What’s It Gonna Take To Make You Happy?

What’s It Gonna Take To Make You Happy?

I’ll never forget the lesson I learned on my first trip to Mexico as a youth pastor. I slept on a wooden bench which sat on a dirt floor in a back room of a church on top of a mountain in a village with no running water. We took baths in the river each day and the pastor would walk for miles to preach to his people. I brought nearly thirty teenagers from, let’s be honest here… an affluent church in Sense of HumorIndiana. None of us lived in these conditions at home but we were sure immersed in it now! And I noticed the youth from the village… and the differences between us. The local youth came to church services early… sang loud… smiled big… and dressed nice. It was convicting to us all. They were so happy and seemed to have something we didn’t. I remember spending a lot of time that week trying to figure it all out and to be honest… trying to keep our teens, well… uh… happy.

Over the years I’ve met others who seem to have this “happiness thing” figured out a lot better than others. Here is what I see in happy people…

It’s hard to be happy when you don’t have peace. Peace comes when your conscience is clear and you know you are “right with God and right with others.” To be at peace you need to do some “soul-searching” and be honest about where you are in your relationships. Did you lose your peace along the way when you chose to hold on to something hurtful or maybe just choose to do life your way instead of God’s way?

It’s really hard to be thankful for what you think you deserve. If your perspective is that you deserve so much more than you have… you are going to really struggle to be happy. But when you put it in perspective… there is always so much to be thankful for and in that place of gratitude you will find so much joy.

Hurt people hurt people. Think about that for a moment. There are so many things in life that “offend” and it is not always an easy task to completely forgive others… but you just won’t find true happiness while living in bitterness… you must accept this truth. In Psalm 51:10 David asked God to “renew a right spirit within him.” If you are really struggling with anger and bitterness toward someone who hurt you… please start the journey today toward forgiveness. Your happiness depends on it!

Those kids in Mexico taught me a lot. The smiles, the laughter, the genuine joy of God in their heart was amazing. During one “testimony time” with our youth group I’ll never forget one of our teenage boys putting it this way when he said, “I’ve met people that helped me see that I am so rich materially, but so poor spiritually… and they are so poor materially… yet so rich spiritually.” So guess what? You may be richer than you think… but you won’t be happy without peace, perspective and forgiveness.

God Made You

God Made You

Experiencing intimacy with God. Part 3 of 4

Read Part 1 here. Part 2 Part 3

Psalm 139 speaks volumes to us on the intimacy of God. We learn that:
1. He Knows Us, 2. He’s With Us, 3. He Made Us and 4. He Leads Us.

According to the BBC Website’s calculator on “where do you fit in to human life” I was the 3,173,426,221st person alive on Earth and 76,947,364,311th person to have lived since history began. 

God made you. Let the thought of that sink in for a moment.

Psalm 139:14, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”

Of the 7 billion+ human beings living on the planet we call earth, you are masterfully created by God.

He Has A Plan For You. – And He Still Does

He said of you, “My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.” When you were still an unformed substance that looked more like a peanut, God was at work shaping and creating you in to the person He intended you to be. While you were still “a secret” and your own mother didn’t know you existed… God had you in His grip. Psalm 139:15

He Made You This Way For A Reason

God was shaping the “members” or the parts of your body from the very beginning. He was making decisions about the color of your eyes, the shape of your nose and just exactly how tall you would be. “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:16

He Is Fully Aware of Your Circumstances and He Wants To Help

And He was thinking about you. As a matter of fact, He’s still doing that. If He tried to count how many times He thought about you the number would be greater than the number of grains of sand on the sea shore. “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.” Psalm 139:17-18

So take time to meditate on just how intimately God is involved in your life and your current situation. He desires to help you and He has the power to change your life. It’s time to start trusting Him.

If you are curious about the numbers… check out the World Population Clock here.

If you want to see where you fit in to the 7 billion people God has created and are living on earth today, check out this calculator… you can enter your date of birth and see where you “fit in.”  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-15391515

God’s With You

God’s With You

Experiencing intimacy with God. Part 2 of 4
Read Part 1 here.

Don’t ever think that God has forsaken you! If you have accepted Christ as your personal savior, you have a promise that will never be broken. The promise of God’s presence means He will never leave you.

It’s easy to forget that God is with us and to slip in to a place that feels like He has stopped listening, stopped caring and stopped loving.

When a friend forsakes you, when the money isn’t there to make ends meet, when the doctors give you a bad diagnosis, when you lose your job or even when you know you have miserably failed Him yet once again… surely He can’t still be near. But He is.

Psalm 139:7, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?”

Psalm 139 is a powerful chapter in the Bible and if you will let it’s truth sink in, it will change your life.

Truth – God’s With You
Psalm 139:7, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

In The Highest and Lowest Places of Life – He’s With You
Psalm 139:8, “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.” Figuratively, if I find myself on the mountain top of life, a place of incredible success, God is there. If I find myself in the lowest place of life as if “I’ve experienced hell on this earth” God is still with me.

When You Feel You’ve Drifted So Far Away – He’s With You
Psalm 139:9-10, “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” Even when it seems you’ve allowed the cares of life to distract you away from Him, He’s still near.

When Life Has Grown Strangely Dark – He’s With You
Psalm 139:11-12, “If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.” When you pass through extremely dark periods of life, God is as much with you as He was in the brightest days.

It’s true… God is with you.

God Knows You

God Knows You

Experiencing intimacy with God. Part 1 of 4

Hey, you know that thing that happened that continues to steal your joy?

Well… God knows all about that and He wants you to know that He knows. He doesn’t want you to know so that it will just make it harder. He wants you to know that He knows so that you will understand that He can make it better.

footprints in the sandPsalm 139:1, “O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.”

If you’ve ever struggled to experience intimacy with God, you are not alone. And if you struggle with forgiveness (including forgiving yourself for all your shortcomings), it’s going to be hard to ever feel close to God.

Psalm 139 is a powerful chapter in the Bible and if you will let it’s truth sink in, it will change your life.

Truth #1 – God Knows You
Psalm 139:1, “O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.”

In order to understand Psalm 139:1, you need to understand the deeper meaning of a couple of words. God has “searched” you. He is telling you that He has not just searched you casually but He has “thoroughly investigated” you. Like a private investigator has searched a crime scene, God has completely investigated all the details of you and your life. He searched you and “knows” you. You really can’t truthfully say that “nobody knows and nobody understands” my situation ever again. Because, God actually does know and He actually does understand. He has essentially “placed you under the giant microscope of heaven” and taken a deep look into your life. He knows you.

God not only knows you and understands the circumstances of your life story He also understands these things…

He knows your actions. “Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising…” Psalm 139:2

He knows your thoughts. “…thou understandest my thought afar off.” Psalm 139:2

He knows your ways. “Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.” Psalm 139:3

He knows your words. “For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.” Psalm 139:4

So, how should you and I feel about this? Knowing that God knows us so intimately. The psalmist David said in Psalm 139:6, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.” In other words, it is an awesome concept to embrace… that the God of the universe, the creator of all things, cares enough to know me so well. Because of this truth, I can trust Him. I no longer need to struggle with those things that keep coming back to steal joy from my life. I have God and He cares and He is near.





How To Find Your Way When Life’s Path Grows Dark: Illuminate

How To Find Your Way When Life’s Path Grows Dark: Illuminate

Illuminate: Send Out The Light!

“O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me…” Psalm 43:3

Early one morning after the kids were off to school, I got one of those phone calls from the school office. “Mr. Turner, your daughter forgot her____________ (fill in the blank here if you are a parent… I don’t remember exactly if it was a notebook, homework, gym clothes or something else but if you are a parent you can relate). She wanted us to call to see if you could drop it by the school office.” So I took off to the school to drop off the forgotten item.

This is part of a four part series on Psalm 43
Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4

Direction uncertainty with a landscape of confused tangled roads and highways and a group of traffic signs competing for influence as a symbol of the challenges of planning a strategy for success.

It wasn’t a big deal that day to make the run to the school because to be quite honest, I had flexibility in my schedule and there was a reason I was so “flexible.” It was the fall of 2007 and I had spent the past seven years in a ministry focused on training adult youth leaders in youth ministry. It was a “dream job” for me. It was so fulfilling to invest in people who loved God and loved teenagers and help them any way I could to be a little more effective. Part way through that seven-year journey, I transitioned from being a full-time youth pastor to leading this new ministry to over 1,000 youth leaders full-time. But on this morning… when the school called… my schedule was wide open because our ministry to youth leaders had come to an end because of a lack of ministry funding. It was a difficult time and I felt like I had wandered into a dark forest and was completely lost. No job and no idea this would ever happen. I had been surviving by doing some side jobs to try and keep the bills paid.

After my run to the school I turned around to head back home to continue my quest toward figuring out what in the world I was supposed to do next. At the time we lived in a farmhouse south of Lebanon, Indiana. I drove past the Lebanon town square in this quaint little town north of Indianapolis that looks like a scene from the movie “Hoosiers.” Something seemed to say, “Just stop.” So I did. I pulled over on the corner of the town square, parked and turned off the engine. I had no idea what to do next. I started praying.

Walking path through dark pine forest

For quite some time I sat in my SUV having a long conversation with God about my situation. I explained to Him how lost I felt and reminded Him that I didn’t pursue things in life for these past 20 years that would bring me a high income or any type of fame and fortune. It seems funny to me now that I felt He needed my reminders! In the course of my conversation with God I began to notice something and I brought it up to Him. I noticed vehicles passing by. One truck had a plumber logo on it, another was an electrician, an office across the street was where an attorney worked and there was a bank behind me. I told God that each of these people have something to do today… they have a purpose and direction. But, I’m so lost. Lost as if I’m in a dark forest and I don’t know what to do. So I prayed and I waited.

Eventually my prayer time ended and I can still remember lifting my hand to place the key in and turn the ignition. And that’s significant. Before the engine would start there needed to be an “ignition” to fire it up. Once ignition takes place fuel begins to flow, then it burns and we have power to move again.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been in this place where you feel utterly and completely lost… but I’d like to tell you from personal experience, there is hope!

Recently I was preparing to speak at a college and career conference in Cincinnati, Ohio and the theme was taken from Psalm 43. As I studied the chapter I realized there is a message here that actually covers the steps that bring us from darkness back to the light… back to God’s holy hill… back to the top of the mountain of victory.

So, I plan to share with you a story of my personal journey. A journey that includes some of the specific ways God brought my family and me through a time of darkness when many things didn’t make sense. It’s a story I’ve often wondered if I would ever share and yet now that we are on the other side… I can see so many lessons God taught us and I realize so many other people are either just entering what feels like a dark forest experience, are in the middle of it or wondering if they may possibly be near the end of a time of darkness and about to see the light of God’s presence like never before!

I think this will be a four part series of articles in order to unpack the story but we will see.

But here is the first step toward making sense of life if you feel things are getting strangely dark. Ask God to “Send out the Light” as in Psalm 43:3. Think of it this way… “God please send out thy light, illuminate my path, shine the light, light the torch, ignite the flame, light the flare, and create an explosion of understanding.” The impact of this statement is a lot like hearing “they’ve sent in the Marines, called in the National Guard, things are serious and it’s time for something big.”

So, for starters I want you to know that on that morning I chose to stop and sit on the corner of the town square and ask God to “light my path, show me the way, ignite a flame of understanding”… He did and I look forward to sharing in my next post exactly what He said. But for now… stop… talk to Him and boldly ask Him to “Send out the Light.”

I’ve created a FREE Resource called “10 Truths To Remember When Life Grows Dark” and you can get it here.

Psalm 43:3

“O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me…”

The DAD Project

The DAD Project

DAD100According to Fatherhood.org, one out of every three children in the US live in “biological father-absent” homes.

Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor.

71% of high school dropouts are fatherless.

85-90% of youth in juvenile detention are fatherless.

According to 72.2% of the US population, fatherlessness is the most significant family or social problem facing America. (National Center for Fathering poll)

Here is what we are doing in a small way to make an impact. Our High Impact Teen youth outreach ministry visits teens in juvenile detention centers across Tennessee, Georgia and Indiana. We spend time with youth who are disconnected from their fathers.

We visit them, we do Bible studies with them and we pray with them.

During this “Father’s Day Week” we are providing a special Father’s Day card for several hundred of these youth to send to their dad. For those who have lost all connection to their dad, they will be sending the card to a “father figure” who has deeply impacted their life such as a grandfather, teacher, pastor, coach, mentor, etc…

We are asking our friends to join us this “father’s day week” in the DAD Project. Here’s how you can help:

1. Take a moment each day from now through Sunday to pray for the fatherless among us. Pray especially for those who are sending theses cards and pray for the men who receive the to be moved to re-engage with their teen.

2. Share this page via email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN or any other social media platform asking your friends to commit to pray once per day through this Sunday for the fatherless. Share the photo of the DAD Project.

3. Prayerfully ask God how you might connect with a fatherless young person. James 1:27 charges believers to engage with the fatherless. Here are the specific words of Jesus, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

4. Consider a donation to help with this project. The ministry of High Impact Teens is a ministry to the fatherless. We are supported by individuals and churches who believe that a deep investment in the fatherless among us is a priority that Jesus called us to do.

The DAD Project: James 1:27
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1. Clicking here to make an online donation.
2. Mail your gift to: Ken Turner Ministries, PO Box 1325, Dayton, TN 37321.
     *To learn more about joining our monthly support team visit our giving page at https://kenturnerministries.org/give/
*Ken Turner Ministries is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) religious non-profit organization. Your gifts are tax-deductible.
Wednesday, June 17, 2015 – DAY ONE OF THE DAD PROJECT
  •  Pray for Dads who have a strained relationship with a son or daughter. Pray for God to heal and restore.

Thursday, June 18, 2015 – DAY TWO OF THE DAD PROJECT

  • Pray for several hundred youth today that will be mailing a father’s day card from the juvenile detention facilities in Tennessee, Indiana and Georgia. High Impact Teens provided the cards and in some cases the postage. Teens who don’t have a father will be sending their card to a grandfather, uncle, mentor, pastor, teacher, etc… Pray that God will use this connection to forge stronger bonds between youth and their father or father/figure.

Friday, June 19, 2015 – DAY THREE OF THE DAD PROJECT

  • Pray for children and adults who have been hurt by their dads. Pray for them to turn to God for healing from pain, bitterness and discouragement. Pray for them to begin to understand who God is as a Heavenly Father and understand His love for His children. He is a Father to the fatherless.

Saturday, June 20, 2015 – DAY FOUR OF THE DAD PROJECT

  • Pray for men who are struggling to lead and protect their family. Pray for them to find courage and become courageous men of God who will stand in the gap for the spiritual, physical and emotional care of their families. Pray for God to connect them to Himself and one other man to be accountable to.

Sunday, June 21, 2015 – DAY FIVE OF THE DAD PROJECT

  • Pray to God today, thanking Him for being a loving heavenly father. Ask Him to work miracles today in the hearts of dads and children to reconnect and start a new foundation of love and trust. Be sure to thank Him today for your own family. Also, ask Him how you might invest in a fatherless child moving forward.