Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Prison of Bitterness

 The lack of forgiveness is very painful if you have asked for that forgiveness. God always gives it to us. Other people are not so accomodating. Some people will not forgive you. It is a volitional decision on their part. It would seem that the people in the church would be the first to forgive but sometimes they become the last they have chosen to throw you into the Prison of Bitterness.
The inability to forgive has probably been the most common sin that will block a victorious life. It is critical that an unforgiving spirit be resolved. We are required by God to forgive other people. Christ said, "If you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions" (Matt 6:14-15). You will never have victory in your Christian experience if there is an unforgiving spirit in your heart. The result is bitterness harbored in your heart. If forgiveness is not extended, then you have given part of your soul to the Dark Prince of Evil, and freedom will not come.

An unforgiving spirit is one of the primary tools Satan uses to gain access to a believer's life. We are admonished by Paul to forgive one another "in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes" (2 Cor 2:11). Failure to forgive one another may have become one of the biggest sins of the church. As a result, Satan has been able to put his grip on us - hindering God's ability to release us from the effects of sin. It is also critical that the believer extends forgiveness to himself, and experiences freedom with himself.

"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you" (Eph 4:31,32). "Be merciful, as your Father is merciful" (Lk 6:36). "Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Col 3:13).

Who are we to forgive? We should forgive everyone whose name brings up feelings of bitterness or anger. It does not matter how wrong the person was or how much they hurt you, we are commanded to forgive. Forgiveness is a matter of the will, not the emotions. We must first determine to forgive someone, and then stand, determined to renounce all wicked bitter thoughts that come to mind, telling them that they must go because forgiveness has been extended. Eventually the emotions will change.

There are two concepts that are essential to freeing ourselves from the prison of bitterness. Without them we have no basis for coming to God. The first is our concept of the Atonement. If our idea of the death of Jesus Christ is that of a vague, remote happening which is unrelated to our forgiveness of others, then our forgiveness is impossible. But if we understand the Atonement and its relationship between our forgiveness and the forgiveness of others then it is easy to say, "Father forgive them."

The second concept is just as valid today, "The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all." If our feeling is that of self-sufficiency, inflated ego, and exalted status, we are not in the position to understand the greatness of grace. It is only as we come to the foot of the cross, humbly confessing our dependence upon God can we really find forgiveness.

Imperatives of Forgiveness
  • Understanding the greatness of the debt.
  • Understanding the Atonement and its relationship between God and ourselves, and between ourselves and our fellowman.
  • Ever wonder why the king forgave the full debt when the slave was only asking for an extension on the debt?

First, notice that the slave did not ask for forgiveness. He was relying upon his own abilities, ". . .I will pay thee all." The slave did not fully understand the greatness of his debt. Ten thousand talents at today’s standard, would be in excess of $20 million dollars!

Second, grace is the only means by which a debt of this size could be handled. The slave had no means by which he could repay this enormous debt. The king could only forgive the debt. The same is so with our salvation, "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. Eph. 2:4-9

Rationalizations Hindering Forgiveness
  • Blaming others for our problems
  • Justifying our actions and attitudes.
  • Ever wonder why Slave #1 used violence to collect a debt of $20, when he had been forgiven of a $20 million debt? What could trigger such a violent reaction?
It is our natural inclination to find other people to blame for our problems. The greater the guilt we have, the more we must blame to balance the guilt. The resulting bitterness is devastating to our lives.

  • Slave #1 was no different than we are, he needed to find someone to blame for his $20 million debt.
  • Slave #2, just happened to be the first one to come to his mind. Slave#2, owed Slave #1, $20.00. This placed him on the receiving end of Slave#1's blame.
  • Slave#1 felt he would not have been in the situation if Slave #2 had only paid him, what was owed. There is no other action that could be taken but to throw Slave$#2 in jail. Slave#1 felt justified in his actions.
  • Ever wonder why a loving God would turn you or me over to the tormentors?
  • How can an non-payable debt be paid by going to jail?
  • There is no redeeming value in torture.
  • What then is God's reasoning for His actions?
It is essential we recognize and confess our wrong actions against those whom we have put in the spiritual prison of bitterness. It is important we confess and change our wrong attitudes which have resulted in our actions and attitudes toward others.

This is usually more difficult than realized. Being so involved with our own personal thoughts and emotions we fail to realize the attitudes which we are reflecting to the people around us.

People react to our attitudes. It is, therefore, more essential that we learn to "judge ourselves" before we judge others. To analyze the characters involved in this story we must look at the following:

Slave #1 should have understood:
  • He was forgiven
  • He did not owe the debt, it was paid.
  • He should have humbled himself to accept the forgiveness of the king.
Slave #1 should have realized:
  • The reaction of the king would be harsh.
  • That he would be humbled by the king to accept the gift or die in prison.
  • That others would not approve of his actions toward Slave#2
Slave #1 should have:
  • Listed the offenses of Slave #2
  • Promising to repay the $20 and failing to keep the promise.
Listed the offenses of the king.
  • Punishing me for things I had no control over.
  • Being to strict in punishing me for my actions toward Slave#2.
  • Expecting to much from me.
  • Refusing to understand my point of view.
Listed his offenses toward others.
  • Proud, self-sufficient attitude toward the king.
  • Ungrateful for the gift of $20 million.
  • Bitterness and resentment toward Slave#2 for not paying his debt.
Cautions To Observe

It is important to distinguish between the real offenses and the "excuse offense." The "excuse offense" is not the real offense for which one harbors bitterness. Identifying the real problem is the most difficult. It requires that we be honest and accept responsibility for our attitudes. It does little good to ask forgiveness for some "excuse offense" when in reality the offense is only a small part of a much greater offense.

There are several ways to ask forgiveness which are guaranteed to keep bitterness alive in our lives.
  • "I was wrong, but so were you."
  • If I was wrong, please forgive me."
  • I guess I'm sorry for all the things I did against you."
There is one sure way to resolve the problem, "God has convicted me of how wrong I have been in (whatever the offense). I know I have wronged you in this, and I've come to ask, will you forgive me?

If there is to be victory in our lives we must understand the greatness of the Atonement. It's relationship in our live, and the lives of those we touch is vital to a victorious Christian life.

Jesus told his listeners, unless they forgave from the heart they would not be forgiven by the Father. The Scripture shows the difference between the debt we owe to God which is staggering, and the debt other may owe to us, in comparison is immeasurable. Nothing men can do to us can compare with what we have done to God, and what we continue to do, day by day.

Yet, God forgives us the great debt we owe Him. So how can we be unforgiving to others who owe us so little in comparison? Anything that we may need to forgive is only a shadow of the debt you have been forgiven. When you realize God' forgiveness, then ask the question, "Why must I forgive?" The answer that will rise from you soul is, "Forgive? Yes. Seventy times seven.

One should not claim to be  a Christian if they have an unforgiving spirit.  Individuals who have resolved to keep others in the Prision of Bitterness are the same as Slave #1 and will be judged by the King--Jesus Christ.   

Christian or Seeker?

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Happiness is what most Americans are looking to find. However, it is a pursuit that for most is not meeting their spiritual needs. Some are turning to church and religion they have become-- Seekers. But even the religious Seeker is finding this pursuit is not meeting their spiritual needs.
Why is it that there are those who come to the Church seeking salvation and never find a change in their spiritual condition? Why is it that there seems to be very little difference between those who call themselves Christians and those who are non-Christians? It could be those who are calling themselves Christian are only Christian in name and not by a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself made it clear that merely using His name does not make one a Christian. "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven" (Matthew 7:21)
There are two types of people who come to church---Seekers and Finders. Let me explain. The Seeker is one who is looking for satisfaction of the soul—the pursuit of happiness. There are many who turn to religion to answer the call within only to find disappointment. (I'll deal with Finders in the next blog.)
A spiritual seeker is someone who is looking for truth. The Wise men who were looking for Jesus were Seekers.  They came to find the Christ of the Star.  To be a seeker in the spiritual realm is to seriously consider what God means to them. The void deep within the soul is crying to be filled. The success they once enjoyed isn't satisfying. Religion is starting to feel routine. Emotions of life that once could be handled are starting to handle them.  The Seeker just wants the "good" life to be good at a deeper, more meaningful level.
The church is not the answer to the problems of the Seeker---Jesus Christ is the answer. All to often the church has given the impression of being the answer to all the problems of life. When the church fails to point the Seeker to Jesus Christ there will be no stability in the spiritual life of the Seeker. When Jesus Christ is not the center of the message, the Seeker will have a spiritual void resulting in failure in their efforts to see a change in their life or find the happiness they are pursuing.
The real problem is a failure in addressing the issue of sins and sin. When we avoid the real nature of man—being sinful we avoid the solution- Atonement, Repentance, Forgiveness, Justification, and Holiness. When these are avoided it is no more than the effort of man trying to bring about his own salvation. It will never work. The guilt of sin cannot be removed by self-salvation. The end result is trying to ease the guilt with blame. Guilt cannot find balance in ones life without blame. The more guilt the more blame is needed. People need to justify their actions --- “I am this way because. . . “ you fill in the blank.
In the spiritual world there are the Seekers who walk a path seeking Truth, It will have a different emphasis for each person but the main desire is to find freedom from the quilt of sin. The void in their life must be filled. They are seeking for that satisfaction that will give them peace. The “feel good church” is where they often start.
There are many wonderful “feel good churches” and “feel good preachers” they claim to show people how to change their life and be happy. However it is my experience that most of the time these churches and preachers aren’t effective in creating lasting change in one's spiritual life. All to often, people are left with an emptiness that failed to fill the void which they are trying to counterbalance (guilt/blame) and find peace.
I don’t want to condemn the possibilities of an individual finding peace in a “feel good church” or from a “feel good preacher” they can--provided the desire to change is strong enough to overcome the obstacles of self reliance and pride. More often than not the “feel good church” or “feel good preacher” will not provide the Seeker with direction to spiritual peace. The problem is that many of them don’t provide a spiritual approach to deal with the guilt and blame issues the Seeker is trying to balance. This leaves the Seeker without the proper direction and sets them up for spiritual failure.
If “feel good churches” and “feel good preachers” are really that effective there would be a marked distinction in the lives of the attenders. Rather it seems that the “feel gooder's” are much like the diet industry where most people go from one to the other without long term solutions. The end result is a dissatisfaction with Christianity. These churches are filled with Seekers who have never found the peace they have sought after. "Feel good churches" have failed to show the Seeker that salvation from the guilt and sin comes from the application of Atonement by Jesus Christ.
The process of salvation has been by-passed by the church leadership. Ministers know when a person believes they are right they feel good about themselves. It has become more important to feel good about ones self than to have the relationship with God that He requires. “Feel good ministers” do not acknowledge the nature of sin and its impact on the spiritual need of mankind. It is in the carnal nature of man to seek a self-atonement for their sins. Self-atonement produces an sense of self acceptance in their mind. Self-atonement creates a temporary feel good image about oneself. The major danger of this is the most powerful and dangerous element of the spiritual life--- self-righteousness.

A person may want to change, but the emotional consequence is too high. Often a person will try to stop what they consider as wrong or sinful but fail because the sinful nature has blinded their eyes and they cannot see. This unseen nature in the heart makes it impossible to change ones way of life. The works of self-righteousness and the decision to change a behavior isn’t likely to be effective if there is no true repentance.
To assume that you can adopt a different thought process without changing the “heart” that forms your thoughts is dangerous approach in finding salvation. An person doesn’t drop the belief that they are “good people doing good things” just by thinking the idea “I am good”. You might feel like you have done something for the moment, but behaviors and core beliefs have not changed and the Seeker is still connected to the old life---still in sin.
Can affirmations work? “I am a good Christian” “I believe in Jesus”, These are the phrases you consciously tell yourself over and over until you actually become aligned with those thoughts. Can these work? No you are still connected to your old life style.
Putting on a positive attitude or adopting positive thinking without changing the underlying spiritual nature cannot give sustained change. It is a lot like putting a new wall covering over a wall that has termites. For the new wall to be long lasting you first need to remove the termites inside wall and change the core structure.
Becoming aware of the internal struggle is a step in expanding awareness and an important step in finding the answer to one's spiritual condition. You can’t change something until you are aware of it. The Seeker cannot find the answer to the great spiritual need within the soul until they recognize their true spiritual condition. They have deceived themselves in thinking their goodness is godliness.
Over the years I have watched individuals who have never come to grips with the nature of sin in their heart. They have been Seekers all their life without ever finding the spiritual satisfaction they have been seeking. They are inwardly very unhappy people. Their religion is painful, unsatisfying, and they are most miserable of all people—there is no joy in religion. These are the people that make-up the greatest number of church going “Christians”—Seekers.
There is a need for Seekers, without the Seeker there would not be the Christian, but we need to go beyond the Seeking and become a Finder.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Turn On The Faucet

Over the past few weeks the news media has been a buzz with the secret documents leaked on the Internet. I have found the whole incident humorous. The liberals are excited that someone has “revealed state secrets”. So you ask what is humorous about this, well, the documents are about our Secretary of State, who is one of “them liberals.” The conservatives are outraged because the true nature of American foreign policy has been revealed to the whole world. They are embarrassed because they have supported these policies. So it comes down to this the WikiLeaks website owner is either a traitor, a spy, a terrorist or a hero, depending on who is talking. His release of diplomatic cables has embarrassed the Machiavellian rulers. It revealed that they are no more than group of petty, backbiting, and untrustworthy tyrants, eager to do or say anything to have their way. And that embarrassment is the reason they are so upset about the released cables. Or is it a more sinister reason? Are they using this “national security” reason to deprive us of the freedom of information? We know they are afraid of truth. Not to sound religious but, “the things done in secret will be revealed on the housetops.” 

Truth, is the enemy of a totalitarian regime. Fooling, lying, spying: That is the way of the totalitarian regime. In the words of U.S. Supreme court Justice Louis Brandeis, “If the government becomes a law-breaker, it breeds contempt for the law. It invites every man to become a law unto himself. It invites anarchy.” The truth is WikiLeaks has exposed the Machiavellian government leaders. It has exposed those in power for what they are--- destroyers of freedom who only seek influence and power.

Informed Americans are not surprised at all about the information contained in the leaks. For many years Americans have questioned the actions of our government. The government that was designed to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” has become the tyrant of the people.

What has happened in America is We the People, little by little, have allowed ourselves to governed by those who have deliberated in secret and have hidden from us the truth. Those who are the elite have tried to convince us into believing that the world situations are so complicated that the government must hide from us the information which the We the People could not understand, or it is so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security. In 1964 Senator Long said, “A government by secrecy benefits no one. It injures the people it seeks to serve; it damages its own integrity and operation. It breeds distrust, dampens the fervor of its citizens and mocks their loyalty.”

The lack of truth given to the American people by the Machiavellian plotters has confused many Americans concerning the WikiLeaks documents. We have been told daily that America has been harmed by this treasonous act. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating to determine whether charges can be brought against the man who simply published information that was given to him by a source in government — a source that saw an opportunity to reveal that the real enemy of the American people is their own government. We are again being blindsided by those who we have elected to secure our freedom. Right now Congress is considering laws that will make what WikiLeak did illegal… and give the Internet control to the destroyers of freedom. I find it interesting that it is okay for the media to reveal state secrets it received from anonymous sources. It’s just journalism if your name is The New York Times or the Washington Post, Fox News or one of the big networks. In fact, they are complicit in the release of the WikiLeaks documents. The truth is, the news media all around the world is working with WikiLeaks to release the documents.

Informed Americans aren’t surprised at what the cables reveal. We recognize that long ago the American Dream was stolen by Machiavellian plotters. These elite and powerful players operate on a different plane than the rest of us. They function without morals or ethics playing by the rules of power and money. This makes the informed individual dangerous to the power player. Charles A. Beard said, “You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the great struggle for independence. “ The Bill of Rights and the Constitution are two documents the Machiavellian plotter would like to see destroyed. Walter Williams said, “The essence of government is force, and most often that force is used to accomplish evil ends.” The destruction of our freedom is happening daily. An example of the loss of freedom is when the U.S. Justice Department recently shut down a number of Websites it claimed were illegally peddling copyrighted music, videos and other products. It did so in a broad sweep, taking down sites that linked to music and videos and sites that just mentioned other sites, a move that demonstrates the U.S. government no longer cares for the rule of law. They have become arrogant with power.

The Federal government is also working to give itself the power and authority to shut down portions of the Internet, just like the government of Communist China does whenever it decides there is a threat to national security. Just like Iran did during their last election. Who decides whether there is a threat? The same Machiavellian group who are featured in the embarrassing WikiLeaks revelations.

Americans are divided on the actions of WikiLeak some are outraged that WikiLeaks would publish the secret government documents and release of state secrets and some are glad.. The fact is that Americans should be outraged at the actions and policies revealed in the documents by those who are not acting in the best interest of America. One of the founding fathers, Patrick Henry stated, “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.” The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself... Almost inevitably, he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable. It is time to become dangerous people. We must remember, Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty. I say turn the faucet on and give us the full truth. (I am anxiously waiting the release of the UFO documents and wondering where they have hidden the Stargates?.)

Machiavellian, Machiavelian [ˌmækɪəˈvɛlɪən]
adj (sometimes not capital)
of or relating to the alleged political principles of Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527), Florentine statesman and political philosopher; cunning, amoral, and opportunist
a cunning, amoral, and opportunist person, esp a politician
Machiavellianism , Machiavellism n
Machiavellist  adj & n

Thursday, December 9, 2010


First, I believe God made man with free will. God has given us the right, the power, and the freedom to choose. What is best for the individual, may not be what others think is best for the society or government. We need to be free to live our lives as we so choose, as individuals. We can and should decide for ourselves the course of our own lives and destiny, to be individual and free.  To believe in individual rights and freedoms you have to believe your rights and freedoms are inalienably and unquestionably held as truth for all-time, and that these rights and freedoms are granted by God. Our rights come from the Creator and not from any form of government. If our rights are from the government they can be taken away by the government. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”
It is not the job of Government to save people from their own weaknesses, temptations, self-destructiveness and indulgences, no matter how much we dislike their behavior.  Government cannot save anyone, it cannot make anyone moral or ethical, it does not have that power, it never has, and it never will.  Government can only punish people for their transgressions.
People should have the Right to choose, but they should also know there are consequences to their choices. People who violate the freedom of others without regard should pay the consequences for their actions. These people who have no regard for the Rights and freedoms of others, especially in regards to our Right to live free from harm, for our families, property and ourselves, should be given the harshest terms possible under the law. No one has the Right to violate or harm an individual's family, property, privacy, freedom or person.
We should forever and always, as individuals, have the Power, the Right and the freedom to believe as we so choose.  Also to know that the only time that we are truly equal with one another is at our birth and at our death. With the equal opportunity to become what ever our abilities and aspirations can create for us. We have to choose our own way, to become our own person, to become all that we can be, and the best that we can be, as individuals.
Take away freedom of speech, association, religion and enterprise, and our country would be neither free nor prosperous. Our government now has strayed very far from the original vision of limited powers. Today there is no aspect of our lives – public or private – that government regards as exempt from its jurisdiction and control. Government now seizes over half our incomes in taxes; regulates every aspect of trade and commerce; censors books, movies and art; seizes our business records and bank accounts; confiscates our guns; taps our telephones and reads our mail and electronic messages; dictates wages and working conditions; regulates our sex lives; and imposes fines and imprisonment with little regard for due process or justice and now wishes to control the Internet.
This is just another area in which we have allowed the government to hold captivity our freedoms. Are we going to continue to allow our lose of freedom? We have allowed too many to be taken from us.
  • We have allowed our government to deny us our freedom with their regulations, without so much as a complaint. 
  • We have allowed socialism to destroy the very foundation of our freedom while we look the other way. 
  • We have allowed our children to be indoctrinated and brainwashed with the political correctness, multiculturalism, and entitlements that are destroying our country and we don’t have the time to get involved. 
  • We have allowed anti-American groups to replace the consent of the governed, without ever getting involved. 
  • We have allowed the non-elected bureaucrats to grow and prosper without answering to no one.
  • We have allowed waste, fraud, abuse, corruption, negligence and incompetence to thrive in our government institutions and don’t demand that the perpetrators be summarily fired, fined, or jailed.  We stand back and do nothing while they get promoted and ask for money to do their job “right”. 
  • We have allowed government bailouts  to escalate into millions growing to billions and then trillions and not even a question is asked: Who got the money?  We have allowed entitlements to grow and grow to the point where one day, they will have to be paid and the  government will take our very souls to retire the debt, or some foreign country like China that holds the debt will confiscate our major assets because we can’t pay. 
  • We have allowed our government to cut deals with other countries that violate our very sovereignty and we do nothing. 
  • We have become so soft that we have allowed the government to convince us that our security is more necessary than our liberty.  We have allowed terrorists to dictate the conditions of our freedom. We have government agents who are permitted to conduct themselves as sexual predators in searching women and children hampering our freedom of travel. This was America, the land of the free, before we decided to become too civil, too compassionate, too cowardly, too politically correct and too depraved.  The result of our folly is to have lost our will to confront the enemies of freedom. We are afraid to profile enemies of our country.
Everyone cries out for solutions but that solution will never come until we act as one in the defense of the document that secures our individual rights and freedom, our Constitution, no matter what the price or the consequences.  We will not be free so long as we allow the worst in us to define who we are.  Our Founding Fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to give birth to this great Nation and our freedom.  How on Earth can we dishonor their sacrifice by standing by and letting what they built, be lost to the enemies of this country.
Let us show the rest of the world that we are still free people and are willing to do whatever it takes to defend that freedom.  Let us show the politicians and the bureaucrats that we are more concerned about freedom than security. 
Has America lost her will to be free?  The vision of government as the servant of the people, rather than their master, has been lost. When government violates its own laws, it becomes the enemy of justice and freedom, rather than their protector. It is still possible to stop our descent into tyranny, but time is running out. To preserve our freedom we must passionately defend our moral and legal rights – by speaking out, educating others and demand enforcement of the highest law of the land, the Bill of Rights.

Friday, December 3, 2010

What It Means To Be a Church Member

The prayer of Paul, is: For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;  that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:14-19

A Church Of Opportunity---Sugar Plain Friends Church---Thorntown IN 


If you become a member, it is our hope and prayer that this family of believers will provide you with opportunities to discover the fullness of God's love in your life. Here are four general areas of opportunity within God's family:

An Opportunity to Grow As a Christian

We're here as a church " so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ " ( Ephesians 4:12-13). As you grow in Jesus, consider the following opportunities:
  • A Time of Personal Devotion and Quietness. Perhaps the most important source of personal growth is a time of personal quiet and devotion.
  • The Encouragement of Public Worship. We believe in public worship. Music, the preaching of the Word, and meeting with one another on the Lord's Day, are vital to the growth of every Christian. The early church “continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people "(Acts 2:46-47).
  • The Possibilities of Christian Education. We also learn in the early church that " they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship" (Acts 2:42). There are many ways to get involved in Christian education. We would recommend our Sunday School. There are classes for every age and interest
  • Possibilities of a Positive Lifestyle. We want to “be mutually encouraged by each others faith "   ( Romans 1:12). In a world filled with many negatives we want to offer a positive lifestyle in God's love. We become like the people with whom we associate with. We pray that we will all be people with high standards of conduct and attitudes as we lift one another.

An Opportunity to Serve As a Christian

One of the key verses in the New Testament concerning the church is: " It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be profits, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service " ( Ephesians 4:11-12). It is our firm belief that you are called to serve.
  • Everyone Is A Minister. The pastor ministers from a vocal ministry . Others minister as they teach Sunday School. Some share their ministry in opening their homes to friends and neighbors. Others minister in teaching the love of God to their own children---homeschooling. Some are involved in visiting the sick or those imprisoned, feeding the hungry, or giving to the cause of world missions, some are involved with our Boy and Cub Scout program. The list is as long as our imaginations. The possibilities are as great as human need. To be a minister means to fill a need and to fill it with the love of God.
  • You Are Called To Minister. God could have chosen to advance his kingdom without our help. God could have chosen a select few to give the task of ministry. However, in His great wisdom and love God has given all of this an opportunity to serve. If we are born of God, we are born to minister.
  • You Are Created To Serve. The Bible teaches that " to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good " ( Corinthians 12:7). God has given certain graces, talents and gifts to each of us. In addition to this, we must work hard at training, developing discipline, and learning to commit ourselves to serving others in the name of Christ. We know that he “has made us to be kings and priests to serve" (Revelation 1:6).
  • You Are Commissioned To Witness. Jesus began the sending process when he said, " as the Father has sent me, I am sending you "( John 20:21 ). This Church believes in setting people free to serve. We want you to find fulfillment in your service to Christ and his people. We want to support your ministry in the cause of God's kingdom.

An Opportunity to Give As a Christian

The Bible says, " but just as you excel in everything - in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us - see that you also excel in the grace of giving " ( 2 Corinthians 8:7 ). Our church wants to provide an opportunity to give to the work of God's kingdom, here and around the world.
  • Consistent Giving. We want to provide members with an opportunity to give consistently to God's work. We believe  "on the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income "( 1 Corinthians 16:2 ). We are a giving church.
  • Mission Giving. We place in high priority our commitment to world missions. We believe it provides us with an opportunity to expand our vision, share in the needs of others, and experience giving that is a sacrifice. " They gave not only what they could afford, but far more; and I can testify that they did it because they wanted to " ( 2 Corinthians 8:3, TLB). Each year we have opportunities to give to the cause of local, national and world missions.
  • Special Giving. We also have opportunities to give to special projects. From time to time you may feel a desire to do so. “They faithfully brought in the contributions, tithes and dedicated gifts " ( 2 Chronicles 31:12 ). You may see a need in the church to which you would like to contribute. You may see a ministry that you would like to develop through extra financial support.

An Opportunity to Share Your Faith as a Christian

Many soul winners love the verse of Scripture that says, " the first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ' we have found the Messiah ' " ( John 1:41 ). One of the greatest opportunities we have as Christians is to share our faith with others. May we encourage you  to do so. There are several principles of sharing the faith:
  • We have the opportunity and responsibility to share our faith in Christ with others.
  • The way we share Christ as a church (through the preaching, singing, and activities) is basic to the way we share Christ individually and our homes and neighborhoods.
  • Remember, most people hear of Jesus Christ for the first time outside of the church.
  • We share the love of Christ and our faith in Him by meeting the needs of the whole person, including members of the family.
  • There are some who are especially gifted and able to share their faith in a personal way; yet we are all encouraged to tell others of Jesus.
  • New believers and new members of the Church are often the ones who have more opportunity than anyone else to share their faith.
  • Each person must develop a method of sharing his faith that is fulfilling and meaningful.
It is our desire to be a New Testament Church of which it was said, " I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world" ( Romans 1:8 ). We proclaim our faith in Christ when:
  • We invite family or friends to attend church with us.
  • We share the good things that are happening in our church and our lives with others.
  • We take a plate of cookies to a neighbor or listen to a lonely individual.
  • We help a friend paint his garage on Saturday afternoon or help in remodeling a kitchen.
  • We pray with someone who is going through a time of difficulty or sickness.
  • We share with others how they can turn and trust in Jesus.

 A Church Of Responsibility

As you become a member, there are four areas of responsibility that we present to you. We pray that they will lift and encourage you  in your Christian walk. We pray that you will join us as we lift up Christ and He draws others to Himself.
  • A Commitment to Personal Growth. We ask our members to commit themselves to personal growth as they attend the worship services, take part in educational opportunities, and develop a positive lifestyle in Jesus Christ.
  • A Commitment to Ministry. We ask each of our members to find a place of ministry and service in the church. This may be a formal ministries such as music, teaching, and visiting, or an informal ministry of inviting neighbors, showing concern, writing notes of appreciation, and encouraging others. Open your life for God's use wherever you are.
  • A Commitment to Consistent Giving. We ask our members to give consistently to the work of the church. We are completely dependent upon gifts of members and friends. When we hear someone say, " we are the Church, " this includes each of us.
  • A Commitment to Share Your Faith. We ask our members to share the faith, hope, and love of Christ with others. There are many ways to do this. The best way is through your own enthusiasm and joy. Let me encourage each of you to invite a friend.
These responsibilities are great. And they are something we do together. They are something we do through mutual encouragement. They are something we do through the love and power of Jesus Christ who said " For my yoke is easy and my burden is light " ( Matthew 11:30 ). In Jesus, the burden becomes a blessing and a journey is a joy. 

If you are in the area please stop in and visit us.  

Controlling Christians

Over my several years of ministry I have witnessed a sad and unfortunate fact, that in many churches today pastors, teachers and other leaders exert or attempt to exert a heavy-handed, authoritarian type of control over those within the church. While many of these leaders may mean well, frequently authoritarianism is rooted in a hunger for power and control. These leaders rationalize and defend such behavior under the guise of love and keeping the “standard” of the church. The Bible indeed gives a certain level of spiritual authority to church leadership, but all too often such authority is abused and misused, going well beyond what the scriptures allow.

As a result, many sincere and well-intentioned believers are led astray into extra and non-Biblical teachings. The ultimate outcome is a distorted view of Christ and the gospel, which causes many to ultimately walk away from God altogether. For those that manage to function within an authoritarian church, commonly feelings of guilt, condemnation, and worthlessness hang like a dark cloud over their Christian walk.  More often than not those abused will question their salvation and fellowship with Jesus Christ and living a life without joy and assurance.

So as not to identify individuals or call out certain churches here is a parable that I have found explains the problems of control within the church.

The parable of the eagle and the turkey
Two young birds were talking one day. The eagle asked the turkey why she stayed so close to all the other turkeys and never ventured out on her own.
The young turkey gobbled back, "I am very happy doing what everyone else does. And besides, there are rules and regulations which state that turkeys should never go beyond the fence rows.  We are to be separate from all other birds"
The eagle chortled and proudly affirmed, "That kind of existence would really bore me!" He prized his ability to fly high above the fence rows in free flight. To him that freedom was the ultimate trip. He enjoyed his freedom.
The eagle related how his parents had valued their own freedom and had shown him how to respect the power of his spirit and the shape of his wings. "
 The turkey looked at the precocious eagle in bewilderment. She had listened to his proposal for more than ten minutes and was becoming impatient with his flamboyant behavior. "We are safe and secure here," she thought to herself. "Why spoil my routine?"

"There is tasty grain to eat and clean water to sip. Everything is okay, isn't it?" she questioned herself as she displayed her plumage and did the turkey trot.
In response to her cute gesture, the gallant eagle strutted about and fluttered his fine feathers. He wanted to take off with his new friend to discover the joyful delights beyond the horizon together.
But his thoughts were interrupted when she invited him to meet the flock instead. After the eagle was introduced to the flock, the turkey leader began to explain the importance of protocol and that all things must be done in order.

"My fine feathered friend, it is not proper for you to get the idea that you can fly into the Turkey Pen whenever you please!" she dogmatically gobbled. "We cannot allow this departure from acceptable behavior. It is just too upsetting for the pullets  who need strict discipline as they learn the official rules," the pompous old hen warned the eagle.

All the old geezers in the flock simultaneously shook their wattles and took turns scratching her back as the old hen continued to explain her birdbrained view of life.

"We want to maintain the status quo in order to avoid aggravation and keep order," she solemnly declared. "We cannot tolerate ruffled feathers around here. Order is essential for a peaceful and harmonious flock. Birds of a feather must always flock together!" she haughtily pleaded.  It is important that young birds learn the rules.

The dictatorial attitude of the flock leader irritated the enlightened eagle who began to feel uncomfortable as he listened to the bureaucratic nonsense.
Then, as the eagle backed away from the center of the flock, he accidentally bumped into an aging turkey whose yellowish-gray color differentiated him from the rest of the birds. He listened as Uncle Tom Turkey began mumbling. Uncle Tom's language was difficult to interpret but his wimpy voice and haggard expression created a vivid picture of the cowardly dysfunctional life in the Turkey Pen.
Tom had lived his youth on a different kind of farm where turkeys had been permitted to walk or fly from acre to acre doing whatever they wanted. After he was sold to his new owner and transported to this commercialized turkey farm, Tom had hoped to share his good feelings about himself and his past with his new pen pals.
But soon after he had arrived at the factory farm, before he could fully explain his own philosophy of life to his new comrades, he was promoted to a middle management position. He was appointed cold turkey to supervise the fledglings and was not permitted to fraternize with them, he disclosed to the eagle.
Uncle Tom had thought that his swift upward mobility was due to his good personality and high moral standards. At the beginning he was very proud of his position of influence. He had thought of his promotion as a feather in his cap. But, unfortunately, his high rank brought with it extra turmoil.
In his new position as a leader, Tom had been forced agree with the Elders and scratch their backs. And he had to cover his own tail feathers in order to protect himself and please the Elders. As an official Overseer he had to maintain a constant vigil over his young subordinates to ensure that they did what they were supposed to do. Tom had been compelled to defend many rules and regulations which he did not like. He had to enforce the official pecking order no matter what. He could not let the young turkeys take risks or learn from their mistakes for fear he would be condemned by the Elders..

Tom explained to the eagle that he was never comfortable playing the condescending role of an Overseer, as both a superior boss to the young and an inferior subordinate to the Elders. But he felt it was his duty to suppress optimism and inhibit creativity. Sometimes he had to intimidate the adolescent upstarts and even scold them in order to get them to cooperate. In the beginning Tom rationalized his own dictatorial and often patronizing behavior toward the young turkeys by his assumption that it was easier to control them that way.
However, instead of feeling happy about his career as an Overseer, he now felt guilty for having pulled rank to quash the creativity of his cohorts so many times. After many years of painful regret, Tom's sensibilities had been dulled due to the official hypocritical training program. He now realized he had been co-opted by his Elders and had sold out his positive values, including his youthful optimistic beliefs. Tom's sad legacy was that he had feathered his own nest at the expense of the young whom he had repeatedly stifled.
The eagle was surprised to see how well the mean spirited militant leadership psychology of the old turkeys was working and just how much featherbedding they sanctioned. The effectiveness of the official policies and propaganda of the old turkeys stunned the eagle. The eagle could see that Tom had unwittingly absorbed the cynical values and the brutal manipulation tactics of his so called Elders and had been duped into being a doofus.
As the eagle pondered Uncle Tom's revelations about the ruthless bureaucratic policies of the old turkey leaders, he could see that Tom had been henpecked beyond rehabilitation. The official bureaucratic policies of self suppression and victimization had kept Uncle Tom and the young turkeys co-dependent. Tragically, the eagle could see that the dependency of Tom and the young turkeys made them depressed and even delusional with no ambition to excel.
.All the turkeys appeared to be permanently stuck in the Turkey Pen, oblivious of their captivity, with no exit except oblivion.
Just then the beguiling oratory of the old flock leader caught the eagle's attention once again. The pretentious old hen was gesticulating erratically as she pontificated further: "Our flock can be compared to a giant tree that is rooted in the past," she gobbled loudly. "In spite of all the dead wood in its main branches, it continues to flourish --- except just before Thanksgiving Day each year --- when most of our best young turkeys disappear," she gasped."
The old hen's shrill voice wavered and her body quivered but she regained her composure and strutted contemptuously around the young eagle once more. "Nevertheless," she strongly insisted, "we must resist all changes in order to stay in control!"

The disgraceful insults and elitist snobbery of the obstinate old hen disgusted the eagle. Suddenly, he discovered the fatal flaw in the leadership theory of the old turkeys. Even though the farmer had disabled the turkeys by clipping their wings when they were younger, thereby crippling them so they could not fly anywhere anymore, it was the authoritarian hierarchical management structure of the old power freaks in the Turkey Pen that continued to compel the young turkeys to comply.
The young turkeys, therefore, were vulnerable to the entrenched bureaucratic policies of the arrogant old turkey leaders. This ancient administrative political scheme was like a vice crushing the cortex's and amygdales of their little bird brains, forcing them into total submission and compliant obedience to a higher power.
The eagle felt sorry for the young turkeys and Uncle Tom when he realized just how inert their little bird brains had become. Now the eagle knew why the turkeys were spending so much time scratching around in little vicious circles. They were humiliated and afraid of reprisals from their superiors in the pecking order. Since the flock had been shamed into obedience, all the young turkeys were powerless to protest. They had become enablers, acting more chicken than turkey.
The eagle's vantage point as an outsider gave him the perspective necessary to realize that the systematic scolding and brainwashing by their supervisors had taught the young turkeys to fear growing up. They were afraid to make waves and to rock the bureaucratic boat, which was afloat in a sea of frustration and awash in an ocean of self-imposed limitations. They were always covering their own tail feathers because they were always afraid of retribution, fearful that they would become the target of more humiliation and abuse. They were stuck in a perpetual cycle of self-deprivation.

The irrational official policies of their Elders had kept the young turkeys ignorant of their heritage. Because the young turkeys were not free to think for themselves, they could not see how well their passivity fit into the busy farmer's "Grade A" marketing plan. They could not comprehend how easily the old turkeys controlled them with lies about their self-worth. They were demoralized and helpless to change their hapless fate. Since they had not learned coping skills from their leaders, they had very low self-esteem and no authentic self-respect.
The fair minded eagle saw with his eagle eye the atrocious inequity in the Turkey Pen. He could no longer tolerate the flagrant abuse of the younger turkeys by the older turkeys. Since he rejected the unethical and irrational hypocritical bureaucratic rules and regulations prevalent in the Turkey Pen, the eagle screeched back at the pathetic downtrodden flock who he believed had all been turned into feckless fowl: “That sounds like Gobbledygook!” shouted the outraged eagle.  “What foul fowls!” 
With a mighty flap of his powerful wings, the sagacious eagle leaped into the air and headed for the stars. Soon he was flying high enough to have a bird's eye view of the Turkey Pen. From his perspective high in the sky, the wise eagle could see clearly that the Turkey Pen was only a small speck of the real world.
When the courageous eagle swooped and glided, he was thrilled that his own knowledge and values gave him a bigger and better picture of life than the one the young turkeys had been brain washed to accept in the Turkey Pen. As the happy eagle soared in the warm thermal currents high above the Turkey Pen, his spirit also soared; there was joy in his heart.
As he realized the truth about the dysfunctional Turkey Pen, he felt empowered to do an acrobatic flip as he circled the Turkey Pen one last time and made a graceful flyover before heading for friendlier skies: “The rules and regulations that are not from a freedom of the spirit are unethical and evil,” thought the skeptical eagle.  “All false rules must be challenged and transformed the eagle affirmed to himself.

The vigilant eagle was profoundly skeptical of all superficial bureaucratic rules and regulations not in tune with the freedom he had found in being an eagle. The eagle's bold commitment to the quest for truth gave him the desire to find the will of his creator for his own destiny. He was proud of his topflight family values. These ethical assumptions about his purpose in life and his ability to resist and overcome the kind of corrupt bureaucratic policies and resulting gobbledygook that squelched free inquiry and creative results in the Turkey Pen.
As he picked up speed in his straight forward flight, the courageous eagle remembered the key to successful flying.
The robust eagle's parents had taught him that he must never let problems destroy his willingness to soar above the conflicts of life, no matter how depressing or traumatic they were. He had been taught that his purpose in life depended upon how well he managed his habits and how much he respected his Creator. He knew it was his own courageous choices that gave him the optimism to survive and the enthusiasm to adapt to the continuously changing natural environment.
Gratified by his own awareness of the awesome abilities given to him, he reminded himself that it was the ethical perspective that permitted him to live in the present and honor life itself. He knew deep inside his heart and soul that it was his own mindful approach to everything around him that made it possible for him to fly freely into the future!