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.
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.
Psalm 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.
“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.
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.
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.”
According 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
Give any amount.
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.
Jim and Jan met in college and got married after graduation. They had a couple of kids and eventually were introduced to a growing church in their community through some friends they met through their kids soccer team. Neither Jim nor Jan grew up in church but they were beginning to grow more curious about it and knew they wanted to raise their kids with strong values. After attending their friend’s church for a while they grew to understand the meaning of a personal relationship with Christ and both of them eventually accepted Christ and began to grow as new Christians. It wasn’t long before they were introduced to the concept of “ministry involvement.” People would ask, “Have you found a ministry yet in the church? What ministries are you guys interested in here at the church? Hey, you guys know that we need lots of help here in several ministries at the church!” So they went on a quest to learn about all the “ministry needs” in the church and picked one.
Fast forward a few years and catch up with Jim and Jan… the faithful church attending Christian couple who have been integrated into the church for several years now. They have a nice home in a safe neighborhood, they have some good friends with kids the same age as their own with similar values, and they have faithfully served in various ministries in the church. But something seems to be missing. They have created a safe haven for themselves and their family but they sometimes just feel so worn out running back and forth doing so many things at church in the name of ministry. And there’s another problem… they long to be connected to something meaningful. They can’t put their finger on it but there is an unrest and they dream of being able to do something that would be impactful, something that would be life-changing, something that feels really fulfilling and looks like things they read about in the Bible.
Sound familiar? Now, I’m not knocking the genuine needs for workers to function in many ministries within the church. I’ve been in full-time ministry myself since way back in the late 80’s. After all, I did a quick web search and found a long list of ministries listed on a few church websites. Each one of these ministries need workers.
Here are a few ministry opportunities that were listed on just a few church websites…
Welcome ministry, Worship ministry, Children’s ministry, Youth ministry, Usher ministry, Greeter ministry, Cleaning the church ministry, Set up crew ministry, Men’s ministry, Women’s ministry, Prayer ministry, Bus ministry, Kitchen team ministry, Counting the money ministry, Grounds crew ministry, Visitation ministry, Sunday school teacher/helper ministry, Nursery ministry, Deacon ministry, Choir, Orchestra, Singles ministry, Couples ministry, Senior saints ministry, College ministry, Small group ministry… well, you get the picture.
Here’s a thought, “What would happen if every Christian found a way to to have DEEP MINISTRY IMPACT in their community while still meeting the needs of their local church?” I don’t think it is an issue of serving in the church OR serving in the community… I think we need to make room for both.
Most of my readers know that I spent about two decades in church youth ministry and a few years ago God led me to begin a youth outreach ministry to unchurched youth. If you aren’t familiar with the story about how God redirected my ministry you can listen to an interview I did with Wayne Shepherd here https://kenturnerministries.org/radio-interview-first-person-wayne-shepherd/ on Moody Radio or read more about it here. https://kenturnerministries.org/a-window-into-juvenile-detention-ministry/
Here are a few rewards I have experienced by opening up to ministry outside the church:
My Christian Life Has Been Rejuvenated. Ephesians 2:5 mentions how we are “quickened” or made alive as a result of our salvation. By ministering to those who don’t know Christ, I find great excitement in talking to them about who He is and how He has changed my life.
There’s Not A Lot Of Competition. You will notice an unusual phenomenon in the church… sometimes several Christians are competing for ministry opportunities. “When will I get asked to sing, teach, lead, chair a committee, serve as a deacon, plan an important event…” Sometimes these thoughts literally steel all the joy from our Christian life! But there are so many needs outside the church and there’s room for many more people to connect and serve.
It Feels Like I’m Doing What Jesus Was Talking About. James 1:27 says it plainly that pure religion, or could we say authentic faith, looks more like this… visiting the fatherless and widows in their time of need and keeping ourselves unstained from the world. There’s something very rewarding about knowing we are lined up with Jesus priorities of ministry.
It Brings New Purpose To My Spiritual Growth. When you are talking with people regularly who don’t know much if anything about God or His word you are forced to answer their questions. Questions like, “If God really loves me then why is this happening in my life? If He is really real then how do you explain this? Can you tell me what God is really like? How has He changed your life? Why do you believe in Him?” Now, don’t let the questions scare you… I’ve found people really want honest answers but they don’t expect us to have ALL the answers all figured out. They just want honesty in a Christian friend who really cares about them.
It Makes Service Within The Church More Meaningful. I promise you that you will sing with more joy in the church choir, you will bring greater enthusiasm to your role as a greeter, you will greet all your duties within the church with more heart if you are serving Him outside the church in a meaningful ministry.
Give me your feedback. What have been some of your greatest experiences in finding fulfilling ways to do ministry for the Lord? I’d enjoy your feedback in the comments section of this article. Like and share it to invite others into the conversation!
Being born in a non-Christian home, then seeing my parents accept Christ when I was ten years old gives me a certain perspective I’ve always been grateful for. I know the difference between life without Christ and life with Him. I saw the change in our home. It was a drastic change and impacted me deeply. After a few months of watching how God could change mom and dad, I was convicted and I was convinced He could do the same for me and I accepted Christ into my life at age eleven. It has been an amazing journey to follow God and see His plans unfold in my life but there have been a few times when His plan freaked me out and fear caused me to stop dead in my tracks.
The most important decision you will ever make in this life is the decision to accept (or not accept, which is actually to reject) Christ as your personal Savior. But becoming a Christian is the starting line and there are many steps ahead that lead to the “abundant life” Jesus talks about.
Recently, I have been reading and studying the book of Hebrews. There is a passage that addresses a significant glitch in our progress of growing with God. The glitch is explained in Hebrews 3:15-19. Here is the picture. The children of Israel had been wandering in the wilderness for decades and seeking the land of Canaan… the promised land. Once they found it, there were some within the group that were overcome with a lack of trust in God. They were afraid to enter in and they literally were standing at the threshold but were so overcome with the fear of unbelief that the passage in Hebrews says they died in the wilderness. The gruesome description states it this way, “But with whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”
Can you imagine following God for 40 years, eating manna and walking miles and miles and miles, sleeping in the wilderness, sacrificing and paying the price for the long awaited prize of living in the “promised land” and knowing you are standing in the doorway having completed 99.9% of the spiritual journey and… you stopped. Not only did you stop, you died in the wilderness and you never ever experienced the joy that was waiting for you. The joy that would have been all yours if you had taken just one more step of faith… one more step of obedience… one more movement that required you to fully trust God. That decision on that day made by so many of the children of Israel illustrates something significant about the spiritual journey you and I are on right now. And this is it. It is possible that the one thing that is keeping you from spiritual victory, living the abundant life Jesus talks about, experiencing fullness of joy and a peace that passes all understanding is simply your spirit of unbelief at the one critical moment God is ready to do something in your life that is life changing. It is that heart of hesitation you have caved in to so often when God was ready to show you a new piece of His divine plan and it freaked you out! You were scared and you stopped… dead in your tracks and you never moved another step toward it. It is what Hebrews calls the sin of unbelief. As much as we say that we are fully trusting God, fully relying on Him and fully obeying Him, the fact is that we have most likely missed some incredible God ordained opportunities by allowing fear and unbelief to cause us to hesitate. Today is a new day. Why not take some time today to be still and ask God for clear understanding about the next step He has for your life? And move toward it with the faith and courage that He will provide. And don’t ask Him for His plan, walk up to it and look at it and freeze. Go. Move. Take that one more step and be amazed at the victory God will pour into your spiritual life because you trusted Him. You believed. You obeyed. You found “rest” for your soul.
“While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Hebrews 3:15-19
[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fusion_content_boxes layout=”icon-with-title” columns=”1″ class=”” id=””][fusion_content_box title=”Give a Gift and Help Change The Life of a Teen” backgroundcolor=”#d8d8d8″ icon=”fa-comment” iconcolor=”” circlecolor=”” circlebordercolor=”” iconflip=”” iconrotate=”” iconspin=”no” image=”” image_width=”35″ image_height=”35″ link=”” linktarget=”_self” linktext=”” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″]PS. Eighty-five to ninety percent of the youth we minister to are fatherless. This year we have been able to reach more youth than ever before and new ministry doors continue to open in youth facilities to provide Bible studies and discipleship. Approximately 60 donors make up our “ministry team” of partners that makes it all possible. Their gifts range from $25 up to several hundred dollars per month. Most of our supporters give monthly but some choose to give annually or quarterly. We’ve been blessed this year and with the expanded growth in to several states and every financial gift has made a big difference! Words can’t describe the gratitude we have for donors like you that stand in the gap to bring the hope of the gospel of Christ to the youth we serve. Please consider a year end gift to help reach high-risk and fatherless youth into the coming year! You can mail your gift to Ken Turner Ministries, PO Box 1325, Dayton, TN 37321 or give online at www.kenturnerministries.org/give
Click here to print out a giving card to fill out and return by mail. GIVING CARD[/fusion_content_box][/fusion_content_boxes][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]
After twenty-one years in church youth ministry I established an outreach ministry in 2008 with a key focus on reaching troubled youth in the community of Indianapolis, Indiana. Our ministry moved to Tennessee in July 2010 and I continue to minister to high-risk and fatherless youth.