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)