“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe … For we … worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so … But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:1-10).
I had the privilege of being raised in a Christian home by parents who loved me. As a young child, I came under deep conviction of my sinfulness and was born again during Vacation Bible School at my small country church.
As I grew older, I tried to find my worth and acceptance through athletics but discovered I had little athletic ability. I then threw myself into academics and hard work. I was able to live at home and pay my way through the University of Tennessee working different part-time jobs and taking a full load in college.
After graduation from college and marriage to my wonderful wife, Kathy, I accepted employment with a garment company in Nashville, Tennessee in the planning department. The business world rewards people with “workaholic flesh”. I advanced quickly and received maximum raise allowed by the company at each salary review period.
I was called into the ministry three years after college and graduated from Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. At my first church, I discovered that the church also responded to “workaholic flesh”. My first church more than doubled in three years. I was then called to one of the leading churches in my denomination in Ohio. My workaholic ways grew worse. I understood the part of the gospel that Christ is in me. I understood some of what it meant to be filled with the Holy Spirit. In hindsight, I was asking Christ in me to enable and empower my flesh. That is, I was asking Him to enable to me work harder and accomplish more.
As I became more and more weary and weighed down, my Associate Pastor, Bob Culbertson, began to gently share the other one-half of the gospel – not only is Christ in me, but I am in Christ. Bob shared some tapes and books from Dr. Charles Solomon that God used to open my eyes. I began to see that work was what I depended on for worth and acceptance. God used a conference in my church by Dr. Bill Gillham to shed further light. I didn’t have a crisis situation, nor did I “crash and burn”. As the Holy Spirit turned on the light in an area, I would appropriate the truth He revealed. I cannot point to a specific time when I entered into my identification with Christ, but I know I have. I reckon on my death with Christ and I know Him as not just Savior and Lord, but as Life. I have been set free from “workaholism”. There are times when I slip back into walking according to my workaholic flesh, but as God points it out, I repent and apply the Cross.
With some (most), God works in times of crisis, and with some God does a gradual work. He is sovereign.
[“If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:11 ].
PHILLIP, ONE CALLED OF GOD
God’s calling on your life
Has been shown in other lives;
Fruit has abounded a hundred fold
As in the flesh you refuse to strive.
Attaining the mid-century mark
With its experience and maturity,
Provides the basis for expanded ministry
Without a demand for security.
Though world-wide ministry
Is not something to which you’ve aspired;
The Holy Spirit has brought it to you
With total abandonment being required.
It is my prayer that your ministry
Will be blessed of God abroad
That hurting believers in other lands
Will be able to lay down their load.
Your unselfish ministry to GFI
And to me in my later years
Is a blessing and comfort to me
As the close of my ministry nears.
I am believing God to multiply
The ministry to which He called;
May your faithfulness be rewarded
With much fruit and blessing untold.
 Poem in tribute of our associate, Phil Jones, by Charles Solomon.
This testimony is one of many included in the bok, From Pastors to Pastors: Testimonies of Revitalized Ministries. (available from GFI)
See also the resourse web site: RevitalizingPastors.org
Dr. Jones serves as senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Powell, TN. Visit their web site to watch/hear his expository sermons online: http://www.fbcpowell.org He is the author of the strategic evangelism and discipleship booklet and teacher’s guide, How to Exchange Your Life for a New One. It is a tool in his TELL curriculum (Teaching Exchanged Life Living). He gives a video introduction to TELL here. We highly recommend his many sermon series, including Search for Significance.