Certification Testimony – Beth K.

I have received many benefits from my Grace Fellowship International training, and it has enriched my life and the lives of those I have counseled.  I grew personally through learning more about the rejection syndrome and the things that can play into it.  Because of what I learned, I personally started working on strongholds that had been in place most of my life because of developmental trauma.  I also was helped by learning about identity and how exchanging the self-life (the wrong things we build our identity on instead of our identity in Christ) for Christ’s life can resolve the frustration and anxiety that were created because of the tension of living out of the wrong identity.  I did not even realize I was doing it since “doing in order to be” was what I had been doing my whole life.  Once I fully understood identification and surrender, it made a huge difference in my life and in the lives of my family.  I was then able to begin counseling people from a Christ led position – closely listening to the Holy Spirit  while working on keeping myself out of the way.  This, of course, is a “pick up your cross daily” type of thing, but what I learned at G.F.I. helped so much in increasing my ability to live with hope and joy, and from that position, to walk with others who are struggling to find that same peace.

I have used the ministry model mostly through informal counseling with friends, family and church members who have come to me for help, though I have also done quite a few formal counseling sessions.  I find that this model is easy to use and that I am much more comfortable walking beside people in their lives than coming from a perspective of the expert with all of the answers. This is what is taught in the G.F.I. model, so it works very well.   Ultimately it is the Holy Spirit who is the counselor, and I am just there to facilitate that connection and help point them to biblical truth.  I have used this model in a variety of situations and presenting problems:

  • a man struggling with adoption issues,
  • a woman struggling with singleness,
  • a woman going through a divorce,
  • many childhood traumas,
  • and many other diverse situations. 

Because the GFI ministry model is based on discipleship and reinforcing biblical truth, it is so helpful to everyone, including the people ministering. It is good to be reminded of our identification and identity in Christ on a frequent basis. 

I would love to bring this ministry model to my church and offer it as a way to help those who are in conflict, or are suffering.  I am hoping that when I can move from full time secular work to more part time, then I can put that dream of mine into motion.  I feel led to pursue a focus on grief, crisis and trauma–specifically developmental trauma as that is my personal experience– and God has put that on my heart.  I believe that I am being called to fulfill 2 Corinthians 1:4 “(God) who comforts us in all our suffering, so that we may be able to comfort others in all their suffering, as we ourselves are being comforted by God.”  I think the G.F.I. model works well to help those going through all suffering by helping them to understand their true identity and standing in Christ.

-Beth Kressin
(Georgia)
10/04/2020

Who Do You See?

If I am never given an opportunity to speak again, if I am stricken and never able to do another righteous act, if I never lose another pound, if I stumble and am weakened, if I am late, if I let my husband and children down, if I fail to encourage a friend, if that ring in the toilette doesn’t disappear before the day is up, if that wrinkle turns into two, …the list is endless.  Help me Lord to see me for who I am in you.  

A dose of 2nd Corinthians and Romans 8 tells me, that today, because I know who Jesus is to me, I am looking into the mirror, standing in His grace and righteousness. Today I am looking into that mirror unashamed, uncondemned by the old law, unafraid, unveiled and free, without self-loathing , face to face with my Savior who is changing me from glory to glory.  Today I know that I am being perfected for Him and Him alone.   He loves me.Lord seal this image in my mind through your Word so that I never move from this in Jesus’ name.  

If you are in a battle of the mind and unable to see yourself as God sees you, then I am praying for you today.  I pray the barriers that are keeping you from seeing yourself and others through the eyes of Christ are shattered and His love pour over you like waves of grace.  I pray that you begin today to feel and understand and know the depth of His love.  I pray that you will know His fullness and understand you are being made perfect by the Spirit of Christ in this life for your eternal life with Him to come.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen

– Elizabeth Martindale

Surrender: Wholehearted and Specific

One of the “check points” in our lives and in Christ Centered discipling and counseling is wholehearted surrender. The page in the GFI Exchanged Life Conference notebook about this is titled “Total Commitment” and is summarized in the vital text of Romans 12:1,2: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (NKJV)

This is wholehearted aspect of the Cross in the life of the believer. The daily cross (Luke 9:23) refers to the need for daily and progressive yielding to God.[1]

British pastor and author F. B. Meyer, recalls a conversation with a Spirit-filled believer whom he admired.

[Charles Studd asked him] ‘Have you ever given yourself to Christ, for Christ to fill you?’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘I have done so in a general way, but I don’t know that I have done so particularly.’ He said: ‘You must do it particularly also.’ I knelt down that night and thought I could give myself to Christ as easily as possible. And I gave Him an iron ring, the iron ring of my will, with all the keys of my life on it, except one little key that I kept back. And He said: ‘Are they all here?’ I said: ‘They are all there but one, the key of a tiny closet in my heart of which I must keep control.’ He said: ‘If you don’t trust Me in all, you don’t trust Me at all.’ I tried to make terms; I said: ‘Lord, I will be so devoted in everything else, but I can’t live without the contents of that closet.’ I believe, young friends, that my whole life was just hovering on the balance, and, if I had kept the key of that closet and had mistrusted Christ, He never would have trusted me with His blessed Word. He seemed to be receding from me, and I called Him back and said: ‘I am not willing, but I am willing to be made willing.’ It seemed as though He took that key out of my hand and went straight for that closet. I knew what He would find there, and He knew, too. Within a week from that time He had cleared it right out. But He filled it with something so much better! Why, what a fool I was! He wanted to take away the sham jewels to give me the real ones. He just took away the thing which was eating out my life and instead gave me Himself.

Now, that is the point I am coming to with you. You have given Him the keys, haven’t you? You have given Him your will with every key of your heart and life. It is all in His hands.” [2]

Catherine Marshall was considered “America’s most inspirational writer” by the New York Times and is best known for her novel Christy. She was also the wife of Peter Marshall (pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC and Chaplain of the United States Senate.) In her book, Adventures in Prayer, she devoted a chapter to “the prayer of relinquishment.” After testifying of how God taught her relinquishment and demonstrated its fruitfulness, she gave this prayer as a sample:

Father, for such a long time I have pleaded before You this, the deep desire of my heart:_______________. Yet the more I’ve clamored for Your help with this, the more remote You have seemed.

I confess my demanding spirit in this matter. I’ve tried suggesting to You ways my prayer could be answered. To to my shame, I’ve even bargained with You. Yet I know that trying to manipulate the Lord of the Universe is utter foolishness. No wonder my spirit is so sore and weary!

I want to trust You, Father. My spirit knows that these verities are forever trustworthy even when I feel nothing:

*That You are there. (You said, “Lo, I am with you alway.”)

*That You love me. (You said, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.”) 6

*That You alone know what is best for me. (For in You, Lord, “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”.)

Perhaps all along, You have been waiting for me to give up self-effort. At last I want You in my life even more than want _________________. So now, by an act of my will, I relinquish this to You. I will accept Your will, whatever that may be. Thank You for counting this act of my will as the decision of the real person even when my emotions protest. I ask You to hold me true to this decisions. To You, Lord God, who alone are worthy of worship
I bend the knee with thanksgiving that this too will “work together for good.” Amen.[3]

In both Meyer’s and Marshall’s examples, surrender is considered in both general and specific terms. And this kind of surrender is included in Dr. Solomon’s “Selfer’s Prayer.”

May we model such surrender and facilitate it in ministry as God works in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Phil 2:13).

– John Woodward
8/2020

______________

[1] https://gracenotebook.com/taking-up-your-cross-daily/

[2] https://www.path2prayer.com

[3]  Catherine Marshall, Adventures in Prayer (Fleming H. Revell, 1975) p.60
Scriptures quoted: Matthew 28:20; Jer. 31:3; Col. 2:3; Romans 8:28

Cross Currents in the MainStream

Sometimes Exchanged Life disciplers/counselors meet some resistance from those who are suspicious of the identification-with-Christ message that is central to this model.

One way to respond to critics is to go to the New Testament passages that teach the Gospel for the believer (such as Romans chapters 5-8). Another way to answer is to seek common ground by citing respected authors and leaders who are considered in the evangelical mainstream yet have believed and taught this message. We could refer to denominational leaders such as A. B. Simpson (Christian and Missionary Alliance), international evangelists such as Luis Palau, pioneer missionaries such as Hudson Taylor, hymn composers such as Frances Ridley Havergal, persecuted church leaders such as Watchman Nee, devotional writers such as Oswald Chambers, College presidents such as V. Raymond Edman (Wheaton), International conference speakers such as Ian Thomas, expository preachers such as Stephen Olford, and the list goes on.

I was interested to observe a deeper life influence in Billy Graham’s autobiography, Just As I Am. In 1946 Billy attended Stephen Olford’s preaching meetings (and the Youth for Christ team gave a Word too). The next year Billy returned from his second European trip:

Those months had also been a time of spiritual challenges and growth. My contact with British evangelical leaders during this and subsequent times, especially with Steven Olford, deepened my personal spiritual life. I was beginning to understand that Jesus himself was our victory through the Holy Spirit’s power. I developed an even deeper hunger for Bible study and new biblical insights for my messages. I quoted the Bible more frequently than ever before. (p. 111)

In 1968 Billy even brought president Nixon to Calvary Baptist Church in Manhattan to hear Stephen Olford preach “whose insights often blessed me” (Just as I am, Harper Collins, 1997) p. 454.

This is the Stephen Olford who authored Not I But Christ, and endorsed Charles Solomon’s Handbook to Happiness by writing the Foreword.

So, we provide discipleship counseling with a valid biblical basis, with the fruit of many changed and transformed lives, and with a “cloud of witnesses” from the evangelical mainstream.

-JBW

GFI Kindle Ebooks

One of the ways we encourage our counselees to learn the Christ Centered message is through reading. Although many prefer the printed page, ebooks have been gaining popularity because they are conveniently carried and read on a smart phone or tablet. Petar Atanasovski observed:

“No doubt about it, the publishing world has come a long way since Gutenberg introduced the printing press in the 15th century. Modern digital publishing has enabled us to carry wholesome libraries inside our pockets as we can access all of our favorite books and magazines via mobile devices. Technological advancements have completely transformed the world and shaped the way we think, learn, progress, and connect with one another. They have also deeply influenced the way we enjoy life and spend our free time. The shift from the analog towards the digital is evident in new reading habits, which made their impact on the book industry. Healthy projections say eBooks are here to stay: they currently account for about a quarter of global book sales…” (Digital Publishing: eBooks Statistics Indicate Growing Popularity).

Recently Grace Fellowship International finished publishing most of its book store on the Kindle platform. See https://gracefellowshipinternational.com/kindle-ebooks/

Ebooks have advantages that include:

  • Avoiding the time and expense of shipping the printed books
  • Avoiding high international postage fees
  • Immediate access to the ebook content
  • Convenience and portability of storing books online or on multiple devices

Many smart phones and tables have the feature of the device reading the Kindle book audibly…turning it into a kind of audio book. Here’s a how-to article about that:
https://www.redeemingproductivity.com/make-iphone-read-kindle-books/

So, whether increasing your library of Christ centered counseling and discipleship literature is to edify yourself or to provide equip a counselee, keep in mind the availability of this ebook inventory.

-JBW

Relational Ministry in the Season of Coronavirus

by G.F.I. trainee, Bonnie Young

I’m hearing this worrying statement spoken a lot, “You know, the number of Covid-19 cases is spiking in our area.” My reply, “Yes!! Didn’t we kind of anticipate it?” But I go on to say, “If our nation doesn’t get back to work, we’ll be dealing with an economic depression.”

We will see sickness and death from depression, suicides, and cardiac incidents instead of disease and death from the virus. Not to mention delayed necessary surgeries, physician visits, and diagnostic procedures.”

My unsaid thought, “Along with illness and death related to an economic depression, there could be more violence. Some who’ve received government financial assistance in the past months might demand the government feed and support them.”

As a nurse, I agree the elderly and those in poor health should continue to shelter in place. Those who are healthy and secure should be assisting them with shopping and other needs to help protect them.

Novel or new viruses usually lose strength and disappear after approximately two-thirds of the population has been exposed to or have experienced the infection. There are reports from physicians in Pennsylvania and Italy of the virus losing its virulence. In recently contracted cases of Covid-19, patients are not as severely ill.

It was wisdom to do the social distance for two months to slow the initial spread and allow health care resources and our nation to handle the ramifications of a pandemic more efficiently. Policies and procedures needed enactment to protect those most susceptible or in fragile health.

The past weeks have been a time of spiritual growth for me. In my years as a hospice nurse, I watched many people die and cared for their bodies after death. My experience and much contemplation have brought me to a place where I’m at peace with the fact I could contract the Covid-19 virus and die.

As I chose to believe God’s promises for me, my cascading thoughts of “what if” stopped, and I began to hear the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit leading me in a hopeful direction not only for the present but also the future. Wise, responsible clarity for myself, and others began to take shape.

Eventually, we will die physically. As I seek God’s presence and direction daily, He reminds me I’m securely resting under His wings. Nothing will take me home to Him one minute sooner or later than He has planned. (Psalm 91) Therefore, I am not looking to man or a bunch of rules to save me.

I’m 67 years old, considered elderly, and have white hair and wrinkles to prove it. Despite my age making me more vulnerable to the virus, I’m sensing God’s leading not to fear going out but to follow His direction. I sense a need to share this message of hope.

God’s reassuring promises have erased my imagined fears concerning the virus. Meditating on the truth of God’s words have given my physical body more stamina and my emotions a resolve to follow God’s directions despite any threat to my health. (Proverbs 4:20-22, Psalm 34:4)... Continue reading this article: AFRAID TO DIE?

Relationship and Fellowship

Relationship and Fellowship:
Distinct Aspects of the New Life in Jesus Christ

by John Woodward

Relationship describes the believer’s new birth into God’s family (John 3:3; 1 John 5:1).
Fellowship describes the quality of the believer’s growth, attitudes and actions in this grace-based relationship with God (1 John 5:2-4).

The example of the early church, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, demonstrated in wonderful harmony both relationship (true salvation) and fellowship with God and one another:

Relationship: ”Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.”
Fellowship: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers… Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.”
Both: “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:41,42,44-47).

A person can be a child of God (relationship), yet with minimal personal communion with Him (fellowship), but fellowship with God is not possible apart from a saving relationship with Him. These aspects overlap (1 John 5:1,5).

Consider the similarities and contrasts.

Additional aspects and examples could be given concerning the distinction between relationship and fellowship. However, this not to imply that these two categories are separate or disconnected. Relationship with God is the root; fellowship is the fruit.

Overlap

The “overlap” between relationship and fellowship means that, even when a child of God is temporarily in a carnal condition (1 Cor. 3: 1,3), he /she still has the invitation to intimacy with God (2 Cor. 6:17,18). “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:9). Fellowship may be hindered, but the call back to communion is continual (Rev. 3:20). Since true salvation is secure (John 6:37,39), the believer’s relationship with God as a son or doughtier is unchanging. This should motivate unhindered fellowship with God. It’s because He has promised “I will never leave you nor forsake you” that His child should turn from covetousness (Heb. 13:5).

For those of us who accept the spirit, soul, and body model of man (trichotomy, 1 Thess 5:23), relationship with God begins with regeneration of the believer’s human spirit; fellowship involves the believer’s spirit, soul and body cooperating with the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:6,11,16).

Importance of these distinctions

In considering this parallel list, many have been attempting to establish a relationship with God through fellowship activities. But apart from the Gospel of grace, religious duties are dead works (Heb. 6:1). This was the case of many self-righteous Jewish leaders in the first century A.D. Paul (who had been one himself) testified, “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:2-4).

On the other hand, some advocates of grace discipleship implicitly or explicitly blur the distinction between relationship and fellowship. In this case, the blessings of one’s identity in Christ and standing in grace are celebrated, but responsibilities for protecting and cultivating fellowship with our Holy God are ignored. Such inaccurate and imbalanced discipleship is what the apostle Paul characterized as “wood, hay, and straw” (1 Cor. 3:12).

Andrew Murray (one of the most respected advocates of new covenant living) wrote “The Christian who thinks that his salvation consists merely in safety and not in holiness will find himself deceived. Young Christian, listen to the Word of God, ‘You shall be holy’ [1 Pet. 1:16]. And why must I be holy? Because He who called you is holy and summons you to fellowship [intimacy] and conformity with Himself” (The New Life, ch. 14).

Here is a concluding example of how relationship is the root of spiritual fellowship with God and others:

Relationship: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” Fellowship: “Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Eph. 5:8-11).
_____________

By John Woodward
jbwoodward@icloud.com
GraceNotebook.com
2020

2nd edition (heart graphic in the circle instead of overlapping circles)

PDF copy of this article: Relationship and Fellowship_JBW2

McRay, J.R. “Fellowship.” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Ed. Walter Elwell. Baker Book House, 2001.

Miller, Russell Benjamin. “Communion; Fellowship.” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Editor: James Orr. Eerdmans, 1939.

Toon, Peter. “Fellowship.” Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Ed. Walter Elwell. Baker, 1997.

Word study “Kiononia” [Fellowship]. See http://www.Blueletterbible.org / 1 John 1:3/ tools/ interlinear Greek Testament, Lexicon definition and 20 occurrences in the N.T.

Biblical quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version (copyright by Thomas Nelson).

Overcoming Debilitating Fear: Resources for the Coronavirus Pandemic

These months of constant COVID-19 news, dangers, and economic downturn make Christ-centered counseling solutions even more crucial. Various ministries have assembled resource bundles, including:

We see the need to go beyond care to cure –body, soul and spirit, seeking to use the intensified time of stress as an opportunity to guide those who are receptive to abundant life in Christ. Freedom from life controlling problems is available through the Rest of the Gospel. Additional resources we commend include:

Books:

Online:

“That is why I remind you to fan into flame the gracious gift of God, [that inner fire—the special endowment] which is in you through the laying on of my hands [with those of the elders at your ordination]. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]” 1 Timothy 1:6,7 (Amplified Bible).

JBW

Certification Testimony – Lisa

My Certification Process with Grace Fellowship International
By Lisa Hummel

Back in 2002 my husband Tom and I started marriage ministry at our church [in North Carolina]. It had been a 15-year journey that led us to write a pre-marriage curriculum and establish a vibrant marriage ministry that is still going strong today. However, we knew God was leading us to something deeper. Couples came to us after they had already been through counseling, yet still struggling. This perplexed me because I thought that’s why you went to a counselor, to get help! I didn’t feel led to get a counseling degree, so we both got certified as a Life Coaches, hoping it would equip us to help couples and individuals move out of where they were to where God wanted them to be. That was the beginning of my journey and what led me to Grace Fellowship International. Through my frustration of trying to understand how to help people, the Lord led me to GFI, and I knew I needed to go through the Exchanged Life Conference and the Spirituotherapy Workshop.

Lisa (left) at the August, 2028 Workshop with her 2 practice partners

I learned so much in both the conference and workshop. I learned biblical truths that I had never been taught before. I had understood who I was in Christ, but it was the first time the gospel was presented to me in one piece and with such simplicity. The message and the meaning of the cross became so personal to me and helped me to gain revelation of my own identity in Christ. I felt like so many questions were answered for me personally and I knew these truths were the missing piece in our ability to help couples and individuals to break free. As I shared these truths with my husband, we both have grown much deeper in our understanding of what it means to deny the flesh and walk in the Spirit.

The certification process gave me the tools I needed to become more equipped to share the gospel and biblical truths with those who are struggling. God has opened the doors for me to minister to many women through one on one counseling, online Bible studies as well as couples and individuals through Sunday School classes. I have seen many “aha” moments when using the wheel and line diagrams!

I am currently using my training to minister not only married couples alongside my husband, but with many women who are struggling in their Christian walk. My husband and also I created a marriage training using a combination of the Spirituotherapy model and other marriage material. We use this in our church as we are building a marriage team. We’ve also introduced the wheel and line diagrams in Sunday School classes and felt led to build a discipleship team. This training has helped me see the importance of discipleship within the church. Since my certification, my husband and I have both become licensed pastors; we felt the Lord leading us in that way. I know God has a plan and a purpose and that He has equipped us for good works. I have no idea where this will ultimately lead, but excited in what God has next.

I’m so thankful for Dr. Solomon’s obedience to Christ’s leading to develop the Spirituotherapy model and for John Woodward for his continual encouragement and counsel through my journey. Blessings to this ministry!

Lisa Hummel CPLC
Marriage/Relationship Coach

________________________

Congratulations, Lisa!

Tips for Tools

Tips for the Tools: The Value of GFI diagrams in Soul Care Ministry

Tom Bruno’s Soul Care team at New Life Community Church, Elgin, IL hosted a Grace 220 seminar last year and on February 8, 2020 they had a follow up workshop training day. Their focus for that Saturday was the significance and usefulness of Dr. Solomon’s “Wheel diagram” in personal ministry. After a review teaching by Tom, John Woodward joined them by Skype. The introductory teachings were followed by practice sessions and group discussion.

John’s half hour introductory talk was titled “Tips for the Tools.” In this case, the tools are the wheel and line diagrams used in Handbook to Happiness (and other the GFI materials and training). Here’s the outline of equipping the talk:

Tips for the Tools

The Spirituotherapy diagram:

*A tool (Like other tools, this depends on the one using the tool and the need.)

*A testimony (The soul care provider needs to have a “Galatians 2:20 testimony.”)

*A technique (As with other tools, there is a need to learn the way it could/should be used. These tools are intended for  precept-upon-precept conversations in a Discipleship Counseling process.)

Benefits for the Soul Care provider:

*Illustrates the root problem and ultimate solution (The root problem is typically the person walking after the flesh—the “self-life. The ultimate answer is the experiential knowledge of Jesus Christ as Savior, Lord and Life.)

*Simplifies the process (Instead of being preoccupied with labeling and classifying symptoms, Spirituotherapy is heart-oriented.)

*Facilitates the interview (The diagram(s) can be a guide for an important sequence of diagnostic and prescriptive insights.)

Benefits for the care recipient:

*Helps him/her to understand the concepts (The wheel diagram gives a visual reference point for the counselee and and illustrates spiritual, psychological, physical and social dynamics.)

*Helps him/her to track the conversation (There is a flow of diagnostic and prescriptive counsel as the diagrams are used.)

*Helps him/her to remember the counsel (The diagrams can be given for review and follow up. They are in tract or book form (such The Wheel and Line tract and Handbook to Happiness, ch. 2.)

A PowerPoint version of the diagrams is here:
https://gracefellowshipinternational.com/share-slides/

JBW
2/8/2020