have forgotten this valuable lesson from the Master, I suggest you review the Parable of the Talents. In the meantime, it might also be highly beneficial to listen to these words from James Allen:

Not only great happiness but great power arises from doing little things unselfishly, wisely, and perfectly, for life in its totality is made up of little things. Wisdom inheres in the common details of everyday existence, and when the parts are made perfect the whole will be without blemish…..

One of the fundamental laws that God has placed in the universe is the principle that states that the small is the exact replica of the great. An example of this is the similarity between an atom and a solar system. Just as the electrons orbit the nucleus of an atom, the planets orbit the sun. And in an example that is both personal and biblical, we humans are made in the image of our creator. It boggles the mind, truly. These divine principles can be of great use to us if we comprehend them and the mechanisms involved in their practical application.

For our current purposes, however, let’s keep things as simple as possible. To do that, we return to the words of James Allen as he reminds us of the importance of giving attention to the small things in life:

Neglect of the small is confusion of the great. The snowflake is as perfect as the star; the dew drop is as symmetrical as the planet; the microbe is not less mathematically proportioned than the man. By laying stone upon stone, plumbing and fitting each with perfect adjustment, the temple at last stands forth in all its architectural beauty. The small precedes the great. The small is not merely the apologetic attendant of the great, it is its master and informing genius.

Our attention to matters small is intimately tied up with two issues: the discipline of responsibility and becoming the optimal version of who we are. Let’s briefly explore these two in turn.

Increasingly, it seems that our culture is placing less and less emphasis on the significance of meeting our responsibilities. Discipline is not a popular word in post-modern culture. Instead, we are encouraged to “follow our bliss” and “do our own thing.” The world pays lip service to the importance of discipline and self-control in daily living, but the over-arching message is in actuality much different. Often, instead of encouraging individuals to delay gratification, defer rewards, and develop character, our culture tells us, “If it feels good, do it.” No one ever manifested divine potential by adhering to this advice.

Scripture repeatedly stresses the importance of discipline, self-control, and personal morality. Without personal discipline, we squander our energies, waste precious time, and lose direction and focus.

Instead of putting forth the effort required to meet the obligations placed before us, either by God or our life situation, many conversely seek ways to avoid that expenditure of effort. As a result, there are many decent people who settle for mediocrity or even less in terms of their personal accomplishment. For all too many, phrases like “the pursuit of excellence” seem like a foreign language.

For the follower of Jesus, this kind of approach to life is not acceptable. We are encouraged by Paul, for example, to do everything as if we were doing it for the Lord. Further, it is a life characterized and motivated by a pursuit of excellence to which we are called by the Master. Anything less does not glorify God and certainly brings no glory and honor to ourselves. We must ever keep in mind that God calls us to be the optimal version of ourselves and our steadfast avoidance of personal responsibility and hard work makes this impossible.

It is precisely that consistent practice of paying attention to the small duties of our daily round that makes a life of excellence possible. Moreover, no one ever slouched his or her way to greatness. Again, let’s listen to the wisdom on James Allen:

The great man has become such by the scrupulous and unselfish attention which he has given to small duties. He has become wise and powerful by sacrificing ambition and pride in the doing of those necessary things which evoke no applause and promise no reward. He never sought greatness; he sought faithfulness, unselfishness, integrity, truth; and in finding these in the common round of small tasks and duties he unconsciously ascended to the level of greatness.

If you genuinely are committed to becoming the optimal version of who you are, you are in for a grand adventure. This adventure unfolds as you discern, identify, and meet the challenges that face you moment to moment each day. And it is there, in the context of the divine moment, that you find God’s work and God’s will.

Erwin Raphael McManus, pastor of Mosaic in Lost Angeles, makes the cogent point that the reality of God’s will can only be found in the present moment; “divine moments” he calls them. I could not agree more with what he says and experience, both my own and those of countless clients over the years, bears this out time and time again. The past is already a done deal and the future, at the very best, is but a fleeing fantasy. Reality is happening right now, under our noses, and it is happening nowhere else. Once you get that, and I mean really get it, you are well on your way to a most rewarding life, regardless of external circumstance.

As a brief sidebar, I also want to mention that a big part of finding our place in God’s scheme of things involves becoming the optimal version of ourselves and the context in which we accomplish that is also in the divine moment. McManus also speaks to this issue:

Earth’s unlimited resource is the gifts, talent, passions, imagination, and ingenuity of its citizens. You would think that we know this by now, but we often seem to miss the gift right in front of us. The world needs you to find the hero within you. The real battle is not between good and evil but between less and more. Most of us don’t choose the worst life; we just don’t choose the best. We can’t afford for you to sleep through your dreams…..The world needs you at your best. This planet is made better or worse by the people we choose to become. If you live a diminished life, it’s not only you who loses, but the world loses, and humanity loses. There is a story to be written by your life, and thought it may never inspire a graphic novel, it is a heroic tale nonetheless. Though you may not recognize it, there is a greatness within you.

I love these words by McManus. They reverberate through the inner fiber of my being, ringing loudly with both truth and relevance. I know that many times I forget that there is a God-planted greatness within me and within others. Fortunately, God has found ways to keep me focused enough to have at least one eye on the potential he placed within me.

Developing the ability to discern where and how God is moving requires more than merely taking time out for rest and relaxation. It takes a more radical and comprehensive reorientation of our approach to life in general and focus in particular. If you are to become more sensitive to what God is doing and where he is doing it, you need to become intimately acquainted with a practice that we in this fast-paced, multi-tasking world are not good at. In order to discover the movements of God in the context of the “divine moment,” you have to become more mindful.

Mindfulness is not stressed so much in our culture and it is stressed even less in our churches. This is unfortunate because no matter how much the post-modern world sings the virtues of multi-tasking this and multi-tasking that, the ability to fully focus on one thing at one time, to the exclusion of any distraction, is a highly useful skill. Our corporate world, in spite of its alleged genius, has yet to discover that mindful people are far more productive than multi-taskers. Their efficiency alone makes them more of an asset.

Even more relevant from a spiritual perspective, if we are going to find God’s will we are going to have to seek the epicenter of his activity. As we have seen, that sublime activity is going to be found in its purest, most pristine and discernable form in the present moment – the divine moment. It will be found here and nowhere else. As we have also seen, in order to discover this epicenter and God’s will, we may, indeed, have to reorient our perspective on several key issues. With certainty, we have to become more mindful.

Mindfulness, discipline, and character are essential ingredients in the establishment of a life of excellence and equanimity. By paying attention to the small things, we are often called upon to crucify our lower desires in favor of loftier themes. It is precisely by doing this, saying no to ourselves, that personal power comes about. And it is by denying “self,” with its clamorous cacophony of heckling demands, that we are walking the path of Christ – the path of the cross. By following the way of the Master, we are better able to master ourselves. Let’s visit James Allen a final time:

The man who sets his whole mind on the doing of each task as it is presented, who puts into it energy and intelligence, shutting out all else from his mind, and striving to do that one thing, no matter how small, completely and perfectly, detaching himself from all reward in his task – that man will every day be acquiring greater command over his mind, and will, by ever-ascending degrees, become at last a man of power…There is no way to strength and wisdom but by acting strongly and wisely in the present moment, and each present moment reveals its own task. The great man, the wise man, does small things greatly regarding nothing as “trivial” that is necessary. The weak man, the foolish man, does small things carelessly, and meanly, hankering the while after, some greater work for which, in his neglect and inability in small matters, he is ceaselessly advertising his incapacity. The man who least governs himself is always more ambitious to govern others…
I don’t know about you, friend, but when I first read those last two sentences I was strongly convicted – so strongly convicted that the Holy Spirit held my feet to the fire, so to speak, for several days. In the end, I made a strong commitment to devote myself to mindfulness in small things and spend less time hankering after great things. In doing so, I discovered two important lessons. First, I became a more efficient and responsible person and second, I became more tranquil and less reactive. Granted, I am still far from perfect in these areas, but I am much improved over where I once stood in these matters.

And herein is the key: we are to be mindful of the small things, presented to us in the divine moment. It is here, and only here, that we will find the epicenter of God’s activity in general and his will for us in particular. If we are faithful in the small things, then we can be trusted with greater responsibilities.

© L. D. Turner 2009/ All Rights Reserved

Monday, October 19, 2009

Today's Encouraging Word

The man who sets his whole mind on the doing of each task as it is presented, who puts into it energy and intelligence, shutting out all else from his mind, and striving to do that one thing, no matter how small, completely and perfectly, detaching himself from all reward in his task – that man will every day be acquiring greater command over his mind, and will, by ever-ascending degrees, become at last a man of power…There is no way to strength and wisdom but by acting strongly and wisely in the present moment, and each present moment reveals its own task. The great man, the wise man, does small things greatly regarding nothing as “trivial” that is necessary. The weak man, the foolish man, does small things carelessly, and meanly, hankering the while after, some greater work for which, in his neglect and inability in small matters, he is ceaselessly advertising his incapacity. The man who least governs himself is always more ambitious to govern others…

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Today's Encouraging Word

As the fruit to the tree and the water to the spring, so is action to thought. It does not come into manifestation suddenly and without a cause. It is the result of a long and silent growth; the end of a hidden process which has long been gathering force. The fruit of the tree and the water gushing from the rock are both the effect of a combination of natural processes in air and earth which have long worked together in secret to produce the phenomenon; and the beautiful acts of enlightenment and the dark deeds of sin are both the ripened effects of trains of thought which have long been harbored in the mind…..Guard well your thoughts, reader, for what you really are in your secret thoughts today, be it good or evil, you will, sooner or later, become in actual deed.

James Allen
(from Byways of Blessedness)

Christian Success Principles: Claim Your Identity in Christ

L. Dwight Turner

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new
Creation; the old has gone, the new has come.
(2 Corinthians 5:17)

Since I was a child, I have had a passionate fascination with bears. It all started when I was around five-years-old and my family took a vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains. It was on this memorable trip that I saw my first bear and it was love at first sight.

Throughout my childhood and adolescence I took every opportunity I could to go and see a bear, whether it be in a carnival, a traveling circus, or in a zoo. I also spent hours studying about bears in encyclopedias and books. I guess no one can really explain why a young person develops these sorts of interests. For many, the fascination passes as adulthood arrives with its myriad responsibilities and other interest. For me, however, I still love bears.

With this information as a backdrop, you can imagine how excited I became back in the early 90’s when I learned that the Miami Zoo had obtained a rare, Tibetan Bear. I was living in Miami at the time and read about the bear in the newspaper. The next day I drove out to the zoo to take a look at the Tibetan Bear.

The zoo in Miami is of the modern type. Animals are not kept in cages, but instead roam with relative freedom, separate from spectators by large ditches, canals, or non-descript fencing. I arrived at the zoo and inquired as to the whereabouts of the Tibetan Bear. I strolled over to the area where the bear was being kept and I was in awe.

A relatively smallish bear, the Tibetan Bear has long hair, brownish red, and a face with much character. The bear was near the small canal that ran between the walkway where I stood and the enclosure where it lived. After observing the animal for several minutes, I noticed something quite odd about its behavior. The bear paced endlessly in the same pattern. It would take eight steps in one direction, slowly pivot on one of its front feet, turn, and take eight steps in the opposite direction. The creature kept this up for the entire time I was there, a total of almost thirty minutes.

Inquiring about this strange behavior, the zookeeper told me the bear was about six-years-old and had lived its entire life in a cage. The eight steps was the exact distance from one side of the cage to the other. The bear had implanted a deep pattern of behavior based on its former environment. It had never been able to take more than eight steps in one direction and now, even though it had the freedom to roam as far as it wanted, it still only took eight steps. According to the zookeeper, a trainer worked with the bear each day in an attempt to help it “unlearn” the old pattern of restrictive behavior. The zookeeper said that most animals that had lived in cages for most of their lives had similar patterns of behavior.

On my way home I reflected on this and had one of those moments of personal epiphany. I realized that I, like the bear and a majority of the Christians that I knew, had a similar problem. Through Christ’s mission on earth, we have had our bars removed as well. The cage of sin and self has been removed and we captives have been set free. As the scripture from 2 Corinthians that opened this article states, “we are new creations.” The old has gone and the new has come. This is part of the good news of the gospel and the result of the healing work Christ’s victory has obtained. Each of us, when we accepted Jesus as Lord, was given a new identity “in Christ.”

So why is it we continue, like the bear, to walk as if we were still behind bars? Why do we continue to behave in the same destructive ways that we did before? Why is it that so few of us seem to walk in the newness of life that Christ promised and Paul spoke of so often?

I think there are many reasons for this unfortunate reality. Part of the reason is just the sheer force of habit. Whenever we repeat a behavior over and over, we tend to eventually do it automatically. In a real sense, we become machine-like. Our world pushes a button and we respond in a predictable way. Another reason is our faulty thinking. Let’s get one fact down deep. Our behavior starts with our thinking or, as said often, the thought is the ancestor of the action. Until we change our thinking, we won’t effectively change our behavior.

Paul realized how important our thinking was to our behavior. That’s why he said we needed to “renew our minds.” All lasting change starts with a mental makeover.

One other reason why we continue to walk in our old ways, even though scripture screams we are new creations, stems from the fact that either we don’t realize that we are new creations or we don’t believe it. Perhaps this needs a bit of clarification.

The Church as a whole has been expert at preaching the gospel of the blood and forgiveness of sin. Christ died as a ransom for many and, even though we don’t deserve it, we can now come into God’s presence as if we were spotless. As great a message as this is, it only half the story. Yes, Christ won our forgiveness but he also did something else. He won our victory over our sin and our sinful nature. Go back and review Romans 5-8 to get a true picture of all this.

By his resurrection and his ascension Christ has made possible, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, our sanctification, meaning, we are now operating under a new set of circumstances, with the Holy Spirit working inside of us. Many Christians are unaware of this reality for two primary reasons: first, the vast majority of believers are biblically illiterate. Recent studies by George Barna more than bear this out; and second, pastors typically preach more about the blood than they do the resurrection, the ascension, and our subsequent empowerment.

Other Christians are aware of the fact that they are new creations in Christ, but just don’t believe it. This is a tragedy because just the act of believing what scripture says about us goes a long way toward helping us to manifest this new reality in our lives. Look at it like this: we receive salvation by accepting Christ’s atonement by faith; why don’t we also accept the second half of the gospel by faith? Why don’t we, using our faith in all that Christ has accomplished, accept the gift of our own progressive movement toward receiving the “fullness of Christ?”

In essence, a big part of our problem as Christians is the fact that we sell ourselves short. We don’t understand who we are and what we are in Christ. Even more devastating, we don’t accept and apply our new identity to daily living and we end up only being marginally effective. Like the Tibetan Bear, we pace back and forth in the same old ruts, the same old worn out ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. If we continue to do this and expect results any different than what we have experienced in the past, we are sadly mistaken.

No, my friends, it is time for a change and that change begins with recognizing, understanding, accepting, and applying the blessed gifts of being “in Christ.” I encourage you to not put this off another day. Start today by taking a few minutes out of your schedule, sitting down and getting quiet and centered, and ask God to reveal to you the full understanding of your status as his child. Ask God to show you, especially in scripture, just what Christ accomplished for you in his life, his death, his resurrection, his ascension, and his successful mission into this world.

Begin a personal Bible study in which you explore this whole business of being “in Christ.” Keep a notebook handy and jot down your thoughts, insights, and ideas. They may be useful reminders as you move forward in the process of appropriating your new identity.
In addition, boldly open your mouth and make firm, biblical declarations of who and what you are, now that you are “in Christ.” Confess openly that you are a child of the Living God and an heir with Christ. This is the proper use of declaration and profession.

For example, a potent biblical declaration of your new identity might be:

I take possession of the reality that in Christ I am a new creation; I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Another example fosters awareness of the fact that God indeed cares for his children:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. All things work together for my greatest good.

Compose two or three such brief declarations and repeat them many times each day. With each repetition the biblical revelation of your reborn and restored status in Christ sinks deeper into the fertile soil of your subconscious mind. In time, you will find that your perception of personal identity has undergone a seismic shift and your mind will indeed be renewed.

© L.D. Turner 2009/ All Rights Reserved