Bruce Hogarth is President and founder of Life Ministries Today. In addition to providing leadership to the ministry, he spends the majority of his time helping people experience “Life and Life in Abundance” through individual, marriage and family discipleship counseling. Bruce also brings this message of life to churches, retreats, and small group settings.
Bruce married his best friend and wife, Teresa, in 1981. They reside in Marietta, Georgia with their four sons. Bruce is an ordained minister and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theology from Oklahoma Wesleyan University. After working as a senior pastor in the Midwest for over twelve years, he and his family moved to the Atlanta area in July of 1997 to join the staff of a discipleship counseling ministry in Marietta, Georgia. Subsequent to serving on staff as both a counselor and training director for seven years, Bruce felt led by God to start a new ministry in the Roswell/Alpharetta area that communicates the message “Christ is life!” with the hope that all will understand and experience Life and Life in Abundance.
I was raised in a Christian home. My father was a pastor and my mother was also an ordained minister. Immersed in the church environment, my observation was that regardless of denominational background, the focus of the church was on salvation and performance. There seemed to be a disconnect between professed theology, which communicated salvation by grace through faith, (Ephesians 2:8-9) and theology of performance, which modeled and emphasized working out one’s salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12b). Working it out meant the ability to obey God’s commands was incumbent upon self effort and perseverance to accomplish whatever God was asking. Working out my own salvation with fear and trembling reflected my Christian life until 1995.
Even though I was saved early in life, I felt that in order for me to consistently experience life and joy, I needed to continuously perform to a standard that would somehow prove me worthy to enter into God’s presence. I earnestly sought life and joy by trying harder, praying more diligently, maintaining a structured Bible reading regimen, memorizing Scripture and serving whenever and wherever I was asked! Even when I was serving God as a pastor, I was failing miserably to experience Him, which left me feeling guilty and defeated. To alleviate this feeling of failure, I would initially give up but later rededicate myself to the renewed effort to please God with the hope of experiencing life and joy. I refer to this pattern as “the spin cycle of Christianity”— “try harder, fail, give up, re-dedicate, try harder . . .” As I listen to others’ stories, I witness and observe much of what I have described and experienced. The questions I hear on a daily basis consistently ask the same questions: “Where is the joy and freedom? Where is the life one is supposed to experience?”
I stepped away from pastoral ministry and began to seriously question God, myself and others. In jest, I would often say, “God has over promised and under delivered!” During this soul-searching time, I was invited to attend a businessmen’s weekly fellowship. I observed in these men something radically different: they reflected Life and Life in Abundance. During times of success, trials or testing, they demonstrated a “joy and a peace the world could not take away.” Sensing my desire to learn more, they strongly encouraged me to come to Atlanta, Georgia for an internship they felt I needed. In the fall of 1995, I came for the internship and heard the truths of what Hudson Taylor described from Isaiah 40:31 as The Exchanged Life.
“It was the exchanged life that had come to him — the life that is indeed “No longer I”… It was a blessed reality “Christ liveth in me.” And how great the difference! — instead of bondage, liberty; instead of failure, quiet victories within; instead of fear and weakness, a restful sense of sufficiency in Another.”
During this time, I received a new Bible, not literally, but experientially. The reality was I had new eyes to see and comprehend verses I had read before but never perceived. For instance, I had not recognized the verse immediately following my previous striving verse of “. . . work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12 was verse 13!
“[Not in your own strength] for it is God who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.”
(Phil. 2:13 Amplified Bible)
This and other verses launched a new discovery and experience of Life, Christ’s Life. Galatians 2:20 became authentic and valid.
I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20 Amplified Bible)
What deliverance! The deliverance from self and the experience of Life, His “Life and Life in Abundance!” I count it a privilege to walk with others on their journey in discovering and experiencing” Christ is life!