Dr. Stephen Phinney | Sept. 30, 2020|
The term “Exchanged Life” was not only new to me, but it was also a term rarely used to describe the authentic experience of exchanging our lives with Christ’s life.
While Hudson Taylor popularized this phrase in the late 19th century, the phrase was extracted from the Bible. Leaders, since his ministry, began using the phrase to express the verse Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
About a year after Jane and I were married, I found myself in a state of unrest. I knew I was born-again, and I served the Lord the best that I knew how. I shared the Word of God and led Bible-studies on what I heard preached. Even though I was active in church outreach, deep down inside, there remained a passion, a spiritual thirst for a deeper walk with Christ. I desired a life of victory and triumph rather than one of fear and performance. Serving God was not enough. I found the classic message of Christianity dry as graveyard bones. Their push for repentance, rededication, recommitment, and surrender became a message of hopelessness to me - it left me feeling defeated. There had to be a way of living that was different than the way I was living.
One day as I was sitting at my work desk, a co-worker dropped a book in front of me. He said - This is something you probably would read. It was The Handbook to Happiness, by Dr. Charles Solomon. His book became the first book I read from cover to cover. The book unfolded the “rest of the story” of the Gospel that I had been searching. Chuck focused his writings on the believer’s identity in Christ. It was the final piece of the puzzle I had been long awaiting. I soon discovered that not only did Christ die on the Cross for me, but I also died with Him through co-death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. Boy, was I jazzed.
After reading the book, I contacted the author and asked him what was next? He sent me his second book – The INS & Out of Rejection, with the recommendation of looking up every verse stated in the book. Even though this book was a massive challenge to read, I pressed on until I finished it. After all, this book was addressing my core excuses as to my bondage. Upon finishing this book, I knew I had to study under this man’s tutorage. Shortly after this reveal, I packed my little family up, and we moved from Iowa to Denver to go through an internship with their ministry.
While going through discipleship with my intern Supervisor, he fronted me with my bitterness and hatred toward my father. I fought him throughout the process. One significant intern assignment was given – write out the list of all the offenses my father committed against me. Secondly, list my reactions to each offense. Well, being a faithful student, I completed this ridiculous assignment. I handed him the completed work, and in return, he assigned me to do the impossible. He said, go back to your office, get on your face before God and repent of all the reactions (sins) I committed in reaction to my father’s offenses. That private session turned into me falling to the floor of my office, pounding my fist on the floor, and shouting out this man doesn’t deserve forgiveness. A fellow intern heard my raging fit and quickly ran to my supervisor, telling him what was going on. Keith, my supervisor, said, Leave him alone, God is breaking him.
That breaking session lasted two full hours. Keith knew exactly what he was doing. He implored me to see that my reactions were worse than the sins of my father. He later told me that one single sin forms many sins of reaction.
Shortly after this freeing homework assignment, Keith said, “Pack your bags, travel back to Iowa, sit down with your father, and seek his forgiveness for the sins that you committed against him.” That assignment came with, don't bring up your father's sins. This act of the Cross is what started the process of my father being lead back to the Cross and life of Jesus Christ. I will be forever grateful for this assignment. I use this service act in my counseling to this very day. I have endless testimonies of the restoration of children and their fathers because of it.
Shortly after this healing time, I joined the staff of Grace Fellowship.
After several years of employment with this ministry, I consulted with Dr. Solomon, and he encouraged me to start a non-profit in Colorado Springs that focused on the message of the Exchanged-Life. In 1986 we started Release Ministries (now IOM America) - named by my wife, Jane. Our journey of leading and hosting a ministry that taught the authentic meaning of the Exchanged Life had begun. We remain loyal to the message of Not I, but Christ to this day.