“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)
These words were penned by the Apostle Paul from prison, a place that often leaves one in a state of hopelessness and despair without a positive outlook for the future or concern for another’s well-being. This was not so for the Apostle Paul. His assurance and confidence was rooted in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Paul explains God’s plans for Him and how his imprisonment was being used as an opportunity to share the good news of the Gospel. He made it clear: God had positioned him at this specific place, under these specific circumstances, for a specific reason. That reason was to preach the unfathomable riches that come from knowing Christ as one’s Lord and Savior!
My name is Curtis Fahrlender. I am currently a youth pastor in Central Iowa and finishing up a Master of Science in Counseling from Clarks Summit University in Clarks Summit, PA. As I was nearing the end of my counseling degree, I needed to find a ministry where I could complete my practicum and internship requirements. As I was praying and searching for possible locations, I remembered a counseling ministry that focused on remedial discipleship under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Grace Fellowship International (GFI). Dr. John Woodward graciously agreed to allow GFI to be my supervision and practicum site. I have been able to meet with Dr. Woodward every other week to discuss counseling and ministry situations, and he has guided me in applying the Exchange Life Model to my current ministry settings. This has been extremely helpful and I have seen great results.
2 Corinthians chapter 1 is sometimes referred to as the soul care passage. Paul teaches us important attributes of God. He is the God of all comfort and Father of mercies (2 Corinthians 1:1-7). He then moves from theological to personal testimony. In verses 8-11 we are invited to the apostle’s personal struggle and affliction. The climax of his testimony is found in verse 9, “Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.” This verse summarizes the impact GFI has had on my counseling methodology. The struggles, afflictions, aspects of rejection, unmet expectations, frustrations, and so on all happen in our life, as Paul says, to teach us something extremely important. They teach us reliance. We can rely either on ourselves to get through the difficult journey or on God who raises the dead.
This is summed up in the wheel and line diagrams which — along with the other significant contributions GFI have made to the field of biblical counseling — has been so valuable to me. I desire to come alongside the local church and to train and equip the saints for the work of ministry (Eph. 4:12). As I continue to embrace this Christ centered message in my own life, I look forward with great excitement to see how the Lord will use my training at GFI. I’m excited to see the Exchanged Life message be used in bringing about hope in a world that desperately needs it.
Network 220 ministries held their annual convention in Plano, TX April 27-29. This association of ministries has grown from the daughter offices of Grace Fellowship Int’l which formed the Association of Exchanged Life Ministries in 1986. Photos are at the N220 Facebook page and audio recordings from the sessions are available at http://network220.org/convention/
On April 6,7 Tri-State Bible College in South Point, Ohio hosted a Recovery Coach Training seminar. This was a follow up event related to the one day Addiction Recovery seminar presented by Joe and Cherri Freeman in Proctorville, Ohio February 24th. The host church posted videos of that day on their Facebook page here:
The Recovery Coach Training seminar gave a practical overview of how to apply the Exchanged Life Discipleship Counseling model to helping others find freedom from chemical and behavioral addictions. Grace Fellowship International is prayerfully developing an ongoing track to equip Recovery Coaches for personal and local church-based ministry.
We congratulate chaplain Juan Mendez who just completed his certification as an Exchanged Life Counselor. He testifies,
“The Exchanged Life Certification and Training has a plethora of resources to equip counselors and lay persons to be more confident in approaching the helping profession. It does this in a variety of ways, such as offering visual diagrams, methodologies, pastoral leadership, seminars, insights from God’s Word, testimonies, and useful books that can be incorporated into daily ministry practices . . .
“This model of counseling has been helpful for addiction recovery in many ways, which is my primary use for it . . . Many of the counselees that enter the America’s Keswick residential recovery center were circling around in a spiritual wilderness, and this model helps pinpoint where to engage in the [spiritual] warfare. The [GFI] curriculum has a structured format to walk each counselee from darkness to light, stepping out from the lies into the truth, and eventually claiming their new identity in Christ . . .”
You can email Juan here.
How should we appeal to pastors if they are not teaching the believer’s new identity in Christ?
We can convey is the importance of clarity, emphasis and dignity.
Clarity: We have a relative identity as people, male or female, Americans, etc. But in Intensive Discipleship we clarify the essential identity of the believer…which is based on their regenerated spirit.
Emphasis: The emphasis of the New Testament (especially after Pentecost) is on the believer’s new, positive, unshakeable identity. This is grace-based, therefore it glorifies God.
Dignity: If we wallow in a relative identity based on our behavior, our past or our conditioning, it will erode the sense of dignity that is part of a healthy self image. As we gratefully accept our value and dignity as those created in the image of God, redeemed by the blood of Christ, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, it motivates us to practical holiness, worship and love for others.
– John Woodward
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