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 (yet overlapping) 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 soul and body cooperating with the Holy Spirit in the believer’s 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

PDF copy of this article: Relationship_and_Fellowship

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

A Spiritual Cure for Depression

Sometimes life can get overwhelming. Even the apostle Paul could feel that way. He testified that in the province of Asia “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, who delivered us from so great a death, and [d]does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us” (2 Cor. 1:8-10). Sadness about life’s disappointments can eventually sink us into depression.

An estimated 19 million American adults are living with major depression. [1]

The Mayo clinic defines clinical depression as “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living. More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn’t a weakness and you can’t simply “snap out” of it…” [2]

Biblical counselor, Dr. Tim Allchin notes that depression is often linked to other emotional struggles such as

•  Anger
•  Fear/Anxiety
•  Stress
•  Guilt and Shame (Real or False)
•  Broken Relationships (Death, Divorce, Dysfunction, Distance, or Damage)

“…We cannot effectively deal with depression without evaluating our responses to the difficult circumstances and emotional stressors of our life.”[3]

In his book, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones observed,

“Spiritual depression or unhappiness in the Christian life is very often due to our failure to realize the greatness of the gospel… Where believers go astray is that they tend to focus on their performance (they are preoccupied with themselves), rather than on their relationship to God (justification). When we come back to the gospel of grace, it is all a matter of belief or unbelief – faith or feeling … Ultimately it all comes down to this – the real cause of “troubled souls” is the failure to realize that we are “one with Christ” – “united with Christ.” We died with Christ . . . we have been buried with Christ . . . we have been raised with Chris t. . . and we are now seated in heavenly places in Christ! (Rom 6:3-11; Eph 2:6). Paul says we are to “reckon these things as being so” (Rom 6:11). If you are looking at your past and your sins and you are depressed, it means that you are listening to the devil. Rejoice in the grace and mercy of God that has blotted out your sins and made you His child. Stop looking at yourself and begin to enjoy Him! By God’s grace you are what you are – it is all “grace!” Become absorbed in the “grace and love of God” and you will forget all about yourself – it will deliver you from self-interest, self-concern, and from depression (which is the result of focusing on self).”[4]

For example, the psalmist declared,
“Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God” (Psalm 42:11).

Dr Bill Gillham discerned the root cause and ultimate cure for depression:
“Christ alone must be your primary Source if you are to be liberated from the chains of depression. A practitioner who always treats depression as the problem is missing the mark. Just as fever is but a symptom of the cause, so it is with depression. Depression is a symptom of a deeper cause. Most counselors would agree that less than 5% of depression cases have physically induced depression which does not respond to counseling. PMS, hypoglycemia, diabetes, hormonal imbalance, thyroid or blood sugar problems, etc. are physical factors which can cause depression. Counseling such a Christian with spiritual truth can subject him to even greater despair because although he may see the truth which sets a man free, he can’t appropriate it. However, the remaining 95% of the depressed Christians can experience victory solely through spiritual counsel.”[5]

Cathy Solomon just published a flip booklet about Christ-centered solutions to help the depressed person. It’s online here: https://cld.bz/ShSgcTo

May we move beyond life’s disappointments to confident hope in God’s encouraging and sustaining grace.


John Woodward, Jan. 4, 2020 Grace Fellowship International

[1] https://www.webmd.com/depression/default.htm

[2] https://www.mayoclinic.org/

[3] https://biblicalcounselingcenter.org/what-the-bible-says-about-depression/

[4] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure. Eerdmans Publishing, 1965.

[5] https://www.lifetime.org/articles/depression-2

Flip book: https://cld.bz/ShSgcTo

Craig Hill

Craig Hill, founder of Family Foundations International, presents a video blog “Daily Spirit & Truth.” Recently he gave a teaching on Romans 5:10-11: “for if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son much more having been reconciled we shall be saved by His life and not only this but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” He says, “What did Messiah do when He died shed His blood rose from the dead?…The blood of Yeshua actually exchanged and He took 100% of the sin out of your spirit and replaced it with 100% of His righteousness…” View this six minute teaching here:
https://craighill.org/dst-289/
Another video blog is on man as spirit, soul and body.
https://craighill.org/dst-287/
These themes are part of the Message of Exchanged Life Counseling.

Testimonies of Transformational Change

“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy” (Psalm 107:2).

One of the appealing traits of Exchanged Life Counseling is the fruit that the Holy Spirit so often produces. Testimonies of grace-oriented life change validate the truth and glorify the Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6).

The discipler/counselor does well to have many examples of testimonies that he/she can learn from and refer to, such as They Found the Secret (V .R. Edman) and Exchanged Lives! (John Best). Books of testimonies by Charles Solomon include From Pastors to Pastors: Testimonies of Revitalized Ministries, Handbook to Happiness (chapter 8), and Discipling the Desperate.

Video testimonies are also making an impact. Here is one by my friend, Aaron Kim, that is reaching many on Youtube. May God use such testimonies to encouraged those in need of hope, and direct them to Christ-centered solutions.