Another Pastor Finds Relief

Here is part of the spiritual journey testimony of Mark McKeehan who serves as Senior pastor of Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church in Knoxville, TN


My journey to the cross of total surrender was hard; in May of 2003, I was in Sherman, Texas, for Passion One-Day, which is a Christian conference designed for College students… That day as I finished praying, I could hear the song from Chris Tomlin called “Enough.” Part of the lyrics say, “All of you, is more than enough for all of me.” I realized Jesus is enough! He is enough when times are good and when times are not. That day, I began to understand and learn about total surrender. It was also the time I began to live open-handed. If I own nothing, then nothing can be taken from me!

I moved back to Knoxville, TN in April of 2006. For three years I was the Student Pastor at Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church. After three years, I was asked to transition to Lead Pastor. During the transition from student pastor to lead pastor I became close with a man named Blaine Anderson. Blaine quickly became a spiritual father to me, and he began using a term I had never heard before. The term was “spiritual world.” Blaine began to disciple me in the works of Holy Spirit and my spiritual eyes and ears were awakened even more. Finally, I had found someone who could explain to me what I wanted to learn so many years earlier. I began to meet with Blaine to talk about Holy Spirit and what he called the Spirit World. For the first time in my life, Holy Spirit became less of a mystery and I began to interact with Him as a person, as God.

Yet, about five years ago I was on the edge of burnout. The ministry at the church wasn’t bad, but the finances, people, ministry, staff and all the counseling sessions became too much for me. I felt like I was drowning with no lifeline. I wanted to quit, but I knew that would not honor nor glorify the name of Jesus. My identity was focused in temporal and wrong things. I would come in on Mondays and if our offering was good then I thought I was a good pastor. However, if the offerings were bad then I was a bad pastor. I also began to evaluate myself through the way I preached. If people responded, I thought I was doing well but if they didn’t then I thought I was failing. My identity was wrong, so therefore I was “feeling” things and thinking they were true when in fact they were just “feelings.”

I asked the deacons first, then the church, if I could take a one-month sabbatical. During my sabbatical I was introduced to GFI. I had heard of them before, but honestly, I never took the time to really listen. Now, feeling I was at the bottom, I started to listen to [the Church’s Discipleship Counselor] Hans Haun who had tried so many times before to reach out to me… After my sabbatical, I realized I needed boundaries or what I call “guardrails” in my life. One of those guardrails was to meet regularly with Hans.

At our first meeting, my life was changed! I sat in my office as I watched Hans draw out the wheel and line diagrams. As he explained the “Exchanged Life” to me I sat there thinking, “This is why I do what I do. This is why I react in emotion and I feel like a failure!” My identity is wrong, and self is leading my life. That day I began praying the “selfers” prayer of total surrender. I began to ponder Dr. Solomon’s statement, “We learn to be in experience who we already are in position.” I am seated with Christ in heavenly places. My identity is no longer in offerings or sermons. In Christ, I am chosen, I am called, I am beloved, and I am complete.

Now, I reckon myself dead unto sin and alive unto God (Romans 6). I understand that one of my greatest enemies is my flesh and daily I need to reckon that, in Christ, my flesh has been crucified with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). My identity isn’t in what I do, what I fail at, or even how I feel. My identity isn’t in what others think or say about me; good or bad. My identity is in Christ and I am who He says I am. He called and chose me before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4), which means He chose me before I could do anything to earn it or to do anything that would disqualify me from receiving it. He loves me not because of who I am, but because of who He is! I am complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10) and this means I lack nothing. I am deficient in nothing. I can no longer say, “If I had more grace or mercy then I would be a better pastor.” I have all of the grace and mercy I need because I have Holy Spirit in me. The power that has raised the dead, (Romans 8), is in me. Christ in me is the key that changes everything. So, Galatians 2:20 isn’t just a verse to memorize; it is my life. I died, I was buried, but I was also raised to walk in newness of life! My goal is to live surrendered to Jesus, walking with and being led by Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16). As I abide in Christ, then He can work through me and the works He does are perfect, just and good!…

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