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!…
Here is a concise, creative explanation of the Gospel from TheStoryFilm.com
The Saint in Christ
2:1. ” You [were] dead. ” 1:20. ” Christ [was] dead.”
“You [were] dead.” – How can a dead man be made a live? “Christ [was] dead.” What an amazing answer! Christ, the source of all life, even life itself, dead! This is the almost unthinkable thing that grace has done. It has put Christ, the sinless One, in the sinner’s place. “The wages of sin is death”; “the soul that sinneth, it shall die” [Rom. 6:23; Ezek. 18:4,20]. The penalty must be paid, and there was no other way to do it. He bore the sinner’s sins by taking the sinner’s place.
2:5. “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.”
Believing upon Christ as his Saviour and receiving Him into his heart, the sinner becomes the possessor of eternal life and is made one with Christ. Shall a live man remain in a grave?
1:20. “Christ raised from the dead.”
2:6. “And hath raised us up together with him.”
The grave could not hold Him that was alive. Neither can it hold the quickened sinner. The grave of sin is no place for a saint. An evangelist said in a meeting, “We shall never be anything but sinners saved by grace, with one foot in sin and one foot in grace.” Never, oh! never, according to Ephesians. If 2: 1-10 teaches anything, it is the exact opposite of such a statement. True, the sinner is saved by grace, and by grace alone, and this fact should ever be kept fresh in his memory, that he may forever praise God for His wondrous goodness. But it is equally true that through God’s grace the believer in Christ has left forever the old position in sin, and has come into a totally new position in Christ. Indeed the sinner has become a saint. God lifted him altogether out of that awful pit of sin and placed both feet on the solid rock “in Christ” wherein he is to walk in the future, as in times past he walked “in sin.” How could a saint walk worthily (4:1) with one foot in sin and one foot in grace? It is just such teaching and such practice that excuses the and inconsistent walk of many a Christian. Being raised together with Christ, the saint is now to walk in newness of life. To do this Christ must become the Life of his life.
But God’s grace is not yet exhausted, nor His redemptive plan completed. Wherever Christ is the Christian must be, for he is now bound together with Christ for all time and eternity. Christ and the Christian are eternally one. The earth could not hold the risen Christ any more than the grave could retain the dead Christ, for His redemptive work demands something more.
1:20. “He set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.”
2:6. “He made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
Dare we believe this glorious truth that He who went down to the very deepest depths of sin for us now carries us up to the very highest heights of glory with Him? That is hardly the way to put the question. Dare we not believe it? God has written both of these truths in His Word and, if we do not believe the latter, we do not really believe the former. God has said it, and to disbelieve is to make God a liar.
“Made us sit together.” – Seated; how restful and relaxed it sounds! Yet how many of us are most of the time anything but that, but rather buzzing around in a fretful, feverish fashion which is far more earthly than heavenly in the impression it makes upon the world about us.
” In the heavenlies in Christ.” – Yes, at home in the heavenlies, where our citizenship really is (Phil. 3:20). Not visiting this glorious place from time to time as trial, sorrow and conflict drive us to a higher plane, but settling down in the heavenlies in possessive and permanent occupancy as our abiding-place…
Download the exposition of Ephesians 2:1-10 here (PDF): 825_The_Creation_of_a_Christian
This free audio book (for May) addresses important themes for leaders and those they shepherd: “Bestselling author and pastor Kyle Idleman wants everyone to experience the grace of God. Through the powerful medium of story, Grace Is Greater leads readers past their hang-ups toward an understanding of grace that is bigger than our mistakes, our failures, our desire for revenge, and our seemingly impossible situations.” https://christianaudio.com/free/
An author that taught the message of union with Christ with a God-centered perspective was DeVern Fromke. Books such as The Ultimate Intention are on the required reading list for Network220.org counseling ministries. I appreciated some personal calls and correspondence with him in his later years. Brother Fromke went to be with the Lord a couple of years ago. Author Frank Viola posted his respects for Devern Fromke’s ministry at Frank’s popular blog:
“One of my mentors has gone to be with the Lord. A treasured spiritual luminary has left this earth. DeVern Fromke is now with God. He was 93.
“I met DeVern in 1993 along with Stephen Kaung (disciple of Watchman Nee)… Fromke ministered in conferences with the man who has had the most influence on my life, T. Austin-Sparks–though Sparks left this realm before I ever heard his name. All of these men gave me my foundation in the Eternal Purpose of God. And I still marvel at the depth of revelation whenever I read Sparks…
“He, along with Kaung and Sparks, were pioneers of God’s Ultimate Purpose. I’m grateful for his life and legacy. Beyond everything else, he showed me how to carry the Lord’s highest message without being egotistical or high-minded. DeVern was a portrait of the humility of Christ in a gifted vessel.”
Posted by Frank Viola, October 29, 2016 https://frankviola.org/2013/02/22/devernfromke
DeVern Fromke’s books for adults and children are still available at https://fromke.com/