Testimony of a retired pastor who is currently participating in TRANSFORM
FORGIVENESS WAS THE PIVOTAL turning point in my life
…For the first 32 years minus 2 days, life was very good to me: Raised in wonderful loving Christian home... great Bible-believing church... great grades through university... wonderful Christian wife and 3 children... great teaching career... smooth transition in 'full-time' Christian ministry... much fruit in ministry... I had it all...
…When suddenly fired and wrongly accused… my world came crashing down… ministry came to a sudden halt… nervous exhaustion... painful back injury leaving me flat on my back in the hospital with nowhere to look but straight up... how could this happen to me when I had given up all to serve the Lord…
…Indeed what was done was WRONG... my reputation sullied... emotional health shattered... I set out on a new quest to 'set the record straight'... the harder I tried the deeper a hole I dug for myself... I was at the end of myself...
…Then the Lord spoke (the closest I'd ever come to hearing His audible voice)... and this is what He said: “Doug, whose reputation counts - yours or Mine?"...
…And the wrestling match was on... 'till finally I cried 'uncle', surrendered... and forgave. That was the turning point in my life. Yes, what was done and the way it was done was wrong but that no longer mattered.
I learned what it meant to "forgive" and be set free.
…That pivotal moment in my life set a pattern for many other hurtful experiences where I had to choose to forgive. But I don't know where my life would be were it not for the grace and graciousness of a Father who loved me enough to experience that valley which was as dark as death itself.
…Indeed FORGIVNESS has proven to be the single most significant lesson for me to experience freedom, faithfulness and fruitfulness [albeit imperfectly] over the succeeding 48 years of my life to this day.
Thank You Lord for loving me enough to allow me to identify with the Christ who loved me and gave Himself for me.
The lesson? Whatever is thrown at you Doug… Receive it as a Gift... Respond with Gratitude... Rely on His Grace... Rejoice in His Goodness... …All that I might…
Reflect and Reveal His glory for His glory!
Testimony of a TRANSFORM participant from Nova Scotia at week five,
when we talked about who is responsible for what
"This lesson was hard for me. I wrestled with much of it and the Spirit revealed faulty beliefs in my heart. The extra video confronted me of my responsibilities in my Christian walk!
So when I read the reflection question: "Are there any area of responsibility you need to pick up this week?", I know what He wants me to do. 1. Seek Him FIRST - before I check the news, look at my to-do list, pick up my phone or dive into my day. 2. Live by the SPIRIT - do what I sense He wants me to do. 3. Be transformed by the renewing of my mind.
I keep listening to "experts" for guidance; it's time to take my struggles to God and apply His Word to my struggles."
Testimony of a Senior Pastor as he was approaching the end of his TRANSFORM experience
"I identify with many of these pitfalls that I have fallen into over the course of different leadership positions I have held in the past 30 years, as well as the delusions I have had about leadership. Over the course of my experience as a leader I think I have grown and been able to identify many of these too. However, this video just laid it out so well, along with the solution to avoid them. It just really reiterates and emphasizes again how much our being influences not only our behavior and what we do, but also how we think. Our relationship with God allows us to have a viewpoint and insight that those who do not know Him just cannot. As my relationship with God has grown, in particular over the past six months I understand the importance of this more and more, and that we have the opportunity to just grow our relationship more and more, and therefore have access to His wisdom more and more.
This week I just want to continue in my relationship with God and just continue to grow in my knowledge of Him but also in my intimacy with Him by continuing to study His Word, pray more, and fellowship with other believers".
By way of explanation, one of the sessions in the Freed to Lead component of Transform deals with personal pitfalls and another deals with group pitfalls.
Testimony of a lady who has completed the Freedom in Christ Course recently as it relates to her anxiety
In 2020, when Covid locked us all in our homes, I felt safe in my home and didn’t leave for about 4 months. I worked from home, watched church services online, and sent my husband to do all the shopping. Then things started to open back up, I went back to my office to work and freely went everywhere, except for the church. I kept watching online for a bit but eventually, I didn’t even do that. For about a year I had no church involvement and I was ok with that. I believed that I could be ok without the fellowship and friendship of other Christians. This, of course, was the lie I started to believe. As time went on though, I was unable to go to church. Anytime we headed towards the church, I would feel anxious and nauseous. When I walked into the church, I would just want to run back outside again. I had an unexplainable, irrational fear of being in the church...I even went to church with my parents when we were in Ottawa. Sadly, I only lasted until they finished the first song before I went running out of the church. I knew then that it wasn’t just Northgate Church that was the problem.
Moving forward to September 2022, I got an email from Charlene about…her small group, and something inside me was saying, you need to take this course. I was very skeptical…I went to the church the first week feeling anxious and after the first class I thought I would get nothing from the course but I kept going because I knew there was a reason I was there. As the weeks went by, I learned how to recognize the lie and that’s when I knew I had to deal with my fear. As I told those in the group about my fear, the weight started to drop off and I was able to at least stay in the church for Sunday service, although it was by the front door and not in the sanctuary. I went through the Steps to freedom and through this process, I realized that I needed to renounce the fear and ask God to fill me with his strength and comfort. Over the next 4-5 Sundays, with lots of people and prayer support, I gradually moved closer to the sanctuary door and eventually, I was able to cross the line that Satan had drawn to keep me out. The day that I walked into the sanctuary and sat with my family was the greatest freedom I will ever feel. I am now able to cross in and out of the sanctuary doors and I don’t feel anxious or nauseous anymore.
TRANSFORM – T22 – Canada Hub West
TANYA S. - JUNE 2023
This course has been so good on so many levels. I have appreciated the opportunity to go deep, peel back layers, and allow God to have his way with me and draw me closer to him. What I so appreciate about God is that he is so tender and loving, and so even when He disciplines me, he can bring me back to the right way of thinking without shame or guilt. He does it so beautifully through his Word. His grace and mercy are always at the forefront of everything he does. What a good, good God and father he is!!
We have covered so much ground in this course and I have learned some excellent principles, in particular, being reminded of my need to rest in Christ. This theme ran throughout, and I really appreciated the practical suggestions on what that might look like, and how to actually practice rest. However, I think what impacted me the most was when I allowed God to show me what was holding me back, what lie I was believing that was blocking progress and creating unwanted behaviour.
Stronghold busting is a game changer for me. As I think about this assignment stronghold busting actually encompasses all three aspects: gospel struggles, God speaks and good fruit. I had been struggling with what I considered a negative personal character trait for some time. Anxiety was creeping into my life and I didn’t understand why or how. Honestly, it was confusing and a little disorienting. Ironically, when we did the first stronghold buster exercise I didn’t think I needed to do one! I thought I had a handle on things. It wasn’t until the second opportunity to do one, during the Grace Course, that I decided to work backwards. I started with the behaviour (anxiety), and asked God to show me the lie I was believing. When He did I had the audacity to argue! I could hardly believe that God was telling me I didn’t trust him. Of course I did, didn’t I? God was patient with me as he peeled back the layers and I wrestled with this. In the end I chose to believe God, and that my trust in him was all in my head and still needed to drop into my heart. Thankfully, FICM doesn’t leave us there, but provides a way to move forward past the lies. I jumped in with both feet and found 22 Scripture portions that extolled God’s faithfulness and the fruit of trusting in Him. By the time I was done the 40 days I had added a few more. I still read them and have chosen to commit several to memory.
The fruit of all this is no more anxiety, and a concrete example of the power of Scripture. God’s Word is powerful. Truth is powerful. I have shared my stronghold buster with my small group and the ladies I am discipling. Several joined me with that particular one, starting their own 40 day journey. Some have created their own. It has renewed in me a passion for God’s Word. I have always loved it, but occasionally read it in a hurry. Gave it a glance so I could tick my mental box – done. Now I am highlighting, ruminating on and resting in Scripture. It has come alive in a brand new way for me. I’m actually a little excited about what this means. As God’s Word transforms my life, and the lives of those I touch, it has birthed in me a desire to impact more people. Who else needs to hear the FICM message and be touched by God and transformed by Him? I look forward to finding out!
Inspirational Testimony of Julie, currently half way through TRANSFORM
"I didn’t realize how important rest was. A period of time of preparation, of seeking God, of waiting on Him, of being patient. That I need to be stripped of all my productiveness, DIY attitude, even my own knowledge and skills in order for God to start from the beginning with me so that I can carry out his purposes.
I can no longer rely on the personal advances I have gained over the years to carry me through what God has planned for me for the next half of my life. It is very difficult for me to separate what has happened over the last few months due to this Freedom in Christ and what God is teaching me through many various methods including prayer, scripture reading, contemplation and encouragement from other spirit led Christians.
I do recall the change from inability to read about who I am in Christ to standing on the promises in those verses. I find that the most consistent way to hear from God is to seek him in prayer, He has never let me down. The expression of God’s love has been made more real to me, that he gives good gifts, and that he is my shelter and my rock and that I need only to trust in Him for my provisions. He knows every part of me because he knows what I can be taught and when. The Holy Spirit has led me on a journey of truth at the perfect pace for me and he has dealt with me patiently, fairly and lovingly.
I have shifted in my motivation of why I do things. Before I was very focused on “proving myself” to others. It may not be visible to others as I learn to serve God in my actions and for his glory and not my own. I have become involved in a local ministry after seeing others in Hawaii care for those in need and who dedicate so much time with no praise or accolades. I want to give God the glory, so this is an ongoing process for me to humble myself and lift him up through the works of my hands.
As a greeter in the church and an introvert, I have had to rely on God to give me love for the people entering the church and to welcome them the way Christ would, with love and acceptance and joy. A couple of people have told me I am in the exact right position in the church, which I know is not a result of anything I can do in my own strength, but only that they see Christ in me. I am also resigned to the fact that if God has called me to a certain ministry, he has the path laid out for me and I do not need to “make it happen”. I must therefore, be following him wherever he leads me and be in preparation, learning what he has for me to learn each day and be open to how he desires me to be changed".
TESTIMONY FROM A KEYS TO HEALTH, WHOLENESS & FRUITFULNESS COURSE PARTICIPANT
During the last session of the Keys to Health, Wholeness & Fruitfulness course, one of the participants mentioned about chronic pain in her right leg. At the end of the session, the course leader and three participants laid hands on Esmé's leg and prayed for healing. The next morning Esmé emailed this testimony:
“Oooh but I have lovely news this morning about God's Grace. Last night when I came home my leg felt different, sort of like I was actually standing equally on two feet rather than more weight on the left foot. I walked up stairs to bed, and usually by bedtime, my leg is tired and I feel the last couple of steps. But last night, it was smooth operating all the way up. This morning, I knew I had to practice my dances for Sunday’s dance workshop, but was reticent because I didn't want to be disappointed. But eventually I did start doing them. But I was not disappointed, instead, I am in awe! I worked my way through the dances waiting for the pain to develop as it always has done, AND IT DIDN’T HAPPEN! When I came to the two dances I’ve been practicing all week again I was afraid to hope—yet the one dance had no pain and the second dance, that usually hurts after the second repeat (it repeats about 4 times) and really hurts by the end, only gave a bit of a twinge in my ANKLE! and that was all.”
TESTIMONY FROM A GRACE COURSE PARTICIPANT
That year and half, after been born again in the Holy Spirit, was so wonderful. I was able to completely not give in to my personal issue. Yet I didn’t recognize it as an issue when I stopped. But it came back due to stress from dysfunctions in my immediate family life as a young adult. It was later that the Holy Spirit helped me see my issue clearly. There was no real help, directly addressing it at the time, only secular acceptance of it. The Holy Spirit made it clear, but by then, I had other issues aggravating my stress levels, so I kept falling short even as I was trying to break free on my own mostly. There was not real effective Christian help until many years later. And now, it is slowly dissipating, especially since the Grace course.
Being reconnected to God’s Agape Love helps me resist better and for longer. But there are still some hard-to-discern lies that I need to concretely face with Scripture stronghold busting--more steps of refinement, healing and freedom, but with more hope and knowing and feeling more encouraged to draw closer to God’s Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus, by His Word, and with godly encouragement from safe and mature fellowship.
Now with more life experience, the head knowledge is connecting to living-it-out application so my heart and mind are one in Christ. It is easier to keep the perspective that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; this one is temporary; the eternal one is to come. My spirit was always aligned with the Holy Spirit. Growing in self-discipline and self-control is really about the mind, heart and will.
I had stress also, not from suffering alone, but the inner conflict--my old sin nature dying at the cross and my new nature in Christ growing. The old shell needing to let go so I could grow and become who I am in Jesus.
Glory Is God’s
TESTIMONY FROM A KEYS TO HEALTH, WHOLENESS & FRUITFULNESS COURSE PARTICIPANT
I would recommend the course "Keys to Health, Wholeness, and Fruitfulness” to any Christian (or anyone for that matter). Whether you are a lifelong believer or someone new to the faith, this course outlines ways to blend three major areas of our lives together that are often overlooked or not considered when thinking of one's own personal health. Blending the importance of being healthy spiritually, mentally, and physically in a way that just seems to make sense and bring a feeling of wholeness when practiced in our daily lives. I can admit I always knew these areas are important but often it seems easy to forget that you need a combination of all three to really know what it feels to be whole. Even as someone who has been a lifelong Christian, it was a great tool to remind myself of how intertwined these three topics of our health really are. It has been two years since I did the course, and I still find myself practicing some of the methods I learned throughout the course. The only complaint I have is that I will likely have to do the course again as a refresher and a way to continue on my journey towards a healthier mind, body, and soul! And that is not a bad thing!
A PASTOR'S CRY FOR HELP
(Slightly edited for confidentiality and website accuracy purposes)
"Almost 30 years ago, in 1994, a few months after accepting Christ into my life I read Neil T. Anderson’s book, The Bondage Breaker. It changed my life. I had grown up in a very legalistic church and it helped me to understand what freedom in Christ was, as I was released from the shackles of tradition.
For nearly 29 years God has led me on a journey, with the ups and downs of life. From 20__ to 20__ I served as a youth pastor in my church. In 20__ I left the ministry due to burnout. I never thought that I would go back. This past year God told me otherwise. HE CHANGED MY HEART! I have never had such a desire to let others know Him as their Father. I am now the lead pastor at our church in ... and feel quite inadequate to lead the church, but God has been faithful and with much support my wife and I look to serve God so that we can train the people of our church on how to make God known.
Recently, I was counselling someone on habitual sin and the Lord reminded me of the book I had read so many years ago. I suggested he read the book, and since then I have recommended it to a few more people.
This morning the Lord told me to look at how we could make this as part of our “required reading and/or study” for the leaders of our church. I went to Google (of course ) and I came across the Freedom In Christ website. Until this morning I had never heard of Freedom in Christ Ministries. I looked through the material and courses that are offered and realized this is exactly what I need, as I lead the church, and what our church needs. Our church has dealt with the bondage of unforgiveness, gossip, and pride for decades. I have been struggling on how to overcome this. When I was reading through the website it was as if the Lord spoke to me and said…”Here, this is the approach you need to take.”
Therefore, I have decided to contact you to see if you could help me with what the proper steps would be for me to take, so that I can first of all, be an effective leader for our church, but secondly how we can use your materials to free ourselves of our bondage. Would you be able to guide us with this"?
If you would like to know what happened next, please contact us.
A Poem by a recent graduate of the
Freedom In Christ Discipleship Course
Let there be light
I go to church. I claim the faith. I’ve left my life of shame
I’ve walked the path. I’ve served the poor, and all in Jesus’ name.
In all these ways I claimed His truth
And know Whom I’ve believed
My mouth confessed. My words declared
To Him alone I cleave.
And yet at times a shadow seemed to hide his word from me
My mind said ‘yes’ to all His Word. My heart yearned to believe. But I pressed on by will alone and buried all my doubts
Is it just me? Is there not more? ‘What’s wrong?” my soul would shout
At times I pleaded with my Lord
“Where is your work in me?
I see no fruit. I haven’t changed.
I’m longing to be free”
I didn’t know or understand the steps I was to take
For God has given all I need to walk in Jesus’ wake
It is His work. I have a part, and things that I must do.
For faith is choosing to believe and acting on that truth.
And now my love for Him has grown
How real His word to me
For what I knew is now made known
And I am truly free
REFLECTIONS OF A NOT REALLY RETIRED PASTOR
The Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course
An Invaluable Tool for Growing Disciples
On retiring four years ago from a lifetime in a fulfilling church-planting and pastoring ministry in Ontario, my prayer was that my remaining years would count for eternity through a church-based lay ministry. My desire was to make disciples who would become disciple-makers and so began a search to discover the best tool that would enable this.
In the fall of 2019 I had the privilege to attend a discipleship conference in the US which featured a workshop by Neil Anderson. Here I was re-introduced to the Freedom in Christ resources. Many years prior I had used the Freedom in Christ Beta Course in my church and now my interest was re-awakened.
My wife, Dorothy and I attend a large church in the Greater Toronto Area and are blessed with a godly pastor who wholeheartedly endorses the Freedom in Christ teaching and enthusiastically encourages all in the church to take this course. Starting in 2021, at the height of the pandemic, we started with a group online. Together we were challenged by the truths of our identity in Christ, the need for repentance and for the renewing of our minds with God’s word (Truth, Turning, Transformation).
Over the last two years we have facilitated this course both online and in person with 9 different groups to include over a hundred folks from our church. Here is a sampling of some of their testimonies:
“What has impacted my life from this course is about forgiveness. It’s a struggle to forgive those people you trusted so much but the Lord opened my eyes through this course to forgive them… to be merciful to them for God is merciful to me. This freedom I experienced is the best Christmas gift I ever received. I am no longer chained to this spirit of unforgiveness.”
“The course met my expectations and more! The videos and material were very organized and structured. It has been helpful in restoring my fellowship with my Abba and Jesus.”
“I hope you have even a small understanding of how drastically your heart for God is impacting us. This class is fantastic and your hearts for God is a tremendous encouragement.”
“This course has far exceeded my expectation. It takes a practical approach to reaffirm God’s truth backed up by scriptures, using breakout groups to encourage one another and challenging us to reflect and take action.”
How grateful we are for this amazing discipleship tool that teaches us how we can have freedom from habitual sin, negative thoughts, fears and unforgiveness, helping us grasp the amazing truth of our identity in Christ and how to resist the enemy’s deceptions. It gives such practical and tangible ways to help us move forward by “putting the cookies on the bottom shelf”, moving truth from our heads to our hearts and into action.
We are especially delighted that some who have gone through the course and have assimilated these principles are now embarking on taking others through Freedom in Christ either one-on-one or in groups – disciples becoming disciple-makers.
If, today I could turn back the clock on my pastoral ministry and do a make-over, this is the discipleship tool I would absolutely implement in the church.
The Northgate Baptist Church in Edmonton is one church of many that is using the Freedom In Christ course as part of its regular curriculum.
The Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course on Thursday evenings has been very fruitful so far. I love this course so much because I get to see people significantly grow in their faith and Christian practice in a relatively short time. And this teaching applies to every Christian, female or male, every culture, whether new or mature in the faith, young or old. In fact, in this particular class, we have a wide age range of participants—from 18 years old to a great, great-grandmother of 85! Even I myself learn and grow every time I run this course, despite having done it dozens of times already. And what a blessing to contribute to the increasing freedom of my brothers and sisters in the Lord!
Two people have done the Steps to Freedom and a few more are booked for November. Please pray for these individual Steps meetings, as they often have the most dramatic positive spiritual impact of all we do in the class. During the Steps, we do an in-depth, moral inventory of seven areas that can hinder our faith and walk with God, just as His Word instructs us to do in Psalm 139:22&23, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” We renounce anything incompatible with our faith and affirm the truth of the Bible and our commitment to Jesus.
Rosewood Park Alliance Church
Forgiveness Testimony – Clay Harmon
September 24, 2022
"One of my earliest childhood memories at four years of age was hearing my mother scream. I looked around the corner into the kitchen. My dad had thrown a knife at her, and it was stuck into the cupboard doors inches from her head. I recall him saying that if he wanted to kill her, she would be dead. Ensuing years involved living with relatives and finally a foster home for me and my four siblings.
At age ten, my dad visited me in the foster home and told me that the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. I had no idea what he was talking about. I found out later that my mother had been living in the same house as my dad and his girlfriend and that my mother had hung herself. I grew up attending seventeen schools and living in seven foster homes and the homes of two uncles.
I married, and we had four children. The oldest, a son, was given up for adoption because we were not yet married, and the youngest one, another son, died from a crib death. Friends introduced me to the Holy Spirit, but I chose the spirit of Johnny Walker instead. A life of adultery, drunkenness, and the trigger of the death of our baby led to divorce. I then married a drunk, and we had two more children. I sobered up, and she kicked me out of the house when I poured her hidden bottle of vodka down the sink.
At the time my business was prospering with some retail stores, and with a partner, we owned an upscale billiard club in the Okanagan. I chose to teach the ladies’ pool lessons. I was attracted to one lady and invited her to spend a weekend with me for fun and frolic in Calgary. She looked me in the eye and told me that my time would be better spent reading the Bible. To her astonishment, I did just that and a few months later submitted my life to Christ. Within forty-eight hours I was broke, unemployed, living alone, and suicidal. God was teaching me about self-sufficiency.
This lady gave me a mimeographed sheet containing the Steps to Freedom, and over weeks I worked through the Steps on my own. When I got to forgiveness, it was easy for me to identify that I needed to forgive my dad. I forced myself to think of the few good times instead of the violence in our home and was able to forgive him. Sondra encouraged me to visit my mother’s grave, and while there, I had a strong impression from the Holy Spirit that I was to pray. I was astonished at the anger towards my mother that came out because she had abandoned me as a child. Through the power of prayer, I came to understand that the hidden hurt had brought much destruction on my life and the lives of those close to me. I came to see that the verbal and emotional abuse I had inflicted on my two wives was an expression of that anger. It had been hidden from me. Recognizing that it was there, I could now forgive her.
The lady that challenged me to read the Bible is now my wife of twenty-seven years. Because I had learned to love Jesus, I learned how to love her. I have a good relationship with all my children. God has restored everything far more than what I could have imagined. God is good."
Rosewood Park Alliance Church
"We recently hosted the Restored Conference here at Rosewood Park Alliance Church as a way of providing a great spiritual growth opportunity for our church and those in our community. One of the things we have recognized over the years is that as Christians we are regularly caught in bondage or negative sin patterns that seem to stall our spiritual growth and our walks with Jesus. The Restored Conference has been an amazing tool for our church as it provides a very simple, non-invasive opportunity for our congregants to deal with some of this bondage and sin patterns, in order for them to be free to continue pursuing all that Jesus desires of them.
Our hope for our church having gone through this is that more and more individuals would be able to freely move on the path of discipleship as they grow in their relationship with Jesus. We pray that these individuals would learn how to live out their faith well, here in our church and out in the world. We hope that the freedom that they have found in Christ is an amazing witness to those who don’t yet know Jesus!"
Associate Pastor Joel Cyr