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
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
Danny Niceley has taken the Grace Fellowship Conference and Workshop, and has done some apprenticeship in Pigeon Forge. He is currently working as a librarian at Carson Newman College. In this 6 minute video Danny tells of his athletic achievements, near-fatal accident, and discovery of grace-based acceptance in Christ.
In a sermon posted on February 13, 2018 Pastor Cymbala uses four scriptures as a starting point for this challenging message about experiencing real change in the Christian life (John 8:28-29; Romans 6:5; Romans 8:5; Galatians 2:19-20). The audio message can be heard online or downloaded here: https://www.brooklyntabernacle.org
At North Point in Atlanta, Andy Stanley preached a series that addresses some vital themes related to grace for Christian living and the believer’s new identity. It’s entitled “NU ME” and is available from their download store. North Point includes insights from “NU ME” in their Care Network’s “Re:New” one-on-one mentoring ministry.
Their team has produced an 8 lesson video-assisted small group study that incorporates the essential content used in North Point’s Re:New ministry. It’s titled Renovate. This resource has great potential to guide participants in spiritual renewal.
“For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:3,4).
[Lee LeFebre has made important contributions to this branch of the Biblical Counseling family tree. Here is a testimony about his spiritual journey. Used with his permission. – JBW]
Daily, I was asking God to be on the throne of my life. I didn’t understand that God would take me through a breaking process, and that Christ didn’t just want to be on the throne of my life, but wanted to be my life.
Throughout college, graduate school, and my work experience in social services, I saw tremendous inconsistencies between psychotherapy and Scripture. The more I analyzed psychotherapy, the less convinced I became that it held any real answers. I believed Christianity had an answer, but what? How could accepting Christ change the shattered lives of the street kids I worked with? I thought they needed Christ and therapy, so I tried to combine Christianity and secular theory for the “best of both worlds.”
I saw a series of contradictions in life. The Bible promised peace that passes all understanding, that keeps our hearts and minds by Christ Jesus; but Christians I knew in the 50’s and 60’s were having nervous breakdowns right and left. The Scripture also promised joy, yet my church was a sponsor of the largest Christian mental health hospital in the country.
I had been in church and Christian schools all my life. At the age of 27, I had received assurance of salvation through the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. Yet in spite of all that, I struggled terribly with anxiety, my inability to conquer sin, and my efforts to reconcile psychotherapy and Biblical teaching.
To drive home the truth of my condition and the insufficiency of my efforts, in the early 70’s God showed me five things:
1. God promised peace that passes understanding, and I didn’t have it. I had peace with God, but not the peace of God. I had to confess that I couldn’t attain it. If I were to obtain that kind of peace, it would have to be a gift.
A Testimony by Steve Ranz
I was raised in a Catholic home and attended a Catholic grade school and High School which including my freshman and sophomore years in a minor Catholic seminary. I completed my formal education by gaining my Bachelor’s degree from a Catholic College and my MBA from a Catholic University. I maintained my strong Catholic ties well into my adult years. However in 1999 my wife and I received an invitation to attend an event at an Evangelical Church. This invitation led to some questions and within a short period of time we began attending both the Catholic as well as the Evangelical church.
I was struggling between my strong catholic ties and two critical concepts I encountered in the Evangelical church: mainly, that every person needed to have a personal relationship with Jesus, and that the Bible was God’s personal love letter to each of us. If that were the case, I needed to read the Bible. From today’s vantage point, these facts seem so basic to my walk as a Christian, but back then it was a huge turning point for me.
The Holy Spirit began working mightily to open the eyes of my heart. In a short period of time I began attending a Men’s Bible study and was being mentored by a strong Christian man. In 2004, my wife and I were baptized. When I gave my life over to the Lord there were two Bible passages that He put on my heart. The first was Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” And also Philippians 3:8: “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
About three years ago our faith journey led us to Grace church and a Sunday morning class. Then came an invitation from Brad and Lynn Adams to attend a presentation by John Woodward (of Grace Fellowship International) arranged by Cross to Life Discipleship Ministry in Minnesota. When I heard the presentation and realized the message was based on Galatians 2:20 and the “Exchanged Life,” I knew I was right where God wanted me to be. After that Saturday I acquired and read Dr. Solomon’s Handbook to Happiness. I then read two more of his books and went through the webinar class with John. I also observed John as he took a man through a multiple session Exchanged Life mentoring process.
Back In 2005, the Holy Spirit drew me into discipling and mentoring men within our church, and eventually by 2010 I was strongly involved with prison ministry. I have now incorporated lots of the Handbook to Happiness diagrams and Bible verses into my “toolbox” and I have encouraged a number of men to read the book so that the Holy Spirit could use it to impact their walks directly.
One of the prisoners with whom I have been working since 2012 has read Handbook to Happiness and The Ins and Outs of Rejection at my suggestion. Not only has it intensified his own walk with the Lord, but he has shared the message with other men in the prison as well. In January, 2018 this inmate will be leading a group of 10 men, navigating them through The New Life book by Regional Wallace. The class is called “Your Identity in Christ.” We have supplied books for them to use and we are hoping this becomes a regular part of the Prison Fellowship Academy program. I am excited about this opportunity, and I am in communication with the Deputy Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Corrections about getting this implemented in other locations for inmates.
I also lead the Every Man A Warrior study group at Grace Church on Saturday mornings and refer to the Galatians 2:20 material there. I recently shared John Woodward’s “Paradigm Shift” article with one of the men to help him understand more of the New Covenant concepts.
I retired last May and was then able to begin and complete the first step of the personalization process to become trained for “intensive discipleship” to men through the Cross to Life ministry here in Minneapolis. I was not sure what to expect of that process. It turned out to be very eye-opening for me. As Linda Gammon and her co-discipler took me through the Main Truths to be Shared in Exchanged Life Discipleship, I uncovered and learned a lot about myself that had been “hidden” before. I am so appreciative of the investment that the Cross to Life Discipleship ministry team made in taking me through this process. I look forward to the next step of observing trained Exchanged Life mentors to further what the Holy Spirit wants to do through me. Praise the Lord!