Articles and ByLaws

  The church I pastored for some 37 years grew out of a Bible study that met at the home of John and Lottie Ring just off the Bull Lake Road near Milnor Lake, some four miles out of Troy, Montana.  When Kathy and I joined Rocky Mountain Bible Mission Kathy’s dad, Clarence Kutz, was teaching the adults in the living room and Mrs. Kutz the children in a bedroom. When we joined them, Kathy helped her mom with the children and I had a group of teens that met out in the shop. As our group grew one of the adults suggested we start a church, so Pastor Kutz said, “Let’s start tonight!” A collection was taken that very evening. Soon Marvin and Bernice Kates, Lottie’s parents, donated property next door and within a year we laid the foundation and poured the walls for Three Lakes Community Bible Church in the fall of 1975.  Pastor Kutz found out he had an aggressive form of Leukemia and passed away before the church was finished, so I inherited the role of being the first pastor.

     One of the things we did right away was to write up Articles and Bylaws laying out the purpose, statement of faith, and regulations by which the church would be governed.  We included all the basic information the church would need for its faith and practice.   A board of elders was established.  The elders were committed to operating by those “Articles and By-Laws” to make sure the church stayed on track and fulfilled the purpose for which it was founded. Although there have been some slight modifications to the Bylaws portion, the document continues to be the guiding standard for the local assembly of believers.
     Before the 101 passengers aboard the Mayflower went ashore to establish the Plymouth Colony, the Mayflower Compact was written as the document that would govern the colony. It was written by the Separatists, sometimes referred to as the Saints who were fleeing from religious persecution by King James of England.  Aboard the Mayflower with the Separatists were adventurers, tradesmen, and servants, most of whom were referred to by the Separatists as Strangers. The Mayflower Compact was signed aboard ship on Nov. 1, 1620 by 41 of the ship’s passengers. It was in essence a contract in which the settlers consented to follow the Compact’s rules and regulations for the sake of order and service.  In the introductory statement was this statement: “…having undertaken, for the glory of God and advancements of the Christian faith…” indicating their purpose.
     After gaining freedom from Great Britain, our founding fathers saw the need for a new document to govern our nation and The Constitution of the United States was written in 1787 and went into force in 1789. It became the supreme law of the United States of America, delineating the national framework of government, dividing it into three branches: the executive (president), the judicial (supreme court) and the legislative (congress).  Since it came into force it has been amended 27 times. The first ten amendments, known collectively as the Bill of Rights, offer specific protections of individual liberty and justice and place restrictions on the power of government. The majority of the 17 later amendments expand individual civil rights. The Constitution was the first of its kind and has influenced the constitutions of other nations.
    Actually, there was another “Constitution” written long before The Constitution of the United States. It is called the Bible, and is a collection of 66 documents inspired by God,  written by some 40 authors over a period of about 1500 years, yet with one major subject tying them all together, the person of Jesus Christ and the redemption He came to provide through His death, burial and resurrection.  The Bible is God’s written revelation to man providing all the information we need to gain eternal life through faith in Christ and on how to live as Christians.  It is the believer’s handbook for faith and practice. It is our ultimate and final authority. And, unlike earthly documents written by man, it never needs to be amended for “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isa. 40: 8) . The thing that makes the Bible unique is that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (II Tim. 3:16). “For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (II Pet. 1:21).  We are warned, in fact, in the last book of God’s revelation to man not to mess with God’s Word: “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the  prophecy of this book; if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18,19).
     We have been witnessing an abuse of The Constitution of the United States by all three branches of our government, especially the administration in all its “executive orders” which often go against the guidelines of the Constitution and bypass the other branches of government which were set up as a means of check and balance.  As a result, we are seeing the freedoms granted in our Constitution in great jeopardy, especially the religious freedoms for which this nation was founded.  Thomas Jefferson, third president and principal author of the Declaration of Independence, said: “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever…The greatest danger to our American freedoms is a government that ignores the Constitution” (1781).  President Ronald Reagan said: “If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”
     Our government is not the only guilty party when it comes to ignoring and abusing our Constitution. As Christians, who happen to be citizens of both our country and of heaven, with responsibilities to both (see Mk. 12:13-17; Phil. 3:20), how often do we make “executive decisions,” and go against our Constitution, God’s Word, the Bible.  We twist it, allegorize it, say it is out-dated and end up doing “what is right in our own eyes,” like those during the period of the judges in the Old Testament. Some professing Christians have even stated that you can’t really know what God’s Word says so you can’t dogmatically teach it. You can only be a facilitator of group discussions and everyone’s opinion is equally valid.  What happened to the command to teach and preach the Word (cf Mt. 28:18-20; II Tim. 2:1,2; 4:1,2)?     Our first responsibility is to uphold God’s Word, even when it is in conflict with the culture in which we live. As when the apostles were told to stop teaching about Jesus and the resurrection, Peter responded: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).   It is time for us as believers to stand up for the Word of God—our Constitution.
                            Forever his,
                                    Pastor Dave
“It is impossible to mentally or socially enslave a Bible-reading people” (Horace Greeley, 1852).
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About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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