ALONE IN THE SANCTUARY
by Bill Fields Contact: answers@peacemakers.net


Freely given, but NOT free We've chosen to distribute Alone In The Sanctuary free, praying, if you find it helpful you will contribute to PeaceMakers. The responsibility isyours to help care for others. "Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor." Galatians 6:6 Copyright (C) 1990 ver 9/99 by William R. Fields. Printed in the United States of America

CONTENTS
Preface
Introduction

It's Still True Today

Part 1: The State of Affairs in the Church

1. The Abused Worker

I'm Hurting (letter from Hurting).
I Know You're Hurting (response from Peacemaker).

2. The Wounded Parishioner

I've Been Wounded (letter from Wounded).
Dear Wounded (response from Peacemaker).

3. Am I Crazy?

What's Happening Out There? (letter from Hurting).
Look At The Mess The Church Is In (response from Peacemaker).
Why Can't Christians See When Leaders Fall?(article by Peacemaker).

4. The Misguided Leader

Dear Leader: Remember Your Calling (open letter from Peacemaker).
Modern-day Paraphrase of Matthew 23.

Part 2: Taking Personal Inventory

5. Getting on the Road to Righteousness

What Can I Do to Recover? (letter from Hurting).
Check Your Heart (response from Peacemaker).

6. Reconnecting to a Group of Believers

How Do I Re-enter? (letter from Wounded).
Maintaining a Spiritual Heart (response from Peacemaker).

Part 3: The Christian Leader

7. Getting Your Act Together!

You Are Accountable (open letter from Peacemaker).

8. No Room for Compromise

Maintain Your Integrity! (open letter from Peacemaker).
Restoring Integrity To The Church (article by Peacemaker).

9. Relationships Are Premier

On Loving Others (open letter from Peacemaker).

Part 4: Christian Brotherhood Lost( A Case Study)

10. Sexually Abused

God Help Me--I'm Going Crazy (letter from Abused).
Rest in God's Faithfulness (response from Peacemaker).

11. Failed Caregivers

You Stole My Children (letter from Distraught).
You Have Failed to Understand (response from Peacemaker).
Let's Tell the Truth in Love (letter from Rev. Nice Guy).
Help Us Bring Reconciliation (letter from Peacemaker to Rev. Nice guy).
Use God's Word, Not Her Lies (letter from Peacemaker to Leader).
We'll Not Cooperate With Evil(letter from Peacemaker to Wayward denomination).

Part 5: The Church's Proper Response

12. The Believer's Responsibility

Where Do I Go from Here? (letter from Hurting).
Live the Faith (response from Peacemaker).

13. Our Lord's Example: Living in Freedom

What Would Jesus Do?
Make Him Your Lord
With God's Help, I'm On His Way.(Letter from one who has 6+ years on God's path)

14. Conclusion: Live Free, God Continues Building Your Faith In Him!


APPENDICES:

Appendix 1: Almost A Christian
Appendix 2: Checking Your Eyes and Heart
Appendix 3: Eight Steps to Forgiveness And Reconciliaiton
Appendix 4: When To Meet?
Appendix 5: When Should I Confront Sin?
Appendix 6: Focusing Your Dispute
Appendix 7: Principles for Resolving Disputes
Appendix 8: Detract, Gossip and Slander
Appendix 9: Recommended Restoration Process
Appendix 10: PeaceMakers.net Statement of Faith and Principles

PREFACE

Elite staff and volunteers, the "best of the best," the "most caring of the caring," all leaders of one of the world's largest and fastest growing Churches, stared at me asking to learn the latest counseling techniques. I knew the Holy Spirit would want this to be a demonstration, not mere words. I asked if anyone would come sit beside me in the chair I just pulled next to me. A nervous laugh proclaimed the tension and the church joker, a team leader, cracked a joke to break the tension. I asked him to join me.

Shocked, the joker's friends and coworkers wept as he began to open his heart to the Spirit's healing touch. Within five minutes he revealed that he was considering suicide, that very evening. No one ever suspected. He had no friends, no one to talk with. Everyone was too busy with his part of the ministry. For the next three hours, one after another came to talk beside me. In some was born Christ's reality, we are to love each other! The staff and volunteer leaders represented a world renown ministry, yet most were lonely and desperate, wanting to belong so bad they sold their souls and lives, in the image of ministry, a shadow of friendship.

If, as you look at today's church, you're wondering whether you're crazy because you're hurting when everyone else looks so happy, this book invites you to find God's Truth! If you agonize over how people are treated by those calling themselves Christian, this book invites you as a friend. If you're dying inside and no one has enough time or wisdom to care, this book invites you into closer intimacy with Jesus Christ, our Brother. If the Holy Spirit has convicted you of wrongfully treating others, this book invites you to die in Christ. This book welcomes all in repentance, confession, reconciliation, restitution, and increasing holiness, persevering to the end. If you're unrepentant, this book is a warning.

Tears fill my eyes when I see parents wonderfully happy and loving their children, as their daughter or son enjoys being home, plays sports, participates in the drama special, or receives special recognition for an important accomplishment. You know what I'm talking about; you've seen it, maybe even felt it. Sitting in church or at a ball game, maybe at a school program in the gym--parents and kids in a love feast. It's something to see. It's wonderful to feel. Then my heart weeps as I return to the real world where these same people, God's creation, inflict such inhumane suffering upon each other, while calling themselves Christian. Christ also weeps.

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate." [Jesus Christ to church leaders, Matthew 23:37-38]


Introduction:

Godliness Versus the Form of Godliness

The pastor was singing joyously, the minister of music was leading vigorously and the Women's Missionary Union president beamed in anticipation of announcing this month's featured mission outreach. This was a church well known for it's mission emphasis. Almost everyone was enjoying worship. It was another wonderful Sunday morning service.

Now here's the REAL truth. The pastor had just politically forced out of the church the Sunday school superintendent. The pastor was also stealing from the treasury and having an affair with one of the ladies in town. The minister of music continued sexually molesting his two daughters and son, and was later promoted to pastor, even though the denomination knew of his criminal sexual abuse. His wife, the Women's Missionary Union president beat the three children daily, in spontaneous fits of rage, pulling them upstairs by their hair, kicking and slapping them. Brutalizing them for hours while stripping them naked to beat them. Ransacking the kids rooms and destroying their prized belongings, all the while assaulting them emotionally.

No one was reaching the lost like this mission. No one!

As one of the top five parachurch missions, special meetings were held to strategize for growth over the next five and ten years. Religious leaders and Christian businessmen volunteered to help. First-rate Hollywood actors and actresses volunteered to help raise funds. Expansion plans were in the making, and the future looked great. Almost everyone knew God was blessing their efforts.

Now here's the REAL truth. On the president's current term developed the worst financial disaster, with multimillion dollar debts and money being misappropriated from the employee health fund to pay hounding bill collectors. The producers of the new television program used donations to pay drug abusers and prostitutes to appear on film. Money raised to fund an international evangelistic outreach was channeled into building and remodeling the home office facilities. Several long-time missionaries, who challenged the home office leader's excesses were underhandedly slandered and driven out with destroyed reputations, while a practicing homosexual, an alcoholic, a rage-o-holic, and several missionaries in adulterous affairs were being honored for their faithfulness. The organization's chairman of the board, recognized the wrongs, but said, "My hands are tied. Besides, look at all the new Christians because of this mission. That's just the way imperfect people in imperfect organization are!"

At denominational headquarters all were aglow as the year-end figures told the exciting news: more churches had been started and added to the denomination than ever before. All their work, planning, and recruiting were paying off. God's Word is true!

Now here's the REAL truth. The mission had rejected the denomination's help in four different cases that called for church discipline. One case involved adultery by a spouse of a nationally known Christian artist, but the local church would not get involved. Another case involved a person, in obvious lies and deceit, swindling hundreds of thousands of dollars from families within one church. Eventually, this person ran to another of the denomination's churches to avoid church discipline in the first. Families were financially destroyed.

Another case involved charges of abuse, theft, and sundry other charges against a missionary leader who was forced to resign after destroying the mission station, but who never repented of his wrongs. When a coworker of the fired mission leader pursued the church's help, he was thrown out as "unforgiving." The last case involved a pastor sexually abusing children within the church. The denominations response? "It's the local church's responsibility."

Religious leaders, denominations, missions and churches are abusing God's People, God's children of all ages.

Abused and abuser are strangling in each other's death dance choreographed by Satan, the father of lies. Each is rebelling in self-justified violence against God's love, mercy, and forgiveness. Each is fighting in denial to escape God's justice without surrendering self-will. Each is praising and encouraging others in the respectability of their religious facades. All are murdering and being murdered, in loneliness. And Christ says, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me."[Jesus Christ to the church, Revelation 3:20, NIV]

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." [Jesus Christ to the synagogue, Luke 4:18-19, NIV]

"Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love, remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from it's place." [Jesus Christ, to the church, Revelation 3:4-5, NIV]

As a peacemaker, and burden bearer to the abuser and to the victims of abuse orchestrated by the Prince of Death and inflicted by those calling themselves Christian. This book is for those who sense in their heart much of today's church isn't Christ's Church, but that of Satan. As a peacemaker, I am to call the sinner to repentance, discerning good from evil, using God's Word. I am to warn the unrepentant of God's eternal justice, and faithfully, without respect of person, exercise God's justice for the stubbornly unrepentant.

I am a sinner saved by grace, who by God's mercy desires to persevere to the end. Only time will tell. This book is born from my own sins and faltering walk with God, through Jesus Christ, with guidance of the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and fellow believers. Only God knows our heart completely. I have a clearing conscience, but that doesn't mean I'm without sin or need not ask others for forgiveness. I have committed sins against many. More importantly, my ignorance and arrogance blinds me to unseen sins against others, even now. I wrestle against my flesh and Satan's schemes that tarnish Christ's witness in me. I weep for the consequences in the lives of those I sin against, and pray they will turn to God for His healing. I hope this book will invite any I've wronged to hear my confession, and my continued healing, and to restore Christian unity.

I'm not alone in my sins. I have all levels of experience with thousands of individuals from all walks of life, Christian organizations, and churches, from the biggest to the smallest, all around the world. These include, televangelists, radio programs, magazines, book publishers, video ministries, relief missions, mission missions, counseling programs, conflict resolution efforts, educational institutions, seminaries, health agencies, businesses in the secular market place; you name it, And I've most likely contributed within these programs in some capacity or consulted with it, or consulted with someone who has.

What you read in this book is present in almost every one of them. Names and facts have been altered and cases compiled to help eliminate focusing on the lesser issues of who. Because of the evil and wickedness in all our hearts, we're all seducible by Satan and included and identifiable. Every case is a summary of the dynamics found in every case. There is nothing new under the sun! God's Word is the definer of our hearts and the light unto Him.

May God bless you with an honest heart and faithfulness to draw closer to Him. May God give you a broken heart, (empathy), to bear one another's burdens. Always remember.... "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:3-6).

"Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering." Hebrews 13:3


INTRODUCTION

About the Format

I have chosen to present Alone in the Sanctuary in letter format, with each chapter, each story, building on the last. The dynamics involved in this kind of work are evident in the various growth and communications that take place between the parties involved, especially during the counseling process. The conversational freedom of the letter allows a writer to exhibit his or her emotions; often difficult to accomplish with straight prose. I hope that the format will encourage the reader to gain special insight into the personality and behavior of the letter writers. In this way, those who are seeking help may more effectively identify with the experiences of those characters in this book. Interwoven around the letters are other devices, namely articles, a Scripture paraphrase and a case study, that are intended to highlight important points and emphasize specific truths. My goal is to glorify Christ within His Body, His Church, inviting you to join in returning to our first love.

How to Use This Book

This book is born out of human experience: suffering, disillusionment, hurt, anger, confession, and repentance. As you read, engage not only your mental faculties but also your heart. God's Holy Spirit makes it possible to embrace God's truth with your mind at the same time you grasp it with your heart. Allow the truths expressed through Scripture, and through the lives God has touched, to minister to your heart.

If you are hurting and seeking answers, be receptive and ask God's Word to speak to you.

The Players

Hurting

Hurting was a successful employee of a leading Christian organization. The name of the organization or its function is not relevant. What this organization does to its employees, however, should be of great concern to the Church. Hurting is a victim of the kinds of employee abuse so prevalent in Christian organizations. He can't believe he's been abused this way; after all he contributed to help build this ministry into what it is today.

Wounded

Wounded comes from a local church setting. She used her gift of teaching for several years in a Sunday school. She found herself in the midst of a scandal enveloped in politics. She fought hard to believe in her pastor and elders as God's anointed. She wanted to submit to their leadership. They abused her.

Leader

Leader is any Christian leader in a position of authority in the church. He may be the president of an organization, a pastor, a member of a church board, your local pastor, a Christian school leader, et. al. Leaders were chosen because of years of hard work, much sacrifice and now some grey-headed wisdom that has buried the zealousness of their youth. They are great speakers and fund raisers and everyone loves them. They're too busy to be involved with the personal problems of the staff. Why can't others be as dedicated and self-sacrificing as they?

Abused

After going to Church her whole life, she began to doubt her faith. She's a leader among the young women of the Church. She's a great teacher of God's Word. From youth, on up, she was dedicated to God's work and considered becoming a missionary. When her doubts began, she was confused and feared going to hell. Her marriage was weakening and she asked for help from her pastor; but he didn't seem to know how to help beyond offering a few more Bible lessons.

Distraught

As the Mother of abused, Distraught can't seem to understand anything but losing her grandchildren, her children and the life she had hoped for her and her loved ones. She's gone to the best counselors, pastors and national leaders for help. Each one lamented her pain. Each was angry about how she was being treated. Not one did anything about it! They mouthed a few Bible phrases about forgiving and forgetting, blessed her as having repented from her sins, and went their way. Today she's hurting, alone and angry.

Rev. Nice Guy

After serving in several churches for many years, Rev. Nice Guy has learned the hard way, you can't change people. You must learn to love them and get on with living life richly with God's grace and mercy. No good ever really comes from spending all this time in Church Discipline and introspection. He's tired, and knows no one else does anything differently. In fact, he's often sought as a leader in building Christian Unity in the local church. His message is, " Love covers a multitude of sins."

Case Study Method: Read very carefully. See if you can spot wrong beliefs and practices in the letters to peacemaker. Are there any demonstrated inconsistencies in the use of scripture and its application? Do you see consistent levels of maturity? This case study gives you an opportunity to encounter many dynamics found in most conflicts.


IT'S STILL TRUE TODAY

"He said to me, son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol? They say, `The Lord does not see us; the Lord has forsaken the land.' Again, he said, `You will see them doing things that are even more detestable.'" Ezekiel 8:12

"Then I heard him call out in a loud voice, "Bring the guards of the city here, each with a weapon in his hand." And I saw six men coming from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with a deadly weapon in his hand. With them was a man clothed in linen who had a writing kit at his side. They came in and stood beside the bronze altar.

Now the glory of the God of Israel went up from above the cherubim, where it had been, and moved to the threshold of the temple. Then the Lord called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side and said to him, "Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it."

As I listened, he said to the others, "Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. Slaughter old men, young men and maidens, women and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary." So they began with the elders who were in front of the temple. Then he said to them, "Defile the temple and fill the courts with the slain. Go!" So they went out and began killing throughout the city.

While they were killing and I was left alone, I fell face down, crying out, "Ah, Sovereign Lord! Are you going to destroy the entire remnant of Israel in this outpouring of your wrath on Jerusalem?" He answered me, "The sin of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great; the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of injustice. They say, `The Lord has forsaken the land; the Lord does not see.' So I will not look on them with pity or spare them, but I will bring down on their own heads what they have done." Ezekiel 9:1-10


PART 1: THE STATE OF AFFAIRS
IN THE CHURCH
Chapter One
THE ABUSED WORKER

"The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: `This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock.

You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.

`Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the Lord:

This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them" (Ezekiel 34:1-10, NIV).

LETTER FROM HURTING--TO PEACEMAKER

"I'm Hurting"

Dear Peacemaker,

I am writing you with hopes that you can help me sort out my life. I have just come through a traumatic experience, and I'm not sure which way to turn or to whom. I'm so upset I can barely sleep or eat. It's killing me and my family. I don't even want to go to Church. Please help!

To start, let me give you some background. I was employed by a Christian organization for several years. I moved up the organizational ladder. In fact, after my latest promotion, I was asked to participate in our monthly fund raising meeting. I was a valued employee; or so I thought.

As I sat in on these meetings for several months, I became confused about how we viewed our constituency; "uneasy" is a better word. It seemed that our stated corporate mission took a back seat to "acquiring resources for our ministry," as our committee preferred to call fund raising. It soon become clear that this pursuit of "resources" was the overriding force within the power structure of our organization. I found myself in a dilemma. Should I voice my concern and possibly create division, or should I remain a "good employee" and go along with our leader? I voted my conscience and chose to voice my concern. After all, wasn't my organization part of the Church, and shouldn't we be accountable to our constituency and ultimately to God? My fears were somewhat allayed as our leader thanked and praised me for my insight and perspective.

As the week went on, I heard nothing more about my concerns. I assumed that they had been well taken. At week's end, however, I was informed that my position was being terminated. Immediately, I demanded to know what brought about such a decision. After all, wasn't I fitting into the organization? I considered myself a team player.

But I never got a straight answer; only vague responses like, "It was a necessary action for the good of the organization," or "Don't worry, God will take care of you." My termination was processed, and I was let go unceremoniously. I never even got a farewell party. What kind of treatment is this? Is this Christian? They gave me two hours to clean out my desk! My wife is really uptight and wonders what I did wrong.

Now I'm out of the organization, when all the while I thought I was on their wavelength. It seems they had a different agenda. None of my friends even talked with me. It was like I had AIDS. Well one did say he was sorry and that it wasn't all my fault, and God would take care of me. Not a single person came to my aid. I'm really hurting.

Can you help me understand what happened? Why did I no longer fit into the organization? How can Christians behave this way and still call themselves Christians? I've been rejected. I'm angry and I'm bitter. Why do these people think so highly of themselves? Why are they so judgmental? Christians ought not behave this way. I have rights, and they were violated! I've been wronged, and I desperately want justice for those who wronged me. What can I do about this? Where do I turn? I want back my position and dignity. Can you help me gain justice? Please respond. I urgently need your help.

Sincerely,

Hurting

RESPONSE FROM PEACEMAKER--TO HURTING

"I Know You're Hurting"

Dear Hurting,

Let me start by assuring you that I understand you are hurting. In fact, I believe that I understand your hurt. But from your thoughts and questions, I can see that you are also confused about what you know to be true and about the way you have been treated. Several truths strike me as I read your letter.

It was our Lord who said, "In the world you shall have tribulation." Certainly, we live in a world that is politically and relationally violent. And we must, at times, expect to be victimized along the way. You're hurting because, if what you said is accurate, you've been abused. Apparently, some in your organization decided that power, control, funds, and image are more important than individuals who make up the organization. Those in control gave priority to what they considered to be the "ministry" or the "greater needs of the organization." And that constitutes abuse. Abuse takes many different forms. Basically, abuse is self love and hate of God and others, (1 John 4:20-5:5). Sadly, abuse is rampant in the Christian community, both within Christian organizations and in our churches.

In this imperfect world, hurting happens. People hurt people. It is unavoidable. It may seem curious that Christians are often great abusers of people. We need to recognize that like everyone, Christians are fallen people. The difference it that believers have the Word of God and the Spirit of God to guide their thoughts and actions. Unfortunately, too often those calling themselves Christians fail to allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse their heart and their lives according to God's Word. They sometimes give way to sin. As a result, the attractions of this life gain a hold on their lives, and in the course of their quest for power and possessions, they abuse others. These abusers would all pledge unfailing love of the brethren, but after love of themselves, their visions, their ways, their security. Be assured that God will deal with them. Do your best to leave that aspect with Him. We'll talk soon about God's process of restoring Christian unity. Instead, you must first give your attention to cleansing your heart and your actions.

You must face the fact that you have "crashed" from the system. In spite of those who have done their worst to you, and in spite of the apparent consequences of the evil that has been visited upon you, you need to get a Biblical grasp on your situation. You must learn how to live within the context of an evil world that masquerades as good. Don't view recent events as the end of your life or the final chapter of your career. Even Jesus Christ learned obedience by the things He suffered (Hebrews 5:8).

It's good for you to learn that most people can see the bad (e.g., adultery, stealing, murder, and so on), but it's rare for someone to see the difference between good and evil. Evil always hides as good, having the outward form of good but pride and passions of the flesh, are at the heart. See this experience as an opportunity for God's grace to work in your life. We learn much from experiences such as the one you are going through as we apply God's truth (Hebrews 5:11-14).

During this time when you are hurting, you are vulnerable and run the risk of sinning against your abusers. It is very common for those in your circumstances to harbor anger and bitterness toward those who have sinned against you, you've got a case of being human. You must not allow your anger to control you. It is essential for you to deal with your anger and those who have sinned against you, God's way. (see... Appendix 2: Checking Your Eyes and Heart, and Appendix 5: When Should I Confront Sin? .

The Bible tells us in Matthew 5:21-26, that if you or another person gets hurt, deal with any anger right away. Don't even let the sun go down before you do (Ephesians 4). When you get hurt, be quick to address it, It's not necessarily wrong to be angry, but it is wrong to sin because of anger. Ask God to show you your sin and be quick to repent of any wrongs you've done. See your sin as God sees it and let the Holy Spirit break your heart in that Godly sorrow found in 2 Corinthians 7:10-11. Otherwise you become so hurt that you, in turn, hurt others. You see, the world tries to avoid pain to self, while Christianity uses pain as an opportunity for Christ to bring cleansing and healing, and that brings strength. So, when we hurt each other because of our insensitivity's, different understandings, and different maturates, Christ gave us a set of directives to deal with broken unity so that we all become stronger individually; and so does Christ's body. (see Appendix 7: Principles for Resolving Disputes).

First, Christ so strongly believed in having right relationships among the brethren that he placed restoring a broken relationship before worshiping God, (Matthew 5:23).

Secondly, you are to go to the brother who seemingly is in sin and attempt to resolve all issues. Remember you might not have correctly understood what took place, (Matthew 18:15, Luke 17:3).

Also remember that we're all sinners saved by God's grace. Keep that in mind, and you will recognize that just about any accusation that can be made is accurate. So when I'm accused of being too powerful or too rough, it's in my heart, why should I be surprised? What too often happens is that we lose our humility and assume that we know what we're doing. And then, instead of remaining humble and meek and considering that an accusation may be accurate, regardless of what percentage is your fault, you find ways to defend your rights (Matthew 18:21-35).

If you've wronged someone, the "Eight Steps to Complete Forgiveness When You've Offended Another," may prove helpful, see Appendix 3 :

1. State specifically what you did or said wrong to cause offense.
2. Identify the biblical principle(s) you violated.
3. Ask "How were you impacted when I did or said...?"
4. Share a time when you were wronged in a similar way.
5. Restate your sin and wait for the offended one to respond.
6. Say, in your own words, what the offended person answered.
7. Ask, "What can I do differently, so I won't hurt you again?"
8. Restitution, "What can I do to make you whole?"

Also note in Matthew 18:15 that it makes no difference who wronged whom. We are to go and make wrongs right; then we can offer our gifts at God's altar.

Secondly, if the sinning Christian will not resolve matters, take one or two witnesses with you to help bring about reconciliation and establish the facts of your exchanges and the details of your dispute, (Matthew 18:16).

Thirdly, if the sinning Christian still refuses to correct the sin in his life, you and the witnesses are to go to the Church [pastor, elders, authorities, congregation] and seek their help to bring restoration and restore Christian unity. Note, since para-church organizations do not consider themselves a church, you should seek your / his church's help.

If the erring Christian still refuses to repent and stubbornly refuses to listen to the Church (assuming the Church is practicing God's full Word), the unrepentant sinner is to be treated as though he is not Christian, (Matthew 18:17).

See Dr. Jay E. Adams' book Handbook of Church Discipline (Zondervan) for an excellent treatment of biblical discipline and conflict resolution within the Body of Christ.

Keep in mind that your experience is an opportunity for God to work in your life. Allow Him that opportunity. But make no mistake about this: you will find that His priority is not to change your circumstances, but rather to change you. He knows how your experience has left you and what exactly is going on in your heart. If you are harboring anger, resentment, or sin, He is determined that you repent of those sins that prevent or hinder His work in and through you.

You have much to learn from your experience. Do not waste it. Open yourself to God and let Him teach you and conform you to the image of His Son. Reflect on what I have written. We will correspond again soon. Your friend, Peacemaker


Chapter Two THE WOUNDED PARISHIONER

"It could be shown that much of the weakened state of the churches at the present time is the direct result of a failure in church discipline. Divorces occur, church splits take place. false teaching is introduced and the like, because the means Christ outlined for forestalling such things, the process and application of church discipline, is no longer intact.

One of the greatest tragedies resulting from the failure of church discipline is the wreckages of homes strewn across the land. Had discipline been in place and properly functioning, few of the marriage failures and the child/parent problems now facing the church would have occurred. They would have been nipped in the bud by lively, loving disciplinary action, dealt with summarily, and in most cases, coupled with good biblical counseling (which, remember, is an essential element in effective church discipline) would have been put to rest. Failure of church discipline as a viable function has led to chaos in the church. And this chaos, in turn, has led to every other form of difficulty and trouble.

From what I have said, you can see how important church discipline is, can't you? Indeed, the work of the church cannot be (indeed, is not being) conducted properly apart from church discipline." Dr. Jay E. Adams, Handbook of Church Discipline (Zondervan).

LETTER FROM WOUNDED--TO PEACEMAKER

"I've Been Wounded"

Dear Peacemaker,

I have just been through an ordeal in my local church. I'm very confused and I need help. Although I'm writing you, I'm not really sure what you or anyone else can do to help. But please read this letter and try to make some sense out of this situation.

Recently, news surfaced that a prominent person in our congregation (a "pillar of the church," if you will) has had an extramarital affair. By "prominent," I mean this person is involved in many of the church's functions and is known within the community. He is well-to-do and is generous toward the church. And he has been a big promoter of the church within our denomination and to the local community. The news of his behavior shocked our church.

Even more shocking news was my discovery that our board was aware of this person's activities long before it became public knowledge. Rather than take disciplinary action, they chose to "hush up" the matter lest the publicity negatively affect the church's image in the community or our denomination.

Now, I know we need to be forgiving of those who fall into sin, but, in such a case as this, isn't some kind of disciplinary action in order? As members of the Body of Christ, ought we not insist on high standards of morality, especially regarding those in leadership?

I decided to take a stand. That's when my ordeal began. I phoned my pastor to voice my concern about the church's handling of this gross sin. The Bible is very clear about maintaining one's moral lifestyle. My pastor assured me that our church's board would review the situation and its circumstances before deciding on what, if any, action was appropriate. Although he addressed my questions, he didn't seem to share my level of concern.

That was several months ago. Now it seems that the crisis has been all but forgotten, and any obvious negative effects have been smoothed over by church leaders. Since his affair, our prominent member continues to sing in the choir and perform other ministries within our church. He shows no signs of repentance, and acts as if nothing has happened. No church disciplinary action was even taken. Doesn't the Bible provide specific guidelines for church discipline? Concerned and burdened more than ever, I spent days studying the Bible and commentaries. I again approached my pastor. To my surprise, I was told to forgive my brothers and sisters; not condemn them. He told me that I needed to put this incident behind me as the church has done. He also quoted Scripture and warned me about gossiping and spreading falsehoods. Can you believe that! Is that true ministry? It became painfully clear to me that the leaders within my church have compromised their integrity. Image, status, and financial resources have taken precedence over truth and righteousness. I was devastated. I became depressed. I couldn't sit under his preaching. I'm alone.

Two weeks after I approached my pastor the second time, the chairman of our church board asked me to resign from my position as a Sunday school teacher. His reason: I seem to have difficulty working in harmony with others in the church. Nothing could be further from the truth! But he relieved me of my ministry on that basis. It was humiliating. Inwardly, I was crushed. I had done no wrong. I only did what I thought was the Biblical way of dealing with sin in the church. It's clear that those in leadership here have no resolve to enforce disciplinary action. Nor do they want anyone to "rock the boat" within the church. My pastor and others in the congregation now avoid me. I'm a stranger in my own church.

I'm wounded in spirit. I've been misunderstood and harmfully treated. Can you help me?

Sincerely,

Wounded

RESPONSE FROM PEACEMAKER--TO WOUNDED

"Dear Wounded"

Dear Wounded,

It was troubling to learn of the incident in your church. Unfortunately, yours is not an isolated occurrence. Corruption of the sort you described is running rampant in many churches and Christian circles today.

And your pastor's response is also not uncommon. It has been my experience that far too many pastors and church leaders are simply unprepared, unwilling, or unqualified to deal with these kinds of moral issues. The Church's tolerance level with immorality is frightening, as is the incompetence of some of its leaders who attempt to deal with the problems in their churches. Many seminaries and Bible schools teach Christ as information, and ministry as a job, but fail to exercise Christ likeness themselves and or make it prerequisite for graduating students.

What often happens is that a church member becomes engaged in sin and needs the help and care of a shepherd; a pastor or minister who will apply the truth of God's Word to him. Too many of our Christian leaders can't do that. The person in need then "crashes" because the pastor throws Bible verses at him without teaching the deeper meanings and refuses to bear his burden. More accurately, he abuses him. The Pastor may even falsely accuse the hurting member of something, in ignorance, (i.e., impatience in the face of physical violence), and when the hurting member tries to follow the Pastor's advice he finds that the pastor, entangled and exhausted in his own political system, turns on him. The member then discovers sin won't be addressed properly.

Another common example is when a member comes with a marital or a family problem who claims to be a Christian but doesn't even have a personal faith. You ask if this person's a Christian and you find he can quote you all kinds of Bible verses, chapter and verse, but he doesn't have a personal relationship with Christ, reading Jonathan Edwards' book Religious Affections located on the internet at: http://www.mcs.net/~fields/peacemakers.html/religious_affections.txt. will help greatly here. There are many variables and possibilities, and it takes an experienced, competent leader to discern what the problem is and how to address it. How many leaders can competently handle those kinds of situations?

This failing pastor needs help in addressing his own sins with God's Word. Next there are pastors who "confess" their sin, and their people sit in their pews and say, "We have a wonderful pastor. He's open, he's vulnerable, and he's willing to confess sin." I say, "Oh, really? Let's talk about that. Is he willing to make it right with those he has wronged? Or, is he simply whitewashing his wicked heart to keep his power and position?" Unfortunately, the latter is very common. Evil knows the best place to hide is behind the truth. Truthfully admitting wrong is not confession and repentance!

A leader must know how to shepherd God's people. Today's pastor is taught in seminary to pass "problem" people along to a psychologist within or outside the church. He's taught to get rid of these kinds of problems. I've heard church-growth leaders make this statement to new pastors or pastors starting new churches, "Don't get bogged down in personal counseling." What are pastors for? Counseling and ministering to people's need is exhausting work. It's hard work. By and large, our pastors aren't trained for this. The result is that we have many people in the pastorate who don't belong there. We don't have shepherds; we have hirelings. And the problem perpetuates and keeps expanding.

Hirelings, (John 10:10-15) are evil shepherds who practice a shepherd's look and duties, but run when danger and/or the cost is too great. A hireling is the guy who will not preach God's truth to the point his congregation will want to stone him. He will preach right up to "We want your resignation!" point, only once or twice a year, hopefully during Christmas and Easter so he can call it evangelism when the church is filled with people and everybody can say, "this sermon is for them, not me." A hireling is the guy who is hired to watch over the flock. That is, in the hireling's mind until the bear or lion shows up, then he's outta there! Good-bye! "This isn't my flock." A hireling is not a Christian, but one who gives the appearance of godliness, but denies Christ's power.

I was encouraged to learn that you raised the issue of accountability and brought it to the forefront. I'll bet you weren't aware that, in most churches, raising such questions is tantamount to a death wish? You see, making oneself accountable to others is considered by some leaders to be a great inconvenience. Most yield to the temptation to sweep such issues under the rug. You see, to bring the incident you described to the general attention of the church and beyond would do more than inconvenience the pastor and the offender. It might also serve to threaten the church's financial base, especially if the offender was contributing heavily to the church's funds. It might also expose the pastor's inability to properly handle this issue of immorality. As long as accountability is absent, the stage is set for sin's free reign in the lives of those in authority. Politics, greed, pursuit of power--the sins of the flesh---are given opportunity to conceive, develop, and grow. The result is often a human system that professes to be Christian and biblical in its standards, but in reality, operates according to the flesh.

There are no perfect Pastors, elders, leaders or Churches, but Christ calls all of us to address our imperfections according to His ways!

A Christian leader who is living according to the truth of Scripture knows all too well the pitfalls of leadership. Such a leader is aware of the power of temptation and knows the wisdom of voluntarily submitting to a body of authority, of being accountable to God and to others.

No person is above the potential for sinning. The decision to resist temptation and stay above reproach is a determination to be made well in advance of the temptation. A leader making him self accountable, enlists the help of brothers and sisters for the purpose of helping him remain true to his calling and true to Scripture.

A leader true to Scripture would know that the Bible is clear on church discipline. He would know what Scripture says on this very important matter.

At a minimum, your pastor could have explained the biblical steps of Matthew 18:15-20, in confronting an erring believer and that the reason no public steps have been taken is because it wasn't time to "tell it to the church."

However, another biblical process is necessary in your church's case, namely the sin is openly known and the spiritual leaders of your church need to immediately rebuke the sinning person in sight of the whole body, as Paul did with Peter in Galatians 2. If he refuses to repent, "hand this man over to Satan, so that his flesh may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 5:1-5)

I've enclosed a copy of our "Principles Used In Resolving Disputes." (see Appendix 7). This will give you detailed principles, definitions, and steps about how to proceed in church discipline with this man and with the pastor and elders. But, be warned: if they refuse to hear God's Word on these matters, (meaning they don't repent) you should flee to a body of believers who practice all that Christ commanded. In Revelation 3, God says that if the churches do not repent, we will leave them and they are no longer a church. Those are strong words. May your church never experience God's turning away.

Finally, Wounded, don't let such goings on or the people who participate in those activities shake your faith in God. Such people do not behave like Christians, and therefore, do not live according to the truth of God's Word. They are not living the life of faith! Instead, they are only using God to satisfy the desires of the flesh. Such people are not your measuring stick. God is not like them, nor does He condone their behavior.

Look instead to the Lord Jesus. He is your Good Shepherd. You may confidently trust Him to see you through this trying time. It is at the core of these kinds of experiences that we find the faithfulness of God and learn the lessons He would have us learn. Praying for you, Peacemaker



Chapter ThreeAM I CRAZY?

"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me" (John 17:20-23, NIV).

"Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. No Christian community is more or less than this. Whether it be a brief, single encounter or the daily fellowship of years, Christian community is only this. We belong to one another only through and in Jesus Christ.

What does that mean? It means, first, that a Christian needs others because of Jesus Christ. It means, second, that a Christian comes to others only through Jesus Christ. It means, third, that in Jesus Christ we have been chosen from eternity, accepted in time, and united for eternity." Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, (Harper Collins).

LETTER FROM HURTING--TO PEACEMAKER

"What's Happening Out There?"

Dear Peacemaker,

Thank you for addressing my urgent cry for help. After reading your letter, I'm beginning to realize that mine is not an isolated experience. It's frightening to think that such experiences are commonplace in many Christian organizations and churches.

I tried what you suggested, you know, going and confessing my sins and addressing what I see to be sins that they are committing. Boy did I get killed! After you told me the right Bible verses, I had confidence God would work everything out right. It looks even more hopeless now.

Sure I confessed, I listed all my sins of anger, outbursts, impatience, etc., etc., and they just looked at me with sad eyes and agreed I was like that and they would pray for me. It didn't feel right, but how am I to know? Then there was silence. I mean nothing. I waited for them to confess how they've been wrong and they just stared at me. When they asked if there was anything else, I lost it again. I really messed up. They shook their heads and asked me to leave. The President was there as well as a couple of board members. That's it. That was step two of Matthew 18.

I'll tell you something else that burns me up! Every time I want to talk with these people, I have to wait until the next board meeting. That's at least a month away, and often two or more months before everyone can work out their schedules. This makes me mad. What am I to do to feed my family in the meantime?

The pursuit of power and financial resources seems to have gotten a grip on so many of our leaders. The taste of "success" often causes even well-meaning people to stray off course. But what is success? I would think that our Christian leaders would guard vigorously against any kind of compromise with the world. But it seems as though the Christian community willingly has adopted the goals and ways of the world. How can the Church emulate the world's agenda and be an effective witness for the cause of Christ? The Church ought to be different. What would our Lord say about all of this?

I've gained a few pounds back and I'm starting to sleep better. I think I'm getting over my trauma about the way I was treated by those in the organization, but I still see their sins. To me, they are so flagrant. Shouldn't others know about what goes on behind the doors of these religious industries. They don't seem to operate like churches, or according to how the Bible says churches should. They need to be held accountable for their actions. Don't they need to repent? How can God continue to bless them if they don't? Doesn't the Church care? It seems as if God condones their actions. Or, at least, He allows them.

Well, I've tried to be Christ like about this whole thing. I believe I've dealt with my anger according to the Bible. And, for the most part, I've put it behind me. It really hurt when those I counted as my best friends and coworkers practically shunned me, with only one saying, "God is faithful." I'm through with the whole lot. I've done enough, haven't I? I'm ready to start over somewhere else. So, what is my next step?

Sincerely,

Hurting

RESPONSE FROM PEACEMAKER TO HURTING

"Look at the Mess the Church Is In"

Dear Hurting,

I'm pleased to learn that you are trying to deal with your anger in accordance with biblical directives. You have taken the first step asking God to work within you. Take care not to lose heart. This process may seem a bit painful to you now, but later you will come to value its work in your life. It is through such experiences, Romans 8:29 tells us, that we become conformed to the image of His Son, if we love Him. Recognize that this is quite painful, and the cultural church doesn't want to know about it -- the cultural church works hard at ignoring these truths; it would rather believe in their man made fantasies of what they think the church should be. The Bible is full of examples of people destroying themselves rather than face the truth.

Be cautious: any unchecked anger is like a brush fire. It can smolder for a while before bursting into an inferno that quickly consumes its path of destruction that may require years, if not a lifetime to restore. How many of us have suffered the difficult lessons of unidentified and uncontrolled anger.

I know how difficult it is to see those you counted as friends mistreat you the way they are doing. And, it's downright discouraging when those who are to protect you and who are to practice Biblical truth, are more interested in covering up the leader's sin and the organizations wrong treatment of others. They've bought into a sin from the pit that God will clean up their mistakes because they are in the ministry. That's very foolish, and very painful to encounter. In a moment I'll share some next steps, but first...

Now you are ready to face the task of "Checking Your Eyes and Heart." (see Appendix 2). This exercise is essential if you are to maintain fellowship with God and with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Doing so will cause you to come to grips with the sin in your own heart with a view to confessing your sins and repenting of them. We will deal with that later. First, I want to address the concerns of your letter while they are fresh.

It is quite true that the Church is in a sad state of affairs. We come to that conclusion for many reasons. For one, the Church has forgotten servant hood. God's servant knows the gifts as well as opportunities to exercise these gifts are given in an act of love by God. Therefore, servant hood utilizes its gifts to empower other's gifts to accomplish God's ways and will, at the sacrifice of it's flesh. stewardhip is servant hood in action based on God's time, God's ways, with God's resources for God's glory. In the Church we discover many people who enjoy power, control, prestige, image--all things of the flesh. When are pastors going to learn to be servants? When is the Church going to learn servant hood rather than control and power? Servant hood is so foundational to ministry. It is a principle of Christian living that Satan seeks to corrupt and destroy. The original sin with Adam and Eve was the attempt to become like God, and many in the Church have set about continuing to be their own gods. When this happens, everyone becomes a law unto himself. He comes up with his own theology, his own ways, and his own definitions. Servant hood becomes lost in the shuffle over power and control.

Another problem is the Church's propensity to emulate the ways of the world. So much so that it is often difficult to distinguish the Church from the world. In fact, many within the Church who call themselves believers are not believers at all! They want what Christ can do for their vision, goals, loved one, etc., but they don't want Christ or His cross. And, if you attempt to point this out, they will persecute you until you're destroyed. If they can murder you they can live and continue in their fantasies.

In His parable of the wheat and tares, our Lord illustrated that unbelievers would infiltrate the Church and even take prominent positions. That leaders of our churches and religious organizations might be impostors comes as a shock to naive and uninformed Christians. But it is a fact that as a Church we need to understand.

Christ taught in Matthew 13:25-30 that Satan plants tares (which look identical to young wheat) among the wheat. The meaning is, there will be unbelievers among those who are true believers. Christ warns Christians not to go on "tare hunts," but to wait until the harvest when it will be clear who are tares and who are wheat. Otherwise you will damage wheat.

You see, Hurting, in the midst of the true Church has cropped up a "cultural" church. Basically, it has much of the look of the Church and might even promote the right things, but at its core it has adopted the ways of the world and the things of the flesh. It is controlled and manipulated by the prince of this age, Satan. It is a counterfeit system pretending to be God's Church. Such a system is energized by the resources of the flesh, not by the power and resources of God. Again, it has a form of godliness, but denies the power of Christ. Keep in mind that you were caught up in the workings of this cultural church. Your intellect and emotions have been under its influence for several years. You need to examine your own heart to learn how much and to what extent you allowed it to control your behavior and shape your view of God.

Often, the story of the "Wheat and the Tares" is misapplied to mean that we are not at any time to remove tares from the Church. This is poor exegesis. The warning includes the dynamic of the time when tares can be safely identified, which for most is at the harvest. This warning does not preclude any tare which identifies itself clearly as a tare from being disciplined and removed from the church. This misapplication is used to protect corruption within the cultural church.

What we find within the cultural church is corrupted leadership. Let me give you an example. I counseled a couple who claimed they had been abused by a major Christian organization. I asked the couple's pastor to hold a forum, a biblical church discipline process, for his own members and with the leader of the organization. But the pastor refused. I received letters from him that explain that he saw the issue as none of his business.

Since that incident, the pastor has been appointed president of a large denomination. I recently received some materials from that denomination. It has a fairly well-written process for dealing with clergy misconduct, including sexual offenses. It's a nice document, but this president doesn't practice it with everyone. What can be more hypocritical than to have a beautiful document that says how he and his denomination should operate, and then only apply it to the ones he chooses, not to those in positions of greater influence? I call for his repentance.

This is a major doctrinal error. Should we now bring this president to account and insist that he practice the principles and steps in this document? Is he willing to repent? Is he willing to go back and make things right with the couple who asked for his help? Is he now willing to deal with that organizational leader correctly? Not so far! It's interesting that none of these organizations I'm addressing have Godly prophets in their organizations. These prophets are thrown out of the organization. Their churches throw them out. Anybody who speaks up to say, "This is wrong," will be thrown out. Such people get ostracized, belittled, condemned, and abused. Everyone knows that Israel had mostly ungodly prophets that would tell the King anything he wanted to hear. And you know, it was always these ungodly prophets who were protecting their own flesh by calling for the death of God's prophets.

In contrast to the cultural church's behaviors, the Bible gives us an important illustration. A man was running along a ledge, yelling below to King David. David's right-hand man pulled out an arrow to kill him. David said, "Don't. It may be a message from God." What an interesting response from David! "We're not sure of this guy's heart, but let's see how God would use him." That's not how it's done in our churches. Instead we hear, "You've got to get with the program. You're being divisive." And so many of these issues have little or nothing to do with God's Word. It's more about whether the church should have a new building program or go to two morning services, and so on. It's a closed system. Our leaders fail to leave room for God's "prophets," and the ministry of His Word through them. No wonder the world wants nothing to do with Christianity! We're a major embarrassment to the cause of Christ. The major barrier to the lost coming to Christ! As you can see, the cultural church has a problem with spiritual maturity. We have a range of maturates within the Church. Genuine maturity is progressive. It's the result of submitting to a process (often painful) of spiritual growth. However, today's Church seems to specialize in "instant" maturity. Instant maturity is nothing more than masquerading immaturity. What is maturity? "But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." (Hebrews 5:14). Those who must wrestle with pride are not ready for leadership responsibilities and positions., (1 Timothy 3:6). They are more concerned with image and power. Such leaders do not become servants who build up those around them. Instead, they use others to build themselves up. The result is often manipulation and abuse of those under their charge.

Another reason for the Church's sad state of affairs is its lack of personal accountability. Do you realize that most leaders of Christian organizations as well as church leaders operate with little or no accountability for their actions and behavior? These people are often under extreme pressures and, like all of us, constantly face temptations. They are not made of steel; they are made of dust. Satan knows our weaknesses! He is the champion of compromise. If we give him the slightest opportunity, He will subtlety invade our thoughts and use them to his advantage. How many of our leaders have fallen prey to Satan and committed gross sins?

Out of Christ's love we must make our Christian leaders accountable for their behavior. They must constantly be on guard for the fiery darts of the enemy. In fact, they ought to voluntarily submit themselves to a body of mature believers to make themselves accountable for their performance and behavior. God has denominated such a body a board of "elders." Wouldn't that change the way some organizations handle their donations or treat their employees! Unfortunately, what we see instead are leaders who place themselves and their actions beyond the reach of Biblical accountability, by using pseudo-accountability.

Look around at the many of our Christian organizations that refuse to place themselves in a position of accountability within the Church. Their leaders are often accountable, not to the Church, but to a board that does not use biblical standards of measurement. In these cases, the matter of "accountability" often becomes a political process, not a biblical one. It becomes based on political allegiances or monetary goals, not character. Should we treat such leaders as elders? What we find is that these leaders reject the notion that they need to meet the qualifications of an elder within the Church. If they are not elders, what are they? To whom are they accountable? Organizations such as The Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability [ECFA], once stated publicly they are not granted authority in these kind of issues.

What can be the result of all that is wrong within the Church? Abuse! Individuals, families, and congregations are constantly being abused by those who use the ministry for personal gain. That is the state of affairs in the Church. The day will come when our Lord will no longer tolerate the violation of His people. God help us to confess our sins, repent of our ways, and turn to Him before judgment befalls the Church.

Well I can see I got off the path of helping you check you eyes and heart. I've focused more on the state of affairs in the Church. I want you to know you're not alone in your experiences and feelings. What has happened to you happens all the time.

However I do want you to come to grips with the state of affairs in your heart. During a quiet time, read the enclosed "Checking Your Eyes and Heart," (reader see Appendix 2) and ask God to search you heart and ways. Listen to His small voice, and heed His instructions. Until the next time, We'll be praying for you and the others.

Sincerely,

Peacemaker



Why Can't Christians See
When Leaders fall?

Why do so many Christian leaders and Pastors arrogantly choose to love the world, preach the Word and work hard to deodorize their pharisaic ministries? The answer is: because they are of the Order of Judas Priests.

The late New Testament scholar Merril C. Tenny believed Judas probably joined Jesus because he believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah that would regain the independence of Israel. Jesus' refusal to make His mission political, and Jesus' declaration that his death was imminent, may have spurred Judas to action.

"Disillusionment, the frustration of his expectations, and greed plus a definite Satanic influence, prompted Judas' treachery. (Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible).

Judas' motivation was success through greed, power, control and celebrity. The call of God's spirit is faith and servant hood! The Christian leader who has not learned faith through humility, submission and patience will turn to a deceived self ambition to "win the battle for Christ." He has joined what I call the Priestly Order of Judas.

The frustrated Judas Priest, convinced he serves God, becomes manipulative to accomplish his understanding of God's will. This deception devours the Christians' spirit and bears the fruit of Desolation. Many leaders with good intentions are led by Satan into rebellion against God. They surrender to the alluring beauty of doing God's will, while declining to be God's servant. Much of the Christian world envies their success while overlooking their hypocrisy!

Most Christians shirk from holding leaders accountable. They misapply David's phrase "touch not God's anointed" in 1 Samuel 26. David commanded his troops not to kill King Saul. Awhile later, David publicly rebuked Saul for his sins. David was NOT saying we shouldn't confront erring leaders. This false doctrine has led to the destruction of many pastors, Christian leaders, and Churches! Accountability is every Christians' responsibility. The goal of accountability is reconciliation with God, self and mankind.

Jerry White, President of The Navigators, Colorado, says, "Everyone's authority can and ought to be questioned! The New Testament clearly holds that no person is his own authority. Therefore," White continued, "confronting Christian leaders provides the necessary checks and balances in the Body of Christ"

"You Need three elements for effective accountability:

1. Each leader must be accountable to those he serves, and that includes a congregation, co-workers, employees and constituents.

2. There must be accountability from a representative body, such as an elder board or a board of directors.

3. Each leader needs close personal brothers in the Lord. They must be totally outside the leader's direct sphere of authority. They must know the leader's life so completely that they can lovingly care for the leader and correct him as needed, without fear of reprisals.."

"A Christian leader called to a task is not wiser, nor more spiritual or infallible," Rev. Erwin Lutzer, Pastor of Moody Memorial Church, Chicago, adds, "A leader, just like any other believer, left to themselves, will go astray. Those who submit to spiritual leadership will be kept in the straight and narrow way. Individuals, including leaders in position of authority, who violate any of these principles or the qualification of Christian leadership are not above reproach and if left unreconciled, are disqualified from leadership."

Why can't most Christians see when their leader falls? Because they recognize BAD, but they can't distinguish between GOOD and EVIL. BAD is the values, motives, and attitudes that everybody recognizes as selfish, corrupt and injurious to others.

GOOD is Christ's values, motives, and conduct that accomplishes God's Will. GOOD is not always understood, yet mature Christians will obey. GOOD gives themselves for Christ and His Church, as Christ gave Himself for them.

EVIL is the outward appearance of obedience to Christ. It's the representation of pure motives and values, hiding a rebellious heart. Evil is an attempt to manipulate Christ and the Church for the benefit of self. This results in surrendering to Satan and destroying others.

Listen with spiritual ears and watch with Godly eyes and you'll learn to hear the ever so slight inflections and see the subtle emphasis of actions that hides in a deceived heart. What fallen leaders are saying outwardly, and why they're saying it, is contradictory inwardly to what they're saying and why they're saying it!

1. Leadership is GOOD when it recognizes that all Christians share in Christ's vision. Good leadership encourages the practice of all spiritual gifts and principles. GOOD leadership is accountable for the Godly stewardhip of God's resources.

Leadership is EVIL when it manipulates people, resources, values, and policy to fulfill the leader's vision, regardless if it's for self or God. Leadership is EVIL when it refuses to be accountable and when it chooses to honor only some in the Body of Christ. EVIL leadership preaches Godliness while looking after self.

2. Submission is GOOD when it submits to Christ and His principles, values, actions and processes. GOOD mutually submits to those living in obedience to Christ. Submission is GOOD when it is open to instruction and correction.

Submission is EVIL when one submits out of ignorance, fear, slothfulness, and regard for self to either Godly leadership or those who manipulate power and control. EVIL submission contributes to the destruction of others on the altar of vision, self fantasy, and mission, and is not open to instruction and correction.

3. Unity is GOOD when its foundation is humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another in love. GOOD unity makes every Godly effort to keep the unity of GOD'S SPIRIT through the bond of peace.

Unity is EVIL when coerced by reward, promises, guilt, and threats, for the unity of man's organization. EVIL unity is motivated to gain the advantage for those lording over others in a move to heighten their own celebrity, power and control.

4. Decision making is GOOD when exercising open analysis of questions and problems. GOOD decision making includes the patient development of many options. Good decision making gives deference to others when there is a choice between GOOD options.

Decision making is EVIL when manipulation of power and control is practiced to give the appearance of GOOD, but in truth is condemning, impatient, inflexible, intolerant, and controls options and opinions, especially in pet projects. EVIL politicizes the decision making process and alienates those in disagreement.

5. Organization is GOOD when it equips and liberates God's people to be servants of Christ. Then they are free to worship God and participate as God wishes.

Organization is EVIL when people are slaves to the needs of the organization. Organization is EVIL when it manipulates and treats people as expendable objects regardless of how "Christian" the objectives appear.

6. Programs are G00D when successful in encouraging the Body of Christ to love and good works.

Programs are EVIL when they sacrifice people for the sake of programs, and abandon people to protect failing programs. Programs are EVIL when they divert attention from spiritual growth and practice, to gaining knowledge and practicing the law - without God's spirit. One wonders if any program can be good.

7. Success is GOOD when it's measured by God's standards of relationship with Him, relationship with others, plus love, and righteousness.

Success is EVIL when it's measured by the world's standards of influence, power, control, and bigger accomplishments.

How can Christians avoid joining the Order of Judas Iscariot? Follow these principles...

1. Love one another, 1 Cor. 12:31;
2. Be One in Christ, and members of one another, Rom. 12:5
3. Devoted to one another in brotherly love, Rom. 12:10
4. Honor one another above yourself, Rom. l2:10
5. Be of one mind according to Christ Jesus, Rom. 15:5
6. Accept one another, just as Christ accepted you, Rom 15:7
7. Admonish one another, Rom 15:14
8. Serve one another in love, Gal. 5:13
9. Bear one another's burdens, Gal. 6:2
10. Be humble, gentle, patient, and bear with one another, Eph. 4:2
11.Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ, Eph. 5:21
12. Encourage one another and build each other up, I Thess.11


Chapter Four THE MISGUIDED LEADER

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7:15-23, KJV).

LETTER FROM PEACEMAKER--TO CHRISTIAN LEADERS

"Dear Leader,

Remember Your Calling" Dear Leader, To minister the Word of God to the people of God is certainly a special calling. Reaching out to a lost population requires individuals of great dedication and unfailing effort. Perhaps Christ's greatest witness in this world is those who live a righteous life. Practicing the truth before men is no easy matter in this vile and evil world. In fact, it's impossible without the power of God within. Truth lived out in life creates opportunity for people to impact people. However there are those who need to heed God's warning about being a false prophet. They can repent.

Your vocational calling as a leader of the church is a sacred trust. Being a faithful steward of a sacred trust demands extreme care and conscious dedication. You must guard yourself to remain a clean vessel so that you may righteously handle that trust. But it is becoming more and more the case that many of you have corrupted the calling that has been entrusted to you. This is no light matter. The Bible makes it clear that God will judge those who desecrate His Word.

Those of you who fall into the ranks of corrupting your calling must return to your first love. You must face your sins, confess them, and repent of your ways. It's quite likely you began your ministry with the right motives. Your goals were to win others into the kingdom and bring glory to God. But where are you now, after doing battle with the world system? After facing the temptations from the enemy? What is the condition of your heart now? Have you lost ground? Have you yielded to the enemy? Are you really called to be a minister? Too often, those of us in leadership start off being righteous, trying to accomplish a mission we feel God has given us. But somehow, we get caught up in the attractions of the world--money, power, and prestige believing this is what it takes to do so. When that happens we become pawns in the enemy's hands.

Many leaders fall into Satan's traps. One form of ministry corruption is using our earthly talents in perceptions and schemes to keep the ministry viable. We raise additional funds or market ourselves a bit smarter. We do those things to keep "God's ministry" going rather than having the faith and developing a relationship with God that will expand it, reduce it, or shut it down. We don't want to trust God because we can't see Him. We depend instead on clever marketing and financial schemes, and then use and abuse people as the way to keep those programs going.

Be warned! If you try to do ministry knowingly with unconfessed sin, Satan can use you whether or not you're aware of his activity. If you allow him, he will deceive you into believing that you are "righteous" and doing a "good work" for the Lord. Any way he can, the devil will use you to defame the name of our Lord and make a mockery of the faith.

Allow me an example. Pastor A is pastor of a church. and married to wife A. Pastor A has an adulterous affair with woman B. Woman B's husband finds out. Man B divorces woman B. The pastor divorces his wife (A) and marries women B. So now we have pastor A married to woman B. This is all happening in the same church.

Next, pastor A, married to woman B, has to leave the church because he is in adultery with woman C. Now he left the church, but wasn't biblically disciplined, and is now a pastor at another church. No one took his ordination to the ministry away from him. This adulterous pastor has now divorced woman C and the church that he originally pastored is praying for him to come back to wife B. The Bible calls that wrong. But the church is praying for that to happen, including the current pastor. A woman in that church came to me and said, "I think I'm going crazy." Why? She's been encouraged by the current pastor of the original church to meet and help the adulterous pastor and woman B to remarry, all the while she's saying, "this doesn't seem right to me. Am I crazy? How can I be, the whole church is praying for this.

It's wrong, and I showed her why in the Bible. We are not to go around swapping wives like that. So I went back and volunteered to help this pastor and talk about the Scriptures with him. What was his response? "Oh, Peacemaker, thank you." Right! Silence was all! The pastor abused the woman who came to me with a concern, and would have nothing to do with me. After that, the woman initiated Church Discipline and the elders called her wrong. That church no longer has an idea of what sin is. They don't recognize it. They refuse to recognize it.

Romans 1:28 tells us that God gave such people "over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper." I believe because of Romans 1, that those who encourage such sinning are reprobate. It isn't a matter of ignorance, especially where we have clear teaching from God's Word. No! It's flat-out rebellion. Either we're blind or we're not. If we turn our heart towards God, we'll see Jesus. He'll show us the truth.

So, if you're blind, it's because you're not looking to Christ. You can't use it as an excuse. Even the secular world knows this. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Churches all across America wrongly practice mercy and ignore justice. Frankly, I don't think we understand justice. That's because we are totally out of balance. Christ himself used the words justice and righteousness, In Matthew 23 when addressing the hypocrites. "You have avoided the weightier matters of righteousness, justice, mercy." What was He saying? He was rebuking them for arrogantly tithing and thinking they were "spiritual." Because of their evil hearts, they refused to risk their well being by caring for God's people, by practicing Biblical mercy and justice, to protect them from the wolves the Pharisees had become.

Christ placed the same emphasis upon mercy and justice. In the Old Testament, we read that David's son, born of Bathsheba, had to die to keep God's glory clean and His righteousness pure. That is what justice is about, consequences. A person can be forgiven, but consequences don't disappear. Christ never protected us from the consequences. Rather, He would use them for good for those who loved Him. Our problem is that we have eliminated justice from our evangelical vocabulary to protect ourselves, because we lack faith. We have ungodly mercy and little biblical justice.

The word justice in Matthew 23 deals with the oppressed; some would consider those the poor. If we start discussing oppressed, we are talking about people who lack power, whether it's money, prestige, or influence. The oppressed lack the ability to defend themselves. The church is responsible to make sure those people are protected. And in our society that would include those who have been abused. But the church doesn't do that. It spends money and cares more for the abuser than it does the one abused. In our society (and it's also true in the church) we look at the one abused as though that person has in some way consented, desired, wanted, approved, and cooperated with the abuse. We look on the abuser as some kind of hopeless victim. We have this all wrong! They both need Christ's mercy or His justice, depending upon any required repentance.

Leader, to learn God's justice for others you must face your sins then watch God turn your consequences into Christ's witness to those in darkness. With an honest heart you must be truthful with God. Confess your sins. Repent of them. Then God will give you a burning desire to exercise righteousness in all situations, and you will become a true peacemaker. Make no mistake about this, anything less means you are willing to lie to God, and lie to others. If you are willing to lie to God you are lying to yourself. When you have digressed to that point, you have certainly sold out to the devil, for it is clear that he has completely deceived you, and you only have a form of godliness and are in danger of hell.

How often do you check the condition of your heart? Do you check your thoughts, motives, and actions against the standards of Scripture? Are you continually confessing and repenting of your sins. Matthew 7 and Galatians 6 call for those who are spiritual to address their own heart. The enemy is constantly at war with us. If we fail to constantly check our hearts, we will lose the battle. Why? Because there is no middle ground in the battle for spirituality. Either we are living righteously, or not.

It would be easy here to give you the most hideous examples of those who sinned, but that would be pointing to the obviously bad. Remembering that evil hides as good, let's focus instead on those who call themselves pastor, elder, teacher, board member, trustee, and Christian ministry friends and supporters who have financially benefited by these fallen men's greed and excesses; who have gained fame and position by cooperating with their sin; who have persecuted those Christians as evil who have cried out about the wrongs of these leaders.

These are leaders who have used their resources and materials to make themselves look spiritually mature. These are the truly evil ones, for they are hiding as righteous. Believe me, they practice the same sins in their lives and organizations as well-known reprobates practice. These sins are in every church and organization, and we've accepted this scenario as inevitable. Satan hasn't defeated us, they never left his ways!

How much of this kind of behavior can the church tolerate? Perhaps the greater question is, how much of this kind of behavior will God tolerate? Listen well. God is not mocked. What a man sows, he reaps. The answer to these questions is obvious. The church should not have to handle any more corruption of its leaders. The only way this trend can be reversed is for those leaders who are corrupt to repent of their ways and for the Church to reinstitute biblical discipline to attempt the rescue of wrong-hearted men and women.

What is the fallout of corruption in the church? For one, the church is no longer an effective witness to the world. In most cases, the world sees no difference between itself and the church. The church has so adopted the ways and looks of the world that there is practically no distinction except a steeple or two. What message do you suppose is being received? What is the logical conclusion of corruption in the Church?

The ministry of the gospel is compromised by those individuals who have used the ministry for their own purposes. As a result, the Church's effectiveness in the world is neutralized. It no longer functions as salt; ironically, it snugly (and seemingly comfortably) fits into the world system. Tragically, many in the Church willingly fuel the corruption we see around us. It leaves its created purpose for the "treasures" and enticements of this present age.

The Church's credibility is shot. How can the Church expect to be taken seriously by a dying world when it makes mockery of its message and betrays its Lord? A frightening question indeed: is the Church dead? Do we foolishly believe we can escape accountability for the condition of the Church? Christ's Church is not dead! What then is the solution? As individuals, we can submit to the cleansing power of God. Are you now living in sin? Are you guilty of unconfessed sin? Are you abusing and using others for your personal gain? Turn from such ways.

God is ready to help you begin anew. You can confess your sins and repent of your ways. You can again be used of God for His glory. But you must first want to put away your childish toys of flesh and unrighteous tools of manipulation.

I often wonder how long our Lord will tolerate our corruption. Dear Leader, what will you do? With great concern,

Peacemaker

P.S. Major deceptions in the church today hide as "holiness", "revival", "reconciliation," and "Christian community." Satan has prepared the counterfeit church to gain more power by the manipulation of these biblical truths to further deceive. How will God's people know the difference? True holiness, revival, reconciliation, and Christian community will be evidenced by Christians loving one another, as Christ prayed in John 17, and repenting of their sins as identified in Matthew 23.


MODERN-DAY PARAPHRASE OF MATTHEW 23 (Peacemaker Paraphrase)

Would Jesus say his woes to the hypocrites this way to today's cultural religious leaders?

Then Jesus spoke to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The Pastor and the leaders assume equality with Moses:

At least some show from God's word what jobs in the church you should do, and how much tithe you should give, and what programs you should lead, to be a good Christian, but don't live like they live, because they preach half truths and live wickedly.

They create programs and practices that make it hard to love God, to love your families, love your neighbors, and care for the poor and oppressed, making you suffer by putting all this on your shoulders but they do not help you carry their man-made duties and laws, they are too busy doing "the lords work" to lift a finger to help.

All their acts are so men will praise them: they preach great sermons, speak at important conferences, write deep theological books and build bigger churches, are members of important boards, position themselves as god experts to Oprah, Jerry, Ricki, Geraldo, Phil, Sally and others.

And they love power breakfasts, important lunches and dinners with presidents of nations, corporations, and the highest visibility in churches and councils,

And greetings at shopping malls, hospitals, rallies against sinners' vices, and to be called "Doctor" or "Reverend" by men, or the best preacher in town, or the best Bible speaker on TV or radio.

But you are not to be called any of these: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all of you are brethren.

And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

Neither should you be called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.

And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

But woe unto you, pastors and church leaders, hypocrites! You keep others from knowing Christ by preaching great sermons but not living the power of Christ in your life, in fact if someone were to experience the power of Faith in their life you faintly praise them and tell them to conform to convention and not be too excited or overly zealous in submitting to God's word.

Woe unto you, preachers and church leaders, hypocrites! You steal a widows' house, and promise Christ will repay her, so that you can build a bigger ministry in the pretense of reaching more for Christ, but in truth to build your own egos and feed your steeple envy: therefore you will receive the greater damnation.

Woe unto you, preachers and church leaders, hypocrites! You go on big promoted missionary journeys over sea and land to convert one pagan to your own ways, and when he joins, you pervert Christ's teachings so much you make him twice the child of hell than yourselves.

Woe unto you, you blind guides, who say, Whoever admires the best preacher or best modern writer, or televison personality, it is nothing; but who ever ascribes to conservatism, or liberalism, is a debtor!

You fools and blind guides: for which is greater, National leaders or doctrine that sanctifieth the gold?

And, Who ever pledges loyalty to Local church autonomy, it is nothing; but whosoever submits to the denomination that leads it, he is guilty.

You fools and blind guides: for which is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?

Who therefore will swear by the altar, swears by it, and by all things thereon.

And who will swear by the temple, swears by it, and by him that dwells therein.

And he that shall swear by heaven, swears by the throne of God, and by him that sits thereon.

Woe unto you, preachers and church leaders, hypocrites! You pay a tithe (I'm sure some do) on your books, magazine articles, movies, video tapes, television, radio programs and speaking engagements, and are too busy to practice the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: Good, but you should have helped the poor, the weak and needy (most of them work for you), especially when they were being taken advantage of.

You blind guides, you strain at doctrinal minutia rejecting those not holding precisely to your doctrinal stance or opposing your building program, while fellow shipping with unrepentant abusers.

Woe unto you, preachers and church leaders, hypocrites! You make pseudo confessions and clean up your act on the outside, but in your hearts you are full of extortion and excess.

You blind Pharisee, cleanse first your heart, then the outside will be clean also.

Woe unto you, pastors and church leaders, hypocrites! you are like a bathed whore, which indeed appears beautiful and appealing outwardly, but is full of dead men's souls, and all uncleanness.

Even so you also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

Woe unto you, preachers and church leaders, hypocrites! because you praise the prophets, and weep at the graves of the righteous, while shaming God's sheep for their lack of faith and say, "If we lived in those days, we would not have joined them in killing the prophets."

You are witnesses unto yourselves, that you are the children of those who killed the prophets.

You deserve all and more of your fathers reward.

You selfish abusers, you generation of pimps, how can you escape the damnation of hell?

Look, I send you prophets, and wise men, and righteous ones: and some of them you will kill and crucify; and some of them you will shame and abuse in your churches, and persecute them from city to city, falsely accusing them of being with your father the devil:

I cover your head with all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom you killed between the foyer and the altar.

Truthfully I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

O, churches, organizations, you that kill the prophets, and brutalize them that I sent unto you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and you would not!

Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

For I say unto you, you shall not see me again, until you say, blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.


PART 2: TAKING PERSONAL INVENTORY
Chapter Five:
GETTING ON THE ROAD TO RIGHTEOUSNESS

"Have mercy on me, O God...Cleanse me...Create in me a pure heart...Restore to me the joy...The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, and a broken and contrite heart, oh God, you will not despise" (Psalm 51:1-19, NIV)

"This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says: `In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it You said, no we will flee!.....'

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'

Then you will defile your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, `Away with you!' (Isaiah 30:15-22, NIV).

LETTER FROM HURTING--TO PEACEMAKER

"What Can I Do to Recover"

Dear Peacemaker,

After reading what you describe as "the state of affairs" in the Church, I feel like that person who is the last one to know what is going on. I was in the middle of all this good versus evil, and never realized what it meant. Thanks for making me aware of the truth and setting me straight--I think. Just kidding.

In your last letter, you mentioned that I first needed to deal with my own sins. I'm a bit fuzzy about what you mean when you talk about the "state of affairs in my heart." Are you implying that my heart is unclean; that I am to blame, in part, for what happened to me? I didn't sin against my abusers. I was the victim, remember? Right now, I am back in a crisis mode. I've been rejected by my organization, they haven't repented of anything and their home churches won't help and I'm out of work. Shouldn't that be my first priority? Certainly I can be of service to another Christian organization--one that is more understanding and treats its employees properly. I want to be part of a ministry. But I feel injured enough from the actions of others without performing some kind of "spiritual autopsy" on myself. Besides, what does the state of my heart have to do with getting back on track with another organization? Please explain this "state of the heart" business and its relevance for me. Certainly, my heart is in the right place.

I genuinely want to recover from my traumatic experience and get reconnected. I'm sure it's a matter of finding a "righteous" group or organization, one that isn't abusive to its employees. It's hard for me to accept that the entire system is corrupt. I certainly hope it isn't. For if it is, where do I go now?

Searching for the truth,

Hurting

RESPONSE FROM PEACEMAKER TO HURTING

"Checking Your Eyes and Your Heart"

Dear Hurting,

I can see you're still hurting and confused. Be patient, God will bring clarity when it is time. Each time I try peacemaking in these situations it takes me weeks to recover from the lies and attacks. Believe me the first step to your recovery is dealing with the sin in your own heart. Let me show you. The Bible illustrates an aspect of this principle in Matthew 7. Our Lord spoke of judging others, and said, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

This is not an easy thing to do, for you have to die to self. You have to understand that your own sins against God and others are greater than the sins being perpetrated against you, see Matthew 18:21-35. You will become an abuser and not recover if you keep feeling sorry for yourself and you will think you need some kind of spiritual or fleshly fix to "feel good." You first have to come to that point where you are dying to self.

God's way is for you to see your own sins first. When you do, you will see them as far graver than those committed against you. You are then ready to clean out the beam from your eye, repair (where you can) the damage it has caused, and begin the process of healing. Only then may you confront your brother with God's truth and ask him to live differently so that you and he can live in harmony and unity in the Spirit, being patient, bearing each other's burdens.

So you see, the value in looking at your own sin first is not in comparing your sin with your brother's sin. Rather It's to prepare your own heart, by God's word, that will lead you to go to your brother seeking forgiveness for your sins against him and a readiness to forgive if he sinned.

Roy and Revel Hession explain in their book We Would See Jesus (Christian Literature Crusade) that Christ is the door, and that "seeing Him we are convicted of sin, broken, cleansed, filled with the Spirit, set free from bondage, and revived." So the purpose is seeing Christ, and that will bring His natural healing process.

When people come to me for counseling, they come bearing the image of themselves or the one who wronged them. They are not coming to see Christ. But they must see Him. To see Christ is the only way to be revived, to begin the process of righteousness.

You see, the kind of conflict you have experienced is an opportunity to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. God wants you first to use it to shape yourself, not those who offended you. It is an invitation for you to grow closer to Christ. In time God will deal with your offenders. The urgent question you need to ask yourself is, are you ready to stop looking at the speck in your brother's eye, and work on personal holiness? I will caution you. Dealing with personal holiness can bring pain and sacrifice, as your flesh fights surrender. As a result of progressing in personal holiness, you may decide to turn away from much of the environment you once found so comfortable; and so friendly. You will find it necessary to leave it all behind, and pick up the cross of Christ, and exercise new faith in Him, trusting Him to use you in new ways.

When you have an honest heart and turn to Christ to cleanse our heart, our teacher, the Holy Spirit will lift the veil and you will see Jesus.

When you "check your eyes and heart,"[Appendix #2] and discover your sins against God, the sins done to you pale by comparison. The Bible calls the non-Christians' heart deceitfully wicked, and the Christian must crucify his fleshly ways - the plank in your eye. We think that because we are Christians we have clean minds and pure thoughts. When one becomes a Christian Christ replaces his heart of stone with one of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19) and that new Spirit begins cleaning us from the inside out. Some argue we never sin again, but if our ways are fully clean, why would David say, in Psalm 51, "search my heart"? Why would Paul talk about progressive sanctification work? No, it's a cleaning process. We're to be constantly in the process of mortifying our fleshly ways and killing our sins, by the power of God's Spirit and Word. That's what Jesus meant when he said "Take up your cross daily" (Luke 9:23). Putting your desires, your self-centered ways to death day-by-day you are to "Follow Him instead."

Philippians 3:13 tells us to forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead. This means we must deal with our sins correctly, and then put them behind us. We are not to dwell on them or they will keep us from achieving God's will. Our goal is Christ alone. Look to Christ, not to your enemies, not to your own heart. Every time we see Christ, in His light, we can't help but see the darkness in our flesh. The deepest truths of God come from seeing and living Christ; we don't have to look at the darkness. Looking to Christ IS reaching for the future. It is where you must begin His righteousness.

Be informed that righteousness is not automatic. You must be interested in God changing you, from the inside out. You will find pride to be your greatest obstacle. Pride is the basic sin of all of us. Pride will cause us to put on an outward appearance through language and behavior. We make a pretense of searching for truth and doing those things that protect our self image and the image we think others will accept without changing. When you become a Christian Christ breaks Satan's bondage over you As you apply God's Word to your mind and behavior, you'll begin noticing a progressive loosening of Satan's chains of sin bondage, The working of Christ continually sets you free. Your mind and flesh will fight strongly against the Spirit's ways. Don't quit! Keep believing God has been, is, and will be all He promised, (Hebrews 13:5-8).

Need some help to discover God's truth about yourself and what to put to death? To do that I read Matthew 23, Romans 1, 2 Timothy 3, Colossians 3, the fruit of the flesh in Galatians 5. In those Scriptures I find God's words about what is wrong, and what I need Christ to do in my life. That's how to do a personal inventory. It's right there in the Bible. How does your spirituality stack up against those Scriptures? Of course, we fail on all of them. What does it mean to be a Christian? It means repenting, progressing, persevering. Too many use their failures as an excuse to stay where they are and continue past sins, into the present and future. Our wickedness is very creative at establishing the appearance or the form of godliness, all the while denying the power of Christ in our lives. Those passages serve as warning signs to us, to rid our life of sin.

For the next year, live First John within your heart. Hurting, let the Holy Spirit check your life, and be brutally honest in doing so. Only then can you continue your path on the road to righteousness.

Sincerely,

Peacemaker


Chapter Six RECONNECTING TO
A GROUP OF BELIEVERS

"'Confess your faults one to another," (James 5:16). He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone. It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final break-through to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout sinners. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. so we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners!"(Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, Harper Collins).

"He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but who so confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy" (Proverbs 28:13, KJV).

"In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval." (1 Corinthians 11:18-19, NIV).

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24-25).

RESPONSE FROM PEACEMAKER--TO WOUNDED

"Maintaining a Spiritual Heart"

Dear Wounded,

You have learned a most brutal lesson about the Christian community. Not all who profess Jesus as Lord make Him Lord of their lives. The Bible tells us that many will call Him Lord, but God will not know all of them as His children.

This experience of yours accents your need to focus on Christ and fellowship with those who persevere in all that Christ teaches. Keep in mind that Jesus, not spiritual leaders, is your model. Even the most righteous man is but a shadow of God's truth and glory. All glory is God's! No matter how spiritual or righteous your church leadership and professing fellow believers are, Christ alone is your example and the fellowship of believers is to equip, encourage, and support your walk with God. Although others may fail you, He never will.

There are those who masquerade their spirituality. In fact, we've seen so many masquerades of spirituality that we must redefine the real thing as "genuine" spirituality. There is only spirituality. There is maturity and immaturity. There is true and false. There is no "genuine" spirituality. Spirituality is life driven by the Holy Spirit within. Anything else is not spirituality at all.

Read Colossians 3. Spirituality starts with my agreeing with God about my sins by confessing the condition of my life. It is by confessing my sins and repenting of them, and conforming my behavior to scripture, that by God's grace I'm trying to be different.

This is an opportunity for you to learn a great lesson. Though produced by the Holy Spirit you are responsible for your own spirituality, and there are real blessings when you find a true brother or sister in Christ, with humility, who will bear with you your sin's burdens. Your spirituality depends on God and the ministry of His Holy Spirit. You must learn to exercise your faith in spite of your circumstances and in spite of whatever consequences may result.

Get into the Word of God. The Bible is replete with examples of spirituality. David is the model of a contrite heart. David instantly, when confronted, sometimes in denial, looked at his own heart and his relationship with God. That is an example of the difference between a true Christian, a maturing Christian, versus one who has only the form of godliness. Saul, on the other hand, is the model of a pseudo-Christian. Saul was changed by God, and then in the change, continued to exercise a heart that repulsed God. God then removed His Spirit, or removed His authorization. Why? Because Saul blamed others, blamed circumstances, took responsibilities that were not his, and sacrificed strange fire to God. Saul gave a sacrifice because the priest didn't show up on time, so Saul went ahead and did his own sacrifice to God. When the priest showed up, Saul's remark was not, "Oh, I have sinned against God and violated you"? No. It was, "Well, you didn't get here on time." It is interesting when we go back to the time where Saul was picked. Part of it had to do with God making a strong statement about the right kinds of sacrifices. So, it wasn't a case of Saul not knowing that he shouldn't do it. It was a case of his impatience and taking authority that was not his. Pride, power and control caused Saul to loose favor with God.

Your church experience is also an opportunity for you to re-examine your heart. God allows these kinds of experiences to force us to become quiet and hear His voice, to cleanse our heart. When we examine our heart, we learn much about ourselves. We see the state of our heart and can more readily identify the "excess baggage" of sin and unrighteousness we carry. As you discover sin in your heart, confess it and repent of it. You become cleaner and grow in your relationship with God and others. It is your starting point for re-entry.

Don't be sidetracked! In your letter you mentioned a concern about changing the minds of those in authority. As you have seen, some who profess Christ have sold out to the cultural system that "embraces" Christianity as a means of getting what they want. Our mission is not to change that system. For now God allows it to exist for His purposes. This counterfeit system of instutionalized religion is corrupt. Every effort to correct the system provides the false prophets greater opportunity to deceive and lead more astray. It is fueled and controlled by the enemy. Rather, our mission is to live lives that honor God, and love others, even in the midst of unrighteous circumstances perpetrated by them. Doing so brings honor to our Lord while reaching out and ministering to others. This alone demonstrates the difference between good and evil.

There are Christians in almost every cultural Church (the remnant) who have not bowed to Baal, who believe and feel as you do. You need to become realigned with such a group of believers. Selecting a fellowship can be a difficult task, don't give up. What should we look for in our spiritual leaders? The Bible provides us with qualifications for elders within the church, (see 1 Timothy 3:5-13 and Titus 1:5-11). A chief qualification for leaders is having demonstrated faithfulness to God over a long period of time.

There is no such thing as a perfect church! We all sin and often sin against each other. Look at God's Church at Corinth. But a healthy church is humbled by its sin and practices dependence upon God and His Word. A healthy church practices the faith building blocks found in 2 Peter 1:2-11. "That's why you must do your best and see that your faith carries with it real goodness of life. Add to your goodness knowledge, and to knowledge self-control, to self-control the ability to endure. Your endurance too must always be accompanied by devotion to God; that in turn must have in it the quality of brotherliness, and your brotherliness must lead on to Christian love."

Remember, Wounded, look to the Lord always. Proud people will disappoint you, and Satan can use that to discourage you. Do not waste this experience! Learn what God is teaching you in this difficult time. He is preparing you for even greater things if you ask Him to do His work in you in His time.

Praying for your re-entry,

Peacemaker


PART 3: THE CHRISTIAN LEADER
(ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE)
Chapter Seven GETTING YOUR ACT TOGETHER

"Obedience to man must not become disobedience to God.

"But in that obedience which we have shown to be due the authority of rulers, we are to make this exception, indeed, to observe it as primary, that such obedience is never to lead us away from obedience to HIM..." (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 2, Chapter 8, p. 401).

"Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever....

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account" (Hebrews 13:7, 8, 17, NIV).

LETTER FROM PEACEMAKER--TO LEADER

"You Are Accountable"

Dear Leader,

Accountability. What does that term mean to you?

First, let's pursue God's concept of accountability. The whole Bible and the examples of the "Cloud of Witnesses," as well as Christ's own life is about relationships with God, other believers, and non believers. Accountability without relationship is the world's use of manipulation and control of the power model, based on man's legalism. World accountability is mostly what is practiced in today's cultural churches. Biblical relationships within the Body of Christ--His Church, on the other hand, place all true believers under God's authority, and each believer becomes a fellow struggler, in all believers living as God invites us toward His righteousness. You are your brother's keeper, above all, except God.

Our Lord illustrated the principle of accountability in His parable of the talents. This parable is no doubt familiar to you. You may have applied it to others or asked them to apply it to themselves. But it's important to apply the truths of this parable first to yourself.

As a leader given a position by God, you are en- trusted with responsibility and with a measure of authority to carry out His will in all matters. Are you made accountable within your church or organization? Do you make yourself accountable? We see the notion of accountability lightly regarded by too many leaders. Perhaps we have forgotten why it is so important. Perhaps there are those who intentionally choose to ignore being accountable. It seems that accountability in our churches and organizations has somehow gotten lost in the shuffle for power, position, and money--even "ministry."

As ministers and administrators of the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is imperative to be accountable for our work and our behavior. When we consider accountability, we have to remember that we are accountable to God. We have to keep eternity in view. We are accountable to God when we face Him. And we are accountable to His Word and the practice of it. So, if you have foolishly constructed your own accountability so that you are not held accountable, that is a lie. You have deceived yourself. You may be successful in avoiding accountability in this current world. But, ultimately, you will be unsuccessful in avoiding it before God. A big problem we face is that some of our leaders have pulled together such strong political systems that the Church can't "touch" them. For example, one denominational board, with great pomp and sternness, publicly rebuked an erring "Christian celebrity's" sexual sin while not confessing their own sin of enjoying the fruit of the celebrity's greed and popularity.

In another case, "Christian leaders" were fully aware of a "Christian celebrity's" many adulterous relationships and several divorces, all the while promoting and using the celebrity to make money for "God's ministry," but seemingly really for themsleves.

Some have been "touched" because the federal government stepped in. We have all seen the highly- publicized scandals. But the day may be coming when the government won't even try to touch you. Or, when they will come down on all of us--the corrupt and the righteous.

Do not be mistaken. Final accountability is to God. Leader, you are accountable. You may not know it, or you may not think it is that important of an issue. My understanding of Scripture is that it's better to figure it out on this side of the Jordan than on the other side. God is giving you responsibilities for ministry and for leading others in your life as an opportunity to humble yourself before your Lord. Make sure on this side of the Jordan that you're dealing with it, otherwise Christ will judge us on the other side.

Accountability starts with God, but we are also accountable to the Church--that body of believers that comprises the Body of Christ. As a leader, not only are you a "high-profile" person, you are a target of the enemy. He knows your weaknesses and will attack your areas of vulnerability ruthlessly and relentlessly. The gravity of this situation should cause you to humble yourself before God. You should want to tap the strength and support that comes from making yourself accountable to others within your church or organization.

Look at how we play out accountability in our local churches and denominations. Do we really have accountability among pastors, among boards, among elders? Actually, true accountability is very rare. That's appalling. It's almost as if there is no accountability because we seldom see Christian relationships. We have ministerial associations. But they are more concerned with Easter sing-along and other such group activities. They're not wrestling with righteousness issues in each other's life. If one church has a conflict, do other churches come to its aid? Only if they're attacked by the ACLU, not if a member has been offended or wronged.

And so, we have set up a network in which our definitions (not biblical definitions) protect and cover each other. Have a pastor in one of these groups stand up and say, "Wait a second! This is not how we should act!" He'd be ostracized--no question about it. What often happens is the ministerial association will put that pastor in charge of a special committee with little funds and few volunteers. He then runs himself into the ground trying to teach when there are no ears to hear. That's normally what happens, and that's the way to destroy a person who's trying to be righteous, without the corrupt leadership looking bad. They say, "Oh, you have a spiritual maturity we don't have, and we should tap into that." And then they just jerk his chain around, and put him into a prison of performance. They may even have a week of "spiritual" meetings, but no one changes. If they're not naturally volunteering to place themselves under accountability, it's not in their hearts.

Any leader in a position ought to volunteer to make himself accountable. That's the natural working of a changed heart. Some of you are reading this and saying, "I don't have that changed heart. Now how do I do it." Well, now it becomes trickier because you're reading this. Is it a law, or is it birthing a change in your heart? Are you now going to do it so that you look right? Or will it happen because you are changing and being right? Paul, in Titus 1:15-16 warns, "To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are destestible, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good." Note it is both heart and behavior. If you find yourself angry, frustrated, depressed while acting "right," then there's a good chance your heart is wrong. Right acts come from a right heart, deceiving acts come from a corrupt heart.

Leaders are often overworked, overburdened, and left alone. So it's natural for you to attempt to place yourself under accountability by conforming your outward appearance. You will read the Bible and say, "That's what it looks like!" and then conform your appearance rather than take the necessary time for the Holy Spirit to cleanse your heart of fleshly pride and birth a clean heart, focused on servant hood.

The Church has a special problem because there are those who defend the "normal" accountability environment in our churches that is so counterproductive to the biblical standard. So many of our "Christian para-church organizations" have developed their accountability systems in such a way that they established a political, legal position to protect themselves; to shield themselves from being Biblically approached. What is interesting about these organizations is that none of them call themselves the Church. They would never consider themselves the Church because that would alienate all the people (constituencies, clients, and so on) who supposedly are supporting them. I agree with Jerry White's statement in his book The Church and the Para-church, where he says that organizational leaders should be held accountable by their own local churches. In today's cultural system, I don't find many of its leaders saying, "I need to find a church that will hold me accountable." I do find that many pastors are unwilling to become involved in making organizational leaders accountable within their churches. In fact, they rarely hold anyone accountable.

In case after case, local pastors refuse to hold these "celebrity" leaders accountable. The local pastor outright refuses to believe the wrong actions of the members within these para-church organizations. These pastors believe it's none of their business. These pastors are hirelings--those who mouth God's word but run when it's too costly to practice it. And believe me, it's costly! To hold any of those celebrities accountable is to have your reputation, family, and ministry ruined. I know, I've been there.

How should we, as leaders, be accountable to God and the Body of Christ? I think the expression can take on three forms. An example would be, by calling ourselves Christians we are already submitting to Christ as Lord. Therefore, our responsibility as servants of the living Lord is to know His wishes and to carry them out. We somehow get into positions of power and believe that we are called to do our wishes. To play out our own visions. Consequently, we start on the wrong track almost immediately. We who are leaders need to ask ourselves the questions, what is Christ's vision? What does Christ's Lordship mean to us as individuals? We need also to address our expression of accountability as peers--one brother to another. Or as a brother who has been identified by a group of brothers and sisters in the Lord as having a gift to be exercised. The accountability starts with the appointing, the recognition of the gift being practiced.

Too often we see those in spiritual leadership hand down fiats rather than function as servants. If we have to exhibit humility and spiritual maturity to keep our position daily, then that is accountability at its highest form. If I keep exercising my gift according to Christ, then I continue to be in that position. The moment I quit, and the moment that I stubbornly refuse, I am no longer in the position, I am no longer in authority. Our human systems allow us to continue when God left us long ago. We've overlaid unbiblical principles on Christian accountability to justify our flesh.

In the biblical context, when we are under somebody else's authority, we take to heart what that person says. We seriously consider that person's counsel and advice. That is the natural outworking of accountability. If you are building a plane and you keep running into the wall at the end of the runway, and the great designer of planes comes to you and says, "You are running into the wall. Maybe you ought to consider picking up you're landing gear." You say, "Whoa. This guy knows how to fly planes. I better try that." In the cultural world we practice this principle everywhere, in the spiritual world every man has become a god unto himself.

Leaders think because they profess to be Christians, they automatically possess all knowledge of Christ within themselves. It is not true. We don't practice this kind of arrogance any place in the world except in Christianity. It's amazing! How is it possible that we do that in Christianity? We do things backwards and, as a result, we lose credibility in the eyes of the world.

We attend Sunday school classes assuming what? That we are students. What is it to be a student? To come empty of ourselves, with meekness and poor in Spirit. But that's not the way it happens. We don't go to Sunday School poor in spirit. We don't sit in a worship service poor in spirit. We don't preach sermons poor in spirit. The point is that we don't voluntarily make ourselves truly accountable to others in the church, fellowship, or organization of which we are part. Accountability is something we need to teach and learn. It is a principle our leaders need to live. Biblical accountability is a gift of God's love for our protection.

How many of us experience the joy of submitting? We need to be teaching the biblical principles of faith, unity, and humility. Isn't submission a prerequisite to those? I recall when I was confronted with sin in my own life and how God was real and delivered me. I recall my thankfulness for being delivered, and how I praised God for how my life has changed. It was a joy to submit to God and His Word. That is after I quit rebelling. And I have to be careful that even that rejoicing doesn't turn to pride!

Do you make yourself accountable? Are you exercising your gift according to Christ? When is the last time you surveyed or reviewed the accountability environment in your church or organization? It takes the Sword of God's Word to get to the truth. Have you thrown out all who stand with God's Truth? Be forewarned that Satan wants you accountable to no one. He has a counterfeit of everything, and if you allow him success, before long, you will find yourself building on a false foundation. You will find yourself extremely vulnerable to his fiery darts of temptation and compromise.

Listen well, Leader. Someday God will hold you accountable for what he has entrusted to you. If you do not maintain a constant posture of accountability before God, you are in danger of grave sin. It is imperative to submit to His Word and examine your heart for sins you may be covering, denying, or ignoring. Confess your sins and come clean before God. Only then can God work in you and through you to be a blessing to others. And please, take the time to walk with God, don't be so foolish to learn what accountability looks like and, then, only act like it's true in your life. Acting kills the very sheep God has entrusted you to serve and love.

Let the Holy Spirit cleanse your life. From the heart,

Peacemaker


Chapter Eight NO ROOM FOR COMPROMISE

"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain" (Exodus 20:7).

'What does it mean to misuse God's name or to use it in vain?'Then you should answer very briefly: 'Misusing God's name is when one speaks the name of the Lord God, in whatever manner that may be, in order to support lies or any kind of wrong' Martin Luther, Luther's Large Catechism (Concordia.)

"And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

"And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord." (1 Samuel 15:22-25, KJV).

"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled" (2 Corinthians 10:5-6, KJV).

"Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (Hebrews 5:8-9,KJV).

LETTER FROM PEACEMAKER--TO LEADER

"Maintain Your Integrity!"

Dear Leader,

I know you're hurting. If you're like most veteran Pastors and Leaders, in your heart you don't trust many, if any, and you've come to despise most. In private you can hear leaders saying something like, "I am a prostitute! I'm forced to sleep with, or kiss up to anybody with money, influence, or expertise, to help fund our vision." There was a reason Paul was so strong in his instructions to Timothy and Titus of how to choose an Elder. It takes men, strong in righteousness and rich in experience practicing God's faithfulness to withstand the abuse of the less mature, and to resist Satan's ways to feel loved and safe. Few really understand the pressure to make allies with the rich and powerful, to succumb to flirting, and sexual temptations.

What thoughts come to your mind when you think of the word integrity? We use the word many ways. For example, when we test the "integrity" of an argument, we confirm that all its elements are logical, fallacy-free, and hold together. An argument that fails to meet the accepted standards of well-developed arguments is considered to lack integrity. It has been compromised and is not deemed trustworthy or valuable.

The life of one whose words and actions are consistent is said to have "personal integrity." We applaud this kind of dynamic when we see it in others. Naturally, we assume that such a person is full of good intentions. But the concept of integrity goes far beyond that superficial dynamic, for words and actions can be manufac- tured and counterfeited. Integrity for the spiritual leader is comprised of several biblical concepts. Righteousness, faithfulness, and truth come to mind. We have to use the word "integrity" because it represents the being we present ourselves to be. In the Bible, we find that people are either righteous or not righteous. The word integrity represents the realization that there is a false presentation. Certainly, no one would make a false presentation that he is terrible. So everyone makes a false presentation that he is OK.

My question to you on the issue of integrity is, do you live in your private life according to your outward presentation, or are you a Whited cesspool. In the Bible, there are only two choices--you are either righteous or unrighteous. There is not a third. So the question becomes, are you a righteous leader? Then, how you are to maintain your righteousness can be answered biblically.

By integrity, I also understand faithfulness to God and His teaching. If we use the Ten Commandments but blaspheme, taking the Lord's name in vain, that becomes an integrity issue. It's doing something ungodly, and putting God's name to it to authorize it. So when a person calls himself a believer but in his heart, he knowingly, persistently, stubbornly, refuses to change, that is an integrity issue. That is using the Lord's name in vain. So when we discuss "personal integrity," we must understand it in terms of Biblical faithfulness or unfaithfulness. I can create words and use them, but they too may prevent me from knowing God's answers.

I also see truth and lies. The only truth that exists is God's Word, Jesus Christ, and the Bible. When we fail to align with it, we fail to appropriate truth for our lives. When we fail to live by His truth, we depend instead on the world's substitutes for truth. We blaspheme His Holy name.

There is no such thing as honesty or truth as we human beings can perceive it. We have limited faculties. We cannot personally know the truth and all it's meaning and applications. I cannot be the one who can say accurately this or that is what took place. And, I can't ever say that about another person's heart. I can't even say it about an event I personally witnessed. I can only relate what I think I saw. So, what we have to work with is what is an honest heart, what is honesty, and what is truth? Experience shows us that personalities, experiences, mind sets all contribute to a world view, or how we perceive the world. God knows this, so He gave us instructions on how to live, apply His truth to our lives and the lives of those with whom we are charged to love in righteousness, for His name's sake. That transcends our blindness.

How one deals with the biblical issues of righteousness, faithfulness, and truth affects his entire life and sphere of influence. A problem arises when one's personal integrity, or lack of it, negatively affects his work or professional responsibilities. If we possess no personal integrity (righteousness, faithfulness, and honesty), we will lack professional integrity.

When a Christian leader compromises his professional integrity, not only does he bring shame to our Lord, he also compromises the work of the Lord. He fails to advance the cause of Christ.

For example, I received a fund raising letter from the new president of an organization I was once associated with. The organization previously had experienced great turmoil resulting from the actions of some of its previous leaders and employees. The letter read, "The old is passed away. We've done a lot of things wrong. We're now repenting. Please get on board." So I responded, "You knew full well about the organization's conflict with its executive director and board, and you didn't offer to help. If you're willing to come now and confess that you were too busy doing your own thing, why weren't you willing to help resolve the problems that existed before you were appointed president?"

His response? "Well, I've talked to some people who warned me about you." This person admitted to slandering, gossip, and backbiting. He didn't come to me and deal with the issues as I presented them. He had spent his time conducting "evangelical homework." Where was his professional integrity? It was locked up with his personal integrity, with his view--not God's. He blasphemed God, abused a brother, and remains unrepentant.

In another example, I've talked with board members of several different organizations whose leaders need to be held accountable for their actions. However, those board members are not interested in holding their leaders accountable. An organization whose leader is not accountable is on shaky ground indeed. Is that any way to conduct the work of the Lord? What would happen to any of these organizations if they lost their leader? Likely that would reveal a lot about the organization--why it was built and what went wrong with it. We can only imagine how unbelievers view this kind of nonsense.

When we compromise our integrity, we shame the name of Christ. We often abuse others in the course of accomplishing our agendas. We fall out of fellowship with the Lord and give way to sin in our lives.

Leader, examine your life and your ministry. Where do you stand? Are you guilty of compromise? I invite you to a walk in peace with God. He wants our love, not our perverted sacrifices.

Sincerely,

Peacemaker


Restoring Integrity To The Church

As the nation, the media, and faithful millions, waited to hear the life blood of the Evangelical faith, agonizingly drip into the living hell of another fallen Christian Leader, one Pastor pressed the challenge of Christian ACCOUNTABILITY, to a smirking world.

"We have not been as open and as accountable as we should have been. This is a confession from... We are getting our hands smacked now, and we deserve it... I am saying that we have had a little sense of arrogance out there in the Church, that it is none of your business or anybody else what we do or how we do it. Pastors sometimes know what I am talking about... That arrogance is over!" The wounded Body of Christ, Pastors, laymen, para-church leaders and missionaries, know well the abuses of Christians leaders and brothers who have lost their integrity. Political power brokers, lording over the Body of Christ, have through sin and immaturity, painting the mask of spirituality, forced millions of wounded Christians out of the church.

With acid wrenching their guts, and bitter pain shooting from their fiery tongues, millions of Christian brothers and sisters are fighting through tears, fatigue and a wounded faith, deeply broken as victims of this moral crisis.

Today, those wounded Christians languish, waiting for someone to restore them to the church, by biblically confronting a Rev. Napoleon and a Brother Church Boss. These fallen leaders, through self- imposition, elections, or appointment, have fallen into Satan's trap of power and control which masquerades as "Christian leadership."

Anytime, Christian leaders, or any believer, acts without integrity, the Body of Christ and His community is damaged and in need of immediate healing.

True Christian community includes accountability - reconciling to God and the Body of Christ those who have strayed from the Gospel, either in word and/or action. Holding other Christians accountable is the responsibility of every Christian. The goal of accountability is restoration of the Christian community's integrity in word and action! Jerry White, President of The Navigators, and author of The church & The Para church, said in our recent conversation, "Everyone's authority can and ought to be questioned! The New Testament clearly holds that no person is his own authority."

"Therefore," White continued, "confronting Christian leaders provides the necessary checks and balances in the Body of Christ. You need three elements for effective accountability:

1. Each leader must be accountable to those they serve, and those they serve with, including their congregation, co-workers, employees or constituents.

2. There must be accountability from a representative body, such as an elder board or a board of directors.

3. Each leader needs close personal brothers in the Lord, who are totally outside the leader's direct sphere of authority, and influence, who know the leader's life so completely, that they can lovingly care for the leader and correct him as needed, without fear of reprisals.

"A Christian leader called to a task is not wiser, nor more spiritual or infallible," adds Rev. Erwin Lutzer, Pastor of Moody Memorial Church, Chicago. "A leader, just like any other believer, left to themselves, will go astray. Those who submit to spiritual leadership will be kept in the straight and narrow way. Individuals, including leaders in position of authority, who violate any of the Biblical principles or qualifications of Christian leadership, are not above reproach and thereby are disqualified from leadership, unless they are corrected in a Biblical manner." The true Church must demand that Christian Leadership demonstrate the successful surrender to the purposes, principles, and values of God the Father. This integrity must be total in their person hood (the process of how to BE the Gospel), as well as their directions and actions (of where to BE the Gospel). Anything less than integrity brings shame and shouts of hypocrisy from those within and outside the Body of Jesus Christ.

Today's Cultural Church, has focused only on the most grotesque sins, adultery and mismanagement of money. This lack of spiritual sensitivity demands only a pseudo-unity. Pseudo-unity costs very little to the individual, while ignoring a mature approach to what is sin, Biblical unity and Christian community.

Every error, or missing the mark, by any Christian, especially by Christian leaders, breaks unity and brings corruption into the Body of Christ. Any offense must be corrected quickly.

If the Church hopes to win the "lost" or to bring back the "missing," a large step toward that goal will be the return of integrity, by Christians holding other Christians (including leaders), accountable to the full Gospel of Jesus Christ.


Chapter Nine: RELATIONSHIPS ARE PREMIER

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:1-21, NIV).

LETTER FROM PEACEMAKER--TO LEADER

"On Loving Others"

Dear Leader,

I'm sure there have been times you've tried to avoid relationships, we all have. It's impossible. Early in life we are forced to learn to deal with them, and deal with them we must for the rest of our days. Yet, it's amazing that so many believers fail at relationships. Relationships are basic to the function of the Church. Each believer exercises his or her gift in relation to others in the body. It is not an accident that Satan has focused so much of his activity on destroying relationships between believers, by centering man on works.

How important are relationships in the Christian community? The apostle Paul thought important enough, by the prompting of the Spirit, that no one could be an elder unless his relationships were right in his family, with non-Christians and with the Body of Christ. In addition, Christ, in His Sermon on the Mount, said, "If anyone has an offense against you, leave your gift before the altar and go take care of it." That's how important it is. Leaders are to be above reproach!

However, many of our Christian organizations and churches do not take our Lord's teachings on relationships seriously. How does the typical organization view relationships with fellow workers, employees, clients, and so on? They're users; mutual users. Underlings use the overlings to move up the ladder, or to add or take resources. Those who lord it over others, use them, their resources to accomplish a vision, and when they're burned out, used up, don't fit anymore--they are thrown away, "God has something else for you." What an evil way to treat our brothers and sisters in Christ, Christ's own brothers and sisters!

So, the leaders of an organization say, "Here's a resource that will help us accomplish our ministry goals. Of course, we call it "God's goals." And they use people like a wrench rather than a human being. Rather than a part of Christ. Rather than a relationship.

Ministry, instead, is the result of our walk with Christ. But that's not how it's practiced in this culture. Ministry means jobs. They're mutually using jobs. Perhaps we trust Christ a little bit or try to "put Christ on." The attitude of the users in the organization is, why should we mourn that we had to fire you? You used us, and we used you. Somehow we've gotten the idea that God authorizes our use of people in such a way. Blasphemy!

Let's look at the idea of using others. Does the physical body treat its members that way? When the foot gets hurt, does the body say, "I've got other things to do?" No. When the foot gets hurt, the whole body hurts. This is the symbiotic relationship that Paul uses to describe real spiritual truth.

Don't take this lightly. God does not allow us to overlook our humanness and the sin in our lives to be overlooked for the sake of ministry. However, since we can't be perfect, there will be sin and error. But that is not an excuse. The entire New Testament is about how to be a Christian even though a sinner. Now that we know sin will be there, will we be abusive, will we lust, will we do all the things of the flesh? No. The fact that sin is still a part of our lives is an indication of how we are to deal with ourselves. We must quickly and decisively deal with the sin that seeps back into our lives.

If, as leaders, we allow sin to rule our lives, we will fail in our relationships with those under our charge. Likely, we will abuse them. The fallout of abusive behavior between Christians is broken relationships. The Christian suffers greatly from broken relationships.

In the arena of broken relationships we either "die," "kill," or join somebody else in "killing." The only good that comes out of it is by God's grace to those who love Him. There can be repentance. Paul was a traitor to the cultural religious system. That's why he was so rigorous. Paul understood where everything was buried. Paul understood, because he once practiced the art of murder. And one of the things that can come out of all those broken relationships is for people to turn to God and see Him alone first. Then He will have a witness for those who said they were in the light, and lived in the darkness, but now live in the light to invite others out. That's the only good that can come from broken relationships. And because broken relationships are normally left broken, the church is weak and sick, and the world is going to hell.

Unfortunately, broken relationships are expected. That's why Christ gave us directions concerning them. How can sinners help but have broken relationships? It's half of the gospel, and at least half of the Christian experience. When we look at this whole situation, we have to admit that Satan has done a pretty good job at alienating Christians. Today's cultural churches can't be bothered by all these broken relationships; they get in the way of their ways. God says, "If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen" (1 John 4:20-21). Don't fool yourself, when you mistreat another Christian, it's hate born of pride. Hate puts the love of yourself above others. Hate often masquerades in statements such as "I love them," but in truth the lie is that we love ourselves more than them. Leaders are shepherds, not chief executive officers using the world's ways.

All believers must strive to restore broken relationships. As a leader in the Christian community, you have a special responsibility to treat those who look to you for spiritual leadership, in a Biblical manner. If, in the course of or for the sake of your ministry, you have used or abused others and caused relationships to be destroyed, you are guilty of sin. You are obligated to follow the biblical directions for restoring broken relationships, quickly. If you need God's assistance in remembering who you've harmed, repent, and God will show you your heart, Himself, and those from whom you need to seek forgiveness.

How does the believer do this? By confessing his own sin. Going to the brother with a healing hand, and, offering God's resources (you) for restitution, and inviting that brother to reconciliation. Then, in patience, watch God work in the other person's life. In addition, the wounded Christian must also be ready to welcome you, after you've turned to God.

Of course, this presupposes that those involved have already checked their own eyes and heart for sin. That you have confessed and repented of those sins. It does no good to attempt repair if you stubbornly live in sin.

Relationships change, but never go away. Their expressions change. When a person who calls himself a believer continues to act wrongly, then the relationship changes. We mustn't act as if everything is the same. "But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat" (1 Corinthians 5:11). Most leaders don't recognize their desire for a bigger and better ministry comes from greed, not the Holy Spirit, else why would they be so ungodly in their treatment of other Christians?

One pastor admitted (admission is different from confession) that his increased emphasis on community evangelism was to get new members to help pay for a new building. There wasn't an ounce of grief or sorrow in him. To him, it was simply a matter of good church-growth principles. Is it any wonder we kill so many? Church growth experts admit that a building program, in the majority of cases, leads to a church split and/or firing the pastor.

Every time two believers who have a broken relationship meet, it's a constant reminder to both that a broken relationship exists. However, the lie we (both leaders and believers alike) believe is we can exist and function as a Church while carrying the excess baggage of broken relationships. The cultural church tries to act as if everything is OK. Well, it's not OK. God is very clear about how the relationship is supposed to change, based on whether the person acts like a brother or not.

As leaders with believers under your charge, you should never allow relationships to remain broken. Broken relationships cause division and bring untold hurt to the Body of Christ. The whole body suffers.

Are there broken relationships among those in your church or organization? Have you, in the course of your work, broken relationships with others or caused others to break? Take steps now to restore those relationships. Be assured that God is more concerned with how people are being treated than in how your ministry is going.

Relationships are premier in the Christian community. Are they premier in your life and in your work?

Striving for peace,

Peacemaker


PART 4 CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY LOST

He said, "The knowledge of the secrets of the Kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.' "This is the meaning of the parable:The seed is the word of God.

"Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.

"Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.

"The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, as they do not mature.

"But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble [honest-KJV] and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop." (Luke 8:10-15,NIV)

Only one ground is good. Only one is a Christian! Today's Churches and para-church organizations are full of those who experienced a part of God, but didn't become Christian. The cultural church leaders fear speaking the truth of the bad ground "christians". It's to all our peril, when we threat them as believers.


Chapter 10: Sexually Abused

LETTER FROM ABUSED--TO PEACEMAKER

"God Help Me--I'm Going Crazy!"

Dear Peacemaker,

It's hard to believe it's been a year since I first contacted you for help with my marriage. In some ways it's a shock to now know the deeper reasons I needed help.

As I have asked God to show me my heart and have chosen to lean on His understanding I've been amazed what I've learned about myself and about God. When I started having flashes of memory, I was terrified. I remember sitting in a church service with tears in my eyes, shaking and wondering what was happening to me. I got sick to my stomach and had to leave as my mind filled with the images of being sexually abused as a child by my pastor. The rage I felt was frightening and I was overwhelmed with the anger I saw in my heart. I felt so dirty and ashamed.

Often, after struggling, (sometimes for months), with dying to my flesh, I would see how this impacted my relationship with my spouse and children. I shouted, "God help me--I'm going crazy. Can this all be true?" I'll never forget God's response when I turned my heart toward Him. He lifted the veils. It was wonderful. Bible verses streamed into my mind and heart as though God was saying them out loud to me. It was like I was becoming a Christian, His child, for the first time. Suddenly, I understood Him as my Father, and I wanted to give myself to Him. It was wonderful! Sure, it's been difficult learning to put away my old ways, but it's been great to trust Him and grow closer to God, and my family. To put on His new ways. Let's remember, this took a lot of work to renew my mind, and I have a lot to go!

Speaking of family, I wish my mom, dad, and my brothers and sisters were interested in how God is healing me and my relationships. Since it was discovered that Rev. Sexual Child Abuser had sexually abused another girl and has admitted it, my parents want to place all the blame for our broken relationship on him and the abuse. It really hurts that they keep blaming me for holding on to the past rather than attempting biblical reconciliation with them. They just don't get it! And, it hurts! It feels good to be free from using their wrongs as excuses for my behavior, but I wish they'd see that they can be free from their bondages too.

They call themselves Christians, but there's no life to what they call "faith". I know, because before this, I used to be like them. If they could even allow me to have my own faith, it would help. Their anger, isolation, back-biting, and demanding ways have so destroyed our family, not to mention their physical abuse and abandonment. All their religious activity in the church seems filled with works, and they worry if it's enough. I pray for them to see God in a new and deeper way.

It's amazing that they call themselves Christians, and somehow their church training has led them into deep bondage rather than freedom. I wish they could trust the Bible's real meaning and not the wrong practices in today's sick churches. Though I must admit that I struggled with learning and trusting "new" (read, "God's") definitions and ways while so many well-meaning, sincere, and kind church members don't seem to experience these truths. That is really hard.

This journey to a right relationship with God and others is exciting and kind of scary, too. Sometimes it feels so good when God opens my eyes to His glory and yet, each time I bump against a biblical truth I want to rebel. I know He'll be with me. Even if sometimes it takes a while, even years, to address my sin. His love and patience has saved my life. Thank you for being there to explain how God loved you throughout your life.

Christ as my Savior and Lord,

Abused

RESPONSE FROM PEACEMAKER--TO ABUSED

"Rest in God's Faithfulness"

Dear Abused,

Well, team, we've sure been through rough waters. God's continued faithfulness to His Word (the Bible and Jesus Christ) are my hope and salvation.

Yes, I do remember the times you wrote about. They were pretty scary. Sometimes still are. I also remember when I talked about not putting too much emphasis on memory images, but to use them as a way of searching how God could change your life. That was hard for you, as it is for most. We have all this rage and blame for which we seek legitimate and illegitimate targets. Though in your case we have an admission by Rev. Sexual Child Abuser of sexually molesting you and the other child. Let's hope that's all, though it's not likely.

God has been faithful to you for your surrendering your heart, ways, and mind to His Word. It's as Paul says, the only way to encourage one another is by each growing in faithfulness to God through His son Jesus Christ, by the work of the Holy Spirit. Sorry, I got a little preachy there.

I know the family issues are very hard and cause a great deal of pain. I wish they could hear how Christians are to treat one another. Even simple communications skills would help. Our prayer is that each time you contact them you will be able to be like Christ and not let their unbiblical ways keep you from loving them biblically. In America (and in the world for that matter), it seems more loyalty is given to the "family" than to God. I've witnessed that in your family. Too many families view God and religion as cultural traditions and not as Savior and Lord. Until we all first learn to submit to God and His ways, we are destined to continue harming each other. That's why your parents hurt you every time they contact you.

In one sense, they are willing victims of the father of lies, Satan. In every case I've attempted peacemaking, there are those who are experts at using words and overt acts to disguise their self-protecting interests. They're experts. You can't educate them, argue with them, debate with them, or role play with them because they will take every ounce of your effort and twist it for their purposes. That's why I believe God instructed us not to fellowship with those who call themselves "Christian" and persist in not acting as a Christian should. Christ even says that we're not to give what's holy to dogs and or cast our pearls before swine. Why? Because they will turn and devour you! There are those so filled with lies that they believe them to be true, and when confronted with God's truth, they burn with rage and seek to destroy you---believing they are serving God in the process. When Christ was rejected, He went where He was welcomed. He gave us the same principle. It hurts most when it's someone in our family. Christ mentions that also in Matthew 10.

We must learn that God loves them better than we, and our best love is to follow His ways. This also applies to Rev. Sexual Child Abuser and the denomination to which he belongs. I still find it very hard to believe that they can't even name in public the sins committed by him. Masquerading their wounded pride as fear of a law suit is ridiculous and ungodly. If they would simply respond with mourning, that would demonstrate a Godly heart, but they don't even do that. How sad! They've spent all their energies showing their "mercy" to the sexual abuser and virtually no love and sacrifice to you.

You've handled it pretty well, as they've continued to treat the youth pastor's hatred, violence, wickedness, and sexual assault against you as misguided love. They are in a worse state of pride and self-delusion than the church of Corinth. At least the Corinthian church repented. I'm glad you have prepared your heart to forgive if they biblically seek repentance, God has blessed you with freedom from bitterness and rage. Keep increasing in God's faithfulness for those times when the flesh and Satan will want you to demand revenge.

In the meantime, I will continue to invite the church and the denomination to practice biblical processes and principles for their own freedom and for God's blessings that come from turning to Him and not their own ways. This invitation extends to your family as well. As you have experienced, having an honest heart and turning to God brings a sense of presence and unity with God and believers that is beyond what most, who call themselves Christians, have ever experienced. I pray this for them as well.

Well, I'd better get going. It means a lot to me to see you growing in the Lord. He is faithful in more than words--it's the only way to live for now and eternity! Let's talk again soon.

Surrounded by Christ's Love,

Peacemaker


Chapter 11: FAILED CARE GIVERS

"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.

Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth - men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings - what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:1-17,NIV)

LETTER FROM DISTRAUGHT--TO PEACEMAKER

"You Stole My Children"

Dear Peacemaker,

I recently had a short and sad conversation with one of my children. I'm writing because I feel that you are key to determining whether or not I will ever again have a relationship with my family. I really felt as though something died within me as I listened to his cruel statements.

The few times I've called him, the conversation has been sabotaged in the first few minutes. It's almost as if he is afraid to try and have a relationship with me for fear I will hurt him. He is more loyal to you than me and his family.

I can say with complete honesty, Peacemaker, that the Lord has been dealing with me through these past months and that, in spite of deep hurt and the knowledge that I was being abused, I felt a peace that passes understanding in the hours since I called him.

The biggest reason that I don't continue my counseling relationship with you is what I see in my relationship with you--a harsh, critical, judgmental spirit that is just the opposite of what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13, 'If you love someone you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him and always stand your ground in defending him.' There seems always to be a mistrust and suspiciousness that I have a hidden agenda, a constant searching for evidence in my letters and phone calls that will prove that I don't know anything, that I am defensive and don't know myself at the core.

My children say they love me. I know that as a mother I made many mistakes. I know that trust cannot be restored overnight. Paul also said, "Love is patient and kind," and he told us to be "kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as Christ forgave us." Do you remember during the weeks a year ago when we talked frequently and several times I asked you what your goal was in your counseling? Was it not to bring these young adults to a place where they could lead whole lives again and where the past would no longer control their actions and their thinking? I believe that my goal, and theirs, should be what Paul taught--forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I realize that we haven't dealt with the past, and it is not because this is my desire. But we are getting hung up on terminology, rules of how this should proceed, and I am constantly being told that I'm not ready, that I'm unwilling, that I'm defensive. What I'm not is, I'm not perfect, but I am repentant and I want to listen.

I pray for you every day. I know you were deeply hurt as a child, probably to the point where you are afraid to trust your parents. You have made the rules so tough, using the Scriptures in a very harsh way that no one can measure up. You said that you are not a cultist, that you don't exercise mind control. My son says you are the gentlest man he knows. Then why is it necessary for you to exercise all this power and mistrust of someone like me? Yes, it is a heavy responsibility you bear to keep us all apart. In a human sense, I would say, "you win." They are all yours, but there are consequences, and if you really love my children, you must realize that there may come a day when they will ask, "Why?" When did you take such an extreme view toward family relationships? After people die, we value more the precious time with little children that never took place; the lost relationships. Think what that does to all of them, to keep harboring all their anger year after year. Is that love? I can speak from bitter experience for all the years I harshly judged my parents and harbored bitterness toward them. I am sorry.

The bottom line is that I do feel that I made serious mistakes in the past regarding this situation with my children. I didn't treat them as adults. I still tried to control them. I refused to see the good that had come to their relationships with their spouses because of your work with them and as a result of my desire to keep a child-adult relationship.

The Lord has shown me that there is a bigger picture that I don't need to understand. I just need to commit them and you to Him and He will answer prayer on my behalf, because He loves me and I am His child. My part is to commit my ways unto Him and He shall bring it to pass when I have learned the lessons He has been teaching me. It has not been easy, even extremely painful, but so wonderful to no longer have to try to work things out in my feeble and foolish strength. May His wisdom be your guide and His peace yours. Distraught P.S. I pray that the sincerity of my letter will come through to you--not as manipulation, but a deep desire that my relationship with my dear loved one can be restored--that there can be a reaching out in genuine desire (and patience for all of our fragility and weakness) and willingness to forgive mistakes during the process. I will do anything to get my children back! Thank you for taking the time to read all this. I felt a great burden to write you, and now it's lifted. I hope you will share this letter with my children. I wrote them and I hope they will share their letters with you.

NOTE: This case Study, constructed from letters and phone conversations, with many individuals, incorporates many common dynamics associated with professing Christians who fail to practice Biblical principles of Christian relationships. Which ones did you see?

RESPONSE TO DISTRAUGHT--FROM PEACEMAKER

"You Have Failed to Understand"

Dear Distraught,

I do not know how to respond to your letter. I do hear your pain and confusion. I believe you have correctly identified two key issues. My response will be less that satisfying. However, you are loved and we want to encourage you toward Biblical Reconciliation.

First, you have not biblically confessed to those you've wronged. Your approach is, "I said I was sorry. Now you should forgive me and forget."

Second, you are using words with different definitions and applications than the historical church has come to believe as biblical and God's ways. Unfortunately, today's cultural church has lost it's first love of God's ways and continues reinforcing sinful definitions and practices as "God's love," when it's nothing more than self-love and self-forgiveness. I've enclosed a copy of biblical definitions and creeds that were practiced by church leaders such as Thomas a' Kempis, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Augustine, John Wesley, and others, that may be of help. (see Appendix 7).

According to your church's Book of Order, I wrote to your pastor seeking your church's help in this matter. Your Pastor expressed no interest in helping, since it's not his responsibility. He also admitted that counseling (biblical or otherwise) was not his gift.

Third, even after we all met with a pastoral counselor and witnesses of your choice, you rejected their counsel. They identified the dynamics we've believed were true and said, in essence, that they were accurate and you needed help, though they felt you would never truly seek it. I will continue to pray for you until there is a biblical forum to which you are willing to submit, or until you evidence a contrite heart.

I want to respond to your husband's denial of any sexual abuse. Although you do recognize one of your children was molested, maybe by a neighbor, another family member, or pastor, you continue to reject and avoid our counsel as to joining a "False Memory Syndrome" association.

No movement is without false teachers! Jesus Christ said fake believers would mix with the faithful. It's not shocking that some mental health practitioners and clients exhibit these lies from hell. However, exhibiting faulty or contrived stories is not the real issue, especially when there are witnesses and/or admission to sexual abuse.

In peacemaking, we've found accusations, accurate or not, exposes the deeper values and sin that is destroying the family. These deeper issues need addressing the most. PeaceMakers teaches the victims of sexual abuse, as we do as those abused by false accusations, to use this as an opportunity for healing by Jesus Christ. Often, love shown during great wrongs proves sweetest. Godly sorrow, good listening skills, and Christ's love will heal any wound. Be- sides, if one party doesn't participate with an honest heart, the other's caring does not mean agreement with the abuser's wrong thinking or behavior.

Biblical counseling teaches building relationships based on Christ's principles of relationship with an honest heart of faith. It is sad to see many sin sick "dysfunctional" family members choose to remain in sin sickness and in their reprobate relationships rather than trust Christ's courage to face the truth about themselves and their loved ones.

The abused can treat the abuser with love and understanding. Love does not mean cooperation with continued abusive behavior! With patience and in time--God's time--their loved one may return to a loving, Godly relationship.

If family members refuse to listen, refuse God's truth, and become aggressively defensive, banding together against the abuser or the victim, it will turn a painful situation worse, and away from God and each other. We are called to practice mercy, and Godly forgiveness first. When the abuser refuses to stop the abuse, we must practice God's justice.

After each contact it seems you have not heard clearly the issues, principles or processes I have recommended. Possibly it's my error, so I write this letter to affirm what I've attempted to say before.

My attempts have been to reconcile individuals and families, as those are willing, and to recognize that each individual has the license to his or her own Biblical or unbiblical, feelings, perceptions, beliefs, and values, as well as the consequences.

You have appeared to promote only your own understandings rather than being open to the understandings of others. We pledge to pursue reconciliation in hopes that hurts and failures can be healed, and that this perception is in error.

It is each individual's responsibility to consider who he is and how he has acted that has contributed to the breakdown of the relationship. In part you seem hostile to considering this possibility concerning yourself. You seem strongly directed to question your children's weaknesses, but not yours. At least that is how you have seem to acted to date.

I believe, based on our communications, that you and your family need to pursue regularly, Biblical counseling. It would appear that the forms and values communicated within your family continue to be destructive, at least as they pertain to your children, and, I would suspect to others.

I would again suggest that our first step is to build a foundation of understanding of you, your family, and the communication principles that will best serve the reconciliation process.

Currently, there needs to be great improvement in your communication skills and caring before it would be safe to bring either child into a family counseling setting. This is standard practice in the mental health process. If you prefer another counselor, I would be very open to communicating with you and them to prepare for that time.

Lastly, you see the Peacemaker International's process as being a Bible study and religious training. You are correct in the sense that is generally accepted (I thought you understood that since you affirmed you are a Christian) that healing must take place in body, mind, and spirit. Your tones of resentment are unfounded, and I've attempted to address them, but you continue to sabotage the reconciliation process with your personal fears and attitudes.

I recognize saying these things in print may seem difficult, but your inability to hear correctly has precipitated this necessary response. I hope we can find a way to overcome these barriers to your family's healing.

To say any more is to be accused again by you and to cooperate with your sin. In times past I have run this risk in hopes of breaking your self-destructive ways. God's Word is clear how I should now respond.

Sincerely,

Peacemaker

P.S. I would like to send a copy of this communication to your newest Pastor Rev. Nice Guy, and schedule a phone consultation to discuss these matters. Please send or call me with his address and phone number at your earliest convenience. Thank You. And remember, these words are founded in love and hope.

LETTER FROM REV. NICE GUY--TO CHILDREN OF DISTRAUGHT

"Let's Tell the Truth in Love"

Dear Children of Distraught,

I am writing to you in hope of being able to heal the wounds that have separated Distraught from you, her children. I am an evangelical minister of the church where your mother gives so generously of herself to our wonderful parishioners. She attends a Bible study class that meets with me.

On several occasions she has expressed great pain in not being able to communicate with either her children or her grandchildren. She has expressed a reluctance to communicate with you because of the counsel you have received. I have read the peacemakers' literature explaining the beliefs and purpose of peacemaking. As a minister of the gospel and a committed peacemaker myself, it is difficult for me to understand how a decision to ignore your mother and to prevent her from being in contact with her grandchildren can be a step you have taken in obedience to a loving and forgiving God. Or, perhaps this misrepresents your feelings in the matter altogether. In any case, I thought you would at least want to know of your mother's strong interest in being in touch with you, and the pain she experiences because of the lack of contact.

I am firmly convinced that healing can take place if everyone resolves to follow the counsel of the Scriptures and "tell the truth in love." Life is short, and in refusing to communicate, precious opportunities for the spirit of both truth and love are lost.

Very sincerely yours,

Rev. Nice Guy

P.S. I would very much appreciate the opportunity of hearing from you, or from your peacemaker.

LETTER FROM PEACEMAKER--TO REV. NICE GUY

"Help Us Bring Reconciliation"

Dear Rev. Nice Guy,

I have been asked to respond to your recent letter to the adult children of Distraught. Thank you for your concern and boldness to address a most difficult matter. This lengthy response is indicative of hopes that your participation with the following information may bring reconciliation to this extremely troubled family. We are acting as witnesses and DO NOT participate in gossip. (see Appendix 8: Detract, Gossip and Slander)

Since I saw Distraught in counseling, she has sought emotional release through pseudo spiritual submission, which when identified as a sophisticated form of denial, she turned to intimidation, manipulation, slander, and gossip. Distraught sought many experts and professionals to side with her perceptions. Her attacks are brutal, and unrelenting,. As her new Pastor and spiritual authority, this gives us all another opportunity for her healing through patient love and care.

First, all join you in the desire for reconciliation. There is hope this letter will help in establishing current perceptions concerning the family environment, the state of interpersonal relationships, biblical principles, therapeutic models, and the biblical values practiced. These dynamics were witnessed and confirmed by a pastoral counselor of her choice.

I was asked to help one of Distraught's children, who carried his family of origin's sinful behavior into his own marriage and family. In the routine process of family systems counseling, significant issues arose in the family of origin such as rage, hysteria, manipulation, addiction, obsessive compulsive behaviors, abandonment, and abuse, which were identified and later confirmed as true by Distraught's own account of her personal life. (see Appendix 1 Almost A Christian, by John Wesley)

Since we are born into this world sinners, believing we know best and demanding the best for ourselves, the dynamics of sin in our lives are mere opportunities to express our own power and control as we see best. Others' sins against us, be they family or not, are used as excuses, by those not truly seeking Jesus Christ, as reasons for our uncontrollable acts. In peacemaking, we are to promote righteousness, which begins by proclaiming our own sinful nature--not pointing to someone else's sin. (Matthew 7:1) At no time has there been condemnation or blame for Distraught's sin; only a desire in love to truthfully, communicate the pain, the consequences, the necessary spiritual principles and spiritual reconciliation needed to bring wholeness to Distraught and her family. (see Appendix 2: Checking Your Eyes and Heart)

The first Adult Child progressing nicely, recommended another sibling to see me for counseling. This second sibling scheduled a session. Once again the significant sinful behavior of the family of origin seemed overwhelming. After many sessions it was decided the second child masked her sin with passive aggressive destructive behavior alternating with dedicated religious piety. In her pious stage this child with the first child, suggested that another sibling, child #3, seek counseling with me.

Once again the significant destructive patterns of her family of origin were identified and confirmed by Distraught's third child.

It's very important to state clearly, each child loves deeply their mother and father and desires complete reconciliation with them and the whole family. Children #1 and #3 are learning substantial principles of individual integrity and self-determination within the boundaries of God's love and direction, thereby breaking the bondages of destructive and habitual behaviors. They are working toward being at peace and in right relationship with God, self, and others--including their family. (see Biblical Principles of PeaceMakers Fellowship)

Quite sadly, I must also report that child #2, as of last contact, continued in her increasingly destructive cycle of passive aggressive dependent behaviors and alternating religious piety with the full cooperation and participation of Distraught, who aggressively engages others to support and reinforce her covert sinful choices, reinforcing her self-image.

Distraught appears to have chosen to deal with the truth by denying the truth and displacing her rage upon peacemakers and her judgmental and scapegoating behaviors upon her children, denying them freedom of choice and spiritual development. This is very consistent behavior for the aforementioned patterns. Distraught has gone to extreme lengths to discredit peacemakers and her children's integrity rather than address her issues, thereby prohibiting true contrition of heart, forgiveness, mercy, and reconciliation.

Let me be very clear on the following points:

1. Distraught's children desire reconciliation with Distraught. Yet, Distraught continues to violate the most basic values of healthy communications. Until Distraught is able to participate in a healthy and safe environment by practicing self-control, self-awareness, self-determination, ability to see how others see her, can disagree, can make individual choices, can give clear messages that are congruent with her behavior and beliefs over a sustained period of time, and give her children the same individual freedoms, Distraught's communication will continue to be overwhelmingly perverted, painful, accusatory, denigrating, and destructive to her children's personal healing and their family's reconciliation.

2. Distraught is encouraged to participate in biblical counseling with a biblical counselor of her choice and family sessions with her children through peacemakers. There are times in standard family counseling that individuals need additional time for personal development and healing. Distraught has been encouraged to utilize this time for her own personal healing, yet she has chosen to interpret this individual development time as cultist, mind control and power plays, devoting her energies to destructive behaviors that Distraught fails to see as reasons why contact with her is unhealthy. I suggest in your duties as a pastor you have recognized families that are powerfully enmeshed in practices destructive to individual growth. I'm sure you find it difficult to believe Distraught's warmth and caring within your church and fellowship experience could be the same Distraught her children encounter. Let me assure you, I and others have personally witnessed how quite difficult it is showing love and patience toward Distraught when she targets you for her rage and manipulations. It's quite different from the warm Christian image she projects.

3. It hurts greatly to communicate these perceptions of Distraught and the current family environment. I am free to say these things for two reasons. First, Distraught is practicing peacemakers policy of biblical confidentiality that allows for communication of this information with those she trusts as spiritual leaders in her life. Second, by your letter, you have identified Distraught's trust in you and your desire for open communication and the practice of forgiveness and reconciliation. Therefore, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 7:8-11, I regret the hurt caused Distraught, though I do not regret it if it helps bring reconciliation.

4. The time of private growth for the two children has progressed well, and it has been the children's wishes that Distraught communicate with peacemakers first to determine whether Distraught is now able to communicate in a biblical, healthy manner. Distraught holds fast that her children's decision not to fall victim of her lifestyle is an extension of mind control. Each child has always exercised his or her own choice of contact with Distraught, and does communicate as seems right to offer her love and invite her to a biblical relationship, since she professes to become a Christian. Distraught finds it unbearable that her children find her destructive values and behaviors toward them counterproductive to their individual healing and reconciliation within their own families. Each child has specifically requested a temporary moratorium on contact until it can be healthy. Distraught has repeatedly violated their wishes by exhibiting a disdain for their individual choices, increasing her obsessive control, power, and manipulation and further prohibiting healthy communications. (see Appendix 4: When To Meet?)

5. Summing up Distraught's behavior one could say she has failed in her responsibilities by consistently blaming others, which is often quite subtle and destructive. She usually is excessive and covertly intolerant to criticism. She has a pronounced concern with her public image and self-image of respectability, to secure her life-style but also to pretentiousness and strong denial of hateful feelings or vengeful motives.. She utilizes intellectual deviousness. She will exhibit confused and conflicted thinking during stress. Even the popular secular Psychiatrist, M. Scott Peck, M.D. in his book People of the Lie, addresses what he's come to call evil, "In addition to the abrogation of responsibility that characterizes all personality disorders, this one (evil) would be specifically by distinguished by: (a) consisten destructive, scapegoating behavior, which may often be quite subtle, (b) excessive, albeit usually covert, intolerance to criticism and other forms of marcissistic injury, (c) pronounced concern with a public image and self-image of respectability, contributing to a stability of life-style but also to pretentiousness and denial of hateful feelings or vengful motives, (d) intellectual deviousness, with an increased likelihood of a mild schizophrenic like disturbance of thinking at times of stress."

This is a very brief summary of a difficult case. It is too much to grasp in such a brief exchange, but possibly enough to allow you and others to sense the magnitude of complexity and dysfunction that prohibits reconciliation at this time. My hope is that as Distraught is willing to address these issues in her personal life, and her children are able, in their interaction with Distraught, to remain spiritually, emotionally, and physically healthy, contact will be resumed in an appropriate manner. If you have any questions please feel free to call or write.

Serving Christ in Peacemaking,

Peacemaker

P.S. Distraught has not responded to Biblical counseling as a Christian. Also you might need to know, Distraught is quoting you as having said, "she has confessed and is forgiven of all her sins," This can not be true while not following Biblical reconciliation with her children. She accuses her children as ungodly for holding to the Biblical principles of restoration. This is quite ugly. The Bible is very clear how offenses are treated and any quoting of a misapplied verse is only making matters worse.

I've enclosed for your convenience our materials of " Eight Steps To Complete Forgiveness," and our biblical "Principles and Definitions," in the hope that it may be of help to you. I realize your handling of this family is indicative of many pastors and churches, but sadly I can't even appeal to your denomination for help, since in an earlier case they caused such greater harm to the family and the abuse victims. They have exhibited no desire to learn how to care in a biblical way and express only anger and rudeness to the peacemakers. It's my prayer you will not continue in their destructive ways. Enclosed is a recommended Biblical Restoration process.

It's significant to note that the adult children of Distraught have never lost contact with her for any serious length of time, however, she continues to act sinfully toward them and violently rejects all attempts to bring their relationship within Biblical parameters.

LETTER FROM PEACEMAKER--TO LEADER

"Use God's Word, Not Her Lies"

Dear Leader,

You are receiving a copy of my response to Rev. Nice Guy because Distraught has chosen you as a person to whom she has trusted by communicating her complaints to you.

Distraught has said you heard her complaints and agreed with her. Is this true? I have left many phone messages for you concerning her and have been wondering why you have not returned them. Is it possible you believe this woman? I would be quite disappointed if this factious person was able to divide our growing relationship.

The Bible is quite clear that we should not hear slander, gossip, tales, and backbiting. Only in the process of being a witness (Matthew 18) should anyone hear her complaints, and only after she addressed them to us first and received no satisfaction.

I would be appalled if you have shared in the gossip and slandering by this woman without having taken the time or spiritual steps to help resolve this matter. I believe better in you. Possibly you are being dragged into this case by only hearsay as Distraught practices her deceptions, and my response is premature.

I have patiently attempted to love and care for Distraught and her family in the face of the most severe personal attacks. I would hope you never encounter such a destructive force while you attempt reconciliation. God continues calling us to difficult cases.

I hope the enclosed response will shed some light on what I believe is the truth and fact of a very destructive family.

I know in our conversations that we are not practicing anything that you yourself have not shared with us in your own personal life. If you would like to be one of the witnesses in our reconciliation process, we'd love to have you, provided you are practicing biblical principles.

I await your reply.

Peacemaker

LETTER FROM PEACEMAKER--TO WAYWARD DENOMINATION

"We Will Not Cooperate With Evil"

Dear Chairman of the Board,

When we first talked, we wept together as the details became clear as to the clergy criminal sexual abuse by Rev. Sexual Abuser that victimized at least two children. I was so excited that someone understood the dynamics of this wicked soul murder. Now, I realize our agreement wasn't along biblical lines of how to care for both the abuser and the victims through biblical reconciliation. Your actions consistently prove concern only for the consequences upon Rev. Sexual Abuser and his family, with only a nod toward the victims. I believed the best in you and you responded to us with suspicion, covert intentions, gossip, and other non-Christian contempt for another believer. You always accused our heart rather than look to your own. When we would confess our heart, you used it to support your ways and beliefs. You accused and were dishonest in your heart.

When we call ourselves Christian, that implies agreement with Jesus Christ and subordination of our wills and ways to His way of how the body of believers should care for each other. Yes, at least you did something, you did ask for his resignation only to begin your own definition of reconciliation and restoration, while misleading a sizable congregation as to the real nature of the clergy criminal sexual abuse. Even you later said "calling it misappropriate touching" was woefully wrong, but you are unwilling to correct your mistake. Rev. Sexual Abuser said he was waiting to get caught, and he waited out the statues of limitations. I don't think that represents a contrite heart, but amazingly you are convinced he's sorry. By your actions and words, you've led a whole congregation into sinning against God, your church, the whole denomination, as well as the victims and their families.

This is your second episode with Rev. Sexual Abuser. Everyone, including you, knows that he intentionally lied to you about his sexual abuse of a second child. And this was all the while he was supposedly being so deeply honest that his counseling case would terminate significantly shorter than even the secular world would demand. And all those tears and remorse shown to you, your church, the church where the abuse took place, and to the parents of the first child, while lying, Rev. Sexual Abuser was waiting out the statutes of limitations. This truly blasphemes the name of Christ

In my own conversation with Rev. Sexual Abuser, he would not identify that he did anything but "misbehavior." What are you thinking? You are blind. When blind to the sins in our hearts, we are blind to sins of another. The details could be different, and the nature of the sin expression different, but at the base, flesh sin is always the same. We would rather murder another for the sake of our flesh. Christ taught those who would be leaders should be servants---meaning Christian leaders should be first in renouncing their sins, confession, restitution, and repentance so we can better lead the fallen. You are acting in ways that open questions of your own sin due to your unbiblical methods, definitions, and practices.

You rightly recognize the past errors of this church by letting other pastors leave because of sexual immorality without a disciplinary process, yet your handling of this matter raises questions of being more concerned with your church's reputation than honoring God.

I have communicated these same basic concepts for many months now, with the same results--more accusations by you about our intentions. The victim awaits, with a loving heart, yours and Rev. Sexual Abuser's repentance. We invite you to reconciliation and biblical conduct. Until then, I believe we have said all that should be said. Until you can see we come in the name of Christ and you no longer accuse us of wrongful intent, we remain mournful and prayerful.

In contrast to your learned ways, consider this:.... One day as the victim lay weeping, overwhelmed by all the evil and abuse, alone and hurting, confused and wrestling, their two-year-old came crying, "Please don't cry! Please don't cry." and covered them with the child's blanky and was handed the child's pacifier. A child, with no seminary training, no years of studying theology, simply hurt with her, and gave her all because of love....

Peacemaker


THE CHURCH'S PROPER RESPONSE

"Shall we not follow the lives and examples of the holy saints? Answer: One should preach them so as to praise God in them, to stir up one another, and to comfort one another by his goodness and grace and not show forth their works, but their obedience in their works. However in our days they let obedience lie and lead us so deeply into works, that we have completely drifted from obedience, and we gape at works and despise our own [personal] mission and calling. Hence there is not doubt it is Satan's own doings that divine worship is confined only to churches, alters, masses, singing, reading, offerings and the like, as if all other works were vain or of no use whatever. How could Satan mislead us more completely from the right way than when he confines God's worship within such narrow limits, only to be [organized] church and whatever is done in it?" Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther-Day of St. John the Evangelist, Baker Book House.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:1-2, NIV)


Chapter 12

The Believer's Responsibility

"For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues" (1 Corinthians 12:14-28).

LETTER FROM HURTING--TO PEACEMAKER

"Where Do I Go from Here?"

Dear Peacemaker,

You were right. The road to my recovery did start with my own heart. At first I was inclined to write you off. Honestly? I thought you were one of them. I was convinced that you didn't really understand me or my condition after all; that perhaps you were too sympathetic to those who offended me. Your call to righteousness was the advice my soul needed.

Sure, I had gained a measure of control over my anger, but as I came to grips with my heart, it became clear that the unconfessed sins residing within required additional attention. As I took the first step to examine my heart, I realized that I really hadn't come clean with myself or with God. Nor did I have a righteous view of my offenders.

Now I feel as if I've been released from a bondage; freed from the oppression and control of a religious system gone awry. But, at the same time, I have a dilemma. Although I want to again be part of a ministry, I feel that I cannot subscribe to the kind of organization that abuses its employees and constituencies. Since that includes so many of the organizations I'm aware of, how can I honestly and actively become involved in real ministry? I know what lurks behind the doors of our pseudo-Christian organizations, and I don't want a repeat experience.

Once alienated or dismissed from the cultural church, what may a believer do to continue ministry in the Body of Christ? Can I work as a Christian in a non-Christian environment? Am I better off leaving Christian service per se? Can I be used of God more effectively in a secular setting? Certainly, I don't want to limit God's working in my life, nor do I want to stifle His direction for my career.

Since I've shifted my dependence from my job security and its associated benefits to a renewed faith in God, I'm open to options I've never before considered. I guess I'm ready for an adventure.

I have a question that I believe is paramount. Because of my experience with the Christian organization with which I was once employed, I now possess an understanding of the dynamics of the cultural Christian community. I have witnessed leaders behaving with sinful and worldly motives. I have seen its destructive nature. In some ways, it is terrible information to have. I cannot fight back the sense of responsibility I'm feeling about how I must respond to it. What is the believer's proper response to the Church's condition? To the fabrications and substitutes of the cultural Christian community? My gut feeling is that this community is spiritually dead; beyond responding to the truth. What would God have me to do? Freed by the truth,

Hurting (but Healing)

RESPONSE FROM PEACEMAKER--TO HURTING

"Live the Faith"

Dear Hurting,

Your letter has a Spring freshness about it. The way you describe your enlightened state reminds me of a butterfly that has found its way out of its cocoon and is now experiencing the freedom of a transformed life. I know, in the early stages, it looked like it would only get worse, and never go away. Satan uses pain to discourage us from trusting God and turning to the lusts of the flesh, i.e. to start another organization.

You raise some interesting questions. Although some of those involve complex issues, I will try to provide some direction for you.

You certainly have been enlightened as to some of the problems we find in Christian ministry. Our churches and organizations are operating with an unbiblical definition of ministry. To them, ministry is who you are, and the result of who you are to those around you. Some of the questions you're facing are, should you do it full-time, or where should you do it, and what should you do? Keep in mind that those are all God's responsibilities.

How you were alienated from the organization can have a bearing on how you respond. But let me give you some hints. First, you must go back and attempt to resolve your dispute biblically. If after following the Matthew 18 process they still refuse to deal with the issues, be careful you don't fall into the "They're good guys, they just need to learn...," trap. Remember, this is not an educational process by that stage. They don't want to hear! "Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask,, `Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?' Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, `Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?' No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it." Deuteronomy 30:11-14.

If they refuse to respond in a Godly way, and you still feel the need to join one of these abusive organizations, kiss it good-bye. You're finished. You haven't understood yet. Go at your own risk. Those kinds of organizations don't want you. You are branded a troublemaker. You are looked upon with suspicion. However, there will always be other abusing cultural church organizations who will view your being kicked out of one organization as a badge of courage, and will invite you to join them. Because of their blindness they believe they are different. And because of your blindness you can't see they are just the same.

Your new organization doesn't want to hear your bad news about the other organization, unless of course, it makes your new organization "feel" they're better. They say they are willing to overlook any sin you did--because they're convinced there was more wrong with the other guys. By giving you a new start in their organization, they will now use you, and be glad for it. Your coming to the organization sparks a "we're better than them" mentality. That's a sociological dynamic rampant in these organizations.

Because the competition for fund raising and being well-thought of is fierce, some organizations value traitors or dumpees, whatever you want to call people who flee from one organization to another. It happens all the time.

Is there a righteous organization you could work with? They might ask, "Why are you coming here?" Your response? "The Lord led me here." What should a righteous organization do? They need to go back with you to the organization you left and ask, "What happened?" Then they should hold that organization and you accountable. Now that's the only biblical way to do it. We do not have the option of saying, "Oh, that's too bad. We agree with you. Our experience hasn't been that way, but we're sure that your view of it is accurate. Why don't you come and work for us?" That's ungodly. It's stealing. It's pirating. It's combative. It's competitive. It's not working within the Body of Christ.

To join an unrighteous organization and behave as a Christian in such un-Christian environments can be precarious indeed. To challenge the authority figures within the power structure can easily become like signing a death warrant. Nobody wants a whistle-blower in his organization. That's one of the reasons the Old Testament prophets were killed. In our day and age. I've known of some who have died because the pressure and the abuse they faced was so grave. They couldn't physically deal with the stress. They were "killed" because of their speaking out. This is not a small-stakes game. I know of examples that certainly demonstrate, whether the abused were righteous or unrighteous, that if you take on the big boys and say the wrong things, or the right things to the wrong people, you're dead in the evangelical market place. They use every opportunity to slander and destroy you. It happens all the time.

The good news, Hurting, is that being dead to them is a blessing. So don't be leery. God can use you in powerful ways, and it doesn't have to be in any of these organizations. The longer you have been freed from the "system" and are forced to depend solely on God, the more you will understand this. It's in our weaknesses Christ is made strong.

Here's another warning. It's an amazing thing that so many people who finally figure out that this current Christian cultural system is wrong, fall into another lie of Satan, which is, that they can try to change the system, from within. Do you understand who runs these organizations? Satan. It's of the world. I'm told to stay away from them. If a brother won't act like a brother, I'm not to eat with him or shake hands with him. I'm to treat him as a non-believer and try and evangelize him, if he rejects my witness of Christ, I'm to shake off the dust and go somewhere else.

Let me give you an example of the futility of trying to change the system. I know of an organization that mistreats its employees. And as the pastor of one of the employees, I approached the organization and offered to aid in communication, develop biblical processes and help resolve the issue. So, what did the organizational leaders do? They took all my information and efforts to help, and created a new abusive tool and further abused the employee I was trying to help. You can't change them. They don't know what's wrong. This is how ignorant most of these Christian organizations and their boards are.

Most men and women on these boards run corporations, but they wouldn't run their corporations the same way they're running these organizations. Besides, these men are being used and they think they're having a relationship with the leader. Just check how the organization treated the last board member who disagreed. The organization recruits new members (they must have money, power, influence, or expertise) and then dumps the dissenting member.

Perhaps they think there is no other way to do "God's work", or they're ignorant, or they're not spiritual men, or they're worldly men who are somehow doing the best they can. Most of them aren't sitting around and saying, "Let's mess this up for Satan's sake." But if you do decide to align with such an organization, keep in mind that a righteous organization's first responsibility will be brotherhood--to restore you to broken relationships--not to say, "Hey, we got a new person."

Can you, or the remnant of believers who haven't bowed to Baal, change the current cultural situation and its leaders? Absolutely not. Now, if you ask, should we spend the effort to right the wrongs? Well, that's a different question and God has an answer how. We need to understand that only the Spirit can change hearts. Only God can change it. But He has placed limitation on this kind of change. We read in Matthew 23 passage that "until you say they come in the name of the Lord, I will remove myself from them." That's the limitation.

We have believed a fallacy in all our church splits and broken relationships for years and years; that those not directly effected can make change happen from within. Absolutely not! Martin Luther attempted to do this from inside the church. The reason the church in his day split is because it wanted nothing to do with God. So, Luther didn't cause the split; those who rejected returning to God simply weren't part of the Church, the Body of Christ, though they still owned the buildings and held services. Often there are those staying to effect changes from within, they seldom amount to anything except perpetuate abuses. The truth of their lie is they are saving their own self interests, they don't love anyone above themselves.

This does raise the different issue of working within Christian organizations as a "missionary." Will the church tolerate that? A Missionary to this corrupt organization must declare he sides with Christ and the Bible against the wrongs and preaches until repentance occurs. I don't believe you will find that idea well received. Often I find when we start probing into these kinds of issues that we begin to find out that real believers aren't the ones elected to leadership positions in all these organizations. Those elected tend to be abusers and manipulators of people, and fueled by the fleshly motives of power, control, and money. And the ones who elect them are just like them. Most likely the true Christians are just quietly serving God and others, no fan fare, no grab for recognition or climbing up someone's ladder, just giving of themselves in the name of God's love.

Hurting, the best advice I can offer you is simply, just be a Christian. Whenever you fall into sin, confess your sin and repent of unrighteousness. Do not give in to the wiles of Satan, for he will do everything he can to keep you from touching God. Be the kind of person God can use as He will. It matters not so much where you work or what you do as much as the issue of your spirituality and that you are progressing in maturity. God is faithful and will honor your faithfulness to Him.

You should search for a truly Biblical Church, one who recognizes they're sinners and in need of Christ's mercy and grace, everyday. Find a Church that practice God's priority of Christian relationships. Remember, the New Testament is full of churches who were not perfect. Then, as you grow in our Lord, Jesus Christ, you will become a model, salt and light, in that Church, Christ's Church. If you can not find such a Church, then ask God to lead you to other believers who will join you in starting a fellowship with true believers. May God bless you greatly in your ongoing spiritual adventure.

With encouragement,

Peacemaker


Chapter Thirteen

Our Lord's Example:
Living in Freedom
IF YOU ARE A NEW BELIEVER:

LETTER FROM WOUNDED--TO PEACEMAKER

"What Would Jesus Do?"

Dear Peacemaker,

The more I read God's Word and then survey our culture, the more I see my need to focus solely on Jesus Christ. We tend to depend so much on our man-made systems and programs, which are no more than substitutes for the life of faith.

We act as if Jesus is not watching and weeping, much less returning. If our Lord visited the Christian community today, what do you suppose would be His assessment? Certainly He would take issue with our definition of "ministry," as well as our other re-definitions of what Christianity means.

And if He were to take action, what do you suppose He might do? Our current cultural Christian system is replete with its temples and moneychangers. My guess is that He would "clean house" in a big way.

Why don't we, as a Church, look more to the Lord as our Example. We are so easily led away from living the kind of life He would have us to live, and we seemingly listen to anything but His Word. I think I know the answer. Until I commit myself to Him and live by His Word, Jesus is not going to be real in my life. The trouble with so many in the church is that Jesus is not real to them. They speak the right words when pressed to do so, but their lives tell a different story.

The truth is that our Lord speaks to us in His Word, if we will only listen. We can know that He is working in us and through us, in spite of what we experience in this world.

Using the words and actions of Jesus, I'm curious as to what perspective and insights we might draw from them. Certainly, they would be of value to someone like myself, who is searching for truth in the midst of a deceptive culture. I'm sure His perspective would make good reading for any believer.

I'd be interested in your thoughts. What do you think?

Following our Lord,

Wounded

RESPONSE FROM PEACEMAKER--TO WOUNDED

"Make Him Your Lord"

Dear Wounded,

To make sense of the current state of the Church is difficult indeed. To know our best course of action is equally difficult.

I agree with your conclusion. When all is said and done, after others and their man-made systems have failed us, after our programs and promotions come to naught, it is our Lord's quiet, confident example that beckons us. There is great value in learning how God worked in His life in the midst of a sin-stricken, corrupted, fallen world. Surprisingly, we find that our Lord Himself was subject to the circumstances of this world system in which we live. Dealing with those circumstances is inevitable for all who follow Him.

We can take comfort in knowing that our earthly condition is but temporary. For the believer, God uses the experiences of this life as a crucible. They are a refining process for believers. In this life, we constantly struggle against sin's control in our lives. As we submit to His Word and His will, God refines us that He may conform us to the image of His Son. As we learn from our experiences, we progress toward that goal.

What do we discover during our course in the life of faith? That our dependence is on God, not on what the world may offer us. He is to be the object of our faith, whatever our circumstances. How often we succumb to Satan's enticements--often attractive choices between what is good and what is best. We come again and again to the realization that we are simply sinners saved by God's grace, continually in need of God's forgiveness.

I have often wondered why God allows sinful leaders the large measure of control. Sometimes it seems it would be simpler if God were to judge them immediately, or at least remove them from their positions of influence. I believe He views the cultural church as the non-Church. He is not in the business of refining them. Could it be that He allows these people and their behavior as a judgment to themselves--so they keep abusing each other. In Revelation chapter 2-4 Christ warns the church at Ephesus, if they do not repent he will remove their lampstand, meaning they will no longer be of His Body. What I find interesting is that the social human organization is allowed to continue. Therefore we have those identifying themselves as Christ's church but are really the blind leading the blind. They cooperate by sinning against each others in Satan's bondage.

Having been rescued from the cultural church and its abusive activities, your logical next question is, where do I go from here? The simple answer is, just be a Christian. Draw your truth from the Word of God. Live to please God, to do His will, not to accomplish the agendas of man. As a true follower of Christ you may be rejected and despised by the world and many elements of organized Christianity, but your are never forgotten and deserted by God. As a Christian you are part of Christ's Church, now you must seek other believers. Christ intended the organized Church. In Ezekiel, God cleansed his Church. We are commanded to not forsake assembling together.

Be assured that God has led you thus far. At this point you are completely dependent on Him. Take courage, dear Wounded, for you are now ready to be used of God. You are maturing--growing. You have followed the example of our Lord, and He knows what you are going through. You will find Him faithful. There are times when the most secure place we can be is in His care even if it's alone in the sanctuary, with only those who grieve and lament over the all the detestable things done.

Your friend,

Peacemaker


APPENDIX ONE:Go back


The Almost Christian
Almost thou persuades me to be a Christian. Acts 26:28

And many there are who go this far: ever since the Christian religion was in the world, there have been many in every age and nation who were almost persuaded to be Christians. But seeing it avails nothing before God to go only thus far, it highly imports us to consider, --

1. What is implied in being almost a Christian?

2. What is being altogether, a Christian?

Now, in the being almost a Christian is implied, first, heathen honesty. No one, I suppose, will make any question of this; especially, since by heathen honesty here, I mean, not that which is recommended in the writings of their philosophers only, but such as the common Heathens expected one of another, and many of them actually practice. By the rules of this they were taught that they ought not to be unjust; not to take away their neighbor's goods, either by robbery or theft; not to oppress the poor, neither to use extortion toward any; not to cheat or overreach either the poor or the rich, in whatsoever commerce they had with them; to defraud no man of his; and, if it were possible, to owe no man anything.

Again: the common heathens allowed, that some regard was to be paid to truth, as well as to justice. And, accordingly, they not only held him in abomination who was forsworn, who called God to witness to a lie; but him also who was known to be a slanderer of his neighbor, who falsely accused any man. And, indeed, little better did they esteem willful liars of any sort; accounting them the disgrace of human kind, and the pests of society.

Yet again: there was a sort of love and assistance which they expected one from another. They expected whatever assistance any one could give another, without prejudice to himself. And this they extended not only to those little offices of humanity which are performed without any expense or labor, but likewise to feeding the hungry, if they had food to spare; clothing the naked with their own superfluous raiment; and, in general, the giving, to any that needed, such things as they needed not themselves. Thus far, in the lowest account of it, heathen honesty went; the first thing implied in the being almost a Christian.

A second thing implied in the being almost a Christian is, the having a form of godliness; of the godliness which is prescribed in the gospel of Christ; the having the outside of a real Christian. Accordingly, the almost a Christian does nothing which the gospel forbids. He taketh not the name of God in vain; he blesses, and curses not; he swears not at all, but his communication is, yea, yea; nay, nay. He profanes not the day of the Lord, nor suffers it to be profaned, even by the stranger that is within his gates. He not only avoids all actual adultery, fornication, and uncleanness, but every word or look that either directly or indirectly tends thereto; nay, and all idle words, abstaining both from detraction, backbiting, tale bearing, evil speaking, and from all foolish talking and jesting a kind of virtue in the heathen moralist's account -- briefly, from all conversation that is not `good to the use of edifying.' and that, consequently, `grieves the Holy Spirit of God, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.'

He abstains from `wine wherein is excess'; from reveling and gluttony. He avoids, as much as in him lies, all strife and contention, continually endeavoring to live peaceably with all men. And, if he suffer wrong, he avenges not himself, neither returns evil for evil. He is no railer, no brawler, no scoffer, either at the faults or infirmities of his neighbor. He does not willingly wrong, hurt or grieve any man: but in all things acts and speaks by that plain rule, `Whatsoever thou wouldest not he should do unto thee, that do not thou to another.'

And in doing good, he does not confine himself to cheap and easy offices of kindness, but labors and suffers for the profit of many, that by all means he may help some. In spite of toil or pain, `whatsoever his hand finds to do, he does it with his might'; whether it be for his friends, or for his enemies; for the evil, or for the good. For being `not slothful' in this, or in any `business' as he `has opportunity' he does `good', all manner of good, `to all men'; and to their souls as well as their bodies. He reproves the wicked, instructs the ignorant, confirms the wavering, quickens the good, and comforts the afflicted. He labors to awaken those that sleep; to lead those whom God has already awakened to the `Fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness.' that they may wash therein and be clean; and to stir up those who are saved through faith, to adorn the gospel of Christ in all things.

He that has the form of godliness uses also the means of grace; yes all of them, and at all opportunities. He constantly frequents the house of God; and that, not as the manner of some, who come into the presence of the Most High, either loaded with gold and costly apparel, or in all the gaudy vanity of dress, and either by their unseasonable civilities to each other, or the impertinent gaiety of their behavior, disclaim all pretensions to the form as well as to the power of godliness. Would to god there were none even among ourselves who fall under the same condemnation! Who come into this house, it may be gazing about, or with all the signs of the most listless, careless indifference, though sometimes they may seem to use a prayer to God for His blessing on what they are entering upon; who, during that awful service, are either asleep, or reclined in the most convenient posture for it; or, as though they suppose God was asleep, talking with one another, or looking around, as utterly void of purpose. neither let these be accused of the form of godliness. No, he who has even this, behaves with seriousness and attention, in every part of that solemn service. More especially, when he approaches the table of the Lord, it is not with a light or careless behavior, but with an air gesture, and deportment which speaks nothing else but `God be merciful to me a sinner.'

To this, if we add the constant use of family prayer, by those who are masters of families, and the setting times apart for private addresses to God, with a daily seriousness of behavior; he who uniformly practices this outward religion, has the form of godliness. There needs but one thing more in order to his being almost a Christian, and that is sincerity.

By sincerity I mean, a real, inward principle of religion, from whence these outward actions flow. And, indeed, if we have not this, we have not heathen honesty; no, not so much of it as will answer the demand of a heathen Epicurean poet. Then this poor wretch, in his sober intervals, is able to testify,... "Good men avoid sin from the love of virtue; wicked men avoid sin from a fear of punishment."

So that, if a man only abstains from doing evil in order to avoid punishment, (you shall not be hanged), says the Pagan; there `thou hast thy reward.' But even he will not allow such a harmless man as this to be so much as a good heathen. If, then, any man, from the same motive, viz. to avoid punishment, to avoid the loss of his friends, or achieve his gain, or his reputation, should not only abstain from doing evil, but also do ever so much good; yea, and use all the means of grace; yet we could not with any propriety say, this man is even almost a Christian! If he has no better principle in his heart, he is only a hypocrite altogether.

Sincerity, therefore, is necessarily implied in the being almost a Christian; a real design to serve God, a hearty desire to do His will. It is necessarily implied, that a man have a sincere view of pleasing God in all things; in all his conversation; in all his actions; in all he does or leaves undone. This design, if any man be almost a Christian, runs through the whole tenor of his life. This is the moving principle, both in his doing good, his abstaining from evil, and his using the ordinances of God.

But here it will probably be inquired, `Is it possible that any man living should go so far as this, and, nevertheless, be only almost a Christian? What more than this, can be implied in the being, a Christian altogether. I answer, first, that it is possible to go this far, and yet be but almost a Christian, I learn, not only from the oracles of God, but also from the sure testimony of experience.

Brethren, great is `my boldness towards you in this behalf.' And `forgive me this wrong,' if I declare my own folly upon the house-top, for yours and the gospel's sake, -- suffer me, then, to speak freely of myself, even as of another man. I am content to be abased, so you may be exalted, and to be yet more vile for the glory of my Lord.

I did go thus far for many years, as many in this place can testify; using diligence to eschew all evil, and to have a conscience void of offense; redeeming the time; buying up every opportunity of doing all good to all men; constantly and carefully using all the public and all the private means of grace; endeavoring after a steady seriousness of behavior, at all times, and in all places; and, God is my record, before whom I stand, doing all this in sincerity; having a real design to serve God; a hearty desire to do His will in all things; to please Him who had called me to `fight the good fight,' and to `lay hold of eternal life.' Yet my own conscience bears me witness in the Holy Ghost, that all this time I was but almost a Christian.

If it be inquired, `What more than this is implied in the being altogether a Christian?' I answer...

First, the love of God. for His word says, `Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.' Such a love is this, as engrosses the whole heart, as takes up all the affections, as fills the entire capacity of the soul, and employs the utmost extent of all its faculties. He that thus loves the Lord his God, his spirit continually `rejoices in God his Savior.' His delight is in the Lord, his Lord and his all, to who `in everything he gives thanks. All his desire is unto God, and to the remembrance of His name.' His heart is ever crying out, `Whom have I in heaven but Thee?' Indeed, what can he desire besides God? Not the world, or the things of the world; for he is `crucified to the world, and the world crucified to him.' He is crucified to `the desires of the flesh, the desire of the eye, and the pride of life.' Yea, he is dead to pride of every kind; for `love is not puffed up'; but `he that dwells in love, dwells in God, and God in him,' is less than nothing in his own eyes.

The second thing implied in the being altogether a Christian is, the love of our neighbor. For thus said our Lord, in the following words, `Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.' If any man ask, `Who is my neighbor?' we reply, every man in the world; every child of His who is the Father of the spirits of all flesh. Nor may we in any wise except our enemies, or the enemies of God and their own souls. But every Christian loves these also as himself, yea, `as Christ loved us.' he that would more fully understand what manner of love this is, may consider St. Paul's description of it. It is `long-suffering and kind,' it `envieth not.' but maketh him that loves, the least, the servant, of all. Love `doth not behave itself unseemly'; but becometh `all things to all men.' She `seeketh not her own'; but only the good of others, that they may be saved. `Love is not provoked.' It casts out wrath, which he who has this is wanting in love. `It thinketh no evil. It rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth. It covereth all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.'

There is yet one thing more that may be separately considered, though it cannot actually be separate from the preceding, which is implied in the being altogether a Christian; and this is the ground of all, even faith. "Very excellent things are spoken of this throughout the oracles of God. `Every one,' says the beloved disciple, `that believes is born of God.' ` To as many as receive Him, gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.' And `this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.' Yes, our Lord Himself declares, `He that believes in the Son has everlasting life; and comes not into condemnation, but passes from death unto life.'

But here let no man deceive his own soul. `It is diligently to be noted, the faith which bringeth not forth repentance, and love, and all good works, is not that right living faith, but a dead and devilish one. For, even the devils believe that Christ was born of a virgin; that He wrought all kinds of miracles, declaring Himself very God; that, for our sakes, He suffered a most painful death, to redeem us from death everlasting; that He rose again the third day; that He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father, and at the end of the world shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead. These articles of our faith the devils believe, and so they believe all that is written in the Old and New Testament. And yet for all this faith, they be but devils. They remain still in their damnable estate, lacking the very true Christian faith.'

`The right and true Christian faith is (to go on in the words of our own Church), `not only to believe that Holy Scripture and the Articles of our Faith are true, but also to have a sure trust and confidence to be saved from everlasting damnation by Christ. It is a sure trust and confidence which a man has in God, that , by the favor of God;' whereof does follow a loving heart, to obey His commandments.'

Now, whoever has this faith, which `purifies the heart' (by the power of God, who dwells therein) from pride, anger, desire, `from all unrighteousness,' from `all filthiness of flesh and spirit'; which fills it with love stronger than death, both to God and to all mankind; love that does the works of God, glorifying to spend and to be spent for men, and that endures with joy, not only the reproach of Christ, the being mocked, despised, and hated of all men, but whatever the wisdom of God permits the malice of men or devils to inflict, -- whoever had this faith, working by love, is not almost only, but altogether, a Christian.

But who are the living witnesses of these things? I beseech you, brethren, as in the presence of that God before whom `hell and destruction are without a covering -- how much more the hearts of the children of men?' -- that each of you would ask his own heart, `Am I of that number? Do I so far practice justice, mercy, and truth, as even the rules of heathen honesty require? If so, have I the very outside of a Christian? The form of godliness? Do I abstain from evil -- from whatever is forbidden in the written Word of God? Do I, whatever good my hand finds to do, do it with all my might? Do I seriously use all the ordinances of God at all opportunities? And is all this done with a sincere design and desire to please God in all things?'

Are not many of you conscious, that you never came this far; that you have not been even almost a Christian; that you have not come up to the standard of heathen honesty; at least, not to the form of Christian godliness? -- much less has God seen sincerity in you, a real design of pleasing Him in all things. You never so much as intended to devote all your words and works, your business, studies, diversions, to His glory. You never even designed or desired, that whatever you do should be done `in the name of the Lord Jesus,' and as such should be a `spiritual sacrifice, acceptable to God through Christ.''

But supposing you had good designs and good desires be a Christian? By no means, unless they are brought to good effect. `Hell is paved,' says one, `with good intentions.' The great question of all, then still remains. Is the love of God shed abroad in your heart? Can you cry out, `My God, and my all?' Do you desire nothing but Him? Are you happy in God? Is He your glory, your delight, your crown of rejoicing? And is this commandment written in your heart, `That he who loves God loves his brother also?' Do you then love your neighbor as yourself? Do you love everyman, even your enemies, even the enemies of God, as your own soul? As Christ loves you? Yes, do you believe that Christ loves you, and gave Himself for you? Have you faith in His blood? Do you believe the Lamb of God takes away your sins, and casts them as a stone into the depth of the sea? That He has blotted out the handwriting that was against you, taking it out of the way, nailing it to His cross? Have you indeed redemption through His blood, even the remission of your sins? And does His Spirit bear witness with your spirit, that you are a child of God?

The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who now stands in the midst of us, knows, that if any man dies without this faith and this love, good as it were for him that he had never been born. Awake, then, you who sleep and call upon your God; call in the day when He may be found. Let Him not rest, till He makes His goodness to pass before you'; till He proclaims unto you the name of the Lord, `The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin.' Let no man persuade you, by vain words, to rest short of this prize of your high calling. But cry unto Him day and night, who, `while we were without strength, died for the ungodly,' until you know in whom you believe, and can say, `My Lord, and my God!' Remember, `always to pray, and not to faint,' till you can also lift up your hand unto heaven, and declare to Him that lives for ever and ever, `Lord, You know all things, you know that I love You.'

May we all thus experience what it is to be, not almost only , but altogether Christians; being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus; knowing we have peace with God through Jesus Christ; rejoicing in hope of the glory of God; and having the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost given unto us!
Go back


APPENDIX TWO:Go back

Checking Your Heart

APPENDIX THREE:Go back

Eight Steps To Complete Forgiveness And Reconciliation

While trying to bring reconciliation and healing between many bitter, hostile, and hurting people, I recognized that simply to ask "will you forgive me?" wasn't bringing the kind of emotional and spiritual healing that Jesus Christ came to give to a broken world. Using Matthew 18:15-20 as a basis, I searched the Scriptures for biblical insights into confession, repentance, asking for forgiveness, restitution, reconciliation, and brotherhood. I discovered that the process of asking Christ into our hearts, and asking Him to be Lord of our lives as we became Christians, was the model for which I was looking.

In that light, I have used these Eight Steps To Complete Forgiveness in many cases. Therefore, I offer them to you with the hope that your experience and biblical insights will improve upon them.

NOTE: These steps should be used when you commit a sin (James 5:16, Matthew 5:23-26; Matthew 18:15-20), or when you see another sin (Matthew 7: 1-6; Galatains 6:1-5; James 5:19-20), when a leader sins (1 Timothy 5:17-22). We must be sensitive to honor Matthew 5:23-24, as these matters must be addressed quickly. To God, reconciling a relationship is important before the next worship experience.

Eight Steps To Complete Forgiveness

Step 1: Have the OFFENDER confess specifically to the OFFENDED what was done or said wrong that caused offense.

It appears that the specific act of confessing the OFFENDER's sins (Leviticus 5.5, Numbers 5:7, James 5:16, 1 John 1:9), demonstrates to the OFFENDED party the OFFENDER's godly sorrow, the OFFENDER's knowledge of the sin committed, and the OFFENDER's willingness to accept responsibility and consequences for their actions.

WARNING: If the OFFENDER cannot state specifically what he did or said that was wrong, his confession is incomplete. If the OFFENDER finds he cannot remember enough of the facts of his offense, he should ask the OFFENDED (be sure the OFFENDER has the correct spiritual attitude to hear) to help the OFFENDER recall from the OFFENDED's perspective, what was done or said wrongly.

WARNING: Failure by the OFFENDER on this step MAY BE a sign of rejecting the Word of God and the Work of the HOLY SPIRIT. It MAY BE the OFFENDER needs to study the Bible and compare GOD'S WORD with the OFFENDER's life.

WARNING: Do NOT proceed beyond any step until successfully completed! To do so adds to a "form of Godliness." 2 Tim. 3:5

If the OFFENDER comes to an OFFENDED to ask for forgiveness, and cannot recall what the OFFENDER did or said that was wrong, or the OFFENDER is unwilling to listen as to how the OFFENDED was hurt, then the process must be stopped! Next, ask the OFFENDER to come back when he has understood for what he is asking forgiveness. Failure to complete this step correctly will result in increased hurt and division.

NOTE: If at any time an OFFENDER is unwilling to listen to how the OFFENDED brother was sinned against, or if the OFFENDER is not willing to ask for forgiveness and be reconciled, the OFFENDER must be confronted with his unwillingness to change. If the OFFENDER persists in a wrong attitude, then you must proceed according to the biblical principles in Matthew 18:15-20 if the OFFENDED is unwilling to listen or begin the forgiveness process and be reconciled. In that case, the OFFENDED must be confronted with his unwillingness to forgive. If the OFFENDED does not repent of an unforgiving heart, he must be taken through the next step in the Matthew 18:15-2O process.

Step 2: Have the OFFENDING party identify the biblical principle(s) he violated.

In this step, the process of identifying the actual biblical values and principles that were violated helps both the OFFENDER and the OFFENDED to learn from God's Word, and learn from their experiences. As a result, their witness encourages the whole Body of Christ to grow more holy.

If the OFFENDER is unable to identify a biblical value, then either the OFFENDED, or a third brother (a peacemaker or a witness) should take the necessary time to search the Bible together until the biblical values and principles are found. Then the OFFENDER and the OFFENDED should come to an agreement upon the biblical values that were violated.

If the OFFENDED does not agree with the identified biblical values and cannot identify any himself, then an appropriate amount of time should be given for additional discovery, (the witnesses or peacemakers help in this process). If no biblical values are discovered or agreed upon, then the Matthew 18:15-2O should be taken to the next appropriate step; that is, tell it to the Church.

NOTE: The reason for proceeding to the next step in the Matthew 18:15-20 process is to bring other godly men and women into the process to help identify what is wrong, what is necessary to correct the broken relationship, and to oversee that all parties fulfill God's directions in their lives.

Therefore, when you come to an impasse, either alone or as a peacemaker, tell each party that you need the help of others. Ask for suggestions as to whom each party would be willing to listen to for spiritual direction. Then call another meeting and proceed to the next step. Some Scriptural helps to identify biblical values and principles are: Matthew 5:1-12; Romans 12--15; 1 Corinthians 13; Galatians 5--6; Ephesians 4-6; James 1--5; 2 Peter 1:5-9.

Step 3: Have the OFFENDER ask the OFFENDED "How were you wronged when I did (or said)...........?"

This step allows the OFFENDER to experience in part and hopefully bear the OFFENDED's burdens, (Hebrews 13:2) in a large way, by how the OFFENDED was impacted by the offense. We know that Christ suffered and died on the cross for our sins, when we offended Him--it appears important for the human side of the model for the OFFENDER to fully understand the consequences and impact of his sin against the OFFENDED. In addition, this can enable the OFFENDED to be released from some of the pain and hurt caused by the offense. Matthew 18:23-35.

WARNING: If the OFFENDED is not willing to share how he was sinned against by the offense, he may be acting as a Pharisee (not really wronged, but only interested in being judgmental in a unbiblical way--Matthew 7:1-5). Or, if the OFFENDED is not willing to seek reconciliation and is hanging on to his bitterness and resentment, the OFFENDED should be confronted with his "unspiritualness" and if unwilling to change, should be taken to the next step in the Matthew 18:15-20 process.

CAUTION: If this step is successfully completed, Do Not Stop Here, the tendency is for both parties is to "feel" in closer communion and, therefore, believe that the restoration process has been completed. It hasn't, proceed to Step 4.

Step 4: Have the OFFENDER recall, as best he can, a time when they were wronged/offended by another, in the same way they caused offense.

Examples are not always easy to recall in a short amount of time, but stick with it, the rewards will be more than worth it. Remember the biblical values and principles in Step 2, and this should help the OFFENDER to remember a time when someone sinned against them, violating those same biblical values principles, and how Christ has changed them, 2 Corinthians 1:1-7.

The OFFENDER'S sharing of how he was impacted when he was offended in a similar way, will help the OFFENDED believe that there has been full communication between them, and that the OFFENDER does understand what they did or said wrong, and how they hurt the OFFENDED.

WARNING: If the OFFENDER can not share a time when they were hurt by the violation of the same biblical values/principles, there is good reason to believe the OFFENDER still does not fully understand what he has done wrong, and will not be able to grow fully from this experience. Therefore, the OFFENDER should repeat Steps 1 through 4 until he does understand. All sin has it's origin in pride, power and control. Therefore, everyone is subject to similar experiences, though not in specific details.

If after an appropriate amount of time, there seems to be little understanding, then proceed to the next appropriate step in Matthew 18:15-2O.

If the OFFENDED seems to be less than satisfied with the OFFENDER'S understanding and sharing, check with the OFFENDED to be sure you understand what it is the OFFENDED feels was less than satisfactory, and in your discernment, if you think the OFFENDER has misunderstood, then have the OFFENDER repeat Steps 1,2, and 3.

WARNING: However, if you think the OFFENDER has shared appropriately and does understand, and the OFFENDED party continues to hang on to their bitterness and hurt, by asking for more and more understanding from the OFFENDER, then the OFFENDED must be confronted with their unforgiving attitude and proceed to the next appropriate step in Matthew 18:15-20.

In either case, give appropriate time for recall and sharing. If this step cannot be fully completed to the satisfaction of all, then the one who cannot recall, share, or accept, should be confronted with his lack of insight, wisdom, and spiritual imaturity. If he remains unchanged, then proceed to the next appropriate step of Matthew 18:15-20.

Step 5: Have the OFFENDER restate their sin(s) expressing Godly Sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10-14) AND wait for the OFFENDED's response.

I used to say for step 5: Ask for forgiveness. But the more I studied, the more I realized the asking put an unbiblical pressure/expectation on the OFFENDED. A simple confession before God and others, with Godly Sorrow is enough. The response from the OFFENDED is fully the OFFENDED's responsibility.

By now, a majority of the reconciliation process is completed and this step is a check point to be sure that all previous steps have been completed successfully. For example, if the OFFENDER still hesitates or does not demonstrate Godly Sorrow after an appropriate amount of time, then you must proceed to the next appropriate step in Matthew 18:15-2O.

WARNING: If the OFFENDED does not give unconditional forgiveness at this step, then he must be confronted with an unforgiving spirit, then proceed to the next appropriate step in Matthew 18:15-2O.

Step 6: Have the OFFENDER repeat in his own words, the answer given by the OFFENDED, when expressing Godly Sorrow.

This steps gives the OFFENDER a chance to restate clearly the answer he heard. This will usually bring a better understanding and become a foundational step toward rebuilding trust in a Godly relationship.

If the OFFENDER cannot repeat in his own words (assuming the OFFENDED responded Biblically) what the OFFENDED said, then there is good reason to believe the OFFENDER still does not understand how the OFFENDED was wronged. Great care should be given here to proceed slowly in repeating the steps to be sure it's not more than a communication block.

If the OFFENDED gives a conditional forgiveness, or does not forgive, or gives an "I'll forgive, but I can't forget attitude, he is to be confronted with his unforgiving attitude, and if unwilling to repent, he should proceed to the next step of the Matthew 18:15-2O process.

NOTE: If the OFFENDED fails to give complete forgiveness, the OFFENDER is still released from the bondage of his sin, if he biblically asked for forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 - 2:5)

Step 7: Have the OFFENDER ask, "What can I do differently, so I won't hurt you again?"

Here the biblical act of repentance and the turning away from his sin is brought into the forgiveness act. Each now bears the trust and responsibility to bear one another's burdens, and together work out a way in which they can show love and develop trust, based on biblical values and principles.

It's acceptable to include follow-up meetings, as necessary, to gain feedback, establish accountability so that reconciliation, restitution, and restoration have been completed.

Step 8: Restitution: What can we do to make you whole?

Far from the normal charge of punishment or revenge, restitution involves the whole Christian Community including the OFFENDER and OFFENDED, pursuing justice, mercy and faithfulness.

Here the OFFENDER recognizes what impact and consequences his sin has caused the OFFENDED, and is more than willing to do all he can to give back more than his sin cost the OFFENDED, and the OFFENDED shares equally the responsibility to bear the burden of restitution.

WARNING: If the OFFENDER stubbornly balks or refuses to participate righteously in the restitution process, then the Matthew 18 process of treating them as a non-believer opens the possibility the OFFENDED could/should take the OFFENDER to secular court, seeking justice from one not in the Christian Community.

WARNING: Here, it's possible for the OFFENDED to wrongly try to extract every penny (Matthew 5:26) from his OFFENDER, this demonstrates an unbiblical forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35). The same is true of "I can forgive you, but I won't forget it." The OFFENDED must be reminded of two cogent passages, 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 (not shaming God by going to the secular court against another believer), and Matthew 18: 21-35, (God's definition of forgiveness).

WARNING: If the OFFENDED continues unsatisfied in his claim, then he is to be confronted with his unforgiving spirit, if he refuses to give complete forgiveness, then proceed to the next appropriate Matthew 18:15-2O step.

WARNING: If given enough time and the OFFENDER and/or the OFFENDED is unwilling to commit to a follow-through plan of restoration, then there is serious question of rejecting the work of God's Word and Holy Spirit and thers is not a complete repentance or forgiveness, Therefore, he must be confronted and if unwilling to change, proceed to the next appropriate step in the Matthew 18:15-20 process.

This process when done correctly by all parties, will bring a Holy Spirit directed reconciliation and a spiritual reunion that builds and does not tear down (1 Corinthians 13:10). May God bless you as a peacemaker!
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APPENDIX FOUR:Go back

WHEN SHOULD WE MEET?

Before we can ask "When can `we`/`I` meet with 'them'?," we all must first evidence and practice the basic concepts of a Biblical relationship and appropriate communications behavior. We've included three Biblical examples, (Luther's sermon "The Fruits and signs of the Power of The WORD of God," "Christian Living in the Home" by Jay Adams and Building up One Another, by Gene Getz), of the attitudes, values and principles for a RIGHTEOUS meeting, for all, plus one secular example (Conjoint Family Therapy, by Virginia Satir)

Therefore, when it can be demonstrated that all individuals included in a meeting can practice and/or be corrected to practice these principles, we can hold a meeting that will be based on Love, fellowship and building Christ's body the Church, for all -- to the Glory of God!

The Fruits and Signs of the Power of The WORD of God

  1. Faith.
  2. Unity in the Spirit.
  3. Humility.
  4. Love of others and a renouncing of self.
  5. Joy of speaking and hearing things of faith received in the heart.
  6. Fruit of faith / not in word only, but in acts of biblical love.
  7. Free confession and sharing of God's Word.
  8. Christian Liberty
  9. Praising and thanking God from the heart.

Christian Living in the Home, by Dr. Jay Adams : Timeless Texts 800.814.1045

Three signs of a true Christian...

A truly Christian home is a place where sinners live; but it is also a place where the members of that home admit the fact and understand the problem, know what to do about it, and as a result grow by grace. Let us look in more detail at three significant differences that make all the difference in the world.

1. Christians admit their sins. Because they know the Bible says that no Christian is ever perfect in this life (cf. I John 1:8-10), Christians are able to acknowledge the fact and, in time, learn to anticipate and prepare for sin. They, of all persons, should never rely upon rationalizations, excuses, or blame shifting (although, of course, as sinners they sometimes do) to try to euphemize their sins. They do not have to cover up, for all Christians know that all Christians sin. There can be, therefore, a certain amount of openness, honesty, and relaxation about the relationships that Christians sustain to one another, especially in the home. I am by no means suggesting that we may be relaxed about sin; exactly not that. What I am trying to say, however, is that Christians do not need to spend anxious hours of futile endeavor trying to cover their tracks. They do not need to think up ways to deceive the fellow next door into thinking that they are sterling specimens of humanity. They may freely admit what they know is true: that they have failed to do the will of God. With the freedom to admit the truth comes the possibility of repentance, and with repentance they can expect forgiveness and help from God and from one another. Christians can progress rapidly out of sinful living patterns as a result. They can pour their time and energies into the endeavor to replace sinful patterns with Biblical patterns of life. Rather than wasting time minimizing or denying the fact of sin, Christians can concentrate on dealing with sin.

Parents certainly can take a lot of the unnecessary grief out of child raising when, as a matter of course (rather than becoming falsely shocked over the fact), they expect their children to do wrong things at home, at school, and in public. There is then no necessity to subject children to unusual and inappropriate discipline or to the excessive anger that sometimes grows out of embarrassment. Once parents are prepared to admit that the Biblical doctrine of original sin is true not only in theory, but is operative as well in the life of little Mary or Johnny, they can relax and deal with the problem appropriately (Biblically). Again, this does not mean that they will excuse or ignore sinful behavior in their children, or that they will be unconcerned about it as something inevitable and, therefore, about which nothing can be done. No, not that at all. Rather, they will acknowledge sin for what it is and will proceed to deal with it in a Biblical manner. All of which leads to the second difference:

2. Christians know what to do about their sins. Because they have the Bible as the standard of faith and practice, Christians not only know why problems occur in the home, but they know what to do about them. Thus the truly Christian home differs from the home next door in that it can use Biblical precepts and examples successfully to handle and recoup from every occurrence of sin. This, again, is a significant difference. The Bible not only contains directions about what to do when one or more members of the family fall into sin; it goes beyond this and shows what to do to assure that there will be no such future failure. Because this book largely is devoted to a consideration of many of the most common problems found in the Christian home, I will not enlarge upon this point here.

3. Christians progress out of their sins. Where there is spiritual life, there also will be spiritual growth. No Christian can remain the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. A fundamental presupposition of the Christian faith is that there will be growth out of sin into righteousness. Where there is Bible study, prayer, witness, and the fellowship of the saints, the Spirit of God will be at work to produce His fruit. That fruit is righteousness. This book deals also with many of the ways in which the Bible may be used preventively in Christian homes to avoid the trials and problems that the family next door must face simply because they have no such standard.

The Christian home, then, is a place where sinful persons face the problems of a sinful world. Yet, they face them together with God and His resources, which are all centered in Christ (cf. Col. 2:3). Sinners live in the Christian home, but the sinless Savior lives there too. That is what makes the difference!

BUILDING UP ONEANOTHER

Conjoint Family Therapy

by Virginia Satir-- pages 176-177
Prominently in Malachi, God uses even the secular models as contrast to bad behavior versus God's way. This is included for that purpose ONLY!

1. When family members can complete transactions (interpersonal exchanges), check, ask .
2. When they can interpret hostility.
3. When they can see how others see them.
4. When they can see how they see themselves.
5. When one members can tell another how he manifest himself.
6. When one member can tell another what he hopes, fears, and expects from him.
7. When they disagree.
8. When they can make choices.
9. When they can learn through practice.
10. When they can free themselves from harmful effects of past models.
11. When they can give a clear message, that is, be congruent in their behavior, with a minimum of hidden messages.

Be direct, using the first person I and following with statements or questions, which:

Be delineated, by using language which clearly shows "I am me" and "you are you". "I am separate and apart from you and I acknowledge my own attributes as belonging to me. You are you, separate and apart from me, and I acknowledge your attributes as belonging to you."

Be clear, by using questions and statements which reflect directness and the capacity to get knowledge of someone else's statements, directions, or intentions, in order to accomplish an outcome.

In short treatment is completed when everyone in the therapy setting can use the first person "I" followed by an active verb and ending with a direct object.
 

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APPENDIX FIVE:Go back

When Should I Confront Another's Sin?

Values, Purpose, and Definitions of Love. Evidence versus Gossip

Many disputes are resolved by overlooking an offense in love.

  1. Keep God's unity and peace as much as possible (Ephesians 4).
  2. Overlook offenses (Proverbs 19:11).
  3. Drop the matter (Proverbs 17: 14).
  4. Cover a sin with love (1 Peter 4:8).
  5. Bear with one another (Ephesians 4:2).
  6. Don't take another Christian to court (1Corinthians 6)
  7. Forgive as God forgave you (Colossians 3:13).

There are offenses that should be addressed.

When a Christians' offense against God, self or others, cannot be overlooked because it's dividing the members within the Body of Christ and/or significant enough to warrant help to overcome their sin, God's Word tells us to care for that person.
  1. Take the Log out of Your Eye, First (Matthew 7:1-5)
  2. Go to your brother (Matthew 5:23-24).
  3. Go show them their fault (Matthew 18:15-20).
  4. Rebuke them (Luke 17:3).
  5. Restore them (Galatians 6:1-3).
  6. Don't be partial (1 Timothy 5:19-21).
During PeaceMakers' biblical reconciliation process evidence and information will be presented to clarify issues. Evidence, information and reconciliation ARE NOT to condemn, blame or judge another. The purpose for a Biblical process is that all evidence and information will lead to the teaching and correction concerning all parties and issues needing to be reconciled. "All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

PeaceMakers representatives will act as witnesses (establishing issues and responses), mediators (interacting with all parties toward reconciliation), and/or judges to bring peace to unresolved principles and issues. Therefore, evidence that is a factual account specific to issues agreed to be addressed by the PeaceMakers' agreement, (verbal) witnessed by two or more and/or inclusive of e.g., two or more instances of a similar/same sin issue witnessed by a different party on different occasions, and single witness of doctrinal error, (Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15; Matthew 18:16; 1 Timothy 5:19) written (original or electronically reproduced) or electronic (audio/video), may be presented. Evidence received requires a decision by PeaceMakers according to biblical principles.

Gossip, (see Detract, gossip and slander) will NOT be heard nor reviewed.

Your reconciliation process may uncover additional issues that need addressing. PeaceMakers will attempt to reach agreement to resolve those issues within the current reconciliation process.

Don't be afraid of false accusations and false witnesses and those possibly intending you harm:

(Joseph speaking): "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" (Genesis 50:19-20).

(David speaking): "It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today" (2 Samuel 16:12).

(Jesus Christ speaking): "For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them" (Matthew 18:20).

Warning: God considers false accusations, false witnessing a grave violation of His Holiness and imposes grave punishment for such actions (Exodus 23:1-8; Deuteronomy 19:18-21; Proverbs 6:12-19; 12:17-23; 14:5-11; 19:5, 9; 21:28-31).
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APPENDIX SIX:Go back

Focusing Your Dispute:

1. Briefly summarize your dispute as you perceive it, placing events in chronological order.

2. List each issue of the dispute separately.

3. Divide issues into the following groups:

4. Prioritize the order of importance of each issue - most important to least important.

5. Identify issues between an organization and/or between individuals.

6. Describe specifically what offended you.

7. Describe the effects of this dispute upon:

8. Describe what you have done to resolve each issue.

9. What have you done that may have aggravated your dispute?

  1. What will it take, in your opinion, to make each issue whole, right and corrected?
  2. What should be done differently so that this won't happen again?
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APPENDIX SEVEN:Go back
PRINCIPLES USED IN RESOLVING DISPUTES

All Scripture, unless noted otherwise, will be quoted from Kenneth Wuest's, The New Testament, An Expanded Greek Translation. Greek definitions are from Vine, Strongs, Brown, & Gaebelein.

PRINCIPLE #1: When the Holy Spirit convicts you that a brother holds some offense against you, even while in the process of worshiping, you must stop and go and be reconciled to that brother first, then return to worship.

Scripture:

Matthew 5:23-24: "Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar of whole burnt-offerings and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave there your gift before the altar of the whole burnt-offerings and be going away. First be reconciled to your brother, and then, having come, be offering your gift."

Explanation:

Offense. The Greek word means "some, any, partly any, whatsoever, whomsoever." Therefore, the offense is anything that comes between two brothers.

Reconciled. The Greek word for reconciled is diallasso. It means "to effect an alteration." In cases of mutual hostility yielding to mutual concession, diallasso is to change (someone's mind) to reconcile; make it right between brothers.

Reconciliation of believers is the re-establishing of Christian brotherhood where sin has wrecked it. Reconciliation is the fruit of confession, repentance, and forgiveness (2 Corinthians 2:1-11).

PRINCIPLE #2: When error or sin is perceived, it is a Christians' responsibility of love to act. God commands it!

Scripture: Matthew 18:15: "Moreover, if your brother should commit an act of sin, be going, show him his sin with a view of convicting him of it and bringing about a confession between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have won your brother over."

Luke 17:3: "Be taking heed to yourselves. If your brother commits an act of sin, reprove him at once. And if he repents, forgive him."

Galatians 6:1: "Brethren, if, however a man be overtaken in a sin, as for you who are the spiritual ones, be restoring such a one in a spirit of meekness, taking heed to yourself lest you also be tempted."

1 Timothy 5:19-20: "Against an elder do not receive an accusation before a tribunal, except it be upon the authority of two or three who bear testimony. Those [elders] who are sinning, in the presence of all be rebuking, in order that the rest may be having fear."

Explanation:

Sin. In Matthew 18, Luke 17, and 1 Timothy 5 the Greek word for sin is hamartano, and it means "to miss the mark, to err, offend, trespass."

In Galatians 6 the Greek word for "sin" is paraptoma, which means "to side step, lapse or deviate, unintentional error, willful transgression, fall, fault, offense, sin, trespass."

Go. In Matthew 18 the Greek word for "go" is hupago, which means "to, depart, get hence, go a(-way)."

Show/rebuke. In Matthew 18 and 1 Timothy 5, the Greek word for "show" and "rebuke" is elegeho. It means "to confute, admonish, convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke, reprove."

Reprove. In Luke 17 the Greek word for "rebuke" is epitimao. It means "censure or admonish, forbid, charge, rebuke."

Restore. In Galatians 6 the Greek word for "restore" is katartizo. It means "to complete thoroughly, repair, mend, make perfect with patience and perseverance."

Confession/hear/listen. The Greek word for confession is homologeo , meaning "to say the same thing," i.e., agree with, to agree with God and the accuser about the nature of the sin. In Matthew 18:15, the greek word goes beyond "to physically hear or listen," which in the Greek, is akouo. It means "to hear, give audience, be noised, reported, understand." In this usage it gives the same meaning as the Greek word in verse 17, parakouo, which means "to fail to hear, disobey, take no heed, neglect to hear." Therefore, the hearing called for in this passage is a hearing that leads to repentance.

Godly sorrow devotes itself to getting right with God and man. It's eager to be without blame, and is indignant at sin. Godly sorrow alarmed at the consequences of sin desires justice. Godly sorrow leads to confession and repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9-11).

Confession includes four major components: (1) the sinning Christian restoring unity with God; (2) Agreeing with God's view of the sin committed; (3) correcting the sin; and (4) pledging, to God, not to repeat the sin. (1 John 1:9, Wuest Word Studies, Greek New Testament, Kenneth Wuest)

Repent. In Luke 17 the Greek word for "repent" is metanoeo. It means "to think differently, or afterwards, reconsider, feel compunction, repent, to change one's mind involving both turning from sin and turning to God." The act of repentance rests first and primarily upon an intellectual comprehension of the character of sin. It perceives the depth of man's guilt, and man's duty to turn away from sin. Repentance refers to a change of moral thought and reflection following moral delinquency. This includes the act of changing one's attitude and opinion towards sin and forsaking it. The biblical principles of repentance includes sorrow and contrition.

Witnesses. The Greek word for "witnesses" is martus. It means "[judicially] a witness who can or does tell what he has seen or heard or knows, in a forensic sense." The concept of a witness (to observe what is spoken, testified to, or what was done) is combined with the responsibility of a believer to confront, reprove, rebuke, restore the parties as is necessary according to Luke 17, 1 Timothy 5, and Galatians 6. Therefore, you have the "listen to them" as the major emphasis.

PRINCIPLE #3: When a believer knows of a brother's errors, sins, even if it's a personal offense, it's the responsibility of the one who knows and has been unsuccessful in accomplishing repentance and reconciliation (Step 1 of Matthew 18), to take two or three witnesses and confront the erring brother a second time.

Scripture: Matthew 18:16: "But if he does not hear you, take with you one or two besides, in order that upon the basis of the mouth of two witnesses or three, every word may be established."

Explanation:

Confession/hear/listen. Cited above.

Take. Greek for "take" is paralambano, meaning "to take with you."

Witnesses. Cited above.

Established. The Greek word for "established" is histemi. It means to stand, abide, present, set (up), stand by, establish.

PRINCIPLE #4: When repentance and reconciliation are not achieved at Steps 1 and 2 of Matthew 18, it is the responsibility of the individual and the witnesses to tell it to the church.

Scripture: Matthew 18:17: "And if he is unwilling to hear them, tell the assembly. And if he also is unwilling to hear the assembly, let him be to you as the pagan Gentile and the tax collector."

Explanation:

Confession/hear/listen. In Matthew 18:17, cited above.

Tell. The Greek word for "tell" is epo. It means "to speak, tell, call."

Assembly. The Greek word for "church" is ekklesia. It means "religious meeting or congregation, the community of members on earth and/or saints in heaven, assembly or church."

PRINCIPLE #5: Christ promises us that where there are issues that require the completion of Matthew 18:15-17, that He will be there to help with the process and the decisions. In effect, helping those involved find His answers in a process designed to restore Brotherhood and Christian community. Most issues can be resolved by using the Scriptures. In rare cases where there are no direct biblical answers, those hearing the issues are responsible to seek God's answers. Those seeking help with reconciliation are to submit to any resolution that is not biblically wrong.

PRINCIPLE #6: There are several biblical factors to include when confronting a Christian Leader who you believe has sinned.

The Bible does not regard a leader's sin different from other believers. Leaders are human and sin. What constitutes grounds for removal from office? Scripture indicates if a leader is stubbornly disobedient, and/or greatly resists or refuses reconciliation (Matthew 18:15-20), and/or no longer qualifies as an Elder, he is disqualified from leadership.

First Timothy 5:19-20 requires two or more witnesses accusing an Elder at a tribunal. In Matthew 18:16, Christ quotes Deuteronomy 19:15, requiring two or more witness. Elders are also to be rebuked publicly so that other believers may be fearful of sinning.

Therefore, a leader is removed from office for two reasons: (1) He no longer meets the qualifications of Elder (1 Timothy 3, and Titus 1); (2) he would not reconcile with God and His Church during the Matthew 18 process. The removed leader must again meet the qualifications of a leader, by demonstrating over time, Godly fruit and a mature faith.

Reconciliation of fallen Christian leaders raises earnest questions of moral judgment and righteous response. How do you trust a person's confession? How do you know when there's true repentance?

Do tears and brokenness mean Godly sorrow? Are the tears because of the consequences of being caught? Can you restore fallen leaders? Can counseling make anyone with deeply rooted problems fit to return to leadership? Do some sins disqualify leaders forever?

Understanding restoration requires understanding sin, Godly sorrow, confession, repentance, and reconciliation. Adam's sin made all sinners. Christ emphasized that even the thought of sin qualifies as sin, as well as sinning by deed or lack of action.

To understand and identify sin completely, one must include the outward act and the inward mind and condition of the heart.

Sin does not begin with outward acts of disobedience. Man possesses a need to be in unity with God. Only God fills that inner longing. Man's sinful nature turns to self-searching for love and acceptance. Self devotes control and power to protect its needs not being met. The self strenuously rejects attempts to correct the sinner's favorite sins. The self, then rationalizes Biblical and secular values, beliefs and behavior, while denying unity with God and His truth.

Satan is eager to assist self's deception. Sin heightens self's desires through the guilt and hopelessness of continual sin. The victim increasingly seeks love, with diminishing hope, through intensified creativity to please the self. Sin is distorts thinking, beliefs, and behaviors.

Sinful habits are so ingrained that the renewing of a Believer's mind and heart takes great patience and love. Unity is not gained nor does corruption disappear by merely saying, "I've sinned, please forgive me."

Those with prolonged sin lack the faith that unity with God will meet their needs. They fear giving up their rituals of hopelessness. They cling to a relationship with a god they've created from their own militant ignorance. The Holy Spirit uses the consequences of sin and/or the confrontation of believers. God call the erring believer, continuing in sin, to return to God through Godly sorrow. A believer distraught by Godly sorrow chooses righteousness, all other sorrows are further deceptions of the hardened heart.

Godly sorrow devotes itself to getting right with God and man. It's eager to be without blame, and is indignant at sin. Godly sorrow alarmed at the consequences of sin desires justice. Godly sorrow leads to confession and repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9-11).

Restoration is a biblical concept that addresses fallen man being restored to God, through Christ. The concept of restoring a fallen leader to a former position is not specifically addressed. However we are not without direction...

Peter is an example of a New Testament leader who committed sin and responded correctly. Peter taught and practiced the heresy that all Gentile converts were to be circumcised according to Jewish laws (Galatians 2). Paul publicly rebuked Peter. Peter quickly repented from his error. Removal from leadership was unwarranted.

Hymenaeus and Alexander are two examples of teachers who left the faith (1 Timothy 1:3-20, 2 Timothy 2:14-19). Their continued teaching of heresy put them out of the Church. They were turned over to Satan for the destruction of their bodies, to save their souls.

There are many examples of those in leadership positions who continued in their former sinful nature and/or continued to teach false doctrine that brought division in the church. Paul called for these leaders to be put out of the assembly for not repenting and not being reconciled to the Brotherhood (2 Thessalonians 3; 1 Corinthians 5).

The good news... James 5:13-20 "...Remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins." Let all Christians be committed to Brotherly love through the ministry of reconciliation. Go back


APPENDIX EIGHT:Go back
HOW MAY DETRACTION BE
BEST PREVENTED OR CURED?
BY THE REV. MATTHEW POOLE, A.M.,

"He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor; nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor."--Psalm xv. 3.

Among the many sins for which God is contending with England, and especially with the professors of religion in it, I doubt not but one, and that none of the least, is, the gross misgovernment of their tongues. The abuses of the tongue are many, one whereof is the malignity of it. And whereas in David's time a malignant and virulent tongue was the badge and cognizance of an atheist: "Behold, they belch-out with their mouth: swords are in their lips: for who, say they, doth hear ? "Psalms lix. 7;) now, alas ! this spot is become the spot of God's children, and high professors of religion. A man can scarce come into any company, but his ears shall be filled with censures, detractions, reproaches; party against party, person against person. Instead of that old Christian love and charity for which the ancient Christians were noted and applauded even by their adversaries, " Behold," said they,"how the Christians love one another ! ") men's hearts are generally fall off rancor, and their tongues of sharp reflections, contemptuous and reproachful expressions, censures, and slanders, against their absent, and ofttimes innocent and more worthy, brethren. This is the disease which I would endeavor to administer some physic to from these words.

The coherence is plain. David proposeth a question: " Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle ? who shall dwell in thy holy hill ? " (Psalm xv.1) By which you may understand either Sion, where the ark then was, or Moriah, where the temple was to be built; and by either of them, the church of God here, and especially the heavenly temple hereafter.

So that it is as if David had said, and asked, " What is the qualification of the true members of God's church, of the citizens of the New Jerusalem? By what Properties are they known and distinguished from other men ? " To this, David doth not answer, that they are so differenced by their high talks, by their crying-out upon the sins of other men, or the wickedness of the times by their frequent attendance at God's tabernacle; but by the uprightness of their hearts, by the good government of their tongues, by the holiness of their lives: " He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart." verse 2.) And in this third-verse that I have now read: He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor." It is the last Clause which I intend to speak to, because it will comprehend the former:"Nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor." The Words I Shall explain in the handling of the doctrine, which is this:--

DOCTRINE It is the duty, and must be the care, of every true Christian, not to take up a reproach against his neighbor. I shall first explain the point, then prove it, and lately apply it I. For EXPLANATION, three things are to be inquired into:-- QUESTION I. " Who is my neighbor ? "--There are some men of fame in the world that will tell you, that, " in the language of the old Testament, by 'neighbor' is to be understood' one of the same country and religion,' popularins Israelita; " and it is the peculiarity of the gospel, that every man is made my neighbor. But if we examine Scripture, we shall find this to be a gross mistake. I need not go farther for the confutation of it than to the Decalogue itself: " Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." (Exod. xx. 16.) I suppose it will seem a very hard saying to affirm, that it is lawful to bear false witness against a stranger. So when God commands, " Thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbor's wife," (Lev. xviii. 20) I presume these gentlemen would not allow themselves that liberty with the wife of a stranger. If God may be his own interpreter, this controversy will quickly be ended from Lev. xix., where, if you compare two verses,--verse 18, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," with verse 34, "But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; "--you will not need the help of an artist to form this conclusion, that" the stranger is, in God's account, and ought to be in mine account, my neighbor." To the same purpose you may please to compare two other places of scripture together: Deut. xxii. 4, " Thou shalt not see thy brother's ass nor his ox fall down by the way, and hide thyself from them; thou shalt surely help him to lift them up again; " With Exod. xxiii.4,5: " If thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it hack to him again. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, thou shalt help with him." He who is my " brother,"which is nearer than a neighbor, in the one place, is mine " enemy,"and he that " hateth me" in another place. And it is further observable to this end, that the Hebrew word and the Greek a "neighbor," is usually rendered in Scripture by eteros ''another;" as: "He that loveth another hath fulfilled the law, for the law saith,"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (Rom. xiii. 8, 9.) Most true therefore is that of St. Augustine, Proximus est oamnis homo homini"Every man is a neighbor to any other man." Nay, the more intelligent part of the Jews were of this opinion; and Kimchi upon these words saith, " He is called my neighbor with whom I have any business." And the scribe, of whom we read, Luke x., knowing tile mistakes of many of his brethren, asks our Savior this question, " Who is my neighbor ? " (Verse 29.) And our savior gives him an answer, the sum of which is this, that even the Samaritan was to be looked upon as his " neighbor." Question II. " What is a reproach ? "I answer, in general, 1. It is nothing else but an evil report, or an evil speech, uttered concerning another. Now a report is evil two ways:--

(A.) When it is evil in itself, a false report.--When a man belies his neighbor, and bears false witness against him, either in judicial proceedings, or in common conversation. These kinds of evil reports David was exercised with: " False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not." (Psalm xxxv. ll.) (B.) When it is evil to a man's neighbor, when your speech tends to your neighbor's disparagement and defamation.--And here I must inform you, that a man may be guilty of reproaching men by commendations, as David speaks of his enemy: " His words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords." (Psalm lv. 21.) It is the usual practice of some men to smooth the way to a reproach by a commendation to raise a man's reputation, that he may tumble it down with more advantage. 2. When a man publisheth a neighbor's secret infirmities or sins.-This all casuists allow to be a kind of detraction: and good reason; for through the matter may be true and good, yet the principle from whence this proceeds is evil. It proceeds from want of love to my neighbor, and of the just care that I ought to have of credit; and the ends, either of speaker, or of the speech in its own nature, or of both, are evil,--even to bring his neighbor into contempt or disgrace. 3. When a man aggravates the real or supposed faults of his neighbor either in opinion or in practice.--Certainly the professors of this age, and this city, are deeply guilty in both these respects.

(A.) In aggravating other men's real or supposed errors and mistakes.--Often times men call that an error through their won ignorance or prejudicate opinion, which in the judgement of far wiser and better men than themselves, and in reality, is a precious truth of God; and the pardonable mistakes of their neighbor they decry as fundamental and damnable errors, or at least as errors dangerous to salvation. I am far from pleading for errors that are really damnable, or highly dangerous, such as those of the Papists, Socinians, Quakers, and the like; but there are other and lesser differences among Protestants, who, "holding the Head," as the apostle speaks, differ in doctrines of less moment, or in the methods and modes of worship, in rites and ceremonies, which possibly one man thinks to be necessary, another to be lawful and indifferent, another sinful; and by these differing opinions it is lamentable to consider, and, I confess, I cannot think of it without horror and loathing, how Protestants traduce and defame one another. The one is "superstitious, idolatrous, a formalist, a profane person, and one that hath no sense of religion." The other is an " heretic, a schismatic, a fanatic, a licentious, lawless person, that follows his own sensuality, and hath not the fear of God before his eyes." Thus they mutually rail at one another, as if they had neither sense nor conscience. Nay, the disease is grown to that height, that, not content to censure men's opinions they will also judge of their consciences and secret intentions, as if they maintained such doctrines against the light of their own consciences; a censure which proceeds from deep ignorance of the merits of the cause. It were, I confess, a very desirable thing that all men were of one mind; and Christians indeed are to labor for it, and to pray for it: "I beseech you, brethren by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among; you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." (l Cor. i. 10.) But if a man consider the great weakness of most men's understandings, the infinite variety of their parts and apprehensions, educations, inclinations, interests, or what the scripture hath foretold,"There must be heresies, that they which are approved may be made manifest," (I Cor. xi. 19,) I think he will conclude, that he who shall expect this absolute harmony and uniformity in this world must either dreamer or a dote. And therefore the Holy Ghost hath directed us what to do in case of such differences of judgment; to wit, to talk charitably toward those that differ from us: "If thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably; " (Rom. xiv. 15 ;) and to agree with others as far as we can: " Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, Good shall reveal even this unto you. Notwithstanding whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing." (Phil. iii. 1516.) But for those mutual reproaches and censures one against another, I must take the boldness to charge you all, as you tender your salvation, to have a care of them; for though these points wherein you differ be disputable, yet this is out of all dispute, that you ought to "love your neighbor as yourself," and that you ought not " to take up a reproach against your neighbor." And therefore take heed, lest while you condemn another man for disputable and lesser errors, you do not run into an indisputable crime and fundamental miscarriage.

(B.) Men are guilty of reproaching their neighbors by aggravating their errors in practice and conversation.--When men censure and reproach others for things indifferent and of small moment: as, for example, in their habits and garbs. I am not ignorant that there are great miscarriages in men's habits, and that the bush that hangs at the door doth frequently discover what is within, and tell the pride of men's hearts; and there are certain bounds and limits to be observed, that men's habits be agreeable to their quality, estate, calling, and condition in the world: but yet there is a just latitude in these things; the lawfulness of them doth not consist in a mathematical point; these are to be regulated by the custom of times and places. Now if a man see another that doth a little vary from his fancy or practice, whose garb is a little more ornamental than his, though not much extravagant; if now he Judgeth the state of this man, and concludes him to be a profane or carnal person, this is a " reproach." So, again when a man commits some miscarriage towards his neighbor through carelessness, or forgetfulness, or mistake, it is a common thing for men to charge it as a malicious design, intended for their hurt: this is a " reproach." And you may easily multiply instances in your own thoughts. QUESTION III. "What is it to take-up a reproach against a man's neighbor ? " I answer: It is a defective manner of expression and therefore is diversely supplied; but especially and most reasonably two ways: and, accordingly, a man may be guilty of taking-up a reproach against his neighbor two ways:--

1. When he takes it up into his mouth.--The Hebrew word is often so used; as Exod. xx. 7: "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." Not take it; that is, not lift it up upon thy tongue, or not take it into thy mouth. So, Isa. xiv. 4: " Thou shalt take-up this proverb against the king of Babylon; " that is, Thou shalt take it up into thy lips, thou shalt utter and - publish it. Thus, Ezek. xxvi. 17: " They shall take-up a lamentation for thee; " which is explained in the following words: " And say to thee, How art thou destroyed! " And there-fore, elsewhere, the word "lips" or "mouth" is added; as Psalm xvi.4: " Their drink-offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips." Psalm 1. 16: " What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth ? "And this phrase of taking-up may possibly respect the situation of the mouth above the heart; which, according to the opinion of the Hebrews, is the seat of the understanding. As if he had said: " If there should rise in thy heart an evil thought or device against thy brother, let it die there; let it never come up into thy mouth." Now, in this respect, a man may be guilty of this sin of taking-up a reproach against his neighbor two ways:-- (A.) When he is the author and first raiser of a reproach.--Such as Sanballat was: " There are no such things as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thy own heart." (Neh. vi. 8.) (B.) When a man is the spreader or promoter of it.--Suppose it comes from another fountain, if thou art the conduit pipe by whom it is conveyed to others, thou art guilty of it. " Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale-bearer among thy people." (Lev. xix. 16.) 2. When a man takes it into his ear.--So some expound these words:" Thou shalt not receive, not admit, not endure, a reproach against thy neighbor." You know, the receiver of stolen goods is as obnoxious to the law as he that takes them away: so then a man may be guilty of this sin, not only by speaking, but also by the hearing of a reproach against his neighbor; and so he may be three ways:-- (A.) When a man quietly permits it, and gives no check to it.--This certain the great law of charity commands me not only to do no harm to my neighbor, but also to suffer no hurt to be done to him which it lies in my power to prevent or remove. If another set his house on fire, I must lend my help to quench it; I must pull my neighbor's ox out of the pit, though another man hateth him in; and, consequently, when the good name of my neighbor is invaded by another, if I patiently bear the reproach, I make myself guilty.

(B.) When a man hears a reproach against his neighbor greedily; and with delight.--It is a sin, and that of no small size, for a man to take pleasure in the sins of others; and therefore the apostle makes it an aggravation of sin: " Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." (Rom. i. 32.) " Charity rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth." (I Cor. xiii. 4, 6.) Consider, I beseech you, the commonness of this sin. If a reproach be fastened upon one who is a man's enemy, or of another party, men commonly hear such reproaches with delight; not considering that this is not only a blemish to his own party, but also a blot to Christianity, a reproach to the Protestant religion, a sin against God and against the gospel, a scandal to men; and these things should rather call for tears, than laughter and approbation. And therefore, when a man seems to approve another man's reproach, and encourage the reproacher, he involves himself in the guilt of it. It is the saying of a very learned man upon the Proverbs, that " it is not easy to know whether is a greater sinner, or whether is the greater plague to a commonwealth,--he that spreads a reproach, or he that willingly receives it."

(3.) When a man easily believes reproach.--It is said indeed, "Charity believeth all things; " (I Cor. xiii. 4, 7 ;) but the object of this belief is the good of my neighbor, and not his evil. Charity readily believes well concerning its neighbor, where there is the least color or foundation for it; but it is slow to believe evil concerning him; and when a man is prone to believe evil concerning another man, it is a great sign of an uncharitable disposition: the reason is, he cause men do most readily believe those things which comply with their own desires and inclinations; as, in wars and differing factions, every man is apt to believe good tidings concerning his own party. Good men are the least suspicious, and slowest to believe evil of others; of which you have are remarkable instance in Gedaliah: when Johanan told him of Ishmael's design to murder him, it is said, he "believed him not." (Jer. xl. 14.)And when it was pressed upon him a second time, and Johanan offered to Punish the conspirator, and to prevent the execution of the treason, he said, " Thou shalt not do this thing: for thou speakest falsely concerning Ishmael." (Verse 16.)

You may observe how backward fond parents are to believe any ill report concerning their children: and whence doth this proceed? Even from an inordinate love and kindness to them; and therefore, on the contrary, men's credulity unto evil reports concerning their neighbors doth proceed from want of love and affection to them. So much for the explication. II. The proof of the doctrine shall consist in the representation of the sinfulness and injury of this practice of censuring, back-biting, and reproaching of others. And that I may more effectually dissuade and affright myself and you from it, I shall discover to you how pregnant a sin this is: there is a complication of injuries in it. It is injurious, first, to God; Secondly, to yourselves; Thirdly, to the party censured or reproached; Fourthly, to other men.

(A.) To God and Christ in divers particulars.

1. It is an invasion of God's prerogative.--You know how dangerous a crime this is, when it is committed against an earthly prince; nor can you in reason think it less criminal and hazardous, when it is committed against Him who "accepteth not the persons of princes," and who is"greater than the kings of the earth." And therefore observe how severely God rebukes this sin in Rom. xiv.; when men did censure and reproach one another, either for the observation of days and meats, as guilty of superstition, or for the neglect of them, as proceeding from licentiousness; what saith the apostle? "Who art thou that judges another man's servant? " (Verse 4.) And, " But why dost thou judge or set at nought thy brother ? for we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ." (Verse 10.) As if he had said, "Thou dost set thyself in the throne of God, and thou dost take God's work out of his hands."

2. This is a manifest breach of the laws of God and of Christ.--The things, as I said before, which thou dost censure and reproach another for, are oftentimes doubtful and liable to dispute; but the command of God against this sinful practice is evident, and without controversy. He whom thou censures possibly may sin; but thou that dost reproach him certainly dost sin, and that against clear light; and so thou dost put thy-self into the number of those that "rebel against the light," which is mentioned as a great aggravation of sin. (Job xxiv. 13.) The law of God hath so evidently forbidden this sin, that if thy conscience doth not smite thee for it, if thou canst go on quietly in this sin, it is a sign thou art in a deep sleep, if not " dead in trespasses and sins." That this practice is so great a breach of the laws of God and of Christ, will appear by these particulars:--

(A.) It is against particular and express scriptures, forbidding this practice.--The text is evident: it is not like some places of scripture, which are " hard to be understood," and soon " wrested; " but it is so plain, that " he that runs may read it: " none shall dwell in God's holy bill that allow themselves in this practice. Again: " Thou shalt not raise a false report " against thy brother. (Exod. xxiii. 1.) A false report: either that which thou knowest to be false, then thou art guilty of forgery; or that which in the issue shall be found to be false, in which case thou art guilty of rashness and uncharitableness. In the Hebrew it is " a vain report," a report that lacks the solidity of thorough information, and of real use to thy neighbor. " Speak not evil one of another. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law; " (James iv. 11 ;) and so, in the grossest sense, is an Antinomian. Ministers must put people in mind "to speak evil of no man." (Titus iii. 2.) (B.) This is against the fundamental law of love and charity, which is the chief of the laws of God.--So great a law, that the rest of the laws of God must give place to it. Sacrifice, Sabbath, the worship and service of God, must frequently give place unto this duty of mercy and charity to men; by which you may see, as how great a duty this is, so how great a sin the violation of this command is. God accepts no man's person, he regards no service, where this is wanting. Though men pretend, or express, ever so much love to God, though they do or suffer ever so much for him, yet if they "have not charity, it profiteth nothing." (I Cor.xiii. 3.) And, " in this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" (I John iii. 10; iv. 20.)

But possibly some may ask, " Who, then, is my brother, to the love of whom I am thus obliged ? Possibly he is one of my own party and religion; and such I do love." No, every man is thy brother in this sense, and the object of thy love. It is true, good men are the principal objects of thy love; but not the only objects of it. The commands of the gospel in this matter are general: "Honor all men. Love the brotherhood;" (1 Peter ii. 17 ;) that is, love them in a more eminent degree."As we have opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." (Gal. vi. 10.) But now, all persons, yea, even those that censure and reproach others, will pretend they love them: but, be not deceived: if thou dost sincerely love thy neighbor, thou wilt be ready to do all good offices for him, to seek his good, to maintain his credit, to interpret all things in the best sense, to cover his failings. " Charity shall cover the multitude of sins." (I Peter iv. 8.) Didst thou love thy neighbor, thou wouldest not be so apt to censure him, so greedy to hear, nor so ready to believe, evil reports concerning him. When God shall come at the last day to try men's love to their brethren by the rules and characters of it which he did prescribe in 1 Cor. xiii., I doubt multitudes of persons will be found deeply guilty, that thought themselves in a manner wholly innocent. You should do well to study that chapter, and to labor thoroughly to understand it; and that I commend to you as an excellent antidote-against this wicked practice.

(C.) This is a sin against that great and royal law of Christ, which even the heathens have admired, and the emperor Severus did so highly applaud: "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." (Matt. vii. 12.)--Now, let your own consciences answer the question: Would you be thus dealt with by others ? Would you have all your infirmities sharply censured ? your secret miscarriage published to the world? the whole course of your lives ripped up, and all your actions severely examined ? No, no; they that are so forward to censure the real or supposed miscarriages of others, would have their own more tenderly dealt with; and, generally; those that are most severe judges of others are most partial to themselves. They that will most freely defame other men, will not endure to be reproved and admonished themselves. They that will turn the edge of the sword to others, would have the back only turned to themselves.

(D.) It is a sin against the great law of maintaining peace amongst men."This is prescribed as a remedy against this very sin: " Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another." (Rom. xiv. 19.) " Follow peace with all men."(Heb. xii. 14.) " If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." (Rom. xii. 18.) He saith indeed, If it be possible, because in some cases it is impossible to have peace with wicked men without the neglect of our duty, and without the loss of truth and holiness; but as far as it is possible, we are obliged to promote it. But what peace can there be in the midst of censures and reproaches ? The natural offspring of such parents are contentions, divisions, animosities; while peace lies bleeding and languishing.

(E.) It is against that great command laid upon all Christians, of excelling other men.--Christ requires more from Christians than he doth from other men: "What do ye more than others ? " (Matt. v. 47.) Christians must be free from the vices of other men: " This I say there-fore, and testify in the Lord, that ye walk not as other Gentiles walk."(Eph. iv. 17.) So, Luke xii. 25, 26: "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship; " they are proud, ambitious, imperious. " But it shall not be so among you ;" Christians must be in the world like "lights shining in a dark place." They must have all the virtues that others have, and they must be clean from all the vices and lusts in which others live. Now, the very Heathens have condemned this practice of reproaching and traducing others: detractors were infamous amongst them; and therefore it is a shame this should be practiced by Christians.

(F.) This is a sin against the whole design and scope of the scriptures.--These are, as I may say, the two poles, upon which the heavenly globe of the scripture turns; the love of God, and the love of our neighbor." Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all the heart, and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (Matt.xxii. 37, &c.) " Love is the fulfilling of the law; " (Rom. xiii. 10 ;) and the law is enforced by Christ, John xiii. 31: " A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another." So, than, all the scripture hath but one neck; and this the detractor cuts off, and so makes himself the greatest anti-scripturist in the world.

3. This is a great injury to God, because it is a confederacy with God's greatest enemy, the devil.--God judgeth of men's relations by their works, and not by their talks. " If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham." (John viii. 39.) And, verse 41:"Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do."Now this among others is the devil's great work and office, who is hence called "the accuser of the brethren," (Rev. xii. 10,) and from whence he hath his name diabolus, which is "a calumniator, a slanderer, a reproacher." And these men, as they do the devil's work, so they are called by the devil's name: " Not slanderers ;" in the Greek, mh eicxolous, " not devils." (1 Tim iii. 11.) And as they do the devil's work, so they serve the devil's great design. " God is love," and therefore his design is to promote love in the world. The devil is a malignant and hateful spirit, and his work is to promote hatred, contention, and strife among men: and that is effectually done by this way. (II.) This is an injury to thyself in these particulars:--

1. Hereby thou dost contract guilt, the worst of all evils.--A man's sin may injure another man; but the greatest and the worst part of it falls upon his own head. "Wickedness," saith Seneca, " drinketh up the greatest part of its own poison." He that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul." (Prov. viii. 36.) Thou woundest another man's name; but thou woundest thy own conscience: which of these is the worst? He whom thou reproaches gets a blot before men; and thou dost procure to thyself a blot before God. Thou accusest him before other men; and thy conscience will accuse thee for it before God.

2. Hereby thou dost expel or weaken that excellent grace of love, that necessary and fundamental grace, that sweet and amiable grace.--As all virtue is a reward to itself, so is this in a more special manner. Infinite is the pleasure of the holy soul, in loving God, and loving all men, and loving enemies. O, this is a most delightful work ! And, on the contrary, hatred, and malice, and envy, as they are most sinful, so are they very miserable, works, and a great torment to him that hath them. While the mind of a wicked, malicious man is like "the raging sea," continually " casting up mire and dirt," and is its own tormentor; the mind of a good man, exercising itself in love, is, as it were, " a sea of glass like unto crystal," calm and serene; it enjoys God, and itself, and other men, yea, even a man's enemies: by this holy art a man may get comfort out of his enemies, whether they will or no.

3. Hereby thou dost LAY a foundation for thy own reproach.--" Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Matt. vii. 1, 2.) Me thinks this text should strike a terror into all persons who are guilty of this sin. The law of retaliation prescribed by God is frequently inflicted by him also: "He shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy. ' (James ii. 13.) So that thou dost engage the great God against thee, to pour contempt upon thy name, and to make thee a reproach in the world. (III.) It is a great injury to he person whom thou dost censure and reproach; and that in these particulars:--

1. Thou dost rob him of he best treasure which he hath in the world. --"A good name is rather to be chosen than riches; " (Prov, xii. 1;) and, consequently, thou art more criminal than he that dieth by the hands of justice for taking away another man's goods: thou robbest him of that which thou art not able to give him; thou robbest him of the most lasting good which he hath, and that which alone will abide after death. So that thy cruelty extends beyond the grave, and tends to this,--to make his name rot above ground, while his body rots in it. And this injury is the greater, because it cannot be prevented: there is no fence against this vice; it is the arrow that flies by night, which no man can either observe or avoid, and it is an injury which can hardly be repaired. Breaches in men's estates may be made up, liberty lost maybe recovered, a conscience wounded may be healed; but a reputation can hardly ever be restored. Calumniare fortiter, aliquid adhaerebit, " Slander a man resolutely, and something, to be sure, will stick."

2. Hereby thou dost disenable him from getting good, both as to his outward and as to his inward man..

As to his outward man: who knows not the necessity of a good name for the successful management of a man's worldly concernment ? By one act of this sin thou mayest possibly undo a man and all his family.

It hinders him also from receiving inward good as to the state of his soul: at least he is not likely to get any good from thee. Whereas it is thy duty to " rebuke thy neighbor, and not to suffer sin to rest upon him;" (Lev. xix. 17; ) this is the way to make that work altogether unsuccessful: it stops his ear against thy counsels, it hardens his heart against thy admonition; and many times such reproaches make men careless, and by degrees impudent; and when once they have lost their reputation by thy calumnies, they are not careful to regain it, and, it may be, judge it impossible.

3. Hereby thou dost hinder him from doing of good in the world.--It is certain, a good name is of absolute necessity to make a man considerably serviceable in the world: when a man hath once lost this, the very good which he doeth is despised and disregarded. And this reason especially concerns you in the reproaching of three sorts of person, which I do therefore in a special manner caution you against.

(A.) In reproaching of magistrates, of kings, and persons in authority.--Magistrates, though bad in themselves, yet are to be looked upon as great blessings; and if we had the Persian experiment of absolute anarchy but for a few days, that every man might do that which seemed right in his own eyes, we should all be sensible of this truth. Now, the magistrate's reputation is the great supporter of that majesty and authority which he bears, and the magistrate's authority is the people's benefit. And therefore all persons should be tender in this particular; they should not expose kings and magistrates to contempt and scorn, nor beget irreverence in people toward them. And therefore they ought to take heed, not only of divulging false reports concerning them, but even such as possibly may be true; they must take heed of publishing the secret miscarriages of princes; for this, as I told you, is a sin against any man, but much more against person in authority.

(B.) Against ministers.--Their name is most necessary for their use-fulness in the word. And therefore, when a man defames a minister, beside that injury which is common to other men, he doth this peculiar mischief,--he endeavors to rob the world of all the good which such a person may do in it. I cannot but take this occasion to vent my great grief, and the scandal I justly take, at those ministers and Christian, who, if a man differ from them in some doctrines or rites of less moment, (though otherwise never so eminent,) make it their business to disparage and bespatter him, and think they do God good service, in blasting his reputation, representing him as a Papist, Socinian, time-server, &c. In the fear of God, consider the sinfulness of this practice. Whatsoever good such a person might do in convincing, converting, and building-up of souls, so far as this is hindered by thy means, the blood of such souls will fall upon thy head: nay, which is more, although good should not be hindered by it, yet thou shalt answer for all that might have been hindered by it. And for this reason Constantine the Great did profess that if he should know any secret miscarriage of a minister, he would cover it with a mantle.

(C.) Against good men, or eminent professors of religion.--Who, I confess, when they are bad, are the vilest of men; and when their sins are known and public, they ought to be used with most severity; and such shall have the hottest place in hell who use religion as a cloak for their villainies: yet, when the sins of such persons are secret and scarce known, we should take heed of spreading of them. Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon," not for their sakes, but for the sake of religion, which infinitely suffers by their misdemeanors, and the reproaches which arise from them. (IV.) This is a great injury to other men, in these particulars:--

1. Thou corruptest others by thy example.--Especially ministers and eminent professors of religion,--they should, above all others, avoid this sin, because their actions are precedential. They that will not follow your counsel, will imitate your example; and though our Savior hath cautioned us concerning the Pharisees, " What they bid or teach you, observe and do; but do not after their works; " (Matt. xxiii. 3 ;) yet, in spite of all that Christ hath said, men will take a contrary course: they will not hear your sermons, but will diligently attend to your conversations. O consider this: every time another hears thee censuring and reproaching thy neighbor, thou dost in effect preach and persuade him to this practice; thou settest a copy which other men may write after, when thou art gone into another world; and no man knows how far the contagion of such an evil example may spread, nor how great afire a little spark may kindle.

2. Thou art a disturber of human society, an incendiary in the place where thou dwellest.--The peace and tranquillity of cities and kingdoms are often disturbed by this means."Whence come wars and fightings among you ? Come they not hence, even from your lusts that warring our members ? " (James iv.1.) They do not come from men's lusts as they remain in their own hearts, for so they are secret and unknown to the world j but as they break out, first in their lips, and then in their hands.

3. Thou art a great enemy to the church of God, however thou mayest seem to thyself or others a zealous friend of it.--It is not easy for any man to conceive the great mischief which these censures and reproaches produce in the church: they break the peace of it, and fill it with sharp contentions and divisions; yea, they strike at the being of it. You know, " a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand: " they do their part to pull-down the glorious building of the church, so as one stone should not be left upon another. They eclipse the glory of the church, which doth not consist in external splendor, in riches and ornaments, but in love, peace, and unity among themselves. This was Jerusalem's beauty, that it was ~ built as a city that is compact together." (Psalm cxxii. 3.) This hinders the growth and progress of the church and of religion. When persons professing religion allow themselves in such sins which are not only offensive to God, but also odious in the world, it fills the minds of men with powerful and invincible prejudices against religious men, and against religion itself for their sakes. I must tell you, if the professors of religion would learn the government of their tongues, and the right ordering of their conversations, it would be the likeliest means to propagate religion in the world. And, Christians, if ever you would do this, do it now; never was it more necessary or seasonable to wipe-off those stains and blemishes which at this day lie upon religion for the neglect of this duty by the professors of it. And thrice blessed are all you that contribute to so glorious a work as the restoration of that beauty and glory which religion once had in some of our remembrance. But when the tongues of Christians are exercised in this sinful practice, beside the particular injury to the person reproached, it hinders the conversion and salvation of others. Consider, I beseech you, a little, the greatness of this sin. You think it a great crime (and so it was) in Elymas the sorcerer, who, when Sergius Paulus called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired them to preach to him the word of God, " Withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith." (Acts xiii. 8.) he did this by his words, and thou doest it by thy actions. Thou doest the devil's work in stealing the seed of the word of God out of men's hearts, and making it unfruitful. These practices beget in men a mean esteem and contempt of God's word, when they see how little good it doeth to others, and how little power it hath with you that profess it.

Before I come to the application, two questions are to be answered:-- QUESTION 1. " May I not speak evil of another person when it is true ? "

1. A man may be faulty in so doing--The real secret faults of your neighbor, as I told you, you ought not unnecessarily to Publish. And suppose there be no untruth nor injustice in it; yet there is uncharitableness and unkindness in it; and that is a sin. Thou wouldest not have all truth said concerning thyself, nor all thy real faults publicly traduced. " Out of thy own mouth will God judge thee, O thou wicked servant !" Yea, thy own tongue and conscience shall another day condemn thee.

2. You may speak evil of another person when necessity requires it.--It may be necessary sometimes for his good; and so you may speak evil of him unto those that can help it; as a man may acquaint parents with the miscarriages of their children, in order to their amendment. Thus Joseph brought to his father the evil report of his brethren. (Gen.xxvii. 2.) sometimes this may be necessary for the caution of others; as, if I see a man ready to enter into intimate friendship and acquaintance with a person whom I know to be highly vicious and dangerous, I may in such a case caution him against it; for, certainly, if charity commands me, when my neighbors's ox is ready to fall into a pit, to do my endeavor to prevent it, much more am I obliged to prevent the ruin of my brother's soul, when I see him so near destruction. But for a man to do this unnecessarily and unprofitably,--this is the sin I have been speaking of.

3. If you will speak evil of other persons, do it in the right method,--Christ hath given us an excellent rule: " If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more. And if he shall neglect to listen to them, tell it unto the church." (Matt. xviii. 15, 17.) But if men will be preposterous, and will not follow Christ's order, but, instead of private admonishing, will publish men's faults to others, herein they make themselves transgressors.

In doubtful cases, silence is the safest way.--It is rarely men's duty to speak evil of men; and when it is not their duty to speak, it is not their sin to be silent. It is seldom that any [one] suffers by my silence, or concealment of his fault; but great hazards are run, and many persons commonly are made sufferers, by my publication. Now, as charity commands me to pass the most favorable judgment, so wisdom obligeth me to choose the safest course. QUESTION II. " But what, if that man I speak against be an enemy to God and his people ? May not I in that case speak evil of him ? Doth not that zeal I owe to God engage me to speak evil of such a man as far as I can with truth ? " This, I believe, is that which induceth many well meaning persons to this sinful practice of detracting from divers worthy persons, ministers, and others, as supposing them to be enemies to God and to his ways; and so they think their reproaching and censuring of such persons is nothing but zeal for God. For answer to this, consider,

1. There is abundance of sinful zeal in the world and in the church.--Therefore the apostle gives us a caution: " It is good to be zealously affected always in a good things." (Gal. iv. 18.) otherwise we know it was from zeal that Paul persecuted the church. (Phil. iii. 6.) Zeal, indeed, is an excellent grace in itself; but nothing [is] more frequently both pretended where it is not, (and where envy, interest, or malice lie at the bottom,) and abused where it is.

2. True zeal hath an equal respect to all God's commands, and especially to those that are most plain and most considerable.--It is at least doubtful, whether the man thou traducest be an enemy to God and his ways; sure I am, it is so with some ministers and Christians that are highly censured and reproached by those that differ from them; and it were great impudence to deny it: but this is a certain truth and evident duty: " Thou shalt not take up an evil reproach against thy neighbor." 3. consider how easy a mistake is in this case, and how dangerous.--Peradventure he whom thou called an enemy to God, will, upon inquiry, be found a friend of God and his ways. But what dose thou mean by" the ways of God? " Possibly thy own ways or party that thou art engaged in: take heed of that. If you would judge a right, you must distinguish between the circumstantials and the essentials of the ways of God. Suppose a man be an enemy to thy party, and thy way and manner of religious worship and government; yea, let us suppose that thine is indeed the way of God, wherein yet thou mayest be mistaken; if, now, this man be an able and zealous assertor of the substantial and fundamental truths of God and ways of holiness, and this be attended with a holy and exemplary life, who dare say that this man is an enemy to God and his ways ? O my souls come not into the secrets of such persons! 4. You must not go out of God's way to meet with God's enemies.--If any man be really an enemy of God and of his truths and ways, I do not persuade you to comply with him, or by sinful silence to betray the cause of God; only let me entreat you to do God's work in God's way: you may apply yourselves to him, and endeavor to convince him; you may speak or write against his doctrine, provided you do it with modesty and moderation, and not with that virulence and venom wherewith too many books are now leavened. But, for this way of detraction and reproach, it is a dishonorable and disingenuous way, it is a sinful and disorderly way, it is an unprofitable and ineffectual way, and no way suitable either to the nature of God whom you serve, or to the rule and example of our blessed Saviour, or to the great principle of love and charity, or to that end which you are to aim-at in all things,--the honour of God, and the good of other men.. III. Now I come to the application. USE 1.

Lamentations for the gross neglect of this duty, or the frequent commision of this sin.--What tears are sufficient to bewail it? How thick do censures and reproaches fly in all places, at all tables, in all conventions! And this were the more tolerable, if it were only the fault of ungodly men, of strangers and enemies to religion; for so saith the proverb, "Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked." When a man's heart is full of hell, it is not unreasonable to expect that his tongue should be " set on fire of hell; " and it is no wonder to hear such persons reproach good men, yea, even for their goodness. But, alas! the disease doth not rest here: this plague is not only among the Egyptians, but [among the] Israelites too. It is very doleful to consider, how professors sharpen their tongues like swords against professors; apt one good man censures and reproaches another, and one minister traduceth another; and who can say, "I am clean from this sin? " O that I could move your pity in this case! For the Lord's sake, pity yourselves, and do not pollute and wound your consciences with this crime. Pity your brethren: let it suffice that godly ministers and Christians are loaded with reproaches by wicked men; there is no need that you should combine with them in this diabolical work; you should support and strengthen their hands against the reproaches of the ungodly world, and not add affliction to the afflicted. O pity the world, and pity the church which Christ hath purchased with his own blood, which, me thinks, bespeaks you in those words: " Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me." (Job xix. 21.) Pity the mad and miserable world, and help it against this sin; stop the bloody issue, restrain this wicked practice amongst men as much as possibly you can, and lament it before God; and for what you cannot do yourselves, give God no rest until he shall please to work a cure. Use II.

CAUTION, Take heed you be not found guilty of this sin.--Wherein any of us have been guilty, let us be truly and thoroughly humbled for it; and for the future let us make conscience of abstaining from it. I will suppose what I have said may be sufficient for arguments to convince and for motives to persuade you; and therefore I shall only give you some directions in order to the practice of this duty: and, to assist you against this sin, DIRECTION 1. Avoid the cause of this sin.--This is the most natural and regular way to cure a disease, by taking away the cause of it. Particularly take heed of these things as the causes of this sin:-- 1. Take heed of Uncharitableness in all its kinds and degrees, malice, envy, hatred.--Where these diseases are in the heart, they will break-out at the lips. " Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."(Matt. xii. 34.) 2. Take heed of loquacity and multitude of words.--A man need not seek far for perpetual motion; he may find it in some persons' restless and incessant tongues. Now, persons of this temper will not want matter of discourse, and therefore pick-up and spread-abroad all sorts of censures and reproaches against others, not so much out of malice against them, as for their own diversion and ease, that their tongues may not want exercise. Take heed of this: it is in itself a sin, an abuse of the tongue, a wasting of time, a reproach to thyself; it makes thee cheap and mean and contemptible in the eyes of others, and especially of wise and good men; and it is also the cause of many other sins.

3. Take heed of pragmaticalness, which is, when men are inquisitive and busy about other men's matters.--A sin often reproved in scripture:" For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all." (2 Thess. iii. 11.) "Let none of you suffer as an evil-doer, or as a busybody in other men's matters." (1 Peter iv. 15.)You may observe how Christ reproveth this in his own dear apostle:"Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me." (John xxi. 21, 22.) As if he had said, "Mind you your own business; do not busy your head about other men."

  1. DIRECT I. Take heed of man-pleasing.--There are many whose great employment and business it is to spread evil reports concerning others, who are therefore called " tale-bearers; " and this they do to please the humours of persons with whom they converse, unto whom they know such discourse is most acceptable. And thus many persons make themselves guilty in hearing reproaches, and not checking them, because they will comply with the company, they will not displease nor offend their friends. Take heed of this, and remember that severe sentence of the apostle: " If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."(Gal. i. IO.) He that pleaseth other men, so as to neglect any duty, or to commit any sin, whatsoever he pretends, he is not the servant of Christ .
  2. DIRECT. II. Learn the government of your tongues--Consider the necessity of it. The apostle James lays the stress of all religion upon it: " If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, this man's religion is vain." (James i. 26.) And if this be true, I am sure there are many high professors that must be blotted out of the saints' calendar. Consider also the easiness of this government of the tongue. Men have more command of their tongues, and of their outward members, than they have of their inward motions, concupiscence, and passions. If tongues be unruly, God and nature have given you a bridle to restrain them, " fence of the teeth," as the poet speaks.
  3. DIRECT. III. Learn distrust of reports.--It is a good rule,"Learn to disbelieve." Fame hath lost its reputation long since; and I do not know any thing which it hath done in our age to regain it; and therefore it ought not be credited. How few reports are there in any kind, which, when they come to be examined, we do not find to be false! For my part, I reckon, if I believe one report in twenty, I make a very liberal allowance. And especially distrust reproaches and evil reports, because these spread fastest, as being grateful to most persons, who suppose their own reputation never so well grounded as when it is built upon the ruins of other men's.
  4. DIRECT. IV. Reproach no man for that which you do not thoroughly understand.--This, I am sure, is highly reasonable; and he that doeth otherwise is altogether inexcusable, because he runs an infinite hazard, lest, while he opposeth a man, he be found to fight against God. And truly, if this rule were practiced, some kinds of reproaches would be rare in the world: for persons of true and clear understanding are not apt to reproach others for different opinions in lesser matters . they consider the weakness of human nature, and the necessity of mutual forbearance. It is the weaker sort that are here, as in other things, most querulous; and generally where there is least light there is most heat. Those persons by whose censures and reproaches the church of God among us is most miserably torn and wasted, are generally the more ignorant part of Christians. How many are there that are full of rage one against another for being either for a form of prayer or against it, either for the ceremonies or against them, that never searched into the state of the controversy, and never took pains to examine the arguments on both sides, which in all reason they ought to have done, or else at least to have restrained their tongues from such unreasonable and sinful censures and reproaches ! These, I say, are the persons that are most guilty, nay, upon the matter, the only guilty persons, except such whom base lust and interest doth corrupt and work to these animosities.
  5. DIRECT. V. Converse much with yourselves.--It is want of business at home in men's own hearts, that makes them ramble so much abroad, and rake into the lives of others. Study yourselves more, and other men less. Did you search your own hearts and lives, you would find as much cause of self-judging and self-abhorring, that you would have little cause to despise others, and much cause of compassion toward others.
  6. DIRECT. VI. Judge of others as you would do of yourselves and your own actions.--It is worth our consideration, what a great difference there is between the judgment men pass upon themselves, and [upon] other men. As for themselves, all their errors are but small mistakes. and all their sins against God, however attended with ugly circumstances of light) of consent of the will, custom, and allowance, yet they are but sins of infirmity, if themselves may be judges in their own cause. Their injuries to men are but small and trivial offences; and they do indeed expect both from God and man a pardon, of course, which if they have not, they judge God to be harsh and severe, men to be cruel and implacable. But when they come to pass judgment upon other men, the tables are turned, some mistakes are damnable delusions, and all their sins against God, which they can observe, are evidences of a naughty heart, and inconsistent with grace; and the of fences of others against them are inexcusable and intolerable, great affronts and indignities. Whereas, on the contrary, thou shouldest, as it was said of a great man," Be severe to thyself, and candid to others; " because thou knowest more wickedness by thyself, and more aggravation of thy own sins, than of all the sins that are in the world. But at least all the reason and justice in the world requires this, that thou shouldest weigh thyself and others in the same balance, that thou shouldest try thy own and their actions by the same touchstone; and more need not be done. Thou who art so prone to flatter thyself, wouldest certainly be more indulgent to other men, and pass a more favorable construction upon their actions.
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Puritan Sermons 1659-1689
Richard Owen Roberts, Publisher


APPENDIX NINE: Go back
A Recommended Church Discipline Process
The STANDARDS of the ASSOCIATED REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH THE BOOK OF DISCIPLINE

CHAPTER I THEOLOGY OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE

I . The basis of all church discipline is the free love of God in Christ expressed in both mercy and judgment The purpose of discipline is to bring about the reconciliation of man to God and man to man and to engage the people of God in the ministry of reconciliation, and to promote the peace, purity, and edification of the Church. Christian discipline is discipleship; it is the response of loving commitment to God in Christ as Lord that learns from Him as it obediently seeks to carry on His mission in the world. Under the rule of Christ expressed through the Church, discipline is that submission that frees the Christian for more effective service. Such service by the Church in the world demands a disciplined individual and corporate life. Each Christian is incorporated into the disciplined community and is Responsible under its government for the total ministry of the body as the body is responsible for each individual and group in the Church. In this mutual responsibility, all are held accountable for the sake of the task of the whole body of Christ, remembering that each individual and group is finally responsible not to a church court, but to God.

2. Discipline is never to be perverted into the impossible and unnecessary effort to gain the gift of salvation, into a source of pride, or Into nourishing of the life of the Church as an end in itself. Whereas a certain structure is essential for the disciplined life, the mission of the Church is primary, and the rule of discipline is not rigid but open to change that will better accomplish this mission according to the Scriptures.

3. In this context of discipline, the Church, under the authority of the Lord, disciplines or guides, instructs, and controls its members and courts to enable them to serve God more effectively. The exercise of discipline is made necessary by the need more fully to reconcile Christian individuals or groups to God and one another, to prevent mercy from becoming a soft and finally cruel indulgence, and to control those whose words and actions may seriously hinder the witness of the whole body of Christ. Whereas each Christian has a responsibility for discipline, corporate discipline exercised in the name of the Church is To be undertaken only by the church courts of session, presbytery, and General Synod.

4. The constant responsibility of any church court to a situation calling for discipline is contrition by the court itself. The court will search for any ways in which what the court has done or failed to do has contributed to the problem requiring discipline. True contrition leads to that repentance which will cause the court to confess its own sin and need for forgiveness and to be more responsible. The court will submit itself constantly to the will of the Lord in searching the Scriptures and in prayer.

5. The court is to restrain the words and actions of those under its jurisdiction according to the particular circumstances. The criterion for corrective discipline is the teaching of the Scriptures and the standards of the Church. This is summed up in the good news that in response to God's love, the Christian loves God and his neighbor as himself and is engaged in the mission of the Church. Every effort will be made to accomplish any needed restraint by constructive criticism and verbal persuasion. If these means fail, then necessary censures will be employed in proportion to the offense and in consideration of all the circumstances.

6. In all things, the church court shall seek the repentance and restoration of the individual or group involved consistent with the Higher responsibility of the court to carry on Christ's work in the most effective way.

CHAPTER 11 OFFENSES AND CENSURES A. OFFENSES

I . An offense is anything in the principles or practice of a church member or court which is contrary to the Holy Scriptures, the Constitution of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms.

2. Offenses are either personal or general, private or public but all offenses, being sins against God, are grounds for discipline. A personal offense is a violation of the law of God in the way of wrong done to any particular person or persons, including one's own self. A general offense is a violation of the law of God not directed against any particular person. Private offenses are those known only to an individual or at most, to a few persons. Public offenses are those which are generally known.

B. CENSURES (See Chapter VII on the Application of Censures)

1. There are five ascending degrees of church censure: admonition, rebuke, suspension, deposition, and expulsion. When a lesser censure fails to reclaim the offender, the court shall consider the infliction of a higher degree of censure.

(a) Admonition is kindly reproving an offender, warning him of his guilt and danger, and exhorting him to refrain from such conduct in the future.

(b) Rebuke is a reprimand, a strong, authoritative expression of disapproval by a church court.

(c) Suspension is temporary exclusion from receiving the sacraments or from a church office or from both. This censure becomes necessary when more serious offenses have been committed or when, notwithstanding admonition or rebuke, an offense is persistently repeated.

(d) Deposition is depriving an officer of' the Church of his office.

(e) Expulsion is the judicial dismissal of an offender from membership in the Church. This fearful censure is to be passed only for such errors or violations of the law of God as are grossly inconsistent with the Christian faith, or for obstinate persistence in grave offenses in the face of milder censures. Its purpose, like all censures, is to reclaim the member for Christ's service.

2.The censures of the Church are in no case to be employed for any selfish or vindictive purpose.

CHAPTER III JURISDICTION

1. Original jurisdiction over church members, including non- communing members, and over elders and deacons as officers, is vested in the session of the congregation to which they belong.

2. Original jurisdiction over ministers is vested in the presbytery to which they belong.

3. In cases where the court having original jurisdiction is unable or unwilling to exercise jurisdiction, the next higher court may assume original jurisdiction upon demonstration of sufficient cause having been shown to the higher court.

4. A higher court has appellate jurisdiction in all cases appealed from a lower court.

5. Jurisdiction over members and ministers remains in the proper church court until the person involved comes under the jurisdiction of another church body.

6. Jurisdiction over members ceases upon their expulsion. original jurisdiction by the presbytery over ministers ceases upon their deposition.

CHAPTER IV PRIVATE PROCEDURE

1. When a personal offense has been committed, whether the offense is public or private in nature, the injured party shall use the means prescribed by our Lord for bringing the offender to a recognition of his wrong and shall exhaust every effort to effect a reconciliation.

(a) He shall go in the spirit of Christian love and forgiveness and endeavor to reconcile the trouble between himself and the one who has committed the offense. (Matthew 18:15).

(b) If the breach cannot be healed privately, the injured party is to take with him one or more other members of the Church and repeat the effort to effect a reconciliation. (Matthew 18:16).

(c) After a reasonable time, if it appears that the efforts to effect a reconciliation are in vain, the matter may be referred to the church court which has jurisdiction. (Matthew 18:17).

2. Personal offenses satisfactorily settled between the parties concerned are not, as a rule, to be inquired into by the church court. Judicial process by a church court, however, is not t~ be precluded in such cases where the personal offense is so generally known or of such a nature as to require judicial investigation.

3. In all cases of private offense, any one to whom the offense is known shall endeavor to effect a reconciliation without disturbing the peace of the Church.

4. An informer who has not taken these previous steps to effect a reconciliation is himself to be considered worthy of censure.

5. In certain cases, the person to whom the offense is known, before making any effort to remove it, may desire to obtain the counsel and assistance of the pastor or some officer in the Church. To seek such counsel and assistance in order to remove the offense privately is not only not censurable, but in some cases highly proper.

6. It is the duty of pastors and other session members to endeavor earnestly, according to the spirit of the Lord's command, to handle all private offenses that may come to their knowledge and maintain the peace which is often disturbed by public process.

7. The peace and purity of the Church Is best maintained when private offenses are resolved by the parties immediately involved and kept confidential.

CHAPTER V COURT PROCEDURE

A. PROCEDURE FOR JUDICIAL PROCESS

1. Judicial procedure is the orderly succession of legal proceedings in accordance with those principles and rules set forth in the Constitution of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, and specifically in this Book of Discipline.

2. Offenses which are brought before a church court are those of a public and general nature or personal and private offenses that cannot be settled in a private way.

3. Whenever any charge of offense is referred to a church court for decision, the court shall, before even hearing the charge, determine whether every reasonable and appropriate effort has been made to settle the matter in a more private way.

4. Judicial process against an alleged offender shall not be instituted unless some reliable person or persons make the charge and undertake to substantiate it, or unless the court finds it necessary for the good of the persons involved and/or the Church to investigate the alleged offense.

5. If there is any doubt in the minds of two or more members of the court regarding whether the alleged offender is censurable or whether there is sufficient evidence to substantiate the charge, a committee shall be elected by the court to ascertain whether all required preliminary steps have been taken, whether there are probable grounds tor an accusation, and whether, if charges are proved, they will constitute a censurable offense.

(a) In its investigation, the committee (or the court) is to exercise great caution when charges rest chiefly on the testimony of persons who are or have been at enmity with the accused, who have the reputation of being untruthful or quarrelsome, or who have prospect of some temporal advantage from the charges.

(b) Anyone who brings charges shall be previously warned that if there is a failure to show reasonable grounds for the charges, the accuser may himself he censured for slander. The committee (or the court) will drop any charges based on rumors or other common report unless some particular offense is specified, is widely believed, and raises a strong possibility of the guilt of the accused.

(c) If the committee finds that the case does not require judicial process or that there is insufficient evidence to substantiate the charge, the committee will recommend that the matter be dropped. If the investigation indicates that charges should be made, the committee shall prepare the charges for presentation to the court.

6.. A person who may consider himself injured by a rumor, more or less current, may request an investigation for his own vindication. If the court grants the request, it may elect a special committee to make the investigation and report in writing. A record of the results may conclude the matter If the committee finds that charges should be made, it shall prepare the charges for presentation to the court.

7. Before proceeding with any judicial process, the court, or a committee appointed by the court, should seek by private conference with the accused to avoid, if possible, the need for actual judicial process.

8. If the offender confesses, the way is clear for the court either to restore him or to impose such censure as the welfare of the offender and/or the Church may require.

9. The original and only parties in a case of process are the accuser and the accused. The prosecution is always initiated by a court in the name of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. The prosecutor is always the representative of the Church, whether he voluntarily brings the charge and is permitted by the court to prosecute it or whether he is a member of the court appointed by the court to act as prosecutor. In appellate courts, the parties are known as appellant and appellee

10. When the judicial process is initiated, the court shall appoint one or more of its members (in a case before the session, any communing member of that congregation may serve) as a prosecuting committee to prepare the indictment and conduct the case in all its stages in whatever court until the final decision is reached. Any appellate court before which the case is pending may appoint one or more of its own members to assist in the prosecution no one is to be admitted as prosecutor who is personally biased or at enmity with the accused, who is not of good reputation, or who may have some temporal advantage in view.

ll. When any church officer has been cited for process, all his official functions may be suspended at the discretion of the court pending the trial, but this shall not be construed as a censure.

12. In any trial neither the accused, his counsel, nor the prosecutor shall perform any function of a voting member of the court.

13. Prosecution for an alleged offense should begin as soon as possible, but it must begin within one year from the time of the alleged commission of the offense or from the date it is reported to the court of jurisdiction.

14. The accused person may appear on his own behalf, or if he prefers, he may be represented by any member or members of the Church subject to the jurisdiction of the court. Any counsel appearing before the court must sign a statement that he has not and will not accept any fee or other emolument beyond necessary expense for any service rendered as counsel for defense or prosecution.

15. If the accused is absent and not represented by counsel, the court shall appoint as counsel one or more members of the Church subject to the jurisdiction of the court.

16. It is incumbent on every member of a court engaged in the trial of offenders to bear in mind the injunction: "if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted" (Galatians 6:1).

17. Every charge must be presented to the court in writing and must state the alleged offense with the specifications of the facts relied upon to sustain the charge. Each specification shall declare, as far as possible the time, place, and circumstances of the commission of the alleged offense, and shall be accompanied with the names of the witnesses and the titles of records and documents to be cited for its support.

18. When an offense, alleged to have been committed at a distance, is not likely otherwise to become known to the court having jurisdiction, it is the duty of the court within whose bounds the offense occurred, after satisfying itself that there is reasonable grounds of accusation, to send notice to the court having jurisdiction.

19. A charge shall not allege more than one offense. Several charges against the same person, however, with the specifications under each of' them, may be presented to the court at the same time and may be tried together. A vote on each charge must be taken separately.

B. TRIAL PROCEDURE

I . Before beginning a trial, the court shall decide whether it shall try the case or refer the judicial case for hearing and decision to a judicial commission elected by it.

2. Judgment shall not be rendered in a case by any members of a court or commission who can benefit personally from the decision, who is closely related to either party, who had been action for or against either party in the matter embraced in the charge, who has personal enmity toward either party, or who has prejudged the case. Any member may be challenged by either party at and only at the first opportunity when the court meets for trial. The decision about the challenge shall he made hy the remaining members of the court.

3. When the court begins consideration of' an alleged offense, the charge and specifications shall be read. Except by consent of both parties, the only other actions to be taken at the first meeting of the court shall be. (I ) To appoint the prosecution committee, (2) to furnish the accused with a copy of the charge and specifications including the times, places, and circumstances, if possible, and with the names of all witnesses then known and titles of records and documents that may he offered in support of the charge, (3) to cite all parties and their witnesses to appear and be heard at another meeting for the trial, which, except in an appellate court, shall not be sooner than two weeks after such citation.

4. The citation must specify the name of the accused, the court before which he is to appear, the time, and place. It is to be accompanied with a copy of the charge. The citations shall be issued and signed by the court's moderator and/or clerk, who shall also furnish citations for such witnesses as either party shall name. The accused shall not he required to disclose the names of his witnesses. Citations are issued only to members of this denomination other persons can only he requested to attend. Citations shall be served personally or by registered mail to the last known place (of residence before proceeding to trial, it must be clear that all citations have been served as indicated. If anyone who is a member of the denomination fails to obey the citation, he shall be cited a second time. The second citation shall include notice that if he does not appear and plead and/or testify at the time appointed, unless providentially hindered (which he must make known to the court), he shall be considered guilty of disobedience and contempt and may be censured tor that offense. The time allowed for responding to a second citation shall be set by the court with proper regard for all the circumstances.

5. When an accused person refuses to appear or plead after a second citation, the court shall enter the fact on its records, together with the nature of the offense charged, and the person shall be suspended from the sacraments and/or any office held in the church. When the censure of suspension is imposed upon an accused person for refusing to appear or plead, the court will ordinarily proceed no further with the trial. It may, however, if circumstances require it, and if it is sure the citation was received, proceed to trial on the merits, despite the absence of the accused, and impose whatever censure it finds warranted. In this event counsel would be appointed to represent the interest of the accused person during the trial.

6. At the meeting when the citations are returnable, the accused may request a change in the time of meeting because of inability to be present or because of the need for additional time to prepare his defense. The accused or his counsel shall appear. He may file objections and be heard on the regularity of the organization, the jurisdiction of the court, the right of any member to participate in the trial, the sufficiency of the charges and specifications in form or legal effect, or any other substantial objections affecting the order or regularity of the proceeding. The court shall consider all such preliminary objections or charges which do not change their general nature. If the proceedings are found in order and the charges, if proved, are censurable, the accused shall he called to plead "guilty" or "not guilty". If the plea is "guilty," the court may deal with him according to its discretion. If the plea is "not guilty" or if the accused declines to answer, a plea of "not guilty" shall he entered on the record, and the trial shall proceed.

7. The following trial order shall be observed: (1) The moderator or commission chairman shall charge the court to recollect and regard their high responsibility as judges of a court of Jesus Christ. (2) The indictment shall be read and the answer of the accused heard. (3) The witnesses for the prosecutor and then those for the accused shall be examined, with either party being entitled to call rebuttal witnesses. (4) The parties shall be heard first the prosecutor and then the accused and the prosecutor shall close. (S) The prosecutor and the accused, their counsel and all non-members of the court shall withdraw, the n)ll shall he called, and then members may express their opinion in the case. (6) A ballot vote shall be taken on each charge separately, with a majority necessary to convict. (7) Keeping in mind that the purpose is to correct and restore and not to punish as an end in itself, the court shall determine what censure, if any, shall be inflicted. (8) The parties shall be recalled, the verdicts announced, and judgments entered on thc records. It is then in order at once, in any court except the highest, to give notice of appeal. Such notice must be filed with the moderator or the clerk of the court within two weeks after adjournment of the court.

8. Before or during the trial of a case prior to completion of receiving all evidence, any member of the court who expresses his opinion on its merits to either party or to any member of the court, or to any person not a member of the court, or who absents himself from any session without the permission of the court for reasons satisfactory to the entire court shall be thereby disqualified from taking part in subsequent sessions.

9. If there are questions as to order or evidence arising in the course of the trial, the questioning parties shall have an opportunity to be heard. The question shall be decided by the moderator, or chairman, subject to an appeal to the court to be determined without debate.

10. At any stage of the trial the court may decide by a vote of two-thirds of the members present to sit in private session with all non-voting members excluded.

11. The charge and specifications, the plea, all the testimony, and the judgment shall be entered on the minutes of the court. The minutes shall also include all the acts and orders of the court relating to the case, with the grounds therefore together with any notice of appeal, with the grounds therefore. All of this, together with the evidence in the casc duly filed and authenticated by the clerk, shall constitute the record. The parties shall be allowed copies of the whole record at their own expense, if they request them. In case of appeal, the lower court shall transmit the record, or a certified copy, to the higher court. Nothing not contained in the record shall be taken into consideration by the higher court without consent of the parties in the case. After the final decision in a higher court, its judgment shall be sent down to the court in which the case originated.

C. GENERAL PROCEDURE

I . If the convicted party refuses to submit to the censure, the court may impose a higher censure for disobedience.

2. The court shall use its own judgment as to when it is necessary to pronounce sentence in public. When the ends of public edification can be as well served, private censure is to be preferred.

3. A church officer under process shall retain the right to deliberate and vote in other matters unless suspended by the court until completion of investigation and/or trial.

4. Church courts are to be careful not to involve in the shame and severity of a judicial process errors and irregularities which do not strike at the vitals of doctrinal and practical godliness and/or which may be removed by private admonition and reproof.

5. Whenever a church officer willfully and habitually fails to be engaged in the regular discharge of his official functions, it shall be the duty of the court having jurisdiction, at a stated meeting, to inqulre into the cause of such dereliction, and, if necessary, to institute judicial proceedings against him for breach of his covenant engagement. In such a case, the clerk shall, under the order of the court, forthwith deliver to the individual concerned a written notice that, at the next stated meeting, the question of his being so dealt with is to be considered. This notice shall distinctly state the grounds for this proceeding. The party thus notified shall be heard in his own defense. If the court decides that his neglect proceeds from his want of acceptance to the Church, or from It's lack of interest in the work of his office, it may divest him of his office without censure, even against his will, a majority of two- thirds being necessary for this purpose. The church officer may appeal from this decision as if he had been tried after the usual forms.

6. When a presbytery divests a minister of his office without censure, his church shall be declared vacant; but when he is suspended from office, it shall be left to the discretion of the presbytery whether the censure includes the dissolution of the pastoral relation.

CHAPTER VI WITNESSES AND EVIDENCE

1. Every court shall be its own judge as to who shall be admitted as witnesses in a case. Either party has the right to challenge any witness that may be called to the stand, giving his reasons for the challenge, and the court shall decide whether the witness shall be allowed to testify .

2. The accused party may be allowed, but shall not be compelled, to testify and no inference of guilt may be drawn from his failure to testity. The person originating the accusation shall be required to testify, on the demand of the accused.

3. The credibility of witnesses, or the degree of credit to be given to their testimony, may be affected by relationship to either of the parties, by interest in the result, by want of proper age, by weakness of understanding, by defect in and of the senses, by enmity to the accused, by personal character, and by various other circumstances to which the court should carefully attend and for which it should make due allowance in its decision.

4. Private writings and printed publications, the genuineness and authorship of which are clearly established, shall be received as evidence of the author's opinion.

5. Husbands and wives, parents and children, shall not be required to testify against each other.

6. The records of a church court, or any part of them, whether original or transcribed, attested by the moderator and the clerk, or by either of them, shall be received as legal evidence in any other court.

7. Where it may not be practicable for witnesses to appear at the trial, the court may request another court to take their evidence or it may appoint a commission for this purpose, due notice in either case being given to the opposite party. Evidence thus taken shall be received as if taken in the presence of the court.

8. The testimony of a witness in a different case in which the accused was not a party and had no opportunity to cross-examine shall not be admitted as evidence of the truth of the matters to which the witness testified .

9. Hearsay evidence is not to be received except when it would be admitted in courts of law.

10. No private knowledge possessed by members of the court shall be allowed to influence their decision. A member of the court who is called on to testify in the case may not vote on any matter in the trial except with the approval of both parties.

11 Circumstantial evidence may be received either to corroborate positive testimony or as conclusive when it is of such character as to produce full conviction on the mind of the court.

12. When a charge depends entirely upon the testimony of witnesses, at least two credible witnesses shall be necessary to establish thc charge. But the testimony of one witness corroborated by good circumstantial evidence, may be considered sufficient to establish the charge when there is no conflicting evidence.

13. In cases of common report, the testimony of several different witnesses to different acts of the same kind may he considered sufficient to establish the charge.

14. If after trial before any court new testimony is discovered which the accused believes important, it is his right to ask a new trial and it is within the power of the court to grant his request. No person who has been found innocent, however, shall be re-tried for that samc offense.

15. If in the prosecution of an appeal, new testimony is offered, which, in the judgment of the appellate court, has an important bearing on the case, it is proper for that court to refer the case to the lower court f'or a new trial, or, with the consent of parties, to take testimony and proceed with the case.

16. Before giving his testimony, every witness is to be solemnly admonished by the moderator or chairman, that his testimony is given as before the Lord and that he is to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

17. Witnesses who have not yet been examined shall not be present during the examination of another witness if either party demands their exclusion .

18. Witnesses are to be examined in the presence of the accused or his counselor, who are at liberty to cross-examine them. The same privilege belongs to the prosecutor and to every member of the court. All questions are to be asked with the permission of the moderator or chairman, and no frivolous or non-pertinent questions are to be allowed.

I9. The testimony of each witness is to be taken down in writing, mechanically reproduced and read to him for his approval and signature, and filed among the permanent records of the court.

20. If the testimony taken during the trial proves an offense properly denominated by another name than that charged in the accusation, the accused while he is to be acquitted of' the specific charge of the accusation, may be found guilty of that which appears in the proof.

CHAPTER Vll APPLICATION OF CENSURES

1. When a court shall have completed its deliberation concerning an accused offender and shall have found him guilty, the court, unless it has received a written notice of appeal within two weeks after the decision has been rendered, shall proceed to apply the appropriate censure. All censures may be administered or announced in the absence of the offender, but not without due notice having been given the offender. As in previous judicial proceedings, the court shall, in the application of censures, remind itself that the purpose of Christian discipline is the redemption cf the offender.

2. Admonition: this censure is to be administered in private.

3. Rebuke: where the offense is private, or where the witness of the church will not be injured thereby, the rebuke shall be in private. But where the offense is public, the rebuke shall ordinarily be pronounced in public In either case, a statement of the offense shall accompany any rebuke.

4. Suspension: this censure should generally be indefinite in its duration, continuing until the person suspended gives such evidence of repentance as may warrant its repeal. The good of the offender and/or the Church may require that the offender be suspended for a definite length of time, even though he confesses his sin and gives evidence of repentance. This censure should, as a rule, be announced in the Church hy a representative of the court. If in the judgment of the court, however, the good of the offender and/or the Church requires, this censure may he administered privately

5. Deposition: the censure of deposition is to be announced in the Church by a member of the court. The censure of deposition passed on a pastor shall be publicly read to his congregation by a representative of the presbytery, who shall then declare the pulpit vacant. Only in rare cases of gross offense, the good of the offender and/or the Church may require that the offender, even though he confesses his sin and manifests repentance, be deposed from office. Except in such cases, deposition is to be preceded by suspension to give time for careful consideration before deposition is imposed.

6. Expulsion: the officiating minister shall read the decision of the court in the presence of the congregation and recount the steps taken in the case, showing the necessity of this censure. He is then to lead the congregation in prayer for both the church court and the offender. After the announcement of the censure, he is to instruct the members of the church that expulsion does not destroy the bonds of natural and civil relations. Nor does expulsion relieve them from their Christian responsibility to witness to the love of God to the expelled person. The session, when it considers this censure necessary, may refer the matter, along with a full record of the proceedings, the evidence in the case, and its recommendations, to the presbytery. The presbytery may then order such censures as it deems proper to be imposed by the session.

7. In all cases of censure by lower church courts, the offender shall be advised of his right of appeal to a higher court.

CHAPTER Vlll WITHDRAWALS A. MINISTERS

1. When a minister unites with another denomination without a letter of transfer, his presbytery, after assuring itself of his withdrawal, shall remove his name from the roll and record his withdrawal and his ministerial standing. When the interest and the honor of the Church requires, the presbytery shall inform the body with which the minister has connected as to his ministerial standing.

2. If a minister notifies the presbytery that he can no longer adhere to the standards of the Church due to a change in his doctrinal views, the presbytery shall endeavor to resolve his difficulties. Upon failure to resolve, the presbytery shall grant the minister a certificate indicating his relationship to the presbytery, stating reasons for his separation from the presbytery, enter the facts on the record, and remove the minister's name from the roll.

3. If a minister desires release from the office of the ministry, he shall notify presbytery. The presbytery shall consider his request and being satisfied that the reasons for release are sufficient, shall without censure, grant the request and enter the facts upon the record.

4. In the evenl a minister ceases entirely to exercise the duties of his office, devoting himself to other pursuits without satisfactory reason, the presbytery shall endeavor to persuade him to return to his work of the ministry. If unsuccessful in their persuasion, the minister's name shall be removed from the roll with entry of the facts upon the record. These circumstances may constitute a censurable offense.

5. In the event a minister becomes involved in areas of work outside the normnl bounds of General Synod, his presbytery shall have the responsibility of determining his voting status.

B. ELDERS AND DEACONS

I . If an elder or deacon decides that he is unahle to discharge the duties of his office or that for some other reason his service is not for the good of the congregation, he shall so notify the session. The session, if unable to resolve these difficulties, shall release the officer from his duties, either temporarily or permanently, as conditions dictate. The recorded facts and action taken by the session shall be reported to the presbytery .

2. If an elder or deacon ceases entirely to exercise the duties of his office, the session shall endeavor to persuade him to perform his duties. If unsuccessful in their persuasion, the name of the officer shall be removed from the roll of officers with entry of the facts upon the record. These circumstances may constitute a censurable offense.

3 Under circumstances in which the session feels incompetent to act on such cases, the matter, including a full statement of facts, shall be referred to the presbytery for action.

C. CHURCH MEMBERS

1. A member uniting with another church body without a certificate of transfer shall have his name removed from the roll of the congrega- tion after the session assures itself of this change of membership.

2 A church member shall notify the session if his doctrinal views have so changed that he can no longer adhere to the standards of the Church. The session, if failing in its attempts to change his views, shall make record of the facts and remove his name from the roll.

3. It a member habitually absents himself from the communion table and gives other convincing evidence of indifference to his religious obligations, he shall be privately admonished. Should private admonitiun fail, the session shall apply whatever higher censure it deems necessary.

4. The congregation shall normally be informed of any withdrawal or removal of a church member's name from the roll by censure. 5. The session shall endeavor to communicate with members who have moved beyond the geographic boundaries of the congregation. Such members shall be retained on the roll so long as interest in the congregation is maintained. After one year the session may either drop such names from the roll or transfer members to the list of inactive members.

CHAPTER IX RESTORATION

I . Restoration is the culmination of the element of mercy in the discipline of the Church; therefore, it is to be regarded as the goal of judgment. There is no degree of guilt which automatically precludes the restoration of an offender to full church privileges, following satisfactory evidence of repentance and reformation.

2. An offender is to he restored by the same authorlty which censured him or by the authority of a higher court.

3. The act of restoration may be publicly announced or privately conveyed. The court shall determine the option based on the good of the offender and/or the Church.

4. An offender desiring restoration shall make application to the court by which he was censured, acknowledging his offense and expressing his desire to be restored to the privileges of the Church The necessity of initiative on the part of the offender is in no manner to be seen as releasing the Church from its responsihility in pursuing the repentance and restoration of the offender.

5. The court is to consider carefully the request of the offender with the evidence of his repentance; and if satisfied of his sincerity and of the earnestness of his purpose to live a Christian life, the court is to remove the sentence and to restore him to the privileges of the Church.

6. In the case of expulsion, when the session has referred the matter to tlle presbytery for the ruling on the censure impused, the session shall in like manner refer the restoration to the presbytery along with the evidence in the case. The presbytery, if satisfied of the sincerity of the offender s repentance, shall issue a warrant to the session for the act of restoration.

7. An officer who has been suspended or deposed from office and has had the privileges of the Church suspended is to be restored to the church privileges on satisfactory evidence of repentance. He is not to be restored to the exercise of his office until such time that the witness of the Church will not he impaired by such restoration.

8. When an offender has been restored he is, as one forgiven through Christ who claims God s covenant promises, to be received by the Church as a brother.

CHAPTER X PROCEDURE FOR TRANSFER OF JURISDICTION A. INTRODUCTION

I . Transfer of jurisdiction to a higher court is provided in order to remedyy in an orderly way, wrongs that may be done. When those who had no concern in the origin of proceedings review and confirm or amend the proceedings judgments, the possibility of permanent wrongs is reduced as much as our present imperfect state allows.

2. The decisions of all church courts, with, the exception of the highest, are subject to investigation by a higher court. The decision of the lower court may be brought before the higher court by review, eference, appeal, complainlt, or declinature.

B. REVIEW

1. The records of all lower courts are subject to the review of the next higher court at any time the higher court shall require.

2. In reviewing the records of a lower court, it is proper for the higher court to examine: first, whether the proceedings have been constitutional and regular; second, whether the proceedings have been equitable, faithful, and prudent; third, whether the proceedings have been properly recorded.

3. The review may be conducted by a committee of the court which shall make its report at the meeting at which it was appointed. If any censure or correction appears to be necessary, the members of the lower court present shall be heard in defense, and then the higher court shall make its judgment on the matter. This judgment shall be entered both on the records of the court and on the records reviewed.

4. If the review indicates irregular proceedings which require correction, the lower court shall be required to review and correct its proceedings, and to report the correction to the higher court as soon as possible.

5. No judicial decision shall be reversed by a court sitting in review unless the decision is regularly brought to the court by appeal or complaint .

6. If, however, the higher court is advised of unrecorded neglect and/or irregularities of a lower court, it shall cite the lower court to appear and answer the charges. If the charges are found to be true, the higher court shall impose such censures and give such orders as it may judge necessary in the case.

C. REFERENCE

1. A reference is a written representation made by a lower court to a higher court for advice or other action on a matter pending before a lower court.

2. Among proper subjects for reference are matters which are new, delicate, or diMcult; which have produced a serious division among the members of the lower court; or with which a number of the members are so connected as to render it improper for them to sit in judgment.

3. In making a reference the lower court may ask either for advice or for final disposition of the matter referred. In case of referral for advice, the effect is to suspend the judgmellt of the lower court. In the case of referral for trial decision, the effect is for the lower court to relinquish jurisdiction to the higher court.

4. A reference may be presented to the higher court by one or more representatives appointed by the lower court for this purpose, and it should be accompanied with the records necessary for proper understanding and consideration of the matter rcfcrrcd.

5. In cases of reference for advice the higher court ought, as a rule, to give the advice asked for. It may, however, in cases of reference for decision, decline to give judgment, and remit the whole case, with or without advice, to the court referring it.

6. Notice of reference must be given to parties concerned in the case, and all evidence should be duly prepared and in readiness so that the higher court may be able to hear and issuc the case with as little delay as possible.

D. APPEALS

1. An appeal is a legal proceeding by which a case is brought from a lower to a higher court for rehearing. The effect of an appeal is to suspend all further proceedings in the case, including the sentence, until the case has been finally decided in a higher court. If a sentence of suspension or deposition be appealed from, however, it shall be considered in force until the matter is decided.

2. An appeal can normally be made only by an accused party, called the appellant, who has submitted to a regular trial. An appellant who has not submitted to a regular trial is not entitled to an appeal.

3. An appeal can be made only to the next higher court, except with the express consent of that court.

4. An appeal may be made either from a deflnite sentence or from any particular part of the proceedings. The grounds for an appeal in- clude matters such as any irregularity in the proceedings of the lower court: hindrance of procedural rights; refusal of reasonable indulgence to a party on trial; receiving improper or declining to receive proper evidence; rendering a decision before all testimony is taken; evidence for bias or prejudice in the case; and an unjust or mistaken sentence.

5. The appellant must make his appeal, together with the reasons for it, in writing, either to the court hearing his case before it adjourns or to the moderator or the clerk of that court within ten days after the judgment appealed from is pronounced. The appeal, however, should not be refused if reasons for unavoidable delay can be demonstrated.

6. The appellant shall lodge his appeal, with the reasons for it, with the clerk of the higher court prior to the beginning of its next regular meeting. The clerk of the lower court appealed from shall send the full record of the case or a certified copy to the higher court by the same time.

7 Evidence that has come to light at the first trial may be presented by either the appellant or appellee in an appeal.

8. The higher court may, at its own discretion, appoint one or more of its members to assist in the presentation of the case to its court.

9. After a higher court has decided that an appeal is in order and that it should be considered by the court, the following procedures are to be followed: (1) reading the appeal, with thc reasons for it; (2) reading the record of the case, which may include the whole record or only that part of it against which appeal is being made; (3) hearing the parties, the appellant having the right of opening and closing the argurnent; (4) taking the vote, with rnembers having the right to vote either to sustain, to sustain in part, or not to sustain the appeal.

10. If the appeal is sustained, either in whole or in part, the judgment of the lower court is set aside, and the court may either close the case, if further proceedings are unnecessary; it may try the case itself; it may send the case back to the lower court for a new trial; or it may remit the case back to a lower court for the purpose of amending the record, if it appears incorrect or defective.

11. If the appeal is not sustained, the judgment of the lower court is upheld .

12. The decision of the higher court shall be recorded and a copy of it shall be sent to the lower court.

13. If after entering his appeal, the appellant does not appear before the higher court either in person or by counsel at its next meeting following the date of his notice of appeal, the appeal shall be treated as abandoned and the judgment of the lower court shall stand, unless the appellant can furnish the court with satisfactory explanation of his failure to appear.

14. In cases where an appeal would necessarily and injuriously delay proceedings, it is proper for the lower court to refuse to admit an appeal and proceed with the trial. In such cases the party refused an appeal may register his complaint with the next higher court.

E. COMPLAINTS

1. A compiaint is a representation made to a higher court in respect to a decision of the lower court regarded as being irregular or unjust.

2. It differs from an appeal in that it does not suspend proceedings in the case and is the privilege of any one under the jurisdiction of the court. In judicial cases, however, a party declining to appeal shall not be allowed to enter a complaint.

3.Complaints are usually to be entertained only where the complainants do not have the right of appeal or where an appeal is ref'used .

4. A complaint brings the whole proceedings of the lower court in the case under review of the higher, and if the complaint is found to be well grounded, the higher court may not only reverse the dccision of the lower court, either in whole or in part, but may also subject it to such censure as the case may require.

5. The same rules of procedure are to be allowed in complaints as in appeals.

F. DECLINATURE

I . A declinature is the refusal of a party under process to submit to trial by that particular court.

2. Declinature is warrantable where the court betrays unfairness or partiality; where it prejudices the case; where it goes beyond its lawful authority; or where it permits persons closely related to either party, at emnity with either party, or who have themselves been active as parties to sit and vote in the case after they have been challenged.

3. A declinature is to be admitted by a court only when it is accompanied with reasons and notice of appeal. It in no case ends the matter, but only removes it by appeal to the higher court, where it is to be considered according to the rules already given.

CHAPTER Xl MATTERS UNPROVlDED FOR

Any matters of discipline or details of process not provided for are left to the judgment of the court having jurisdiction in the case. The court, however, is to be governed by the general principles and rules set forth in the Constitution of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, and specifically in this Book of Discipline. -END- For a copy of the full Standards of the Associated Reformed Presbyterian Church: Call 864.232.8297

A search of Associate Reformed Presbyterian brought me to our Book of Discipline attached to your home page. I agree that it is a good process for church discipline, I wish we ARPs used it more faithfully. You may want to see our new home page at http://www.arpsynod.org Go back


APPENDIX TEN:Go back

PeaceMakers.net STATEMENT of Faith and Principles

Welcome to PeaceMakers International

We're pleased about your interest in how PeaceMakers may help you. Here's information, for you, about our ministry of caring for people. God's principles and policies presented have proven successful in caring for us and other hurting people. We do not expect everyone who seeks our help to understand or now practice these principles. Yet, we do ask that since these principles are Biblical and proven successful in our lives, that those who do not fully understand these principles increasingly seek to learn and practice them.

Over the years of peacemaking, we believed that we knew and practiced these principles, yet to our own amazement, we discovered that along the way we had either learned an incorrect understanding of the principles, had failed to learn some of the key elements of the principles, or somehow had misapplied or failed to apply these principles -- you may have too -- NO CONDEMNATION OR BLAME, just love and gentle instruction and correction from God's Word.

We've also noted that those who participate in the PeaceMakers ministry often share of the tremendous opportunity for insights, wisdom, healing and Spiritual growth that takes place as the Holy Spirit directs -- as well as the struggle of overcoming old and destructive ways of thinking, acting and believing. If you have any questions or comments, about PeaceMakers, please email us at help@peacemakers.net.

Serving Christ Together,

William R. Fields

P.S. We encourage you to increase in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. God asks us to live as all that Jesus Christ said is true. 


COVENANT OF CHRISTIAN BROTHERHOOD
AND RESPONSIBILITY

We, the undersigned hereby covenant, agree and consent to the Biblical principles and procedures, governing Christian conduct and relationships within the Body of Jesus Christ. We have received Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord and are members of the Body of Jesus Christ, and that all responsibilities between us are not divided, diminished or void by organizational lines (i.e. Federal laws, State laws, local governments, geography, or church or para-church organizations and their accountability); We desire to be obedient to the will and Word of God in all matters of Christian conduct and brotherhood between us. We believe unity with other believers is more important than the exercise of personal or corporate rights or desires (Ephesians 4:1-6); We are never owners but always steward of the business, ministry, property, money and rights God Jehovah entrusts to us (I Peter 4:10);

THEREFORE: In the event there should arise any dispute or misunderstandings, we agree, that our dispute(s) be settled according to the mandate of: 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 1Corinthians 6:1-7, using the procedure stated in Matthew 18:15-20 and the substantive laws, scriptural principles, standards of evidence and remedies of the Kingdom of God as directs in the Holy Bible. If we are unable to resolve our dispute(s) between ourselves, we hereby consent and agree to submit our dispute for mediation and arbitration to PeaceMakers.net Inc.

RELEASE OF LIABILITY: In consideration of the services of conciliation, mediation, arbitration, Spiritual instruction, and discipline afforded to me through PeaceMakers.net, I do hereby, for any entity I represent, any holders of equity, or creditors, myself, my heirs, executors, and administrators, remise, release, and forever discharge PeaceMakers International and all of its officers, agents, and employees, acting officially or otherwise, from any and all claims, demands, actions, or causes of action, because of said services, Spiritual instruction and resultant actions. I WILL NOT USE THE SECULAR COURTS OR FILE A LAWSUIT as recourse for any dispute with PeaceMakers or any one connected to PeaceMakers.

The parties acknowledge and affirm that they have read and consent to be bound by this agreement and all of its provisions...

SIGNED:___________________________________ DATE: / /

PeaceMakers.net WITNESS

SIGNED:____________________________________ DATE: / / 


RELATIONSHIP TO THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH AND LOCAL CHURCH FELLOWSHIPS

It is PeaceMakers.net's desire to become involved in the concerns of an individual believer and/or organization, at the invitation and/or the participation of those in direct spiritual leadership over that individual and/or organization. PeaceMakers does not represent a person or a position, we represent the Biblical principles, practices and Brotherhood of Biblical Reconciliation.

PeaceMakers believes, practices and promotes the creation by Jesus Christ of the Body of Believers called the Church. Each staff and trustee are members of Christ's Body, and must meet the Biblical qualifications of Elders and be in submission to spiritual leadership. All Christians are called to participate in the ministry of reconciliation of individuals to God, to themselves, and to others.

As a part of Christ's Body - the Church, PeaceMakers' board, staff, and volunteers are committed to using their gifts and their spiritual maturity to the building of His Church. Therefore, we see our gifts as ADDING and DEVELOPING - NOT REPLACING the gifts in a local Church fellowship or para-church organization.

PeaceMakers believes that all responsibilities within the universal Body of Christ by an individual believer, an organized church, or para-church organization, are not divided, diminished or void by organizational lines (i.e. Federal laws, State laws, local governments, geography, or church/para-church organizational ties).

If there is a failure, by those in spiritual leadership, to practice Biblical principles, PeaceMakers will try to bring correction, and reconciliation to those involved. If the efforts are not successful, that spiritual leadership will be declared to be treated as a non-believer, according to Matthew 18. The individual seeking our assistance will be placed under Biblical Eldership.

If a local Church/para-church organization fails to exercise spiritual leadership and to practice Biblical principles, and cannot be reconciled, then that church/organization is to be treated as non-church, and the individual seeking our help will be placed under Biblical Eldership.

In the event of spiritual default, PeaceMakers.net accepts the spiritual authority to the individual seeking our help, requiring that they heed the following scripture: "Obey your spiritual leaders and submit to their leadership. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account." (Hebrews 13:17) 


PRINCIPLES FOR CHRISTIAN LIVING

1. Jesus Christ by his own action gave us everything necessary for living a truly good life, allowing us to know God who has called all of us to Him, through Christ's own glorious goodness. It's through Jesus Christ that God's greatest and most precious promises have become available to us, making it possible for us to escape the inevitable death that living for our self produces, so we can share in God's essential nature.

That's why you must do your best and see that your faith carries with it real goodness of life. Add to your goodness knowledge, and to knowledge self-control, to self-control the ability to endure. Your endurance too must always be accompanied by devotion to God, that in turn must have in it the quality of brotherliness, and your brotherliness must lead on to Christian love.

When you have these qualities existing and growing in you, then it means that knowing our Lord Jesus Christ is exciting and productive. The person whose life fails to exhibit these qualities is short- sighted, he can no longer see the reason he was cleansed from his former sins. By your conduct agree God has called and chosen you. If you listen there is no reason you should stumble, and God will open wide to you the gates of the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ...
2 Peter 1:2-11

2. To receive help we first accepted God's love through His Son Jesus Christ's life, death, and resurrection; paying our death penalty and breaking the addiction of destructive living; showing us how to live in unity with God, self and others, and practiced God's principles through listening to His Spirit's directions.

3. God gave us His Word the Bible to show us ourselves and His unconditional love for us. Through following the Bible in all matters we came to peace with God, self, and others, in Brotherhood.

4. As members of the Body of Christ (comprised of individual believers, assembled in local church fellowships) God gave us those who faithfully follow His principles so we would have people who know first hand God's love and directions. We listen to their faith.

5. As members of the Body of Christ, we meet with other believers to encourage each other to love and good works, devoted to the principles of Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit; in worship, fellowship, communion, prayer, ridding ourselves of all evil, confessing our sins, receiving and giving forgiveness, praying for healing of others, building the unity of true believers, bringing back the strays, and searching for the lost.

6. We resolve matters in dispute and/or the observation of anothers sin, because we love our brothers as God loves us. Matthew 18:15-20, Luke 17:3, Galatains 6:1-2, and 1 Corinthians 6:1-7.

We share the hope of Jesus Christ that is within us, helping make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything Jesus Christ commanded. 


COMMITMENT TO BIBLICAL CONFIDENTIALITY

PeaceMakers recognizes the importance and value of keeping our personal matters strictly within the Biblical principles of confidentiality, as outlined in Matthew 18:15-20, Romans 13, and James 5:13-20. Therefore, only those whom you involve or those who are a part of the helping team may know any information about you. Everything you share or shared with you, in private and/or in fellowship, is kept in Biblical confidentiality.

Since those in spiritual leadership over you are part of the helping team, confidential information may be shared with them, on a need to know basis.

There may be times when to help you, PeaceMakers may seek the aid of other Christians and/or health care, legal or other professionals and PeaceMakers assume (by your participation beyond one session) your consent to our sharing your confidential information with them.

There may be times when PeaceMakers may need important information about you that will aid in caring for you and we assume (by your participation beyond one session) your consent to the release of any and all requested information, medical or otherwise, from those having information about you, to PeaceMakers.net and/or a PeaceMakers representative. 


FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY

PeaceMakers.net is a part of Christ's Body, therefore all spiritual counsel and instruction are without Fees, as we learned, freely we receive so should we freely give, Matthew 10:8. As a faith mission we practice and teach submission to God and His provisions. No one will be turned away based on ability to contribute!

We learned that as we receive help, we have the Biblical responsibilities, according to our ability, to share all good things with your instructor, Galatians6:6, et. al. Malachi 3:10-12; Luke 10:7; Romans 15:25-27; 1 Corinthians 9; and 2 Corinthians 8 & 9.

As a member of the Body of Jesus Christ - the Church, PeaceMakers therefore is entitled to share in tithes and offerings with all contributions being IRS Tax-Deductible as PeaceMakers.net is qualified as a Tax exempt 501 (c) (3) Charitable organization.

PeaceMakers.net pledges to fully account to God and man for the Biblical collection and Godly use and distributions of God's resources. An audited financial statement is available for your reading upon request. PeaceMakers.net is a leader in the highest financial accountability, standards, and practices of Christian brotherhood.

We ask that you joyfully accept the responsibility, privilege and accountability of the Biblical priority of doing your best to support the ministry of PeaceMakers.net, so that others may freely receive the love of Jesus Christ and the help they seek. 


Biblical Principles of 
PeaceMakers.net Fellowships

WHY SOME GET HELP AND SOME DO NOT.. Psalms 36:1-4, Isaiah 30:19-22, Amos 5, Luke 8:5-15, 1 Corinthians 2:14, 2 Timothy 3:1-7

WHY SOME CRY DESPERATELY FOR HELP BUT HELP DOESN'T COME... Isaiah 29:13, Hosea 5:15-6:7, Hosea 7:13-16, James 1:20-25, Titus 3:8-11

WE DO NOT CONDEMN OTHERS LEST WE CONDEMN OURSELVES: We realized repentance is a gift from God and what sins led to our turning point is not important because in our hearts we are all the same. Therefore, we, DO NOT condemn but encourage your growth in faith in Jesus Christ as Sisters and Brothers to all who truly seek Jesus Christ. Zechariah 8:16-17, Matthew 7:1-6, Romans 2, 2 Timothy 2:25, James 4:11-12, 2 Peter 1, Titus 3:1-7

GOOD COMMUNICATIONS GUIDELINES: Ephesians 4, 5, 6, 1 Timothy 1:1-20, Titus 3:8-11

GOD'S PROCESS FOR HEALING AND PEACE: BY HIS MERCY AND GRACE...

1: God's Holy Spirit gave us a new spirit and a heart of flesh submiting our will and life to our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, repenting from our evil ways. 2 Chronicles 7:14, Isaiah 30:20-22, Ezekiel 11:19, Ezekiel 36:26, Romans 5:1-11, 1 John 1:8-10.

2: We confessed we were born enemies of God and lived Satan's power through our values, thoughts, emotions and behaviors, and that our lives were ungodly. Hosea 10:12-13, Romans 3:21-26, Romans 5:10, Romans 6:23, Romans 7:15-25.

3: By God's grace and mercy we believe that Jesus Christ would restore us to God thereby establishing righteous relationships. John 3:16-21, Romans 8:1-17, Ephesians 2:4-10, Ephesians 4,5,6; Hebrews 12:15, James 4:7-10.

4: We agree we formerly lived as enemies of God in self-delusions and self-deceptions and now born anew surrendering to God's Holy Spirit through God's Word and mature Christians who correctly uses all that Jesus Christ teaches, to show us who we were/are/will be by searching our heart with God's Word. Lamentations 3:40-42, Psalms 36:1-4, Psalms 51:10-13, Psalm 139:23-24, Luke 8:17-18, 1 Corinthians 11:27-32, 2 Corinthians 5:17-18, Ephesians 4:22-25, Titus 3:3-7.

5: In Godly sorrow we confessed and repented to God in the presence's of Christian witnesses the exact nature of our sins, our disgust with our sin, our ernestness to make all things right, and evidence over time Godly sorrow and repentance. Joel 2:12-17, John 20:21-23, 2 Corinthians 7:10-11, James 5:13-18

6: We recognized that God places being right with our fellow Christians ahead of worshiping Him therefore we made a list of all those we had harmed and were harmed by, and became willing to correct our offenses including asking for AND giving forgiveness. Matthew 5:23-24, Matthew 18:21-35, Luke 6:27-42,1 John 2:9-11.

7: We realized increasing peace gives opportunity for our flesh to return to our vomit, therefore we listen to the voice of God through His Word, His Holy Spirit and His people, promptly confessing and repenting from our sins. Proverbs 16:18, Hosea 13:6, Matthew 6:31-34, Luke 9:62, Luke 21:29-36, 1 Corinthians 10:12-13, Hebrews 12:15, 2 Peter 2:22.

8: We seek through prayer, The Bible, and Christian fellowship to build our faith in God praying for His will for us and the courage to carry it out. Proverbs 2:2-5, Proverbs 3:1-8, John 6:28-29, Romans 14:23, Ephesians 6:10-18, 2 Peter 1:1-13.

9: Being reconciled to God, He has given us the ministry of reconciliation by our sharing Christ's hope in our life with those who are attracted to our new witness, and to those who have stumbled. Galatians 6:1-6 1 Peter 3:15-17, James 5:19-20.

10: As Christ's Body, we, fellowship frequently, encouraging one another to love and good deeds. Acts 2:42-47 Ephesians 4-6, Romans 12-15:8, 1 Corinthians 12-14, Hebrews 10:24-25.

11: We mourn when one who calls himself a Christian refuses to live as a Christian. After all has failed to turn them to Christ, we pledge in love - for their sake and Christ's Body, to remove them from the fellowship. Matthew 18:15-19, 1 Corinthians 5:5-13, Ephesians 4:17-5:14, 1 John 4:5-6.

WE BELONG HERE: We've learned that we live in delusions and deceptions and are destroying our lives and our loved ones, and that we need help. Only the sick (Poor in Spirit-Matthew 5:1) belong here.

THIS IS IMPORTANT: We've learned that commitment to our fellowship group and/or appointments is very important to our spiritual growth and reconciliation and we've made a commitment to attend if humanly possible. Hebrews 10:22-25

WE CONFESS OUR OWN SINS: We've learned in our deception we often confessed the sins of those whoever harmed us blinding ourselves to our own responsibility for our emotions, values, beliefs and actions. Now we confess only our sins. Matthew 7:1-6, James 1: 21-25

WE SPEAK FOR OURSELVES NOT OTHERS: We've learned in fellowship that we must carry our brother's burdens but NOT their responsibility for healing. Therefore, we speak for ourselves and no one else. Galatians 6:1-5

WE DO NOT GOSSIP OR SLANDER: We've learned that trust is built and earned by knowing that anything and everything we say is kept in Biblical confidentiality nothing leaves the room. We do not talk about other people in the fellowship, even with other members of the fellowship and NOT even to non-attending spouses, or friends etc.

WE DO NOT FIX PEOPLE: We've learned that each person is responsible to make their own choice. We can only share from God's truth and our experience with God. They must work out their own salvation. Philippians 2:12-13

WE DO NOT GIVE ADVICE: We give God's Word. We've learned to share our own character defects and the spiritual insights that helped us, as gifts, to those who want to know and who listen. God's Truth counts and we don't cast pearls before non-hearers. Matthew 7: 1-6, 2 Corinthians 1:1-11

WE DO NOT ARGUE OR TRY TO CONVINCE PEOPLE: We've learned that we are responsible to speak God's truth (the best we know) in love and patience it's their choice whether to listen or not. James 1:20

WE DO NOT SAVE PEOPLE: We've learned that when we try to rescue people it's a statement of our own self will, not God's will. It keeps them from their own relationship with God. Titus 3:8-11

In Summary:
WE MUST BE ABLE TO HEAR GOD'S TRUTH CORRECTLY
WE MUST APPLY GOD'S TRUTH TO OUR HEART
WE MUST CONFESS ANY IDENTIFIED SIN AND/OR PRAISE GOD FOR ENCOURAGEMENT
WE MUST LIVE LIFE CHANGED BECAUSE WE HAVE DONE THE FIRST THREE STEPS 


KEY BIBLICAL TERMS AND DEFINITIONS:

From Wuest, The New Testament, An Expanded Greek Translation, and Greek definitions are from Vine, Strongs, Brown, & Gaebelein, et al.

LOVE means obeying God's WORD toward Him, self and others.

BELIEVE / FAITH... living as though all that Jesus Christ taught is true. Making choices based upon the True God being God of all things.

BEING PERFECTED... life in PROCESS of faith being completed through the continual releasing of God's Holy Spirit in thoughts, values, and behavior. Living self's will is thinking you know better than God.

ORIGINAL SIN... Lucifer's rebellion against God (I know best) passed to Adam and Eve through disobedience (we know best) to all born into the world (I know best). Now, we each have the fallen nature of what we think we know is truth, and not being in right relationship with God to know HE KNOWS BEST.

SIN...means to miss the mark, to err, offend, trespass, to side step, lapse or deviate, unintentional error, willful transgression, fall, fault, offense, sin, trespass.

OFFENSE... means, some, any, partly any, whatsoever, whomsoever. Therefore the offense is anything that comes between two brothers.

GODLY SORROW... means the deep mourning that comes from recognizing the gravity of ones sin, the consequences of that sin, and anger at the sin, that does not regret giving up the sin. It's being fully resolved to make it right to God and to those who have been harmed by ones sin. And the commitment to God to surrender, as is humanly possible, to His Holy Spirit and not sin this way again.

HEAR / LISTEN... means to hear, give audience, be noised, reported, understand, Plus in the negative means to fail to hear, disobey, take no heed, neglect to hear. Therefore hearing that leads to repentance.

CONFESSION... Agreeing with God about the nature of our sin, our attitudes and actions. Telling them to God in the witness of other Christians. Sharing our Hope in Jesus Christ with others.

REPENT... means to think differently, or afterwards, do differently, reconsider, feel compunction, repent, to change ones mind involving both turning from sin and turning to God.

FORGIVENESS... Asking: State specifically the wrong, identify the Biblical principles violated, share Godly sorrow, ask forgiveness, and repent. Giving: Recognize your sins are greater than any sin against you, and that you have been forgiven by God and thereby forgive those who ask Biblically and pledge not hold their wrongs to their account.

RECONCILED... means to effect an alteration, in cases of mutual hostility yielding to mutual concession, to change (someone's mind) to reconcile. Therefore make it right between brothers.

SHOW / REBUKE / REPROVE... means to confute, admonish, convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke, censure or admonish, forbid, & charge.

HEALING / RESTORE... means to complete thoroughly, repair, mend, make perfect with patience and perseverance.

REJOICE... means to rejoice in the Lord (Jesus Christ, Jehovah) at all times, in all situations, because He will overcome evil with good for those who love Him. 


PeaceMakers International Financial Covenant

PeaceMakers.net is a part of Christ's Body, therefore all spiritual counsel and instruction are without Fees, as we learned, freely we receive so should we freely give, Matthew 10:8. As a faith mission we practice and teach submission to God and His provisions. No one will be turned away based on amount able to contribute!

We learned that as we receive help, we have the Biblical responsibilities, according to our ability, to honor God by financially supporting our instructors, Gal.6:6; Malachi 3:10-12; Luke 10:7; Romans 15:25-27; I Corinthians 9; and 2 Corinthians 8 & 9.

As a member of the Body of Jesus Christ - the Church, PeaceMakers therefore is entitled to share in tithes and offerings with all contributions being IRS Tax-Deductible as PeaceMakers.net is qualified as a Tax exempt 501 (c) (3) Charitable organization.

PeaceMakers.net pledges to fully account to God and man for the Biblical collection and Godly use and distributions of God's resources. An audited financial statement is available for your reading upon request. PeaceMakers.net is a leader in the highest financial accountability, standards, and practices.

We ask that you joyfully accept the responsibility, privilege and accountability of the Biblical priority of doing your best to support the ministry of PeaceMakers.net, so that others may freely receive the love of Jesus Christ and the help they seek. 


RELEASE OF INFORMATION -TO-
PeaceMakers.net Inc.

I, the undersigned, hereby consent and request that any and all information and records in any form -VERBAL, WRITTEN, ELECTRONIC, including but not limited to medical, legal, financial, religious, and employment, for and about myself and/or for those whom I'm legally responsible, be given to PeaceMakers Intl. or their agent. A photo copy of this form is the same as the original.

RELEASE OF INFORMATION -FROM 
PeaceMakers.net Inc.

I, the undersigned, hereby consent and request that any and all information and records in any form - VERBAL, WRITTEN, ELECTRONIC etc., including but not limited to medical, legal, financial, religious, and employment for and about myself and for those whom I'm legally responsible, be given by PeaceMakers.net Inc. or their agent, to whom they chose in any form they chose. A photo copy of this form is the same as the original.

SIGNED:_______________________________________________ ADDRESS:___________________________________________________ CITY:___________________________ STATE:_______ ZIP:__________

CHURCH NAME:_______________________________________________________ PASTOR'S NAME:______________________________________________________ CHURCH ADDRESS:___________________________________________________ CITY:_________________________________ ST.________ ZIP:_________________ CHURCH PHONE: ( ) _______---____________

PeaceMakers.net Witness

Name:______________________________________________________ SIGNED:______________________________________ DATE: / / 


PeaceMakers International's MISSION

As members of Christ's Body the Church, PeaceMakers.net Inc. is dedicated to practicing a dynamic witness for Jesus Christ that builds the Body of Christ and attracts the attention of a lost world through; Biblical Instruction; Biblical Counseling and Biblical Peacemaking, that reconciles mankind to God, mankind to themselves and mankind to others.

PeaceMakers.net Inc. carries out it's challenge through spiritual instruction, counseling and conflict resolution to:

1. Individuals
2. Families
3. Churches
4. Corporations

Participating in:

1. Christian Brotherhood
2. Evangelism & Discipleship
3. Biblical & Spiritual Instruction

Through:

1. Fellowship
2. Speaking, Seminars & Workshops
3. On-site consulting
4. The Media

The Board of Trustees:

Mr.Bill Fields - President see enclosed profile
Mr. Joel Inch - Business Manager: Chairman
Mr. Greg Hendricks - Transportation: Trustee
Dr. Tom Hueber - Education: Sec/ Treas.

OTHERS PeaceMakers TURNS TO FOR SPIRITUAL ADVICE AND INSTRUCTION:

(PeaceMakers does not make endorsements nor accept endorsements)

Dr. Jay Adams: (SC) Author, Pastor, Seminary Professor, Theologian and Intl Speaker.
Dr. Dean Trulear: (NY) Seminary Dean, Intl. Advisor in Minority Affairs and Urban Ministries


PEACEMAKERS INTERNATIONAL INC. STATEMENT OF FAITH

We believe that: All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

SPECIAL NOTE: There are times when specific doctrines are highlighted to clarify Biblical beliefs that are central to God's Word in opposition to current false teachings. The following statements are offered in that light, and are considered historically central and acceptable among true Christians.

1. We believe in one God, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

2. We believe in the Bible, God's Holy Word, both the Old and New Testaments (sixty-six books) as inspired by God, and inerrant in the original writings, and that they are of supreme and final authority in faith and life.

3. We believe that Jesus Christ is God, begotten by the Holy Spirit, was born of the Virgin Mary, and is true God and true man.

4. We believe that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life and voluntarily atoned for the sins of mankind, by dying on the cross as their substitute, thus satisfying divine justice and accomplishing salvation for all who trust in Him alone.

5. We believe that mankind was created in the image of God; that they sinned, and thereby incurred, not only physical death, but also spiritual death which is separation from God; and that all human beings are born with a sinful nature.

6. We believe in the resurrection of the crucified body of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His ascension into heaven, and in His present life there for believers as High Priest and Advocate.

7. We believe in The Blessed Hope, the personal and imminent return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

8. We Believe that all who receive by faith the Lord Jesus Christ are born again of the Holy Spirit and thereby become children of God.

9. We believe in the bodily resurrection of the just and unjust, the everlasting blessedness of the saved, and the everlasting punishment of the lost.

10. We believe in The Church (The Body of Christ) of true believers, visible in the assembly of believers: the local fellowship and the church universal; with all responsibilities to maintain the Godly unity of true believers rightly teaching God's Word, Pure practice of the Lord's Supper and Baptism, and Church Discipline while sharing of our Hope in Jesus Christ with the lost.
steward@peacemakers.net