The Best Deal In Town: A Story Of Transformation
Changing someone’s mind is one thing. With great effort, it can happen. But changing someone’s heart? That takes a profound encounter, a transforming moment, that leaves a person changed. In this excerpt from the Greatness of the Gospel, Phil Strout (National Director, Vineyard USA) shares his own story of how the Gospel changed his life.
National Director of Vineyard USA
Vineyard Resources is the non-profit resourcing arm of Vineyard USA
[This an excerpt from The Greatness of the Gospel – an exhortation from Phil Strout to anyone who wants to re-center on the power of the Gospel for today’s world.]
The Gospel And “Everything Else”
Everything else we add on to that power, that good news, is superfluous.
The “everything else” may be wonderful and serve humanity, but without the central message of the Gospel of Jesus at the core of our intentions and activity, all of the “everything else” is ultimately powerless to accept and love the human heart all the way to wholeness.
My story of personal transformation is important here. I didn’t come from a Christian background, nor was I born into a Christian family. I didn’t go to a Christian school. I didn’t go to church growing up.
By the time I was 16, I already had my Ph.D. in sin. I was a professional.
Intuitively, I knew that my life was off. Something wasn’t right, and I wasn’t headed in the right direction. Outwardly, I was very confident and a natural leader. Inwardly, I was desperate for a way out – I just didn’t know what that “way out” was.
When I heard the Gospel explained to me, for the first time – that Christ died for me, that He invites me into His Story, that He is the one ultimately behind the narrative of history and eternity – it truly, to use a Maine phrase, cooked my cables.
I didn’t know anything about God. I had never heard about Jesus. No one had ever shared the Gospel with me before. I was the least likely person to ever believe in God (and others around me could attest to that).
But when I heard the Gospel, I was a sucker for the first pitch. I bought it – to mix metaphors – hook, line, and sinker.
And as a 16-year-old, I said: “If that’s the truth, that’s the best deal in town.” They told me God would make all things new in my life. They told me He would forgive my sin. They told me He had a divine purpose for my life. And they told me I was invited into an eternal reality that had everything to do with everyday life.
“If that’s true,” I said, “I’m in.”
A Change Of Heart Will Change Many Things
I had a change of heart – literally. God took my old, hard, brittle, sinful heart and put a new one in its place. I was given a heart that was tender to God, a heart that was loved by God, a heart that had a revelation that life is lived at its fullest when it is lived for other people.
Changing someone’s mind is one thing. With great effort, it can happen. But changing someone’s heart? That takes a profound encounter, a transforming moment, that leaves a person changed. When that encounter happens, we are invited to a journey, a pilgrimage, of transformation – one that will last our entire lives. One moment of transformation turns into a lifelong pilgrimage – that is the way the Gospel works.
And while many profound moments can happen in someone’s life, no other transforming moment can completely define who they are, Whose they are, where they are going, and give them a new heart that changes them from the inside out.
The Gospel is always transformative.
This is an excerpt from The Greatness of the Gospel – an exhortation from Phil Strout to anyone who wants to re-center on the power of the Gospel for today’s world.
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