Elder's Heart Devotional

June 24 - Brad Keel

We usually render worship in adoration toward God and associate it with good, uplifting, even ecstatic feelings. Worship is often focused upward and can embody the qualities of holiness, reverence and awe. We see ourselves as givers, and God as the recipient. 

Warring, on the other hand, involves taking a stand, overcoming a threat, invading territory or conquering an enemy. In war, we often view ourselves as defenders against a dangerous force or sustainers of righteousness and truth. This is true in spiritual as well as in physical conflicts.

In the typical scenario worship has not been part of the battle plan; it has come only in the form of thanksgiving after a victory. In the physical, or earthly realm, we tend to worship the human heroes of battle and add God as an afterthought. In spiritual conquests, the Almighty gets all of the praise, but we still see warfare and worship as two separate acts. 

God is calling us to bridge worship and spiritual warfare. I asked a dear Christian brother how he would define worship and he answered “warfare and witnessing”. That definition dove-tailed his spiritual gifts. Our worship is multifaceted but genuine worship for each believer goes hand in hand with our individual Spirit given spiritual gifts. Spiritual warfare brings in to play the “armor of God” and each believer functioning in their spiritual gifts through the power of the Holy Spirit.

June 17 - Bruce Merriman

KOINONIA.... interesting word!! The root word and its derivatives are found 19 times in the Greek New Testament. In our most common use and understanding we generally refer to it as “fellowship". However we often overlook the importance of true fellowship in our relationship with The Lord and with other believers. True fellowship goes beyond just an occasional “potluck” or some similar gathering where conversation is somewhat superficial and real concerns, needs, desires, heartaches, and fears are never really broached.

It is important to note that koinonia goes beyond just rubbing shoulders with our brothers and sisters in Christ. By definition it encompasses the idea of community, communion, joint participation (sharing), contribution, and intimacy. In other words, when we practice koinonia our lives are intertwined and quite frankly woven into a tapestry of true fellowship.

This became quite evident recently when Nancy’s mother passed to Glory. The CFC community response went beyond just an obligatory “sorry for your loss” but reflected true sympathy, empathy, concern and love that was demonstrated by many acts of kindness and sharing. The interesting thing about this was the diverse ways these expressions of koinonia were presented based upon the gifts and talents of the givers with the Love of Jesus being the foundation and motivation for them all. 

In Hebrews 10:25, the writer admonishes us to not neglect the assembling (meeting) together. The original implies that it is not just “meeting” he is referring to. He is pointing to the idea of a complete collection. An assembly that is supported by the gifts and graces of every participant. It is only through the activation and practice of each participant that true fellowship is found. 

An analogy: all the parts of an engine may be present in a box, but if each one is not attached to the others and functioning properly (assembled) it is NOT an engine. In the same way, we may be gathered in a building but if not attached and functioning correctly (true fellowship) we are not in the truest sense a church. 

I pray that we will be a powerful engine for His Kingdom. To do that, we must keep our filters clean and our engines full of oil (the fresh oil of His Joy). We must be running at high RPMs and must not be idle in the communion and fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Blessings.

Randy epps - june 10


Luke 7:1-10

1 When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people, he returned to Capernaum. 2 At that time the highly valued slave of a Roman officer was sick and near death. 3 When the officer heard about Jesus, he sent some respected Jewish elders to ask him to come and heal his slave. 4 So they earnestly begged Jesus to help the man. “If anyone deserves your help, he does,” they said, 5 “for he loves the Jewish people and even built a synagogue for us.” 6 So Jesus went with them. But just before they arrived at the house, the officer sent some friends to say, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself by coming to my home, for I am not worthy of such an honor. 7 I am not even worthy to come and meet you. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. 8 I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” 9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd that was following him, he said, “I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” 10 And when the officer’s friends returned to his house, they found the slave completely healed. 

As you read the Gospels, you don’t see Jesus giving a lot of accolades. One of the few people Jesus commended was a military man, a gentile, a Roman. In many respects this was an unlikely event from a human perspective.

This Roman centurion was stationed in or near Capernaum – up on the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee. A centurion was roughly the equivalent in rank to a Captain in the Army or Marine Corps. At one time centurions had 100 men under them. This may have varied from time to time. 

The Roman historian Polybius, writing before the time of Christ, said that centurions had the following qualifications:

 Ability to command

 Did not seek danger

 Steady in action

 Reliable

 Capable of standing one’s ground

 Prepared to die at their posts

This particular centurion had a slave who was at the point of death. He cared for his slave and had probably sought every means that conventional medicine had to offer to save the slave’s life. None of this had worked.

So, this centurion convinced some of the Jewish elders to find Jesus and enlist His help in restoring the slave to health. The Jewish elders gladly sought Jesus out. This was unusual because of the great hostility that existed between the Jews and their Roman overlords. But this centurion represented Rome well in these difficult circumstances. He was no stoic. He loved the Jewish people and he was generous. He had even built them a synagogue.

The Jewish elders who found Jesus told Him that the centurion was worthy of help because of who he was and what he had done. Jesus left what He was doing and began walking with the elders to the centurion’s house. Before they could reach the house, the centurion sent friends out to intercept Jesus and tell Him that the centurion wasn’t worthy to have Jesus come under his roof. This centurion had many strengths, but he showed a genuine humility toward Jesus who had no social status.

The centurion told his friends to tell Jesus to just say the word. That’s all. Just say the word, and the centurion’s servant would be healed. The centurion said, in effect, I know how this works from my own experience. I tell one to go and he goes. I tell another to come and he comes. I tell a slave to do this and he does it. Just say the word.

When Jesus heard this, He was amazed at the faith of this military man. “I tell you, I have not found so great a faith even in Israel!!” Jesus had known many people over the course of His life. He had known godly people like His mother and Joseph, His step-father. But of all these people in the land in which God had abundantly revealed Himself, He had not found one who had so great a faith as this Gentile, this Roman, this military man.

Just say the word.

When the centurion’s friends returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

Luke 7:1-10 (ref. Luke 23:47, Acts 10:22; 22:26; 23:17, 23; 24:23; 27:1, 43)

Brad Keel - May 6

The Unprepared (Luke 17:20–37)

Just as many people today are excited about prophecy and future events, so the Jews in Jesus’ day lived in expectation of the Messiah’s coming. The Greek word for “observation” means “to lie in wait, to spy”. Jesus cautions us not to devote our time to spying on the future and trying to second-guess God. The Jews looked for the coming of their King, and there He was in their midst! We can be so

wrapped up in the future that we miss the opportunities of the present. 

The important thing is not to chart the future but to be ready for His coming at any time. This means paying no attention to the sensationalists and the people who claim to know all the

“secrets” (v. 23). Jesus compared the last days to “the days of Noah” (vv. 26–27) and “the days of Lot” (vv. 28–33). Both men lived just before great judgments: the Flood (Gen. 6–8) and the

destruction of Sodom (Gen. 19). Noah warned the world of his day that the flood was coming (2 Peter 2:5), and the angels warned Lot and his family that destruction was coming; but the warnings

did no good. Only Noah and his family (eight people) were saved, and only Lot and his two unmarried daughters escaped from Sodom.

What will the world be like just before the final judgment and the coming of the Lord? It will be “business as usual” with little concern for the warnings God sends. People will eat and drink, attend weddings, and carry on their vocations; and then the judgment will catch them unprepared. In Noah’s day, there was a great deal of violence (Gen. 6:11, 13); and in Lot’s time, men were given

to unnatural lusts (Gen. 19:4–11). We see both of these characteristics in our own day. 

Verses 30–37 do not refer to the rapture (1 Thes. 4:13–18) but to the return of Christ to the earth to set up His righteous kingdom (Rev. 19:1; Matt. 24:15–20; Mark 13:14–18). When Christ comes

suddenly for His church, there will certainly be no time to go back into a house to get something! (1 Cor. 15:51–52) The verb “taken” in vv. 34–36 does not mean “taken to heaven” but “taken away in

judgment.” Those left will enter into the kingdom.

Jesus saw human society at the end of the age to be like a rotten corpse that invites the eagles and vultures (v. 37); and this reminds us of Rev. 19:17–19, that last battle before Jesus establishes

His kingdom. As believers in His church, we must obey v. 33 and seek to live wholly for Him (Matt. 10:39; John 12:25). That is the only way to be prepared for His coming.



Bruce Merriman - April 29

While recently attending the funeral of a Pastor friend and also my son in the Lord, Nancy and I ran into Dr. John Woodruff, a charter member of the church we planted in Tifton.  John, a renowned crop scientist and very dear friend, told me about a spiritual experience he had that was so profound it prompted to write a book.

The book, Let’s Go And Do Likewise describes how this experience opened his eyes to the importance of not only loving our neighbors as ourselves but by also putting that directive into real, tangible action. 

The scriptural reference for the book was the passage in Luke 10 where a keeper of the Law asked Jesus to define the term “neighbor.”  Jesus replies with the parable of the good Samaritan.  Jesus then ends the conversation with the other half of the “loving your neighbor” commandment with a very direct instruction.  GO and DO likewise.

We at CFC are rapidly becoming more and more known as an inviting, accepting, and loving people. We are also exhibiting those virtues through corporate outreach to our surrounding neighbors.

Dr. Woodruff however, defines the characters as individuals in the parable according to their respective attitudes.  The wounded man was simply a person with a great need and receptive to help from anyone.  The thieves exemplified the attitude that “it’s all about me.”  The Priest and Levite clearly portrayed the idea that “what’s mine is mine and is not available for sharing.”  The good Samaritan on the other hand exhibited the attitude that “what is mine is available for sharing.”  He alone made a decision of the heart and by putting his heart attitude into action was truly a good neighbor.

We can all find ourselves in one or more of these categories at any given time based upon our heart condition.  I (we) all need to be encouraged by the song describing the merciful action of Jesus who “looked beyond our faults and saw our needs” then GO AND DO LIKEWISE to our neighbors. 


randy epps - april 22


The motto of the United States Marine Corps is “Semper Fidelis”. This Latin phrase means “Always Faithful” and it epitomizes the core values that all Marines use to pattern their conduct. A U.S. Marine is supposed to be always faithful … faithful to their God, to their country and to the Corps. This is drilled into recruits during basic training and follows Marines through their time in the Corps and for the rest of their lives.

Being “Always Faithful” is a commitment that we all should strive to follow in our Christian lives. We should be faithful to our families, our neighbors, our Churches, our God. But if we are truly honest with ourselves, is this something that we actually do? I know that I don’t; not like I should. I fail to be faithful in so many ways that I wonder why God puts up with me the way He does. 

That’s one big difference between God and me. I can find myself in rebellion against HIm, turning my back on HIm, being unfaithful to HIm. Just like it says in my favorite hymn, Come Thou Fount:

Let Thy goodness like a fetter

Bind my wandering heart to Thee

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it

Prone to leave the God I love

Here's my heart, oh take and seal it

Seal it for Thy courts above

“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; Prone to leave the God I love”. That’s me. My heart wants to follow its own path, go its own way, and do its own thing. Even though I love my Savior, I often find myself chasing something that’s not of Him. When I find myself in that place, I have to repent and return to HIm.

But my God is always faithful. He never leaves me, He never abandons me, and He is always waiting for me to turn back to Him. Oh, what a glorious fact … God never wanders away from us, even when we turn our backs on HIm. He will always be there, every … single … time. He said in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”

Always Faithful,

Semper Fidelis.


Randy Epps

Stan Alderman - April 9

Four years ago my family was planning a vacation overseas.  And when I say “planning” I mean we were really ready to go – airline tickets had been bought, passports updated, B&B booked – expecting to GO!  We were supposed to leave on a Tuesday, but on the Thursday before then, the country we were going to, suddenly closed its borders.  You remember, a little thing called COVID had hit.  Well of course our first reaction was one of disappointment – WHAT, we can’t go because of a little virus!  But as I began to think through what had happened I began to realize that IF we had gone when we planned to, the chances were good (or rather bad) that we could easily have been “trapped” in that country for who knows how long – unable to return to our homes and the remainder of our family.

Three years ago a close friend of ours passed away after a difficult battle with cancer.  What I remember most about that four year fight?  Not the trips to Mayo in Jacksonville, the chemo, the radiation – I remember her motto: “God’s got a plan, God’s got a plan.”  As a believer, she never got discouraged, never gave up, her faith never wavered. It was probably the most memorable example of someone who has complete confidence in her Heavenly Father.

So when we make our plans, even for each day, our goal should be to discover what His plan is for our day.  I’m not going to quote you Jeremiah 29:11, you already know it – but it is so true that His plans for us are so much higher, better, so full of hope.  He is so trustworthy and loving towards us. 

Now I’m not a big fan of Shakespeare, but he once said “the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.”  I have found that to be so true.  We make our plans and then something changes them – unexpected things pop up:  a flat tire, a missed airline connection, you oversleep, you drop you phone and it breaks.  Unexpected changes to your plan.  But wait, maybe that flat tire kept you from being in an accident, maybe that missed airplane meant you had an opportunity to witness to someone while you waited, and while oversleeping isn’t a good thing it’s not the worst thing.  Making a plan usually makes for a more organized day, but I really believe it has to have some built-in flexibility.  We need to be ready to recognize when God is doing something we had not planned for, but that it is in His plan for us.

My wife and I are both retired so our plans are probably a bit more flexible that some others.  But we often joke “Well what have we got planned for tomorrow that will probably change.”  I could list several instances, but I’ll give you just one:  Two weeks ago I got a call from a friend who lives in another state and he said his mom (who lives here by herself) was in terrible pain and would we go check on her.  Fortunately we were able to do so:  we took her to the walk-in clinic, then to get an ultra-sound, then to the pharmacy, and back home.  She is doing much better.

My point is that God places us in situations that we may not fully understand immediately, so that we can be used to fulfill His plan – for us, yes, and perhaps for someone else.  It amazes me that the Creator of the universe says that He has plans for ME!!  And as a believer He has a plan for you.  Most of the time He reveals His plan to us in His instruction manual – the Bible.  But as we seek Him more and more, through study, prayer, and the counsel of other believers, His plan becomes more and more obvious.

My heart tells me that His heart is towards me.

Making our plans is necessary, learning His plan for us is paramount.

Be blessed, be a blessing


Austin Keen - March 11

Lately, my identity in Jesus Christ has been at the forefront of my heart and mind. Being saved at a young age, I was given the tools needed for growth and maturity in my walk with Jesus early on in my life. The Lord provided me with wonderful loving Christian parents, friends and mentors who discipled me, and a church where the Gospel was preached without being watered down. I WANTED to live wholeheartedly for Jesus. I WANTED to live a life which brought glory to God. I WANTED God to be proud of me. I knew deep down my identity in Jesus. I knew where my eternal soul was headed. I think back to when I had suppressed my identity. 

It’s very scary how complacency works. It’s not something which happens immediately. It doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen in a week or a month. Complacency becomes such a part of people’s lives that often they don't know it has occurred. I had become complacent with my position as a Christian and therefore my desire for growth and a deeper relationship with the Lord became stagnant. I knew what Jesus had done for me on the cross and I knew where I was going after death. I had no doubt Jesus saved my soul and apart from Him I was hopeless. I would never have verbally admitted that I was content in my complacency, but being honest my desire for maturity in my relationship with Christ was not always a priority. Years of complacency were years of missed opportunities to glorify God. For me, my complacency turned into a huge red target on my back for the enemy. Lust was Satan’s weapon of choice against me, and he is a deadly marksman. 

My true identity in Christ did not change because of Satan’s attacks. When I sinned, it did not strip away my salvation. Satan’s power was utterly defeated at the cross, however that did not stop him from trying to drag me down with him. 1 Peter 5:8 says “Be sober minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” The Devil added a label of “sinner” that unfortunately for me became a hookset in my identity for years. What I mean by this is I knew in my heart that Jesus loved me and saved me from sin, however when I fell into temptation I could not shake the label of “unworthy sinner”. When Paul said, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15), this turned into self-hatred over my sin. How could I actively sin against my Jesus who chose to die for me personally? Why could I not fight sin more effectively? Why did I constantly wallow in self-pity over my sin? 

It was because I was not leaning into my TRUE identity. God calls me His child! My identity is not “Austin the hypocrite who struggles with lustful thoughts”, but rather God sees me as “Austin, Child of the most high King of the universe”. Of course I am an unworthy sinner outside of Christ, but when God looks at me he sees the perfect righteousness of Jesus. 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." I needed to realize that God forgave every sin I would ever commit long before I ever drew my first breath. When I began to see myself the way that God sees me, my relationship with Him exploded in growth. Above all things, I desired to spend time with my Father in heaven. The Holy Spirit began speaking louder than the lies of the devil. I was a new creation, my life had been bought by the blood of Jesus. Regi Campbell states, “When a person knows who he is, he is comfortable in every situation.” I know who I am, my identity is defined by Jesus.

Brad Keel - March 4

We are living in a world filled with chaos, crime, division, wars, and hate. I have heard many lament about the futures of our kids and grandkids. It is difficult to think about what they may be faced with in this world. As we catch ourselves thinking about the future what are we to do? Let us unpack the root of these feelings. Where do these negative feelings come from? These feelings emanate from an internal restlessness, a lack peace, experienced both physically, spiritually, or mentally. Parking your mind to long in these feelings will affect your personal relationship with Jesus.

I ran across a phrase recently “having Hope within the hurt” and it made stop in my tracks. The world is hurting but we believers have Hope and this Hope comes from Jesus and His promises. Titus 1:2 tells us: our faith is “based on the hope and divine guarantee of eternal life, the life which God, who is ever truthful and without deceit, promised before the ages of time began.”

 “Having Hope within the hurt” is a variation of the saying “looking at a glass as half full or half empty”, or in this case whether you look to the future with Hope or hurt. The Hope that only Jesus provides is seeing the future with excitement and great expectations. The hurt I speak of is looking at the future with anxiety or through depression. We must face the fact that depression comes from living too much in your past, and anxiety comes from living too much in your future. We must actively pursue living in the present moment with God. Living each moment with God is the only way both anxiety and depression can be healed. How do we live our lives? Is the glass half empty or half full? Do you live each moment with the joy that comes from the Hope only Jesus can bring or are the hurts of the world pulling us down into anxiety or depression?

God creates circumstances in our lives that draw us near to Him so He can transform our lives; giving us Hope rather than despair - love instead of resentment an bitterness - joy in place of depression - and peace as opposed to fear or anxiety. The Word of God instructs us:

1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all on Him, for He loves and cares about you watchfully.”

Deuteronomy 31:8 “It is the Lord Who goes before you; He will not fail you or let go or forsake you; fear not, neither become broken in spirit - depressed or unnerved with alarm.”

Go back to the daily time you have spent with God in prayer and in His Word and bring the light of the SON in your life today!

Christians can use their personal prayer life to diagnosis themselves as to whether they are living life with the glass being half full or half empty. Ask yourself, what is the form of my daily prayers? Does my prayer life reflect anxiety by asking God to help me overcome the adversity in my life or do my prayers reflect an emphasis on Jesus’s Hope? This Hope seated in the love, grace, and mercy of a loving God. Visualizing and walking through life’s journey with full dependence on God’s promises. The Hope that never compromises and will never go away, but we must depend on God every moment of every day. Even if we are in the midst of adversity, sickness, depression, loss, or want.

If we are honest with ourselves we’ve all been there. Do something about it today!



Bruce Merriman - February 26

Recently I was reading in John’s gospel, chapter 11.  Here we find the account of the death and resurrection of Lazarus.  Verse 5 clearly states that Jesus “loved Martha and her sister (Mary) and Lazarus”. The sisters sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was sick to which Jesus replied, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified”.  However the story becomes quite enigmatic when Lazarus does, in fact, die. It becomes even more problematic when Jesus, in verse 15 states, ”...and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe…”.


When Jesus arrives at the house of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, He finds that Lazarus has been in the tomb four days. It is difficult for our minds to grasp how this turn of events could in any way give glory to God or Jesus let alone lead anyone to believe in Jesus.


This difficulty is further enforced when Martha and Mary make the statement; “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died”. One could almost say that it was said in an accusing tone.  However, the high point of this account is that Jesus did speak the truth when He raised Lazarus from the dead. By doing so, He brought Glory to God and to Himself. Verse 45 also states that many who were present when Lazarus came forth from the tomb believed in Him


For me this account again shows that when things don’t seem to go the way we think they should, I (we) should not blame God or wag my finger at Him. My place is to: first, remember that He is Sovereign; second, He loves me; third, His plans for me are good altogether; fourth, I can always trust Him.


He sees the whole parade of life while, unfortunately, we only see floats that are right in front of us. Be encouraged!! Psalm 56:9 says, “This I know, that God is for me”. The Bible also states that If God be for us, who can stand against us. Oh, by the way, He feels exactly the same way about His church. We are the apple of His eye. First Corinthians 2:9 says that “Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man all that God has prepared for those who love Him”.

Expect a miracle!!!  Blessings.

Jon Krispin - February 5

Some of my favorite verses in the Bible are found in Galatians 5, where Paul is teaching us about the fruits of the Spirit.  In Galatians 5: 22-23, Paul writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  Probably my favorite part of that passage is the very last phrase, “Against such things there is no law.” 

Believe it or not, that phrase makes me think of the worst-case scenario that might result from living our lives as believers. Have you ever thought about what might happen if we have falsely placed our belief in the Gospels?  What if we live our lives for Jesus, according to the principles of Scripture, only to die and fade into oblivion – no heavenly reward, no streets of gold; What if nothing awaits us on the other side of death?  Even the apostle Paul contemplates this possibility. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is writing to some who are claiming that Jesus did not rise from the grave, to which Paul responds that if this is true, then our hope in Jesus is false and “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (vs. 19)

Ostensibly, we are the ‘most to be pitied’ because we have placed our hope in a false hope, and it will lead to nothing. However, Galatians 5 tells us something else; What kind of legacy will we leave if we live our lives in such a way that we exhibit the fruits of the Spirit to those around us? Even if we don’t receive the gift of eternal life, we will still show love, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and patience to those in our lives, and that will leave a wonderful legacy where our loved-ones will know that we cherished them, and valued them, and loved them!  If this is the worst-case scenario for my life, then sign me up!

I have always told each of my kids that I love them as much as I can. There is no competition between for my love because I am giving as much of my love to each of them as I can! That is the legacy that I want to leave for them, and I think that the best way that I can do that is to live my life in the faith that I have, believing that Jesus has died for me, and my best response is to live in obedience and submission to him. The life that I then live will exhibit the fruits of the spirit, and will be a blessing to those around me.

This worst-case scenario, however, is not where I want to leave this thought however, because Paul did not stop in 1 Corinthians 15 with the position that Christians are the most to be pitied of all people.  In 1 Corinthians 15: 20-22, Paul says, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”  This is the best-case scenario that comes from living our lives as believers – we have the promise of eternal life!

Everything that scripture calls for us to strive for a) involves what is best for us both individually and collectively, b) leads to a life worth living in the here-and-now, and c) comes with the promise of the inheritance of Jesus Christ – living for all eternity in the presence of the Triune God. This life is not a life of selfish indulgence, but selfishness brings division, and loneliness. It is a life of self-sacrifice as we love others. If we all do that together (live self-sacrificially, giving ourselves to the good of others) we will receive back blessings from many others who will be putting our interests first.  Let’s live our lives together for God!

Brad Keel - January 22

Communion with the living God is the essence of true worship. 

We are made in God’s image, we were created to have a close one on one relationship with Him; thus, when fellowship is broken, we are incomplete and need restoration. Communion with the living God is the essence of worship, it is vital, touching the very core of our lives. True worship and oneness with God begins as we confess our sin and accept Christ as the only one who can redeem us from sin and help us approach God. 

Worship is multifaceted. 

  • We worship God with our daily lives
  • We worship God by how our lives relate to others
  • We worship God in private confession, public service, and in group celebration. 

Honest pure worship consists of more than just singing or just praise. In John 4:23-24 “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” So I have to get a grasp of “spirit" and “truth". 

It is the believer’s responsibility to discover how the Lord wants to be worshipped and to explore and cultivate a relationship with Him out of which sincere, Holy Spirit enabled worship will flow. Jesus instructs this: worship in “spirit” – that is alive through new birth and glowing with Holy Spirit enablement. This is not mechanical, rote, or merely human activity but dynamically capacitated spiritual action. “In truth” emphasizes biblical integrity joined to personal honesty, manifested in a heart of sincerity, a humble manner of transparency, and a relational integrity. As I write this, I am struck by how complicated it sounds in my mind. God’s love is the great simplifier of His Word. Learn to rely on God’s love for you. So, I have started to simply draw near to God consistently every day and as scripture says “If we draw near to God, He will draw near to us” James 4:8. I think I can do that. And I think I can trust and depend on God as He takes care for the rest. He loves us with an everlasting Love.

Bruce Merriman - January 15

One shortcoming of Bible belt Christians is the assumption that “we” are so steeped in, and familiar with, the Scripture to the degree that we don’t often see the need for serious introspection regarding its application in our own lives.


I had an awakening regarding this pitfall last week while reading the parable often referred to as the “parable of the sower” or the “parable of the four soils”.  It is found in the three synoptic gospels:  Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8.  I have read it hundreds of times, heard it expounded scores of times, and even preached it many times, once in Mexico.  To say I was familiar with these passages was like saying the Queen Mary was a quaint little pleasure boat.


Like most of us, I think, I just assumed that being a pastor automatically put me in the soil group that was the most productive.  Surely I wasn’t the hard soil along the road.  After all, I understood the Gospel. Obviously I was not the rocky soil type. I, like many of you, have endured hardships and ridicule for my faith and have not caved to the often scorching heat of society or man-made religion. Nor have I been captured by the cares of this life or the alluring inescapable desire for great wealth as the third soil type was described.


Then I decided that there was no doubt whatsoever that I was definitely in the good soil group.  I am one of those 30/60/100 percent producers.  I was GOOD soil.  I gladly received and abundantly produced for Jesus. 


It was at this point The Holy Spirit seemed to say, “look a little closer at the Scripture and a lot deeper into your heart.”  I believe he was revealing to me that in our humanness and often unsanctified attitude, we may find ourselves in more than one of the four soil categories throughout the day in regards to truly understanding and sharing the Good News of the Gospel.


We at CFC, by mission statement and pledge, are to be an “abiding and fruit bearing people.”  May we continually take soil samples (by asking The Lord to examine our hearts) to determine if we have a deficiency that would prevent us from being a 30/60/100 percent producer for Him.

Jon Krispin - December 31

As believers, we are given several commands in the Bible as to who we should love. The good news is that, we are only told to love members of three different groups. 

The first group that we are commanded to love is our brothers and sisters in Christ – we are to love our church family! In 1 John 4: 11, the apostle John writes, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” This first group is probably the easiest group to love, because other believers are much like ourselves! 

The second group that we are commanded to love as believers is our neighbors. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus reveals that the definition of a neighbor is broader than just the person next door. In Luke 29, Jesus tells of a Jewish man who was attacked and beaten by robbers as he was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. A priest and a Levite (both Jews) passed him by, but a Samaritan (with whom the Jews were not supposed to associate) stopped to help him, thereby loving him as a neighbor should. The implication here is that our neighbors include all those who might cross our path – whether they are “like us” or not. This is a bit more challenging, but it is one that our church has tackled via our outreach to our neighbors on Connell Road over the last several years.

The third group that we are commanded to love as believers is our enemies.


In Matthew chapter 5:43-44, Jesus tells us, “You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’, but I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” It is this kind of love that Jesus showed to each of us when he came to die for us.  We were all sinners, who had alienated ourselves from God, and yet he chose to sacrifice himself in our place. 

Now, if you look over the list of groups that we are to love – our brothers, our neighbors, and our enemies – you may notice that everyone is included in one of these three groups. We are to love everyone! In high school, I had a Bible teacher (obviously at a Christian school) who was a Ph.D.-level theologian.  He told us that the biblical definition of love (as Jesus had demonstrated) was self-sacrifice – placing others and their needs before ourselves. This is tough to do, but it is exactly what Jesus modeled for us throughout his life, and even in his death.

The best way for us to do this in our lives as believers is to make every effort to show compassion to those around us. There are numerous occasions in the ministry of Jesus that we are told that he saw the people around him and was filled with compassion for them. When he was filled with compassion, he ministered to them and met their earthly needs – feeding them food, healing the sick, etc… There are many things that people of the world are passionate about, and their level of passion for their beliefs can match our own passion for our beliefs. What truly sets us apart in the world as believers is our love – our compassion. This is how we can let our light shine in the world, and point to Jesus!

Jimmy Whatley - December 24 

Have you ever found yourself “Rearing to go but you can’t go for Rearing”?  So many of us want to do the right thing but fail to get started in the right direction.  We find that so many excuses pop up that we never get to do the right thing.  We just seem to put it off till later.  I have found that focusing on the right thing to start with is the most critical point. 

As I have looked at my spiritual development, it was not trying to figure out some of the mysteries of God’s word that helped me the most, but it was to start doing the things that I was sure were the things that God wanted me to do.  It helped me tremendously to be able to see principles in God’s word that I could apply to the situations every day.  These principles apply every day to everything we face.  If we will “start where we are, use what we got and do what we can”, our confusion will go down and our obedience will increase.

Growth has occurred in my life as I step into obedience of God.  When I started reading God’s word every day my focus improved toward the principle of “loving my neighbor as myself”.  The more I focused on this principle the more I was able to understand what Jesus meant by “if you have done it unto the least of these you have done it unto me”.  When issues come up at work or in the home and there is anger or confusion it helps to put forth the principle that “God is not the author of confusion”.  If you know where the confusion comes from you can direct your prayers and your actions to help calm the waters and point someone to the real solution. 

We don’t start with the wisdom of Solomon in us, but we can use what we have (God’s word) and apply those wisdom principles to every situation in life.  There are things that you can’t do because most things in other folk’s lives require them to do something, but you can love them.  The world will know that you are a Christian by how we love one another.  Many times, in relationships the only thing we can do is just sit with a person going through troubles.  I call this “the ministry of presence” and sometimes that is all that is required.  You cared enough to just be there.  That may be all you can do but you can do that.  We may not have the training or experience of a Pastor, but we can find that principle of unconditional love and be there to help by just being there.


The book of James has a simple directive “be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only”.  This is a call to doing God’s word and not being a spectator.  Stop rearing and start going by starting where you are, using what you have and doing what you can.


God Bless,


Brad keel - december 17

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season there are those that are struggling with grief, loss, and sadness. It is this group that I believe God would have me speak to today.

God wants you to realize that He loves you just the way you are. 

Hebrews 13:5 reads ”...I will never leave you or forsake you” 

If you will let the truth of that scripture rest in your heart the struggles will leave. God’s light will chase the darkness away. Take a moment today and yield every thought and emotion to Him. He loves you with an everlasting love. Let Him be Lord of your life in every way. Let Him wrap his arms around you and give you rest and peace.

The lyrics of a song written by Jason Crabb express what I am trying share. I love you and so does Jesus. I wish you great blessings as we honor our Savior’s birth, death, and resurrection!

I can’t tell you why you’re walking through this valley

I can’t tell you just how long you’ve gotta stay

I can’t tell you why your heart feels so unsettled or when this all will change

But I can tell you there is something you can lean on

It’s a promise that won’t bend and it won’t break

And it will keep you when the future is uncertain

You’re not out of grace

You see, when the darkness overwhelms you and the fear just won’t subside

When your questions outweigh answers on those long and lonely nights

Friend, you’ve gotta keep on moving He is with you in the valley of despair and He won’t leave you there

He is with you when you think you just won’t make it and He is right there when it looks like hope is lost

You’re gonna find out He’s nothing less than faithful so keep holding on, keep holding on

There has never been a moment

There will never be a day

He’s not strong enough to rescue

He’s not strong enough to save

No, He won’t leave you there

He won’t leave you

He won’t leave you there

Bruce Merriman - December 10

Hey Y'all.  This is Bruce Merriman.  Because of  our many daily distractions, here is what is on my heart lately:

A Broadway musical, "Man of La Mancha" ,  based upon a 16th century book, "Don Quixote", produced  a song that became very popular in the 1970's.  That song "The Impossible Dream" was one that inspired the listener to practice perseverance and integrity while on a quest of the utmost importance.  While the theology of the song is not perfect, it does point us in a truly right direction.  The lyrics in part are: 

This is my quest/to follow that star, no matter how hopeless/no matter how far, to fight for the right/ without question or pause, to be willing to march into hell/for a heavenly cause.

As we are in the Advent season and heading toward Christmas, I am very mindful of the account of the Magi in Matthew's gospel.  Some traditions hold that those wise men traveled 800 to 900 miles following that star to complete their quest to locate the Christ Child, The King of the Jews.  The contemporary Christmas Carol says they traveled far over "field and fountain, moor and mountain".  There is no indication that they ever lost sight of that quest to find, present gifts, and worship Jesus.

The collective quest of the eldership at CFC is to be guided by the Holy Spirit in our personal lives and in our leadership here.  This is a quest that requires each of us in this body to not only love Jesus with our whole hearts but to persevere in seeking His direction, comfort, and even correction as we serve Him together. May we never lose this focus "no matter how hopeless no matter how far".

Merry Christmas with love and blessings

Stan Alderman - December 4

Hello CFC family. This is Stan Alderman with just a few

thoughts to share with you.

Has anyone ever asked you, “What is your favorite verse

in the Bible?” If so, how do you respond? My answer is

usually, “Well I have several ‘favorite’ verses.” I mean,

how do you choose just one out of the over 31,000

verses. It’s like asking, “Which is your favorite child?” In

that situation I would say I have two – my daughter and

my son are my favorite. So, as we move from the

Thanksgiving season into the Christmas season, I have a

verse that to me sums up its true meaning. And it’s

interesting that it is found in the Old Testament and not

in the traditional Christmas story in the New Testament.

In the rush of shopping, and buying, and cooking, and

traveling, it’s easy to forget that love is at the center of

Christmas. Sometimes as we part company we may say a

flippant “I love you”, or “love you” without thinking. But

there is a love that surpasses all others – the love of a

Father for His children. When our heavenly Father says

“I love you” He say it this way:


So now, here is one of my favorites:

Isaiah 9:6a – For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is


Why do I like this verse so much? A child being born is

something we can all relate to. But then, “a son is

given”. I think it is so very important that we not miss

that one word, given. It is an act of immeasurable love

that the Father chose to do. He gave to us His Son

because He loves us so much that He wants us to be with

Him forever. So let me leave you with this thought:

From Christmas to the cross, to His coming again,


Be blessed, be a blessing