I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few thoughts on the passing of Dr. Myles Munroe, who died in a tragic plane crash on November 11, 2014. Dr. Munroe was a tremendous teacher, pastor, and leadership mentor. He will be sorely missed, not only by his congregants in the Bahamas, but by those who were touched by his books, tapes, and teaching.
I include myself among that number in particular. Dr. Munroe’s writings greatly impacted my walk of faith at a time that I was feeling especially vulnerable. The Holy Spirit brought his writings into my life in an unexpected way and part of what follows was also published in an article on LifeBrook back in 2008.
Back in the autumn of 2005, my wife’s business responsibilities necessitated that she make a three-week trip to China. Our daughter Salina was about 18-months-old at the time and Li (my wife) decided to take her along so Li’s parents could meet their new granddaughter for the first time. Although I remained busy with my work responsibilities, I had far more free time than normal during their absence. I figured I would do a bit of relaxing and also devote some time to reading, which is one of my favorite activities.
I visited one of the area book stores a couple of days after Li and Salina departed for China. I was looking for something to read that would be spiritually edifying and I searched the shelves, especially paying attention to what was available from a few of my favorite authors. After spending about an hour doing this, I didn’t really see anything I thought I might want to read. As scanned the shelves yet another time, I saw a book that looked somewhat interesting. It was by an author I was not familiar with at the time and, after discovering that the author appeared to be at least marginally associated with a few Christian teachers that I have major reservation about, I put the book back on the shelf.
For some reason, however, I immediately took it back of the shelf and thumbed through it again. Although I did not hear an audible voice telling me to purchase this book, I did have an undeniable impression from the Holy Spirit to read this book. Having learned from past experience to heed such impressions, I bought the book.
It is not an over-statement to say that I was completely absorbed in the book for the next two weeks. I read it straight through in about four days, then went back through it slowly, taking notes and making application of what I had read. This 14-day period proved to be one of those “watershed” times in my life – a time in which I experienced an accelerated growth and a deepening of my walk of faith. I thank the Lord for leading me to this book at just the right time and I also thank him for giving me the discernment I needed in order to benefit from reading it.
The name of the book: Understanding the Power and the Purpose of Prayer by Dr. Myles Munroe.
It is hard to put into words what this book, and later, other titles by Myles Munroe have meant to me in terms of my own spiritual formation and in my work as a writer and teacher. This is all the more remarkable in that I would have probably never picked up one of Dr. Munroe’s books on my own. A mystic at heart and a bit left of center in terms of my theology and my political beliefs, chances are I would have quickly judged the book by its cover and never give it a second thought. Again, I thank God for pushing me out of my theological comfort zone and, like he did with Jonah, insisting that I go to a place I didn’t want to go. In this case, encouraging me to read something I didn’t particularly want to read.
It is also not an over-statement to say that Dr. Munroe has had a major impact on my thinking, my Christian walk of faith, and my spiritual formation. Do I agree with everything he says? No. I have yet to find any author that I am in total agreement with. Do I agree with most of what he says? Yes, I do. In fact, in studying the works of this writer and teacher, I have come to see a number of things in a different light than I did prior to walking into that bookstore back in October, 2005. In a very real sense, Dr. Munroe has been a mentor to me.
I have had the opportunity to hear Myles Munroe in person on four occasions since that time. He is a gifted orator, preacher, and teacher. I have benefited each time I have had the blessing of attending one of his programs. I have met him, albeit only briefly, and also feel blessed by having the opportunity to ask him several questions about issues that I was unclear about. He graciously took time to answer those queries and, in fact, gave me more time than was expected.
The reason all of this has come to my mind is that I recently undertook a review of my last five years and, in doing so, discovered the depth of the impact of Myles Munroe on my life. In doing this review, I looked over my bookshelf at the books that I have read over the past five years and discovered an unexpected fact. In addition to Dr. Munroe’s book on prayer, the first of his books I had read, I have 14 other titles by him in my personal library. It was a surprise to me that I have read that many of his books. I don’t have anywhere near that many books by any other author.
I could go on and on about his teachings, but I think I will just focus on one aspect of his work that has had a major impact on my thought, my faith, and my professional activities. I want to speak briefly on Munroe’s emphasis on “The Kingdom.”
Dr. Munroe has written what eventually came to be known as the “Kingdom Series.” The first book in the series, Rediscovering the Kingdom, was also one of the books that caused me to reassess my ideas about Christ’s mission and purpose. Subsequent titles in the series only deepened that process. The second book was entitled, Kingdom Principles, followed by The Most Important Person on Earth, in which Dr. Munroe discusses his take on the role of the Holy Spirit in the Kingdom. Recently, another volume was published, centering on the application of Kingdom Principles to daily life. I haven’t read that one yet.
For Munroe, everything he teaches is built upon the foundation of the concept of “Kingdom.” Without a thorough understanding of Munroe’s view of the Kingdom, we cannot begin to understand the depth of his teaching.
All that we have discussed before, the principles of potential, purpose, vision, and glory are worked out in the context of our primary mission as human beings. We are called to establish God’s Kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven. God created man for this purpose and, even though Adam and Eve disobeyed God and abdicated their dominion to Satan, God never relinquished his original goal, nor did he abandon humanity completely. Instead, the whole scope of God’s grand story of restoration moves forward with the original plot line, which was the manifestation of God’s kingdom on earth.
Munroe repeatedly makes a consistent point throughout his books related to the kingdom: Christ did not come to establish a religion – he came to establish a kingdom.
Each and every one of us is born with a divine potential, placed in us by God. We begin to realize that potential by discovering our own unique purpose or calling. This purpose or calling begins to move increasingly toward manifestation when we, with the help of the Spirit, connect that purpose with a specific vision. When we fulfill our potential by manifesting our purpose through our specific vision, we can be said to have “realized our glory.” Now, the vital aspect to understand in all of this is the fact that all of these elements are worked out in the context of God’s great purpose: establishing his Kingdom
Munroe’s concept of Jesus’ mission of establishing a kingdom rather than a religion leads him, at times, to take a rather dim view of religion. In fact, Munroe sees, and I agree completely, that religion can be a major stumbling block to the realization of the kingdom.
All religions are the same in the sense that they attempt to answer the questions of power and meaning. They all promise power to control life and circumstances and to explain life and death. They all claim to have the truth. They all claim superiority over each other. They all compare and compete with each other. They all demand adherence to their particular belief system while denying others. They all are motivated by contention and usually thrive in an isolated culture that excludes other segments of humanity. In fact, all religions seem to glory in a spirit of segregation and separatism. Rather than uniting humanity with common power and knowledge of purpose, religion has proven itself instead to be the great divider of mankind.
Munroe stresses the fact that Jesus’ central mission was to inaugurate and carry out the first stages of the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. It was Christ’s mandate and, as his followers, it is our mandate as well.
Everything Jesus said and did – His prayers, teachings, healings, and miracles – was focused on a kingdom, not a religion. Jesus was preoccupied with the Kingdom; it was His top priority, His heavenly mandate.
For Munroe, Jesus came not only to reconcile God and humankind, but also to restore something that was lost – the kingdom. And, by restoring the kingdom, help satiate humankind’s intense hunger for two things: power and purpose.
It is important to note here that when man fell from grace, he lost a kingdom, not a religion. He lost dominion over the earth; he did not lose Heaven. Therefore, mankind’s search is not for a religion or for Heaven, but for his kingdom. This is why religion can never satisfy the deep hunger in the heart of man. Religion is itself a search. No religion can substitute for the kingdom or fill the vacuum in man’s soul. The hunger of the human heart is for the lost kingdom.
The teachings of Myles Munroe in many of his other books, particularly his ideas about potential, purpose, vision, and manifesting “glory” in one’s life all come together under the rubric of the kingdom concept. All that we are and all that we are gifted with is to be used to carry forward God’s universal purpose: the restoration of kingdom rule on earth. This is not so much a call for theocracy in a political sense. Instead, it is a call for a personal rule in the believer’s individual life. Only then, can the kingdom become a corporate reality. In this regard, Munroe is clear on what he believes should be the primary teaching of the church in this age:
How important to the Body of Christ is the message of the Kingdom of God? Frankly, we have nothing else to preach or teach. The message of the Kingdom is good news, and the Church exists to proclaim it. If we are doing our job, everything we are about will be Kingdom-focused; every sermon we preach, every Bible study we teach, every ministry we perform, every activity we accomplish, and every worship service we celebrate….The Kingdom of God must be our highest priority. Jesus gave us no other commission.
In my own life, both personally and professionally, I have made an earnest attempt to make these words a living reality on a daily basis. By the grace of God and with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, I have made a degree of progress. I still, however, have a long way to go. As I press forward toward the prize, I am grateful that God took me by the hand that day in 2005 and, in spite of my own ignorance, led me to something that has been transformative and highly meaningful.
I do not mean to imply that everyone should hold the same view of Myles Munroe that I do. I suspect that for each of us, there has been someone, perhaps an author, a teacher, a preacher, or another instrument God has used to speak to us at a particularly critical point in our walk of faith. For me, it was Dr. Munroe.
© L.D. Turner 2014/All Rights Reserved