BulletinGold #126
June 2011   Vol 11 #4

BulletinGold #126
June 2011
Vol. 11 Num. 4
David Bragg
Edward Thomason
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In This Issue:
- The Good Work, David Bragg
- Living Light, Rick Woodall
- Saved By Faith, But Not By Faith Alone, Travis L. Quertermous
- Sheep, Stefano R. Mugnaini
- Worship or Entertainment? By Bob Pritchard
- Graduation, David R. Ferguson
- God Has a Plan
- Silly Sheep, Joel Stephen Williams
- Facing Tomorrow
- Deception, Mike Benson
- Walking with Grandpa, Jack Exum
- Beauty Moves, J. Randal Matheny
- I Have Jesus, H.L. Gradowith
- Godly Manner, Travis Main
quotes & sayings for bulletins and signs

New Postings At
Editorial by David Bragg
The Good Work

    The courier delivered his message as ordered.  A high level summit had been called to which the Jewish governor was strongly urged to attend.  There, just a few miles from Jerusalem, Nehemiah would meet with Sanballat the Samaritan, Tobiah the Ammonite, and Gesham the Arab, presumably to discuss some matters of common interest.
    Between the lines Nehemiah read trouble.  For some seventy years, while God's people were held in Babylon, Jerusalem lay virtually in ruins.  After that, for the next ninety years, although inhabited, the pride of Israel stood unprotected from her neighboring countries.  Sanballat and his associates were willing to go to great lengths to keep Jerusalem, and its citizens, vulnerable to their control.
    Nehemiah felt compelled by God to finish the task of building the wall around Jerusalem.  The Lord was obviously pleased with the effort and encouraged the work to persevere under his leadership.  No flagrant assault or covert scheme could be permitted to stand in the way of accomplishing this mission.  Without hesitation the reply was prepared.  The messenger was sent on his way to those from which he came.  In his hand was this message that should be held close to the heart of any who would be a worker in God's Kingdom.  "The work I am doing is too important to stop" (Nehemiah 6:3).
    Although many attempts followed to shake Nehemiah's resolve, each met with failure.  It is no wonder that Jerusalem was far too important to let anything interfere.  What could be so important?  God's work.

David Bragg

Panning for Gold Feature Articles:
Living Light
By Rick Woodall

    In the dark void of creation's glorious moment, God spoke. He ordered light to glow out of the remote darkness. Think about that with me for a moment. A clear-cut connection is given to each individual who has come to the knowledge of the truth. 
    Inside each of us was the existence of confusion and failing purpose. This is the dark void area of the human spirit that is left with many unanswered reservations. Just as God in all His wisdom and power pronounced light to the dark abyss, He allowed the message of divine knowledge of His glory through His Son to renew us. When this renewal takes place, there is no stumbling around in the dimness of the unknown.
    In every Christian there is heavenly wisdom that is a gift of unmerited favor. We appreciate our Creator for opening our eyes to the brightness of eternal blessings.   
    For it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. - 2 Cor 4:6-7
    My gift reminds me that this light of spiritual comprehension was made possible by obedience to the One who created us in the first place.
    Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. - Rom 6:3-5
    God commanded light to shine out of darkness. God directed His one and only Son to shine in this world and die upon the cross to rise again. We receive the light of heavenly promises that inhabit the soul and give us confidence for the appointment we will all keep.
    Are you prepared for what's ahead when you face your creator?
- Rick Woodall is the minister for the Yorktown Road church of Christ in Logansport Indiana. His weekly devotional message, Life Thoughts, can be found through this address:  http://mysite.verizon.net/yorktownroadchurchofchrist/

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Saved By Faith, But Not By Faith Alone
By Travis L. Quertermous

    The Bible makes it crystal clear that we cannot be saved from our sins without faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (cf. John 3:16; Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:8). By “faith” or “belief” Scripture means a willingness to completely trust in Christ joined with obedience to His word (cf. Matt. 7:21-29; Gal. 5:6; Heb. 11:6-8). Unfortunately, many preachers and churches have gone beyond this simple truth and taught that we are saved by “faith alone.” By this, they mean that once one believes in Christ, he is at that very moment a child of God without any further acts of obedience.
    This doctrine is simply not taught in the Bible. In fact, it is a contradiction of the Bible. In the first place, it rests upon a false definition of faith that separates belief from obedience. But in James 2:14-26, we learn that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). In this powerful text on true saving faith, James teaches us that faith without works is unable to save (v. 14), profitless (v. 15-16), dead (v. 17, 20, 26), illogical (v. 18), demonic (v. 19), and incomplete (v. 22). James used Abraham and Rahab to show us how we are saved by an obedient faith (v. 21-25). He concluded, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (v. 24).
    Salvation is “not by faith only”! Why then do many contradict God’s word and teach it is by faith alone? The truth is that while faith is essential to our salvation, it must lead us to repentance of our sins, confession of Christ, and baptism in water “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38; Rom. 10:9-10). Do you need to obey the true gospel plan of salvation? Why not let us help you today?

- Travis L. Quertermous preaches for the church of Christ in Dexter, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.dexterchurchofchrist.com/

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By Stefano R. Mugnaini

    The New Testament makes numerous metaphorical references to things.  Christ is called a "door," a "cornerstone" and "the way" (literally, "road").  We are called "trees" and "springs."  Christ's use of parables was a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah (Psalm78:2).  More importantly, however, Jesus used figures of speech as a technique to explain Heavenly concepts to mortal men.  One common example that was used both by Jesus and the apostles after His resurrection is the image of Christ as Good Shepherd, and believers as sheep.
    In John 10, Christ repeatedly calls Himself the "Good Shepherd."  In Verse 11, He says He "lays down His life for His sheep."  Peter refers to Christ as the "Chief Shepherd" in his exhortation to elders in 1 Peter 5:4.  We often consider Peter's words in 1 Peter 2:25, "For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls."
    There are several sides of this metaphor that we often fail to consider.  First, the point is often made from 1 Peter 2:25 that we, like sheep, run astray and fail to keep to the proper path.  However, that is not what Peter is saying.  He says we WERE continually straying, BUT NOW have returned to our Shepherd.  This doesn't emphasize our ignorance and lack of direction, it emphasizes our need to abide in and depend upon our Shepherd. It is known that sheep display a dependence on their shepherd that is unparalleled among animals.  Among nomadic people of the East, it is not uncommon for sheep to share living quarters and beds with their masters.  They are treated as some of us treat our dogs.  The Biblical writers were not far removed from this image of an intimate relationship between sheep and shepherd.   The point isn't that we are too ignorant to lead ourselves, it's that we have been wise enough to find the only one who could truly lead us, the Good Shepherd.
    Secondly, Revelation 7 characterizes Christ as both sacrificial lamb AND shepherd.  What is so significant about that? I think the point being made is that Christ knows what it is to be a sheep, like one of us, and thus is qualified to be the ultimate Shepherd of our souls.
    The concept of discipleship boils down to a request and a promise.  Christ requests us to totally commit to following Him.  We have found the Shepherd.  Now we must devote ourselves to following Him.  He promises to lead and protect us, and above all, prepare a place for us in His great eternal pasture.

- Stefano R. Mugnaini preaches for the Cairo church of Christ in Cairo, GA, He may be contacted at ssmugnaini@syrupcity.net

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Worship or Entertainment?
By Bob Pritchard

    Neil Postman described serious problems in modern culture in his insightful 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death. His thesis was that public discourse has been reshaped to such an extent by television and entertainment that thoughtful discourse is missing. “Show business” hype has affected advertising, politics, and religion. Postman's conclusion is that none of these changes have made for improvement.
    In our entertainment-oriented culture, many churches find themselves trying to “outdo” themselves with more and more elaborate additions to worship. What began as special music by a choir becomes a full orchestra with professional soloists. A dramatic reading necessitates a full Broadway stage production. And as long as those who come to worship enjoy what is offered, anything goes. The expectation is that sermons will be shorter, wittier, and more uplifting. Anything in worship that cannot be “jazzed up” must be abandoned as boring--and there is nothing worse than being boring, we are led to believe.
    The problem with this entertainment orientation is that the very object of worship is forgotten. God is the “audience” in worship. Jesus told the Samaritan woman that ignorant worship was unacceptable to God, even though it may have been sincere or enjoyable. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him that spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). To worship God in spirit and truth means that worship must be from the heart, not just outward acts, and that it must be done in exact obedience to God's commands. The worship must be directed to Him, not to the whims of the worshipers.
    God's regulations for worship as set out in the New Testament are neither boring nor out-of-date. They are God-centered, while entertainment is man-centered!
    Culture relevance is important--thus many churches are implementing modern technology such as projection systems to enhance sermons. And there is nothing wrong with the worshiper enjoying worship. God intended worship to bless His children. But when worship is merely window dressing for an entertainment performance, it cannot please God. The apostle warned, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God” (2 John 9). Paul condemned things that “have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship” (Col. 2:23). “Will worship” is that which is fashioned after man's desires.

[Note: Will worship involves a disobedient spirit. Regardless of a lack of Bible authority, people affirm, “I will do it because I like it.” It does not matter to some Christians if a practice such as instrumental music or handclapping is not authorized and that they cannot take the Scriptures and show that it is approved. They like it, and they will do it - even at the cost of division. - Gary Summers; from Spiritual Perspectives- Sept.21, 2008 via The Biblical Journal (Fort Worth)]

- Bob Pritchard; via the Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere church of Christ, Belvedere, SC.  Ken Chumbley preaches for this congregation, and he may be contacted at their website: http://www.belvederechurchofchrist.org

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By David R. Ferguson

    All across this great nation of ours during this time of year many high school and university level seniors will be graduating and receiving their diplomas. Although this is the culmination of many years of hard work, it is not really an ending at all, but a beginning, or a commencement for the next stage in this journey through life. As this pilgrimage continues, let’s keep in mind some biblical concepts to help us all along this road we call life.
    Developing a relationship with God. The Christian parents’ chief aim in raising their children is to see that they know the true and living God through developing faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom You have sent." (John 17:3) Where is the real value of having our children graduate with honors from a prestigious and reputable school if they do not even know the Lord? God’s grace should impart to us the necessity of our praying for them, our teaching them, and our loving them in order to guide them to their own salvation in Christ (Philippians 2:12). They must be shown how to walk in holiness in obedience to His will. As the prophet of old said, "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)
    Developing a relationship with one’s family. Far more important than teaching any academic subjects (although by no means need it be an either/or situation) is training a young person how to properly function within a family unit. This means teaching the practical lessons of honoring father and mother as espoused by Paul in Ephesians 6:1-3. It also means preparing our sons to be a husband and a father themselves and our daughters to be a wife and mother. Our children are not adequately prepared for life until they have the training necessary for them to take a spouse and start a family. They need to understand how to love and respect a spouse, how to set up a household and budget their resources, and how to bear children and train them properly. Life preparation for Christian families ought to be a priority.
    Developing ourselves spiritually. Many of us have had to learn the hard way that growing in our walk with God doesn’t just happen. It takes discipline as well as constant application. Parents are commanded to raise their children properly. They ought to train their children, then, to spend daily devotional time with the Lord, to study the Bible, and to pray. They should teach them how to apply God’s Word to their own lives. They should train them in the development of Christian virtues (2 Peter 1:5-7). Parents who themselves walk with the Lord should take their children along with them on that walk. Our children need to learn how to abide in Christ!
    May God bless you along your journey through life!

- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church of Christ in Mattoon, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://lakelandchurchofchrist.web.officelive.com/default.aspx

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Nuggets & Quick Riches - misc. goodies
God Has a Plan
    “For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.  For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’”  (Jeremiah 29:10-11)
    Most of us think we know what is best for us.  We want the best and easiest path, and we want it right away.  Often the best for us involves a difficult journey with trials and tribulations.  God’s people thought their captivity in Babylon was all wrong for them, but God had a plan.  Babylon was God’s way to help them and get them back on track.  Like the whale for Jonah, it was more for our welfare too.  He wants to give us a future and a hope.  Go with Him.
Grace For Your Spirit, submitted by Paul Kent; via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

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Silly Sheep
By Joel Stephen Williams

    On a cold day in winter, Joe was sliding on a frozen pond when the ice broke.  Luckily he was able to get out of the water and crawl to safety.  He went home in his wet clothes almost frozen.  His aunt asked him why he was sliding on the ice.  “Because all the other boys did,” he answered.  She gave him dry clothes and something warm to drink.  Then she told him a story.
    “When I was a little girl, Joe, my father had a great flock of sheep.  One day a big ram jumped through a gap in the fence. He was followed by the other sheep.  When the ram tumbled into the bottom of an old well where father used to throw rubbish, the next sheep never stopped to see what had become of him.  He jumped in right after the ram, and so did the next one, and the next.  The sheep kept jumping into the well until it was full.  Then father pulled them out as best he could.  The sheep at the bottom of the well were almost smothered to death.”
    “What silly sheep!” exclaimed Joe.  Then suddenly a look of discernment came over his face, and he smiled at his aunt.  He had gotten the point of the story.  If we simply follow others without watching where we are going, we may land in trouble.  The book of Psalms opens with some timeless wisdom on this subject (Ps. 1:13; cf. Prov. 1:15-16; 4:14).

- Joel Stephen Williams, Logansport (IN) Lifelines; via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

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Facing Tomorrow

   “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
   The Gaithers wrote, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.  Because He lives all fear is gone.  Because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living, just because He lives.”  Christianity is the only path with a living hope because of Jesus.  He died, was buried, and was resurrected by the power of God and ascended into heaven.  He left us with that living hope for all mankind.  When we die to sin, are buried with Him in baptism, we can rise to never die again.  A living hope.  Don’t miss it.  Let’s tell everyone about our living hope.

- via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

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By Mike Benson

    A crowd of men, women, and children huddled together at the train station...
    Dressed for a long journey and standing with their bags at their sides, they spoke in low tones.  Armed men in the grim uniform of the SS, the feared wing of the Nazi army, surrounded the travelers.
    The people shivering on the platform were not criminals.  They were Jews, French Jews who had been hauled from their homes by the occupying solders and French Nazi sympathizers.
    The non-Jewish French watched these events unfold with increasing concern.  After all, these people were neighbors and friends.  The group included the watchmaker and his family, the lad who sold newspapers, the old lady who made beautiful quilts.  Now they were being "relocated."
    The plumes of smoke could be seen even before the train was heard.  The townspeople cast a nervous eye toward the train platform as the black, soot-belching locomotive ground to a halt.
    Armed guards herded the Jews into the train cars.  They went cooperatively, putting up no resistance.  Concerned observers wondered why  this was taking place; but they told themselves that things would be fine, that there was no need to worry about these friends and neighbors.  They were in good hands.
    How could they believe that?  Because neatly printed in French on the door of every box car was the reassuring logo, "Charitable Transport Company..."  (Wayne Rice)
    THOUGHT:  We can also be deceived today.  Though a political ideology can seem harmless -- even good -- it can represent a value system that undermines the sanctity of marriage, the family, morality, the church, respect for life, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Just another innocent looking boxcar...like those that took millions of Jews to the gas chambers.
- Mike Benson edits an on-line devotional entitled KneEmail.  To subscribe, send ANY message to: kneemail-subscribe@welovegod.org  Mike may be contacted atmlbenson@wowway.com

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Hearts of Gold - poetry
    Walking with Grandpa
           By Jack Exum

I like to walk with Grandpa;
His steps are short like mine.
He doesn’t always say, “Now Hurry up!”
He always takes his time.
I like to walk with Grandpa;
His eyes see things mine do;
Wee pebbles bright, a funny cloud,
Half hidden drops of dew.
Most people have to hurry;
They just don’t stop and see.
I’m glad that God made grandpas
Unrushed and young like me!

- Jack Exum; via The Family Friend, a monthly newsletter published by the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  It is an excellent resource for articles relating to the family.  To learn more consult the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com

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              Beauty Moves
        by J. Randal Matheny

Some folk, no matter how old in years,
No matter how deep the wrinkled lines,
Their beauty never disappears,
It moves from face to heart and shines
A brighter light than painted veneers.
What lie that beauty's no deeper than skin!
The aged reveal the beauty within.

- J. Randal Matheny edits and writes UPLift, an inspirational ezine. He
may be contacted here: <http://randalmathenycom/>. When reprinting this
material, please include the following:
Copyright (c) 2010 J. Randal Matheny
All rights reserved. You may forward the
email to friends as is. You may not alter
it in any way or remove any text or

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                      I Have Jesus
                 By H.L. Gradowith

I have Jesus with me each step of the way,
What then, friend, have I to fear?
Though the battle rages all night and all day
Still I have my Savior near!

I have Jesus with me in the darkest night
When the Tempter's at his best,
With Him at my side I just do what is right
And trust in Him for the rest!

I'm not afraid of what the Tempter might do,
For the Lord is at my side;
He'll be true to me for to Him I've been true:
The Tempter shall be denied!

So the mountains I'll climb, and the race I'll run,
At my side: the two-edged sword;
And when to the end of the journey I come
I'll go to be with my Lord!

- H. L. Gradowith  For more information on H. L. Gradowith and GRADOWITH POEMS e-mail group visit http://www.geocities.com/fp5699/ - the website of Tim Smith, minister of the Enon church of Christ in Webb, AL.

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                    Godly Manner
                   By Travis Main

Regardless of how the world treats you;
Regardless of what has happened before;
Regardless of what you will think will happen next;
You have the responsibility to act in a Godly manner.
A Godly manner is not defensive;
A Godly manner is not argumentative;
A Godly manner is not swift to respond;
You set the example of how to treat others.

- via That Christian Website; http://thatchristianwebsite.com/; a collection of resources (sermons, articles, etc.) managed by Travis Main who preaches for the church of Christ in Cody, Wyoming.

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Gold Mines ---- quotes, sayings & sign messages
“If I am killed, I can die but once: but to live in constant dread of it is to die over and over again.” (Abraham Lincoln)

“All of the flowers of all of the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.”

Jesus is the bread of life, not the cake for special occasions.

“NOTHING in this world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.  The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” (Calvin Coolidge)

WHOEVER will gossip TO you will also gossip ABOUT you.

- via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

Quotable Quote:  “It is impossible to underrate human intelligence--beginning with one's own.” – Thomas Adams

- via the Nile Street Notes, the weekly bulletin of the Anna church of Christ in Anna, IL; R. W. McAlister preaches for the congregation and may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.annachurchofchrist.com/

A person’s character is like a wood fence. It cannot be strengthened with whitewash.
He who runs from God in the morning will probably not be able to find Him the rest of the day.

Human nature makes us able to measure everybody but ourselves.

God has not retained any of us as lawyers, but He does call us to be witnesses, to tell others of the good things He has done.

Many a person who is proud of his right to say what he thinks wishes he had the courage to do so. And many a person who does say what he thinks comes to wish later on that he had kept his mouth shut.
Never wrestle with a pig. You will both get dirty, but only the pig is likely to enjoy it.
Never wrestle with a skunk. You’ll smell bad even if you win.

Nobody is saved by owning a Bible he does not read, or by reading a Bible he does not obey.
When opportunity knocks, don’t complain about the noise.

Wild oats takes something out of the soil of one’s life that no system of crop rotation can ever put back.
You can’t train a horse or a child with shouts and expect it to obey a whisper.
- via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Dongola church of Christ, Dongola, IL.  Gerald Cowan serves the congregation as minister.  He may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com

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BulletinGold Extra ---- recent postings on our Blogsite
- Above and Beyond, Joe Chesser
- Faith Trusts
- A Serious Question
- Reading Your Bible? By Alan Smith
- Help From Above, David A. Sargent
- Where Are the Nine? By Andy Kizer
- Why Does God Let It Happen? By Bill Jackson (Deceased)
- Fable of the Porcupine
- Church From A Visitor's Perspective, Brad Montague
- All Must Be Soul Winners, Dale Grissom
- “The Churches of Christ Salute You” (Romans 16:16), Mack Lyon
- The Life of Edgar Allen Poe

- Gloom in Life
- Accepting the Challenge, Mark Ray
- Decisions Are Costly, Marvin L. Weir
- It’s a Family Thing (Mark 3:31-35), Lee Jamison
- 10,000 More Sermons, Adam Faughn

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