Mick Turner

Author's details

Name: Mick Turner
Date registered: March 15, 2012
URL: http://lifebrook.wordpress.com

Latest posts

  1. LifeBrook: Resurrect Your Spiritual Dreams — September 21, 2014
  2. LifeBrook: Jettison the Negative: It’s Time to Shake and Shine — September 8, 2014
  3. LifeBrook: The Approaching Storm: Worldviews in Conflict (Part One) — August 30, 2014
  4. LifeBrook: Are You Open for Business? — August 16, 2014
  5. LifeBrook: Wise Words for Today — August 8, 2014

Most commented posts

  1. LifeBrook: Spiritual Transformation from a Christian Perspective (Part Two) — 2 comments
  2. LifeBrook: Spiritual Transformation from a Christian Perspective (Part One) — 1 comment
  3. LifeBrook: Meditative Traditions in Christian Spirituality — 1 comment
  4. LifeBrook: Let’s Cut to the Chase: Are You Really a Follower of Christ? (Part One) — 1 comment
  5. LifeBrook: In Defense of Brian McLaren — 1 comment

Author's posts listings

Sep 21 2014

LifeBrook: Resurrect Your Spiritual Dreams

Original post at http://lifebrook.wordpress.com/2014/09/21/resurrect-your-spiritual-dreams/

Mick Turner

One of life’s greatest blessings is our ability to dream. I am not talking so much about the dreams we have at night when we are sleeping. Instead, I am talking about the dreams we have for our lives, those things that we can envision ourselves doing that create a sense of happiness, accomplishment, and well-being. These kind of dreams, especially when they are God-given and truly inspired, create passion in our lives and provide us with a sense of meaning and purpose. I like to call these visionary blessings “Kingdom Dreams.”

A kingdom dream is one that is aligned with God’s overall plan and purpose for life on this planet, which is to restore humankind to its intended status as spirit beings created in His image. God’s great story is one of restoration, renewal, and spiritual revival and is aimed toward the establishment of Christ’s kingdom here on earth. Our personal kingdom dreams are those that are connected with this universal purpose.

This world, however, is not always conducive to fostering kingdom dreams. Instead, the values of this world are in many ways opposed to the kind of principles and values that are inherent in God’s kingdom. When we are over-exposed to the world’s values and voices without any counter-balancing influence, our own personal dreams often end up withering away. More than a few of us meet with discouragement, disappointment, and a cacophony of negative voices that end up stifling our God-given passion for a particular dream and we end up either putting it on the back burner or forgetting it altogether.

This process of “dream defeat” begins with our thought life. We begin to doubt our abilities and our circumstances and in the final analysis, we even doubt our God. That is why the Apostle Paul warned us to take every thought captive for Christ and to tear down those strongholds of defeat and discouragement. In essence, Paul was telling us to master our minds. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can do just that, but it is a process that takes place over time.

When we make progress in mastering our thought life, one thing we become increasingly aware of is how we have allowed others to place limitations on us. “You’ll never amount to anything,” a teacher may have told you. “If you can screw something up, you will,” another authority figure may have told you repeatedly. I remember my Dad often told me that I was careless and irresponsible. ‘If you live to see 21 it will be a miracle,” he often said.

My point in saying these things is that you come to understand that only two entities in this universe can set limits on what you can accomplish: you and God. It is vitally important that you come to have a deeper understanding of just how God sees you and then come to view yourself in the same way. We will talk about that a little later on. Right now, what I want to put before you is the importance of your dreams. Others may have put limitations on you or told you your dreams were unrealistic. Well, it is now time to resurrect those delayed dream , dust them off, examine them, and, if you still are passionate about that dream, take it before God. If you determine that God has that dream for you as well, then get busy. The only one that can stop God’s dream for your life is you.

I strongly appreciate these words by Erwin Raphael McManus. If you haven’t read his book “Wide Awake,” I suggest that you do so. McManus tells us:

What you expect from yourself and your life has a direct effect on what you will get out of life. How you imagine yourself and your future has a huge effect on what actually happens. Creating the life of your dreams begins with the dream. It begins with the ability to imagine yourself different than you are and your life differently than it is.

The fact is I have a potential placed in me by God Himself and it is God’s desire that I find my mission and get moving. You, too, have a mission – a divinely ordained purpose and it is God’s great wish that you take up the challenge of finding that purpose, manifesting your potential and talents, and achieving your dreams. And be assured of one other truth: God would never place a dream in your heart without giving you the talent to make it a reality. It may take hard work and a strong commitment to excellence, but your dream can be realized if it is aligned with God’s purpose for your life and you put forth the necessary work to make it happen.

We can see firsthand the power of a dream whose time has come when we look at the first disciples. We have only a small record in scripture of the interactions between Jesus and his disciples, yet we can imagine that they engaged in many profound conversations as they traveled from one place to another or as they shared meals together. I think one of the things that the Master must have taught his disciples is how to engage daily life in a realistic, positive manner. He was clear with them that they would face trials and tribulations, yet he balanced that cautionary teaching with a healthy optimism by telling them that they could realistically expect to have an abundant life because he came. He also told them not to worry because he was leaving and he promised them the advent of the Comforter who would instruct them and empower them.

Jesus knew that with the power of the Holy Spirit, this very same ragtag assortment of men would soon change the world completely. And change the world they did. The Master expects the same thing from us in the current age. With the wisdom and the power provided by the Holy Spirit, we are to become Christ’s hands, feet, and heart in this hurting world. If your dream, no matter how long you have put it off and no matter how impossible it may seem, is in line with these kingdom themes, then your dream is a kingdom dream.

If you have a long-forgotten or misplaced kingdom dream, let me encourage you to resurrect that dream without wasting another moment of God’s precious time. It doesn’t matter what size the dream is – kingdom dreams come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe you want to start a ministry; maybe you want to teach a class; maybe you want to start a business; maybe you want to write a book. Whatever the dream, if it fits in with God’s plan of restoration and the establishment of the kingdom on earth, then bring it out of mothballs and get motivated. Pay no attention to the naysayers and the voices of discouragement and doubt. If the dream is from God, there is no way you can fail.

One of the most significant aspects of the Creator’s provision lies in the fact that he never sends any of us into this world empty handed. With infinite wisdom and grace, he has placed a great treasure inside each and every one of us – a treasure beyond price. Each person arrives at birth with a divine potential planted in his or her heart. This potential contains the vision God has for that particular person as well as the talents, skills, and creativity to make that potential a manifest reality. Dr. Myles Munroe, the highly-respected pastor and Bible teacher, speaks eloquently of this seed of potential planted within each of us:

The entire creation possesses this principle of potential. Everything has the natural instinct to release its ability. The plant and animal kingdoms abound with evidences of this fact. The Creator designed everything with this principle of potential, which can be simplified to the concept of a seed. The biblical document states that God created everything with ‘seed in it according to their kinds’ (Genesis 1:12). In essence, hidden within everything is the potential to fulfill itself and produce much more than we see.

It is vital that every person understand that we are responsible for developing the potential stored within us. We must deepen our contact with our divine potential, which I call our Sacred Self, and do all that we can to nurture, feed, and actualize our true potential. Further, we must recognize that as we move forward in developing our optimal potential, we can never afford to stop. In essence, when we travel the spiritual journey, we are either moving forward or backward. There is truly no place to stand on the spiritual path.

Our journey of discovering and developing our divine potential must begin with a commitment to excellence – an agreement with our Creator that we will walk in cooperation with the Spirit to become the best version of ourselves.

 Necessarily, this commitment will involve personal challenges and, at times, a degree of personal discomfort. Spiritual growth involves change and change always requires stepping out of our comfort zone. Still, the process of realizing and manifesting our divine potential is one of the greatest adventures we will ever undertake.

When we make a commitment to excellence, we are basically telling God and ourselves that we are finally getting serious about our spiritual development. When we firmly dedicate ourselves to become who God intended us to be, we get honest with ourselves about where we are, where we are not, and where God wants us to go. We then make a personal commitment to, with God’s help, become all that we were created to be, all that we were intended to be, and, in the final analysis, all that we truly are.

Please understand that your kingdom dream is intimately connected with your divine potential. In fact, it is the realization of your potential that will allow you to make your dream a reality. And also understand that the development of your potential and the realization of your kingdom dream is the major part of the spiritual path that will allow you to become the optimal version of yourself. When, in partnership with the Holy Spirit, you do that you begin to walk in personal excellence and more importantly, you are of optimal benefit to others.

Don’t allow yourself to do what so many other talented people have done – take your dream to the grave with you. Don’t allow your kingdom dream to, along with your bones, turn to dust. Instead, understand this central point: the world needs you and your dream. Take to heart these words by Erwin Raphael McManus:

Earth’s unlimited resource is the gifts, talents, passions, imagination, and ingenuity of its citizens. You would think we would 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 is not only you who loses, but the world loses, and humanity loses. There is a story to be written by your life and though it may never inspire a graphic novel, it is a heroic tale nonetheless. Though you may not recognize it, there is greatness in you.

With these thoughts in mind, bring back your forgotten dreams and reexamine them in light of the principles discussed in this article. Begin to prayerfully formulate a plan for taking the first steps toward getting your kingdom dream off the ground. You can move forward in the confident assurance that you don’t have to go it alone. God has got your back and you can count on Him. Trust the scripture when it says:

For I am confident of this very thing – that he who began a good work in you will perfect it…(Phil. 1:6 NAS)

© L.D. Turner 2010/All Rights Reserved

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/resurrect-your-spiritual-dreams/

Sep 08 2014

LifeBrook: Jettison the Negative: It’s Time to Shake and Shine

Original post at http://lifebrook.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/jettison-the-negative-its-time-to-shake-and-shine-2/

Mick Turner

(Originally published by Lifebrook Communications back in 2009)

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


Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/jettison-the-negative-its-time-to-shake-and-shine/

Aug 30 2014

LifeBrook: The Approaching Storm: Worldviews in Conflict (Part One)

Original post at http://lifebrook.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/the-approaching-storm-worldviews-in-conflict-part-one/

Mick Turner

Over the past couple of years I have become increasingly aware of the growing dichotomy between the Christian worldview and that of the surrounding culture. Granted, these differences have always been there, at least to some extent, yet the chasm between the biblical view of reality and that of postmodern America has grown wider and deeper in recent years.

Hot button issues like sexual preference and abortion are really just the tip of the iceberg. As our culture becomes increasingly intolerant of the biblical worldview this social divide has the potential to create major problems for the church as a whole. Exacerbating this difficulty is the undeniable facts that the church’s numbers are declining while is social influence is increasingly marginalized.

All of these issues are multi-faceted, quite complex, and far beyond the scope of this short article. What I do hope to accomplish, however, is to present several reasons why this state of affairs should come as no surprise considering the nature of the biblical worldview and, at the same time, present a brief scriptural exhortation that is especially pertinent to today’s follower of Christ. With those thoughts in mind, lets get to it.

When Jesus Christ appeared on the scene he not only worked miracles, healed the sick, and cast out demons. These signs and wonders were incredible, but it was not these things that irritated the religious leaders of the day, not to mention the Roman officials. What caused fatal attention to be paid to Jesus was the absolutely radical nature of the “kingdom” he repeatedly preached about.

Jesus described a kingdom that operated according to principles that were diametrically opposed to the cultural values of his day. Those principles are eternal values that are as applicable to 21st century America as they were to 1st century Palestine. When we really look closely at the core ideas that Jesus put forth in his teachings, it is not at all surprising that we come into dramatic conflict with the values that undergird our existing cultural milieu. Few people describe this conflict as well as the eminent scholar of comparative religion Houston Smith:

…we have heard Jesus’ teachings so often that their edges have been worn smooth, dulling their glaring subversiveness. If we could recover their original impact, we too would be startled. Their beauty would not paper over the fact that they are “hard sayings,” presenting a scheme of values so counter to the usual as to shake us like the seismic collision of tectonic plates…We are told that we are not to resist evil but to turn the other cheek. The world assumes that evil must be resisted by every means available. We are told to love our enemies and bless those who curse us. The world assumes that friends are to be loved and enemies hated. We are told that the sun rises on the just and the unjust alike. The world considers this to be indiscriminating; it would like to see dark clouds withholding sunshine from evil people. We are told that outcasts and harlots enter the kingdom of God before many who are perfunctorily righteous. Unfair, we protest; respectable people should head the procession. We are told that the gate to salvation is narrow. The world would prefer it to be wide. We are told to be as carefree as birds and flowers. The world counsels prudence. We are told that it is more difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom than for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye. The world honors wealth. We are told that the happy people are those who are meek, who weep, who are merciful and pure in heart. The world assumes that it is the rich, the powerful, and the wellborn who should be happy. In all, a wind of freedom blows through these teachings that frightens the world and makes us want to deflect their effect by postponement – not yet, not yet! H.G. Wells was evidently right: either there was something mad about this man, or our hearts are still too small for his message.

Yes, perhaps our hearts are indeed still too small for his message. Each of us, I suspect, have our own unique ways of either ignoring or watering down Jesus’ teachings. I know I do. As a good friend of mine recently said, “Hey, I don’t want to be too rigid about these things. At best I would be a legalist and at worst, I would starve.”

The purpose of this article, however, is not to enter into a debate about whether we should or should not follow Christ’s principles one hundred percent. As stated earlier, one reason for writing this is to demonstrate that we should not be surprised that our faith increasingly finds itself in conflict with our culture. It was also mentioned that we wanted to look at a few scriptural passages that hopefully will supply a bit of needed inspiration to internalize a biblical worldview and as much as possible, live according to its values.

The qualitative difference between God’s wisdom and that of the world is spread throughout the Holy Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments. For the sake of brevity, we will focus on one part of scripture in some degree of detail. It is my sincere hope that by doing so, you, the reader, may feel inspired and motivated to, at the very least, take stock of where you stand in terms of your worldview and to what extent that worldview is aligned with the biblical perspective.

To be continued. . . . .

(c) L.D. Turner 2014/All Rights Reserved

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/08/the-approaching-storm-worldviews-in-conflict-part-one/

Aug 16 2014

LifeBrook: Are You Open for Business?

Original post at http://lifebrook.wordpress.com/2014/08/16/are-you-open-for-business-2/

Mick Turner

(Originally published on Wellsprings and Wineskins and also on LifeBrook back in 2008, this article is posted in response to readers’ request)

Our culture, it seems, is on some kind of spiritual quest. As I cruise about the Internet these days I often encounter articles, web sites, and discussion groups throwing about the term “spirituality.” With increasing frequency I also find sincere seekers, including professed Christians, attempting to define what true spirituality is. Some of the definitions are profound while others are more arcane than the tax code.

For Christians, the definition of true spirituality should not be a mystery. The meaning of the word, given to us by Jesus with alarming clarity, may not be the answer we are looking for. The definition of spirituality provided by the Lord had nothing to do with esoteric philosophical speculations, nor did it encompass the need for expanded knowledge of a multi-dimensional universe. On the contrary, Jesus told us what real spirituality was in a very direct and precise manner. He didn’t explain it to us; he showed us.

Jesus gave a new definition of what true spirituality consisted of when, as described in the 13th Chapter of John’s Gospel, he shocked his disciples by performing the lowly act of cleansing their dirty, dusty, and most likely, fetid feet. In this act, Jesus then said that he had provided an example. In his words:

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you… (John 13:14)

As Christ-followers, we are called to no less. We are called to the ministry of the towel. For the Christian, that is the meaning of spirituality. We are to be of service. Everything else, no matter how profound, is superstructure.

At its most fundamental level, proactive service, motivated by love and compassion, is what incarnational Christianity is all about. No matter what setting in which we find a need to be addressed, we are to obey and go. No matter how filthy, grimy, or smelly, we are to take up our towel and basin and hit the ground running. This is our calling and this is our duty. This is what Christ did and we are to do no less.

Even as sincere believers with a genuine desire to manifest active Christian love to our hurting world, we often complicate this issue of service to an extreme. “What is my true mission?” we often ask ourselves. “Is helping with this situation something I am gifted to do?” Other times we vacillate by comparing ourselves to others. “Are there other people far more skilled than I to help with this?” Moses tried this approach and God didn’t buy it. Although there is nothing wrong with assessing our talents and gifts, we need to realize in any situation, there is some type of service we can provide. There is at least some need we can meet. Just about anyone can fold chairs, clean a kitchen, drive a van, or deliver food.

At the end of the day, this issue of Christian service boils down to one word: availability.

We must each look into our hearts and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, ask ourselves: Am I available to be used by God? We need to be rigorously honest with ourselves in answering this all-important question. If we answer in the negative, then we need to explore the reasons why we feel we cannot currently follow Christ’s call to service. If we answer in the affirmative, then we need to find a place to serve, a way to serve, and get on with it. It is of vital importance that we keep in mind that we are Christ’s representatives here in this broken world. We are his hands, his feet, and his heart. And, we are his agents no matter where we are. Gary Thomas explains how this has come to work in his life:

“Once I begin surrendering my body to be transformed, I become a living and breathing center of possibility. I become a force that God can use to impact the world. This truth teaches me to see my life as a call to represent Christ wherever I go, whether it is at a high school basketball game, a family get-together, the dreaded Department of Motor Vehicles office, a local Starbucks, or my own home. Regardless of my location, I can live with a sense of offering myself up to God so that he can encourage his children and reach out to the lost.”

Individual Christians are not alone in over-thinking the issue of service. Entire congregations can do the same thing. Instead of diving in and providing immediate relief or help to those in need, churches often choose to conduct exhaustive investigations and hold endless committee meetings, trying to design a program that will address a community need. Again, research and planning are essential, but not at the expense of allowing people to suffer while we weigh our options. Jerry Cook, in his informative book The Monday Morning Church, strikes at the heart of the issue:

“I am convinced that as Christians we are not about programs. We’re not about bigger or better blessings. We’re about responding to people who call for help because their world is falling apart. These individuals aren’t looking to be converted – they’re looking for help! Being their help – by being the presence of Christ in their lives – is the only thing we’re about. Everything else we do is secondary and can even detour us from carrying out the true purpose of the church…You are filled with the Spirit of God. You are living in this window in time called the last days. You are where you are because God has strategically placed you there. The question is, are you open for business?”

Cook makes a poignant statement here and asks the pivotal question, a question that each of us must answer with truth and honesty: Am I open for business?

Each of us must find somewhere to begin his or her own unique mission, in whatever setting God has placed us. So, again, where do we begin? Why not start where Christ himself began? As he picked up the Holy Scriptures in the synagogue at Nazareth he spoke clearly and without reservation, echoing his Father’s words from the 61st chapter of Isaiah. Christ said he had left his comfort zone in the spiritual realm and incarnated on this fallen planet in order:


To bind up the broken hearted

To proclaim liberty to the captives

To comfort all who mourn

To give them beauty for ashes,

The oil of joy for mourning

The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.


Surely, these words pertain to someone or some situation you are aware of. Are you aware of anyone who is broken hearted or held captive by some form of addiction or behavior? Do you know someone who is in dire need of comfort at this time? Is there anyone in your family, your church or your neighborhood who is in need of a little beauty and joy in life; maybe someone who needs help with depression or some other type of spiritual heaviness?

As stated earlier, the first salient question is not so much “How shall I go about doing good?” No, the question is, “Are you open for business?”

Are you ready to become someone God can use? Are you ready to become, in the words of Gary Thomas, a living and breathing center of possibility?

© L.D. Turner 2008/All Rights Reserved

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/08/are-you-open-for-business/

Aug 08 2014

LifeBrook: Wise Words for Today

Original post at http://lifebrook.wordpress.com/2014/08/08/wise-words-for-today-365/

The most critical issue facing Christians is not abortion, pornography, the disintegration of the family, moral absolutes, MTV, drugs, racism, sexuality, or school prayer. The critical issue is dullness. We have lost our astonishment. The Good News is no longer good news, it is okay news. Christianity is no longer life changing, it is life enhancing. Jesus doesn’t change people into wild-eyed radicals anymore. He changes them into “nice people.” If Christianity is simply about being nice, I’m not interested.

Mike Yaconelli

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/08/wise-words-for-today-86/

Aug 04 2014

LifeBrook: We Are Christ’s Ambassadors

Original post at http://lifebrook.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/we-are-christs-ambassadors/

Mick Turner

Although there are many factors that seem to contribute to the general impotency of many Christians in terms of manifesting a deeper walk with Christ in daily life, it has dawned on me that one of the central problems is a lack of understanding of just what Christ has accomplished through the cross and resurrection. Further, we fail to truly understand and appropriate who and what we are in Christ. This lack of understanding leads to a lack of power, power that God intended for us, his earthly ambassadors, to have.

And that is just what we are called to become – Emissaries of Christ.

Over the years, I have studied just about every religion you could imagine and probably a few you couldn’t. With some spiritual paths, I have waded only in the shallow end and that was more than enough to discover there was truly no depth at the other end. In others, I have plunged deeply and found some things of value that have served me quite well in navigating this often tiring conundrum we call life. In still yet other spiritual paths, I have skirted the periphery but, like a moth hovering about a source of light, never landed. I don’t think this was so much out of fear of being turned into tinder, but instead, I found nothing to really land on. I think you may understand what I mean.

I guess these experiences with other faith systems have taught me two significant lessons. First, religions or systems of faith, whatever term you want to use, will not get us to God. And, at this risk of alienating many readers at this point, I include Christianity in the above statement. Institutional Christianity has accomplished many things and has more positive qualities than I can count. Yet helping a person truly find God is not one of them. In fact, I have discovered that Christianity, as it is commonly understood, often poses a great obstacle to advancement in spiritual matters.

Why is this?

I think this is true for many reasons, perhaps too many to detail in the context of this article. Still, I feel compelled to offer a few of the factors that I believe have caused traditional Christianity, in its liberal, conservative, fundamentalist, and charismatic traditions, to fail in its mandate to make disciples. I have come to believe that the institutional church has many times become more of an obstacle to genuine spiritual formation than its advocate and facilitator. I know this is a heavy charge to levy against the church and I do not make this charge lightly. Still, if one takes even a cursory look around at the goings on at most congregations, you will find little more than lip service paid to the importance of growing deeper in the faith. Granted, we can begin to witness a certain amount of change in select churches, but my impression is that this is the exception and not the rule. Further, research, especially many of the fine studies carried out by George Barna, validate what I am saying.

First of all, Christianity as a formal religion was not what Christ called us to. He did not call us to a religion; he called us to a Kingdom. Myles Munroe speaks clearly to this issue when he says:

Misunderstanding Jesus has caused Muslims to reject Him, Hindus to suspect Him, Buddhists to ignore Him, atheists to hate Him, and agnostics to deny Him. But it just may be those who claim to represent Him the most – Christians – who have in fact misunderstood and, therefore, misrepresented Him the most…..Christians have misunderstood Him as the founder of a religion and have transformed His teachings and His methods into customs and His activities into rituals. Many even have reduced His message to nothing more than an escapist plan for getting to heaven and His promises as a mere fire insurance policy for escaping the pains of a tormenting hell…..And yet a simple study and review of His message and priority reveals that Jesus had only one message, one mandate, and one mission – the return of the Kingdom of Heaven to earth.

Don’t get me wrong. I value the church. I sincerely feel the organized Body of Christ has contributed greatly to the advancement of the cause of Christ around the world and it is my fervent hope that it can and will continue to do so. However, my fear is that it will not. Does that mean the church is dead? No, I don’t think so. Does that mean that the Christian religion, institutionally practiced as we have known it in the last couple of centuries is dead? You betcha! You can get on board with that or you can get left out in the cold. The fact is my friend, the train is leaving the station and more than a few say it has already left.

Lest you think what you are reading is the raving of some lunatic on the fringe of the Emergent Church movement, you need to understand that Christian teachers and leaders from every denomination and every stripe and sounding the same clarion call. And believe me folks, these are not religious basket cases wandering around dressed in loin cloths and eating bugs. These are sincere, educated, and insightful Christians who have had their ear to the ground for many years and have heard the train coming. As an example, let’s listen to the noted and respected Charismatic pastor Rick Joyner:

Radical change is coming, and those who are not discerning enough to see it, and become part of it, will not survive much longer. This is not a slam against the church as it is, which has been effective in its time and a powerful salt and light in the earth in its generations. The church is also the mother of the great, last-day ministry which is soon to emerge. However, just as Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin (see Genesis 35:16-19), the last son born to Israel, the same will happen to the church when the last-day ministry is born.

Joyner goes on to say that the church, as we know it, has served a great and useful purpose. However, it has now outlived its mission and it is time for the next corporate manifestation of the Body of Christ to be birthed. Like anything else, however, when we try to hold on to something that has outlived its usefulness, that very thing we grasp so tightly becomes an enemy, not an asset.

Over the centuries the church has drifted far from the original moorings put in place during the Apostolic Age. This drifting was in many ways unavoidable and to be expected as believers became increasingly removed from Christ in terms of distance and time. As a result, the Body of Christ not only lost a great deal of its vitality and purpose, it gradually began to replace divine revelation with man-made truths. Space here does not permit a detailed analysis of all the ways in which this has occurred, but the following brief list is just some of the ways in which the institutional church has gradually drifted into stagnant waters that are bereft of wind – what is so appropriately called by sea-farers “the doldrums.”

Domestication of Jesus

Faith/Works Controversy

Ignorance of the Holy Spirit

Reliance Upon Professional Clergy

Overly Focused On The Salvation Half of the Gospel, to the Exclusion of the Empowering half.

Deification of Scripture

One other area of drifting needs to be mentioned and that is the tendency on the part of the church to offer a “comfortable, watered-down gospel.” Now please, don’t misunderstand me here. I am not talking about preachers who espouse positive thinking and positive living. I firmly believe in what these folks are saying. Without a positive focus, nothing can be accomplished. What I am talking about is the fact that few churches ever really get down to the nitty gritty of what a person has to do in order to become a productive disciple. In a word, they have to die!

Jesus told us this and we can take him at his word. Paul echoed these teachings, as did John and Peter, each in his own way. Friends, we are now moving into an age in which it will be increasingly difficult to be a Christian. In America, chances are we won’t have to die for our faith, but we can count on increasing isolation as the culture becomes more Post-Christian in orientation. Moreover, if we are going to become the kind of Christ-followers needed to meet the challenges of the coming years, we have to get down to it. We have to become gut-level honest with ourselves about the seriousness of our commitment to Christ.

J.I. Packer, the great theologian and Bible teacher, once wrote a great piece entitled “Hot Tub Religion.” In it he talked about religion that helped people to cope, to relax, unwind, and feel good. There is nothing wrong with this. We all need to do these things. But we need another aspect of spirituality as well. Whether you can see it or not, every day things point to increasing difficulties ahead, not just for Christians, but for everyone. The increasing tensions throughout the world and the economic woes we are experiencing are just the tip of the iceberg I am afraid.

I am not an alarmist nor am I a Doomsday prophet. But I am a realist and part of that realism sees the fact that we, as Christians, will have an important and unique role to play in the coming days. We have to be ready. By being ready I don’t mean politically discerning. What I mean is, we have to get back to brass tacks in terms of God’s call upon us. A major part of that call upon us is to be a “Holy People,” called to a special work. Each of us must ask in our heart of hearts, “Am I ready? Am I willing?”

No one can answer that question for you.

Just this morning I was over at the local high school talking to the football coach for an article I am writing for the paper. It is mid-July and this is the South. In a word, it is hot. The players were out running wind sprints, long races around the field, and drilling endlessly. These kids wanted to play and some of the marginal players just wanted to make the team. As I watched them, I was again reminded of the words of Rick Joyner:

To be called as an emissary of the King of kings is the highest calling that one can have on this earth. If we do not want our place in Christ more than an athlete wants his place on a team, then we certainly are not worthy of such a position…..One of the biggest thieves in the church today is called “the easy way.”

It is additionally imperative that we understand that the first realm of our unique work is with ourselves. We have to get down to a level of ruthless honesty with ourselves. God has called us to holiness and to nothing less. We have to work along with the Holy Spirit to remove the motes from our own eyes before we start trying to change the world for Christ. There are too many believers today that avoid the necessary internal change by focusing on the need for the world to change. Get this down deep: before the world can change, we have to change. The so-called culture wars are being fought by unprepared troops on both sides. Let’s forget the military metaphors for now and take an honest, hard look at ourselves.

As Rick Joyner says, there are no easy ways. Repentance is the first thing Christ called for at the inauguration of his mission. True repentance means to “turn around.” What each of us must ask ourselves is, “Have I really turned around?” If our answer is yes, we then ask, “Am I ready to assume the responsibilities of being an emissary of Christ?”

It’s time to take a stand with yourself, one way or the other.

© L.D. Turner 2008/2014/All Rights Reserved

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/08/we-are-christs-ambassadors/

Older posts «