Sunday, March 7, 2010


My Papa, Paul Albert Turner, was 83 years old when he died this Thursday morning, March 4th. A couple weeks ago I read his memoirs, and was reminded of the incredible stories he told me as I was growing up, especially when we were on the porch of our Sinclair Island cabin. The most incredible thing about his stories was that they were not born of creativity, they were simply a retelling of his life.

Never have I known anyone with such a variety of experiences, or a memory so precise in its retelling. He went to 27 different schools before he graduated from high school, and he remembered them all. Despite the fact that he lived with multiple members of his extended family in his early childhood, he remembered his younger years with fondness, and loved all the people who raised him. He always quoted Thumper the Rabbit to us, saying, "If you can't say nothin' nice, don't say nothin' at all." This sums up the way he viewed and talked about his personal history. Rather than remember the cold nights at his grandma's house, he would lovingly tell us how she brought hot rocks to him, and put them at the foot of his bed to warm his feet.

There are so many things that I remember about my Papa, but one theme runs through them all: God's faithfulness to his children. As I look back on my short life and see the depth, richness, and weight of all that I have experienced so far, I wonder how it is possible for someone to contain it all after 83 years. The answer I find is this: He never had to carry the weight of life, either its pain or its joy, but he was sustained by a God who loved him, and had a plan for him.

I see the faithfulness of God when I see the amazing impact my Papa had on his family as a father, uncle, and grandfather, and his community as a junior high principle. I see that God put him in my life to teach me how to fish, how to swim, how drive a boat, how to filet a fish, how to use " I" and "me" in their proper places, and how to sit on a boat when the tide is wrong and the fish aren't biting, and look at the ocean, and be thankful for what I have.

There is nothing that I am more thankful for than my salvation, but I am thankful that God gave me Papa to show me, in part, what a saved life looks like, and that God is always faithful.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Check It Out!

My friend Chris is a man with a great passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He had a personal blog for some time, but recently purchased a web domain to be used for the advancement of the Gospel in Orange County. His purpose in doing this was to draw attention away from himself, and focus on the Gospel. In keeping with the Gospel-centered, rather than Chris-centered, approach, he has asked my friend Jon and I to join him in writing for this new endeavor. I am excited for the opportunities we will have in proclaiming the truth of the Gospel together through the written word. Please check it out at

If you are interested in reading Jon's personal blog as well, direct your little eyes to the right of the screen, and click on the link that says "Jon Chenot."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fistfights With a Dream

And so we burned everything we owned. Because, who cares? And because why not? And because who are you? And because we don't need you. And because if we don't need you, you can't hurt us. So we learned to drink bitterness and eat disappointment, and every time you failed we feasted. And we wanted to tear down walls, because we thought if the roof collapsed, we would see the sky. And we did everything you said we couldn't, because who are you anyway? And who are we? And why do you care? And why do we? And if I knew who I was asking, I might get a better answer. And if i knew who I was fighting, I might strike a better blow. And because it felt better to swing than to sit, I kept on fighting. And you kept on failing. And we kept on eating and drinking. And we gave questions that couldn't be answered. And you gave answers that couldn't be questioned. And we stood in lines staring one another down, waiting for someone to blink. And we were sure. And you were sure. Yet we were right because we didn't blink.

So we began to get closer to the sky. To do this we tore down one wall at a time. First we tore down the wall of need. You gave us this wall. You gave us malls, and churches, and clothes, and ovens, and cars. And so we burned them, and tore them down. After that we could see the east. Next we tore down the wall of hurt. You told us hope, and ideas, and futures, but you never gave them to us. And when we tore down this wall we could see the north. Encouraged by our new view, we decided to take down the walls of God and laws both at once. God gave us laws, and hopes, and needs, and we had never seen him provide for any of those--so we knocked out both at once. But we should have knocked out the roof, which was made of fact, because when those two walls collapsed, the roof collapsed with them. And as I lay crushed into a hard reality under the weight of fact, I decided that bitterness did not quench, and disappointment did not fill, and that a staring contest is no way to settle an argument.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Who Do I Really Trust For Today?

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine about the dangers of people-pleasing, later I wrote this...

People-pleasing is bad for reasons far more important than the fact that it causes us to be over worked and over committed. When pleasing people is our primary concern we are walking in idolatry. I see two ways that this is true:
1) when I seek to please people I am making myself God. One reason I might have for pleasing people is the thought, "If I don't provide for them, no one will." Not only does this show a misunderstanding of how i relate to other people, but it shows a misunderstanding of good works as a whole. It is not my job to provide anyone with satisfaction. In fact, I am not even capable of providing another person with satisfaction; that is God's job. The problem with this sort of people-pleasin is that it causes us to forget that we are supposed to obey God and care for people because of love, not because of need. The moment I imagine that I am providing something that God can't, or that He won't, I am elevating myself to his position and am not longer serving Him, or others, out of love, I am "serving" Him out of anxiety.

2)another way that people-pleasing becomes a form of idolatry is when other people become my god. Rather than feeling justified, satisfied, and glorified because of what Christ has done, I begin to feel like i want something more, I begin to feel like I need your approval. The problem with this is primarily that it robs us of our ability to delight in the love that God has lavished on us. When I make another poerson's approval, or love, or anything else my God I am unable to delight in the fact that God knows everything I need, and He has given me exactly that. When I worship the opinions of other people I trust the thoughts and feelings of people over what God has given to me.

In short, people-pleasing is a refection of the fact that, whether it be in our own lives or in the lives of others, we do not trust God to provide salvation in people's everday lives. The fact is that the Gospel is for every day, not just heaven. The Gospel says that each day God has given me new mercies that provide specifically for the needs I have today, that each day God will give me the bread I need to live, that each day God has saved me from any need that I might have, and that each day I can walk confidently in the victory that Jesus won for me on the cross.

Monday, November 9, 2009


"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God" (John 6:68&69).

I like Peter. He made a lot of mistakes, but in the midst of his folly is a heart that is utterly desperate for God. I relate to Him in this passage. Just before he says this, jesus sees that many people are leaving Him after He had spoken some truth that they didn't want to hear. After they left, He turned to His disciples and asked if they were also going to leave--Peter says what I would say if Jesus asked me that, "NO! Please no! Don't let me leave you. Where else would I go? What else could I do? You've seen my works, you know my heart. I am so helpless without You!" Ok, so that's a paraphrase, but I think it's an accurate one. This is not a response of arrogant piety, it's a cry of desperation. This is how I feel, and sometimes I think that my inability to be righteous is the only thing that keeps me near to God. Yet, I thank Him for that, I thank Him that I have no choice, in light of my behavior, other than humility and childlike dependency. I know that it is His strength, and nothing else, that brings me to righteousness, and in this state, where i have nowhere that I could possibly go for life, I am satisfied by the one and only living, faithful God. Hallelujah!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

My Feelings Via Antiquated Song Lyrics

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Love Does Not Rejoice At Wrongdoing, But Rejoices With The Truth

I am sure that most Christians, at one time or another, have experienced someone else or themselves quoting Romans 8:28 in regard to personal sin. For instance, I might get drunk one night, and the next day ease my conscience with the knowledge that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him. I would be right if I said that God is going to use my sin for His plan and for my good, the problem is that instead of celebrating His grace, I have now cheapened it. God did not tell us that He has a perfect plan, with His children in mind, so that we could sin with a clean conscience. He told us about his plan so that we would always seek the good work that He has prepared for us rather than the sin that is so easy to walk in.

Too often I have seen god’s plan being used as a comforter to the unrepentant. The fact is that is was never meant to keep people from feeling guilt for sin. The problem with forgetting God’s plan is that we are then inclined to cease in our service every time we make a mistake. Without “God Works all things together for the good of those who love Him,” each sin seems to be a foil to God’s plan, another reason to give up, more proof that I am God’s enemy, not His soldier. Romans 8:28 should not lull us into unrepentance, it should motivate us toward good works. God is working in our favor, and for His glory, despite our sin. No matter what, never give up. God’s ability to use you is not bound to your ability to attain perfection—He has already done that for you. Therefore, do not be discouraged by your own weakness, but rather be encouraged by God’s strength.