PHOTO ALBUM - MIKE FILIPPI
A MESSAGE OF HOPE AND FREEDOM
I became a Christian in 1976 at the age of 18. Before that I had no prior church experience. Christ made an incredible impact on my life, all I wanted to do is tell others of His amazing love. I went to Bible College with the goal of getting trained to be a pastor/missionary so I could be more effective telling others the life giving story of Jesus Christ.
I became a youth pastor and served in this capacity for over 15 years. I had the joy and honor of sharing the Gospel with hundreds of kids up and down the West coast and around the world.
I also served as a senior pastor and church planter and had the joy of working very closely with adults, families, and staff members for over 16 years. I saw hundreds of people come to the Lord and become serious disciples. Many went into full-time ministry.
Through the years we saw a lot of fruit which was very rewarding. However, I saw men and women struggling with personal holiness and spiritual, self-doubt. Over and over these sweet saints would re-commit their lives to Christ and passionately press-in to a deeper walk and greater sacrifice for the kingdom, only to find greater disappointment and frustration in their walk with the Lord. Why the struggle? Why the lack of maturity and true peace? Where was the victory, where was the “abundant life” that we had always been promised?
I, too, became disillusioned, frustrated, and personally defeated in my pursuit of intimacy with Christ and personal holiness. I can look back onto years of journaling and no matter what year’s journal I read, it all seems like the same heartbreaking, gut-wrenching prayer, over and over. “Dear Lord, please release me from my sin. Please overcome these things that so entangle me. Oh, Lord, I love you, really I do. Why do I fail and struggle so? Please, give me greater victory and intimacy with you.”
Sound familiar? Well, I’ve found I am not alone. In fact, it seems the majority of serious, well meaning Christians, experience the same struggle and the never ending cycle of sin, confess, sin, confess. Reading books, going to church, hearing teaching after teaching, only seemed to remind me that I really didn’t make the mark. I was always lacking. Never quite there. I was tired and worn out. Until God broke through with an incredible message that changed everything.
His revelation was so transformational that I was absolutely released from bondage and freed from the heartbreaking struggle. He told me something that I wish I would have understood years ago. Now I am committed to sharing this great news with as many people as possible. I have an incredible message that transforms and frees us to live a powerful life of love and joy with no struggle, resisting, failure or self-loathing.
I call this the Gospel of the New Creation. It is not new. It is not hidden. It is not strange or in anyway bazaar. It is the basic message of the bible, the cross and the Gospel. Yet it is not being taught in the majority of our Churches. And, more often than not, when I share it with others, especially good meaning, Christ loving ministers, it is usually met with great resistance if not outright rejection. So, what is this message that is so divisive and so repulsive?
Well, here it is. As a believer, one who has received Christ and put his/her trust in Him, because of the amazing grace of God and the “finished work” of Christ on the cross, we are completely forgiven, set free, made new and complete in Christ. That’s it! Simple.
We are “New Creations” in Christ, hence we are no longer in bondage to sin. We are clothed in His righteousness and our sin has been removed from us. When the Father sees us, He sees His lovely Son who is without sin, fully accepted and dearly loved. We are not a disappointment, God is not angry, and we cannot get any closer or attain any greater standing with Him. We are accepted, secure, and dearly loved by the Father. It is all by grace, through faith, and paid for, in full, by the blood of Christ. We bring nothing to the table but gratitude and praise.
For years I begged God for the very things that He had already given me, I just never knew it. I never knew it because I had been taught that salvation was a gift from God received through faith in the blood of Christ. But personally holiness and maturity were earned by blood, sweat, and tears and only after a life-long struggle of pulling myself up by my spiritual boot straps could I ever really expect to experience the fullness of the Christian life.
I was always told that faith opened the door but hard work is what got us down that path that leads to maturity, the abundant life, and, ultimately, heaven. If I remained strong, fought the good fight, and pressed on, only then would I be accepted. Christianity was always like playing musical chairs. Full of fear and anxiety. Pay attention or you will soon find the music has stopped and you are without a place to sit. But nothing could be further from the truth. I was home before I even started. It is not my work, but His blood, sweat, and tears that please the Father. I have always been the apple of His eye. Now that is good news. Too good. Too easy. It is a scandal, an extravagance. It simply cannot be that easy. But it is! Maybe that’s why it’s called Good News.
We are glad recipients of His amazing grace. It is not by work or struggle or self-inflicted pain or self-anything. It is by resting; ceasing from all labor. Falling into His wonderful arms of love. Relax! You were home before you ever started the journey.
We are free to go play!