I cannot thank the Lord enough for my spiritual father: Dr. Charles Solomon. I can thank many whom God used to guide and direct me through the years but none quite like my spiritual father - Chuck. It was through the Lord's influence in and through him that God provided a Biblical, Christ as Life foundation of Truth for my life and ministry.
– Dr. Stephen R. Phinney
"Son of Thunder"
Calling All Sons of Thunder
Even though there are thousands of teachers, preachers, and workers of the Cross that God used to move the message of Christ in you forward – today, few remain focused on such teachings. It was this demise that inflamed my passion for advancing the message of the believer’s shared co-death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ.
I grew up in what the world classifies as a "dysfunctional home." My father was the son of a great man of God - a preacher used to reform the Quaker and Friends church branches. Rumor has it that my father was named after my grandfather's role model, Charles Finney. Because of growing up in a spiritual environment that was ever so public, my father decided to go the opposite direction of his calling. Because of this, my father did not allow Christianity to be discussed in our home. Overall, bitterness and fear ruled our household.
My childhood was plagued with illnesses. I was born with allergies that affected most areas of my life. Due to these weaknesses, school attendance did not become regular until my high school years. As a result, I did not know how to read or write until I married my wife. Thus, most of my rejection issues were related to education. However, once I learned to read & write, a new world opened up.
I received Jesus Christ into my life at 16-years of age. It was a "radical" conversion and transformation. However, while I accepted that Christ died on the Cross for me, I was not told I died with Him. This led to a performance-based Christian life.
In the mid-'70s, I found myself in a state of unrest. I knew I was born-again, and I served the Lord the best that I knew how. I shared the Word of God and led others to Christ. I was active in church outreach, but there remained a yearning, a spiritual thirst for a deeper walk with Christ. I desired a life of victory and triumph rather than one of fear and performance - knowing all the while what I was living wasn't enough. I found the classic message of the Church to be dry as bones. I intuitively knew there had to be a better way of living.
While working as a residential care worker in Iowa, a friend & coworker placed a book on my desk that he obtained from his sister (a friend of Lee LeFebre) while visiting in Denver - The Handbook to Happiness, by Dr. Charles Solomon. Just seeing the graphics on the cover created a "wanting" to read it but I had a problem - I was functionally illiterate. Here I was 21 years of age and faking my way through life. After confessing my problem to my wife, she began to teach me how to read by using the Word of God. At this point in my walk, God introduced me to Dr. Charles Solomon, who was soon to become my spiritual father and mentor for life. Knowing that this "exchanged life" book contained my answer, I pressed on to find a way to read the book. Amazingly, this book became the first book I read from cover to cover. Little did I realize how Christ would use Chuck's book to change my life and the course of my ministry! I embraced the truths of the Exchanged Life. Shortly after this revelation, in 1981, I packed up my family, moved to Denver, and became an intern within Dr. Solomon’s training program. This adventure started a father/son relationship until Dr. Solomon’s death.
After consulting with Dr. Solomon, he encouraged me to start a non-profit in Colorado Springs that focused on the message of the Exchanged-Life. In 1986, we started Release Ministries - now IOM America. We developed and established a training and counseling center that serviced the community with a special emphasis on ministering to the Navigators and Compassion International staff. During this time, I met my second mentor, Lorne Sanny - former President of Navigators, now with the Lord. Through my relationship with Lorne, I was refined in leadership & visionary skills.
Soon these skills were required of me. During the late ’90s, after moving our ministry to Arizona, I served as an advisor to multiple politicians. During my advisory position with the state, I was given a plan from God to establish a new branch of government called The Faith-Based Initiative. This plan was the basis for my doctorate dissertation at Phoenix University of Theology. To my surprise, this plan was embraced by leaders throughout the United States, modestly in Uganda, and, ultimately, led to a 5-year collaborative relationship with the White House. Even though warned and prepared, God used the dysfunction of American politics to call me back to my roots. I resigned from my position in politics and began to re-establish IOM America.
Once returning to my life calling – uniting Exchanged Life workers, IOM America became dedicated to Christ-as-Life discipleship, conferences & Worldview Center development. We continue in helping members of the body of Christ to experience, mature in, and communicate effectively the message of identification with Christ in His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.
During this time, God reminded me that the plan He gave me for my doctoral studies was not meant for the government but rather for His Church. After years of ministering the Exchanged Life, God opened the door to kindle my vision afresh to unite workers of the Cross. With permission from the White House to reconstruct the Faith-based Initiative for our use, in June of 2010, we were released to go to work. Today, the Christ as Life Global Commission started as the Exchanged Life Global Initiative. Our overall mission is to unite prophets, teachers, and preachers in sharing the message of Christ in you. The practical advantage is developing a website that will host books, articles, videos, and other forms of media that advance the doctrines of Christ working THROUGH the authentic believer.
Much later in my life, the Lord brought to my attention the importance of eschatology and the indwelling Life of Christ. This led to years of studying cultural issues that have infiltrated the Church. By blending prophetic end-times doctrines and modern movements, my emphasis shifted to Christ, Culture, and Creator. A vision we advance to this day.
Since our initiative's early years, IOM America has developed an outreach that thousands of individuals, ministries, and churches are presently embracing. Presently our ministry reaches 2.8 million inboxes annually - resulting in more lives for Christ.
Thank you for taking the time to read this "extended version" of my personal and professional timeline. I believe it is important, if not critical, to know the pathway of the Cross for leaders you choose to serve or assist. Bless you.