The Great Exchange
Read Second Corinthians 5:21 and Galatians 2:20.
I was born Timothy Wayne Childers on December 18, 1954 at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Gadsden, Alabama. I was born again on August 26, 1982 in Leeds, Alabama. I prayed that God would kill me in 1999.
Let me explain how all that worked.
I will never forget the hot August night in 1982 when I sat across the dining room table from my pastor,
But it was 17 years later, in 1999 before I finally understood what it meant that my Heavenly Father also "accepted" ME that night at my pastor's table. Seventeen years passed before I knew what it was like to experience His life flowing with power through me. I had spent most of my Christian life working FOR God up until that point.
In 1985 I had surrendered to the ministry, moved my family to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Through the years I served Palestine Baptist Church in Bogaloosa, Louisiana, Lakeside Baptist Church in Metarie, Louisiana, Emmanuel Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, First Baptist Church in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, College Heights Baptist Church in Gadsden, Alabama, and First Baptist Church of Mableton, Georgia.
While pastoring in Mableton in 1999, God showed me the truth. God had never wanted me to work "for" Him. I needed to learn what it meant for God to work THROUGH me. The following is my journal entry for November 3, 1999.
I have been growing increasingly concerned about myself. Over and over I have felt like I was turning into my Daddy. (Note: My father committed suicide in 1991.) I have acted like him lately. I have experienced some of the things he experienced. I have felt as if I was headed for some kind of show down. Debbie even confronted me the other night with the reality that I have every symptom of someone who is clinically depressed. I did not want to hear that but the symptoms do no lie.
The past few weeks have been some of the most miserable of my lifetime. I have been on edge, to the point of tears, weeping openly for hours, stressed out over things at church - even though if things got any better there I do not know what I would do - I even got so low that a couple of weeks ago (after a fight with Debbie and a few days of low living before-hand) that I prayed that God would take me out of this world. I had been having thoughts of just driving away and never looking back. It is not that I do not love my family, it is just that I have been under the delusion from the devil that they would be better off without me.
We were leading a conference in Prattville that weekend and my topic was - "How to Get Over Life in the Pits." How appropriate that God would have me lead a conference about being in the pits. I certainly could give them first-hand information about what it felt like to be there.
The night before I had to teach, I laid in the bed in our hotel room and prayed that God would let me die during the night. I rationalized that Debbie would be taken care of by my life insurance. She would be better off without me and I would be out of my misery. And I wouldn't have to lead that conference the next day.
The next morning when I awoke I was angry to be alive. Then, I thought as I got up to lead the conference that I was really going to die. But as I began to lead the conference, something began to happen. God began to speak to me. I realized that I was leading the conference for myself.
The conference was based on Psalm 40:2 where David said that the Lord had lifted him from the miry clay, set his feet upon a rock, and established his steps. Well the Lord did that for me and He pulled me up as I taught the conference. It was wonderful, but I knew that there had to be more to what had happened to me that what I had experienced that weekend.
We returned home on Saturday and I began to try to get to the place spiritually where God would speak to me about what to preach on the next day. Nothing came. I am not surprised given my state of mind. The next morning I arrived at church at my usual Sunday morning time around 6:15 a.m. I sat in front of the computer and could barely pray. Nothing I looked at in the Word jumped off the page at me. Nothing was coming. I was supposed to preach about vision because we are in the midst of a stewardship campaign. I went through my files and decided to preach my sermon on commitment that I preached as a trial sermon for another church. It was decided. That is always such a relief, but I could not get excited because it was not a fresh word from the Lord. So I began to feel like I was slipping back into the miry clay again."
Pretty depressing, huh? Well, it was depressing then, but now when I look back on those days I can truly rejoice because of what God has done in my life through those dark times. That night when it I wanted to die, something wonderful actually happened! I died to myself. I fully surrendered to the work of God in my life.
I did not really know what had happened until I started reading a book called Handbook to Happiness by Dr. Charles Solomon. The book miraculously got placed in front of me and I couldn't avoid reading it. When I finished it, I called my wife and said, "I am reading a new book and if it is true I will spend the rest of my life telling people about what God is teaching me through it."
Well, what God used the book to teach me is true and I am happier and more fulfilled than I ever dreamed I could be.
I was the kind of pastor that wanted results. If I did not get the kind of results that I wanted, I blamed myself. I always assumed the reason for my lack of success was that God was not pleased with my preaching, leadership skills, or my abilities. My response was always to make commitments to pray more, study more, visit more, plan more, and program more.
But, I never kept those commitments because I was too busy. Then the guilt became unbearable. I was burning the candle at both ends and I ran out of wax.
Actually things were going well at our church, but it was never enough for me. When I came to the end of myself and began to understand the truth of the crucified life - the resurrected life of Christ in me, I began to really "rest." I am busier now than before, but full of passion for the ministry. The difference in me now unbelievable!
It truly is all about exchanging my life, my weaknesses, my insecurities for the abundant life of Jesus; His strength and power, every minute of every day.
One of the great passions of my life is to help people understand what Jesus did for us on the cross and the full impact of God's grace. His grace is not just for our salvation. It's also how we can live out of His abundant life every day! I love to share my story of death and life because I have truly learned what it means to live in Christ.
I no longer feel guilty when throngs of people do not respond during our services. I have been set free from worry. My marriage is stronger. I have stronger relationships within my church family. I am more relaxed. I can have fun again!
It is a great life! It is the abundant life Jesus spoke of in John 10:10. It is HIS life!!!
It is my heart's desire for you to come to understand and embrace the most profound truth I have learned in my life: "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (NKJV)
The GREAT EXCHANGE takes place in reality for us when we bow our knee to Christ. When we receive the life of Christ, He comes in and changes everything! Rather, He EXCHANGES everything! He exchanges His sinless life for your sin, and gives you HIS righteousness in exchange! He exchanges the barriers that sin erected between you and God so that you can share in the intimacy He shares with His Father. He exchanges you life of failure, guilt, timidity, and despair for His life of victory, shamelessness, boldness, and hope!
The result of that GREAT EXCHANGE is this profound truth of scripture:
"I have been crucified with Christ; 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 for me." Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)
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