In a sermon posted on February 13, 2018 Pastor Cymbala uses four scriptures as a starting point for this challenging message about experiencing real change in the Christian life (John 8:28-29; Romans 6:5; Romans 8:5; Galatians 2:19-20). The audio message can be heard online or downloaded here: https://www.brooklyntabernacle.org
At North Point in Atlanta, Andy Stanley preached a series that addresses some vital themes related to grace for Christian living and the believer’s new identity. It’s entitled “NU ME” and is available from their download store. North Point includes insights from “NU ME” in their Care Network’s “Re:New” one-on-one mentoring ministry.
Their team has produced an 8 lesson video-assisted small group study that incorporates the essential content used in North Point’s Re:New ministry. It’s titled Renovate. This resource has great potential to guide participants in spiritual renewal.
“For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:3,4).
Grace Fellowship Int’l [this site’s sponsor] appreciates the ministry endorsement of Dr. Charles Stanley and the opportunity we’ve had to do some networking over the years. In 1980, Dr. Charles Solomon presented the Exchanged Life Conference at First Baptist Church of Atlanta. Charles Stanley promoted the event, and Andy Stanley attended also. A couple of years later, our associates, Dr. Bill and Anabel Gilliam, presented the Victorious Christian Living conference there.
At InTouch.org Dr. Charles Stanley has a section on 30 Principles that have guided his life and ministry. Several of them are part of the spiritual DNA of the Grace Fellowship’s Discipleship Counseling message (See 1,3,12,15,24):
- Intimacy with God
- Reliability of God’s Word
- Peace through oneness with God
- To live the Christian life is to allow Jesus to live His life in and through us
Our current audio podcast features a dynamic sermon by Charles Stanley entitled “Good News of Great Joy: Christ Your Life”. It was preached at FBA in the early 1980’s. You can listen online or download it here: gfiworld.sermon.net/main/main/21089854
First Baptist Atlanta developed a pastoral and lay counseling ministry using this Exchanged Life model. (Listen to the two-part interview about this with Dr. Al Scardino here.)
A Testimony by Steve Ranz
I was raised in a Catholic home and attended a Catholic grade school and High School which including my freshman and sophomore years in a minor Catholic seminary. I completed my formal education by gaining my Bachelor’s degree from a Catholic College and my MBA from a Catholic University. I maintained my strong Catholic ties well into my adult years. However in 1999 my wife and I received an invitation to attend an event at an Evangelical Church. This invitation led to some questions and within a short period of time we began attending both the Catholic as well as the Evangelical church.
I was struggling between my strong catholic ties and two critical concepts I encountered in the Evangelical church: mainly, that every person needed to have a personal relationship with Jesus, and that the Bible was God’s personal love letter to each of us. If that were the case, I needed to read the Bible. From today’s vantage point, these facts seem so basic to my walk as a Christian, but back then it was a huge turning point for me.
The Holy Spirit began working mightily to open the eyes of my heart. In a short period of time I began attending a Men’s Bible study and was being mentored by a strong Christian man. In 2004, my wife and I were baptized. When I gave my life over to the Lord there were two Bible passages that He put on my heart. The first was Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” And also Philippians 3:8: “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
About three years ago our faith journey led us to Grace church and a Sunday morning class. Then came an invitation from Brad and Lynn Adams to attend a presentation by John Woodward (of Grace Fellowship International) arranged by Cross to Life Discipleship Ministry in Minnesota. When I heard the presentation and realized the message was based on Galatians 2:20 and the “Exchanged Life,” I knew I was right where God wanted me to be. After that Saturday I acquired and read Dr. Solomon’s Handbook to Happiness. I then read two more of his books and went through the webinar class with John. I also observed John as he took a man through a multiple session Exchanged Life mentoring process.
Back In 2005, the Holy Spirit drew me into discipling and mentoring men within our church, and eventually by 2010 I was strongly involved with prison ministry. I have now incorporated lots of the Handbook to Happiness diagrams and Bible verses into my “toolbox” and I have encouraged a number of men to read the book so that the Holy Spirit could use it to impact their walks directly.
One of the prisoners with whom I have been working since 2012 has read Handbook to Happiness and The Ins and Outs of Rejection at my suggestion. Not only has it intensified his own walk with the Lord, but he has shared the message with other men in the prison as well. In January, 2018 this inmate will be leading a group of 10 men, navigating them through The New Life book by Regional Wallace. The class is called “Your Identity in Christ.” We have supplied books for them to use and we are hoping this becomes a regular part of the Prison Fellowship Academy program. I am excited about this opportunity, and I am in communication with the Deputy Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Corrections about getting this implemented in other locations for inmates.
I also lead the Every Man A Warrior study group at Grace Church on Saturday mornings and refer to the Galatians 2:20 material there. I recently shared John Woodward’s “Paradigm Shift” article with one of the men to help him understand more of the New Covenant concepts.
I retired last May and was then able to begin and complete the first step of the personalization process to become trained for “intensive discipleship” to men through the Cross to Life ministry here in Minneapolis. I was not sure what to expect of that process. It turned out to be very eye-opening for me. As Linda Gammon and her co-discipler took me through the Main Truths to be Shared in Exchanged Life Discipleship, I uncovered and learned a lot about myself that had been “hidden” before. I am so appreciative of the investment that the Cross to Life Discipleship ministry team made in taking me through this process. I look forward to the next step of observing trained Exchanged Life mentors to further what the Holy Spirit wants to do through me. Praise the Lord!
“But he [Elijah] himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (1 Kings 19:4).
In the pastorate, the fall is usually a busy season, which rolls into the joys and challenges of Christmas programs and activities. The holidays can also trigger some depression. Sometimes this is due to comparing our families and circumstances to the ideal, or maybe it’s due to exhaustion—physical and psychological.
Our devotional and biographical heritage reveals that burnout can also be an opportunity to discover–in a new and deeper way–how God’s strength can be perfected in our weakness. As the apostle Paul testified,
“For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead…” (2 Cor. 1:8,9 emphasis added).
For more on the “not I, but Christ” illumination, see Hudson Taylor’s testimonial letter here.
For an article that gleans practical suggestions from the account of the prophet Elijah, see “When You’re a Pastor Who Suffers from Depression: What the story of Elijah (and psychological research) tells us about how to cope.” By Stephanie Dyrness Lobdell. It’s at the CT blog here:
What are stumbling blocks to harmonious relationships? What steps do we take when someone sins against us? In this message, pastor Troy Dobbs of Grace Church in Minnesota speaks on “Confrontation”. This is a practical explanation of Matthew 18, including the motive, process and restorative purpose of church discipline. The video / audio recording with notes is here: http://www.grace.church/message-series/303
It Only Takes a Spark
It was 500 years ago, October 31st, 1517. The fires of the Protestant Reformation exploded onto the scene and began to grow throughout the world. It was an epic re-alignment of Christian theology, as believers began to read the Bible for themselves and discovering that we don’t come through a priest or a church to come to God—we come to Him by faith through Jesus Christ. Imagine that, how powerful truth from the Word of God can be!The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century shook the world! The religious, political, and cultural upheaval that took place splintered Catholic Europe through the teachings of reformers like John Calvin and Martin Luther. But many today don’t realize that the spark of the reformation was a Bible translation. It was the first translation of the Bible into English by John Wycliffe, in 1382.
John Wycliffe was the most famous priest of his day. His brilliant intellect made him a leading scholar at Oxford and a chaplain to the King of England. He fearlessly spoke out against the errors of the popes, the organizational hierarchy of the Roman Church, and the corruption of the clergy in his day. He criticized not only the organization of the medieval church but its theology as well and argued for a return to the Scriptures.
Passion for the Word of God burned in his heart. He knew that if the people in England were to know the truth, they would be set free from religious shackles. Even the Bible itself needed to be liberated, for in the days of John Wycliffe the Scriptures were chained to the pulpit, read only by the educated clergy. Wycliffe reasoned that they must have the Word of God in their own language. Under his direction, the Bible was translated into English for the first time, although the job was not completed by his associates until 1395, eleven years after his death.
This was the era of wonderful inventions, perhaps the most significant of which was the printing press. This enabled the Wycliffe translation to spread. Indeed it did! Wycliffe was known as the “morning star of the English Reformation” because of the life altering Word of God that he faithfully brought into his generation.
Repeatedly condemned and burned by church authorities, copies of Wycliffe’s Bible continued in use for over a century, until printed Bibles took their place. This work greatly influenced William Tyndale who made the first printed translation of the New Testament in English.
Afterwards, it was the Czech priest by the name of Jan Hus who became the “torch” of the Reformation. He actually sparked a war known as “the Hussite war” because of his teaching that only faith in Jesus Christ could set men free! He took the truths of God’s undiluted Word and shook the world. Hus was eventually burned at the stake as a heretic for daring to believe that everyone should read the Bible and believe all that it contained, even when it goes against the doctrines of men.
About a hundred years after the death of Hus, came the theologian and reformer Martin Luther. Many view him as the father of the reformation, when in fact, he simply took the fire lit by Wycliffe, fueled by Hus, until it became a bonfire that is still burning today! How we need a more complete and glorious reformation today in the blood bought church of Jesus Christ.
What began with a Bible translation ended up with a fire that swept over the planet. May it be that our God, the God of endless glory, will once again rekindle in our hearts the fire of reformation! Could it be that another “reformation” is taking place in our generation—moving us closer to the heart of God and the meaning of His words? Our generation needs to come home to the Father, our loving King, and find His touch of tender love and wash in the fountain of His mercy.
May every bondage be broken from off the bride of Jesus Christ until we look like Him and live like Him and love like Him! And may the fear that grips many in the nations today be cast out of our hearts by perfect love! Yes, it only takes a spark to get a fire going. May your Bible reading light that fire within until the world around us is changed.
The Passion Translation Project
Time to Revive offers this resource for multiplying disciples:
Project 52 invites you to experience fifty-two stories from Scripture in a one-on-one, small group, or family setting. It’s a journey through God’s story that will equip you to share it.
For every story, there is a Devotional, Discussion Guide, and a Cartoon to help you learn and share the Story with others. As you journey through this project, you will know the Bible and you will also be equipped to share the One whom the stories are pointing to: Jesus Christ. Jesus says, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31b-32). Just as a student must know what his or her teacher has to say in order to learn, understand, and grow, a disciple of Jesus Christ must be rooted and equipped in the Word of God for all seasons of life. Whether you are journeying through Project 52 as a long-time disciple of Jesus, or were recently introduced to Him, may His word come alive in you and in others as you Share the Story.